Editions 75

Works by Tom Johnson

Mathematical Rhythm: A Composer’s Reaction to Recent Research

Why and how mathematical concepts and tools often used for harmony and melodic structures may prove useful towards a rhythmic language. A contribution to the Mathematics and Computation in Music conference.
PDF file

  • Author: Tom Johnson
  • Publisher: Springer International Publishing
  • Year: 2019

Music That Knows Where It’s Going: Conversation with Tom Johnson

A rather detailed interview in which Jelena Novak asks Tom Johnson about his trajectory, tastes and influences. First published in Serbian and English in the New Sound international journal of music.
PDF file

  • Author: Tom Johnson
  • Publisher: New Sound
  • Year: 2018

Other Harmony: Chords within Chords

As a contribution to the 2016 Symmetry Festival in Vienna, Tom Johnson elaborates upon some concepts introduced in his recent book Other Harmony.
PDF file; a video recording of this lecture is also available online.

  • Author: Tom Johnson
  • Publisher: Symmetry Festival
  • Year: 2016

20 Years of Collaboration with Martin Riches

An article written for the catalogue for the exhibition Maskinerne/The Machines, 2004, at Brandts Klædefabrik, Odense.
PDF file

  • Author: Tom Johnson
  • Publisher: Brandts
  • Year: 2004

Automatic Music

Abstract: Finite automata occupy only one chapter in my book Self-Similar Melodies (1996), but in 1997 I wanted to study sequences of this kind in a more rigorous manner. I ended up compos¡ng a collection of Automatic Music for six percussionists. The first seven movements were premiered in Moscow by the ensemble of Marc Pekarsky, and simultaneously in Munich as part of Klang Aktionen, and there are now 18 movements. I analyze here three of these pieces, two of which seem “twisted” to me.
PDF file

Automatic Music as part of the Illustrated Music video series available in YouTube:

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  • Author: Tom Johnson
  • Publisher: Journées d’informatique musicale (ISBN 2-909669-12-2)
  • Year: 1998

Combinatorial Designs in my Music

Lecture delivered in MaMuX seminra, IRCAM, Paris, April 1, 2011

PDF file

  • Author: Tom Johnson
  • Year: 2011

Explaining my Music: Keywords

Keywords that help Tom Johnson explain his music. Published in MusicWorks #74, 1999.
PDF file

  • Author: Tom Johnson
  • Publisher: MusicWorks
  • Year: 1999

Found Mathematical Objects

The idea is simple. Find an object, any object, declare it a work of art, and it is a work of art. (...) A generation of Fluxus artists developed this point of view, John Cage adapted it to compose music through chance operations, and it is now quite natural that a composer or artist might choose to work with a found mathematical object.
Séminaire Entretemps, Musique, mathématiques et philosophie.
PDF file

  • Author: Tom Johnson
  • Publisher: IRCAM
  • Year: 2001

How could a composer come to write “rational” melodies?

Liner notes for the CD Rational Melodies recorded by Dedalus.

PDF file. Read liner notes.

  • Author: Gilbert Delor
  • Publisher: New World Records
  • Year: 2010

Cows, Chords & Combinations

Samuel Vriezen’s liner notes for the eponymous CD recorded by Klang.
PDF file.

  • Author: Samuel Vriezen
  • Publisher: Ensemble Klang - EKCD2
  • Year: 2010

I want to find the music

“It often takes much longer to find a good piece than to compose one.”

PDF file; A German version is available as part of Finding Music.

  • Author: Tom Johnson
  • Publisher: Not published
  • Year: N/A

Ives Reflections

Remarks read at the März Musik festival in Berlin in March 2004.

PDF file

  • Author: Tom Johnson
  • Publisher: Not published
  • Year: 2004

Charles Ives 100th Anniversary LP cover

Minimalism in Music: in search of a definition

Introduction for the catalogue for the exhibition of Musica Silenciosa, curated by the author at the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid. Also available in Spanish.

PDF file

  • Author: Tom Johnson
  • Publisher: Museo Reina Sofía
  • Year: 2001

Mon Maître, Morton Feldman

“Today most music education takes place in institutions, and often it is of very high quality, but some things can only happen in the private sector, where there is no institutional structure.”

PDF file (in English).

  • Author: Tom Johnson
  • Publisher: MusikTexte
  • Year: 2006

Music and Combinations

Lecture presented Dec. 13, 2003 in a colloquium on Arts and Sciences sponsored by the association La Métive in La Creuse (France)

PDF file

  • Author: Tom Johnson
  • Year: 2003

Music Metaphysics

Written for the review KunstMusik number 2, 2004

PDF file

  • Author: Tom Johnson
  • Publisher: KunstMusik
  • Year: 2004

Musical Questions for Mathematicians

A text presented for participants of the MaMuX seminar at IRCAM, Nov. 20, 2004

PDF file

  • Author: Tom Johnson
  • Year: 2004

Networks (extended version)

Lecture for Section I in the Conference on “Mathematics and Computation in Music,” Berlin, May 18 – 20, 2007. Revised with additions, August 2007.

PDF file

  • Author: Tom Johnson
  • Year: 2007

Networksillustration

On Form/Über Form

For the anthology FORM, Pfau Verlag, 1999. PDF file.
Für die Anthologie FORM, Pfau Verlag, 1999. PDF file.

  • Author: Tom Johnson
  • Publisher: Pfau Verlag
  • Year: 1999

Perfect Rhythmic Tilings

Lecture delivered at MaMuX meeting, IRCAM, January 24, 2004.
PDF file.

  • Author: Tom Johnson
  • Year: 2004

Self-Replicating Loops

Abstract: Self-replicating melodic loops have already been discussed in the last section of the author’s book Self-Replicating Melodies, and in a more mathematical article by David Feldman, and employed in several compositions by Johnson and other composers. This presentation is an introduction to the idea, along with computer output of orbit structures, and some other more recent observations.
PDF file.

  • Author: Tom Johnson
  • Year: 1999

The Four Note Opera, 32 years later

“I was 32 years old when The Four Note Opera was premiered, and that was 32 years ago. Now, with the wisdom one is expect to have at the age of 64, I should know everything about this early work, but I really don’t know much more than before.”
PDF file.

  • Author: Tom Johnson
  • Year: 2004

Tiling in My music/Pflaster in meiner Musik

Abstract: Rhythmic canons and other one-dimensional tiling techniques dominated my composing for two or three years, and a number of instrumental pieces, both solo and ensemble, evolved during this time. With numerous examples, I have put together a little survey of different ways in which I have done this, often leaving holes and using other procedures not normally considered correct.

PDF file [English] [German].

  • Author: Tom Johnson
  • Year: 2008

Tiling the Line in Theory and in Practice

Abstract: Covering two- and three-dimensional spaces with repeated tiles has been extensively studied for 2000 years, but tiling in one dimension is much less explored. How can one cover the points of a line with repeated patterns? How does one string beads so that the colors fall in repeating formations? How can a melody be written that contains overlapping canons of other melodies? Continuing from my general presentation of the subject at the Journées d’informatique musicale (Bourges, June 2001), I want to define Tiling the Line more rigorously on a theoretical level, as well as showing some applications in recent musical compositions.

Résumé : On a étudié les pavages en deux et trois dimensions depuis 2000 ans, mais les pavages d’une seule dimension sont beaucoup moins explorées. Comment couvrir les points d’une ligne avec des formes répétées ? Comment enfiler les perles de manière que chaque couleur ait sa propre forme répétée? Comment écrire une mélodie qui contient des canons d’autres mélodies qui se chevauchent ? Suivant une présentation générale du sujet au Journées d’informatique musicale (Bourges, juin 2001) je veux définir Pavage de la ligne plus rigoureusement au niveau théorique, et montrer comment je l’applique musicalement dans quelques compositions récents.

Presented at the meeting “Pavages et problèmes de combinatoire en théorie et composition musicale”, Ircam (Paris).
PDF file.

  • Author: Tom Johnson
  • Year: 2004