Windows to Infinity: A Meditation on Nietzsche (1987)

I was a philosophy minor in college, and continued the interest all through grad school, becoming rather obsessed with Friedrich Nietzsche in the '80s. Nietzsche believed in something he called the Eternal Recurrence, the idea that everything that happens has happened before in exactly the same way an infinite number of times and will happen again an infinite number of times. (As Woody Allen commented, "Great, I'll have to sit through the Ice Capades again.") I got a kick out of Arthur Danto's book on Nietzsche, in which he took the Eternal Recurrence very literally and tried to examine, logically, whether it could be true in a statistical or probabilistic sense. Inspired by his ruminations, I wrote Windows to Infinity based on a process which, if continued infinitely, would repeat itself after several billion years.

The texture is made up of pitches and chords repeating at regular intervals. For instance, there is a middle D# every five 8th-notes, a middle C# every seven 8th-notes, a middle E every eleven 8th-notes, a high A# every 29 2/3 8th-notes (89/3), and so on out to much higher prime numbers. But the entire process is not presented; instead, I choose successive "windows" of time in which the phrase C# D# E G# recurs. (This was a motive I took from my three-piano piece Long Night of 1981.) One might imagine that this little phrase is running through all of its possible lives, heading inevitably toward the one which will constitute a true repetition in every respect. I dedicated the piece to my teacher Peter Gena.

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mp3 recording by the composer

- Kyle Gann

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