Entangled Music

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Entangled Music is in five parts or movements, with each movement starting with a short dialogue that introduces some of the ideas and themes of the impending section. The titles are mainly implicit in GEB.

I ) Three Part Invention,  MU Puzzle

II ) Harmonic Labyrinth I, Harmonic Labyrinth II

III ) Unaccompanied Achilles, What is that Strange Flag? Intervallic Augmentation, Recursive Structures

IV ) GO, Koan

V ) Crab. Symbol Shunting


The book ‘Gödel, Escher, Bach’ (GEB), is not about Kurt Gödel, M.C. Escher or J.S. Bach (or even P.D.Q. Bach). Douglas Hofstadter uses this trio of thinkers to draw analogical comparisons to a common thread (or braid) of their work; the strange loop (or Tangled Hierarchy) and from this structure to ‘selfness’. So without committing the ‘Heresy of Paraphrase’ myself, this is how Douglas Hofstadter describes it; 

‘ Strange loops are an abstract structure that crop up in various media and in varying degrees of richness. GEB is in essence a long proposal of strange loops as a metaphor for how selfhood or by which to begin to grab hold of just what it is that makes an ‘I’ seem, at one and the same time, so terribly real and tangible to it possessor, and yet so vague, so deeply elusive ’.

- D.H. GEB- xxv 20th anniversary edition

Vivid examples of strange loops include the Endlessly rising Cannon by J.S. Bach, The Staircase by M.C. Escher and importantly, Kurt Gödel’s ‘Incompleteness Theorem’. In a nutshell, Entangled Music (EM) is my attempt to use the concept of a strange loop as an underlying compositional process. This process is explicitly non-linear and open-ended, and for me it had a lovely consequence of blurring the distinction between form and content during the compositional process itself. It has led me to try to represent, in some musical way, ideas in or inspired by the book. In Entangled Music, these ideas are sometimes heard against one another, competing for our attention.

In a way EM, as a wider project, creates a sort of semantic network, (something like the diagram on the opposite page) referencing both itself and things from outside it. I have also had a lot of fun ‘hiding’ things inside it that are not apparent until known - thus is the nature of hiding things. Hofstadter’s language this is the ‘frame message’.

The ‘frame message’ is to know that there is a message at all.

The ‘outer message’ is to build a decoding-mechanism.

The ‘inner message’ is to have extracted the meaning from the sender.

In general terms, what is the inner message in music? I’m not sure.

Notes and Score

Entangled Music formed the major work of my PhD in Composition. The Performance was funded in part by the generous support of the Kickstarter community and the University of Edinburgh.  I would also like to thank the Arts and Humanities Research Council for allowing me to undertake this work.



  • Conductor: James Lowe
  • Violin: Christopher Jones
  • Violin Kaija Lukas
  • Viola: Kay Stephen
  • Cello: Anna Menzies
  • Contrabass: Andres Kungla
  • Flute: Alasdair Garrett
  • Horn in F: Eneko O'Carroll
  • Bb Clarinet, Bass Clarinet: Alex South
  • Oboe, Cor Anglais: Arelene Cochrane
  • Bassoon: Graeme Brown
  • Bb Clarinet, Bass Clarinet: Pete Furniss
  • Cello: Clea Friend
  • Horn in F: Patrick Broderick
  • Piano: Svetosvlav Todorov
  • Piano: Paul Harrison