On a Sufficient
Condition for
the Existence of Most
Specific Hypothesis


Notes by
Ken Ueno

Commissioned by
the Boston Modern
Orchestra Project.
This piece was
made possible by a
grant from the
New Music Commissions.

Dedicated to
Rob Amory.

The composing of On a Sufficient Condition for the Existence of Most Specific Hypothesis represents my first attempt to reconcile the multiplicity of my being a "classical" composer and "experimental" improviser. It is one of the most personal pieces I have composed to date.

In a manner akin to the way some contemporary visual artists make site-specific works, many of my works derive their structural aspects from considerations of the special instrumental skills of the performers with whom I have collaborated, in a manner I term "person-specific.' First, I imagine the sounds and then worked them out with collaborating performers to realize these sounds on their instruments. Then, I analyze the sounds using software in order to derive parametric data that will inform the structure of the music. (I am also inspired by the way contemporary architects use modern materials and computer-aided strategies to create structures that are more organic than what was previously possible).

On a Sufficient Condition for the Existence of Most Specific Hypothesis is person-specific to myself. As a vocalist, I specialize in such techniques as: throat singing, overtone singing, singing multi-band multiphonics, circular breathing, sub-tones and extremely high registers. During the composition of this piece, I subjected my singing to the aforementioned process of analysis, deriving harmonies (e.g. acoustic resynthesis of my vocal multiphonics) and orchestrational strategies from the analysis of my singing.

To further engage with my personal history in this piece, I employed two other strategies. First, the title of this piece comes from an article on computer science written by another Ken Ueno (I found it doing a "vanity" search in Google). In usurping the title of a work by my doppelganger, I thought of Borges' story Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius in which an encyclopedic reference to a fictional universe begins to infiltrate reality. Second, the piece begins with a boombox playing a recording of my voice from when I was six. When I was six, my favorite object was a tape recorder. I used to walk around documenting my mom yelling at my brother, as well as sounds I made vocally (some evocative of sounds I still like to make today). By incorporating these recordings in the beginning of the piece makes it a kind of recapitulation of performances from my childhood over thirty years ago. My plan is to make another version of this piece thirty years from today by incorporating vocal sounds I can make today mixed with those from my childhood. My greatest hope would be able to make two more iterations of this process during my lifetime.


© 2020 KEN UENO



© 2020 KEN UENO