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“Most people associate composition using mathematical constraint with avant gardes. Yet for more than four hundred years a tradition of algorithmic composition has flourished in the art of change ringing—the practice used, in the English-speaking world, to sound sets of free-swinging bells in the towers of churches and college chapels. Fixed algorithms or patterns called methods modulate the order of the pealing bells, each with its own musical character and colorful name.
Once the bells are sounding in series, called rows, any given bell can only trade places with an adjacent bell. Within this rigorous constraint, ringers have invented thousands of methods based on selected permutations of the row.
Syntax is to word order as melody is to note order. Peal explores the analogy of melody and syntax by applying the methods of change ringing to rows of words: poetic lines. The starting lines—all quotations—form the cento that opens the book, where their inflections evoke thematic relationships. Their permutations create distinctive visual patterns as well as frequent semantic surprises. The methods have been chosen with an eye to the associations created by juxtaposing their names with the corresponding starting lines.”
The parallels between syntax and melody are captured in hypnotic visual patterns shown as concrete poem-like highlights in variations on selected sentences.
Hard cover, 23,5 x 16,5 cm, 138 not numbered pages, ed/300 Clonmel 2017