One of my most recent works is Rites of Decimation (1992), a piece for jazz / new music big band, commissioned by a Toronto-based group called Hemispheres.  When I began work on this piece I had been thinking about the dramatic changes taking place all over the world—including the recent drastic events in Eastern Europe.  Such symptoms are appearing everywhere and in all areas of life.  Our infrastructures are falling apart, causing a breaking down and remapping of everything we think of as boundaries.  I wanted to create a compositional structure that would be appropriate to our dissipative situation.  I now understand dissipation in the sense that Ilya Prigogine discovered it in physics:  initial conditions in the state of a system are associated with being, while laws involving temporal changes are associated with becoming.  This is a way of understanding how a process relates to an end result. [5].

I also wanted to integrate some of my knowledge of chaos theory both with elements of randomness and with the repetitive patterns intrinsic to fractals.  To do this I organized a continuum with highly structured, notated patterns on one end of the scale and free improvisation on the other.

My intention was also to continue to explore my sense of music as energy systems.  I began Rites of Decimation with an intuitive sense that I was creating energy systems with rhythm.  I had an image of kinetic energy setting up the original impetus, and then sending it through transformations with repetition.  Each notated section is repeated several times—but only once as written.  With each repetition, the musicians develop the density, intensity and volume of the section.  The kinetic energy that sets up the rhythmic structure of each section is created by the percussionists.  The underlying harmonic structure and pitch range for each section is indicated by a ”tonality map” (Fig6).  The tonality map sets up a sequence of harmonic changes that occur as the music is performed, limiting the performers to a given parameter of all the pitch possibilities for any given point in the piece.  The tonality map can be interpreted as a series of individual pitches or spelled out as chords for jazz musicians.  All of the instruments follow the same tonality map within the range of their instruments, and each cyclic repetition of the notated sections develops through an expansion of the harmonic spectrum and range of the tonality map.  The idea of the tonality map came from a recent computer program called Fractal Music Composer, written by Hugh McDowell [6].