If you’ve followed this website for a while, you’ll have seen the name Adam Rudolph go by. His ensemble, Go: Organic Orchestra, his vision of a future orchestra, released an incredible album, and you can read my review by clicking this link. So, it’s no surprise that I was really curious when I saw that Adam was preparing the release of his newest book: Sonic Elements: Matrices, Cosmograms, and Ostinatos of Circularity. I humbly asked for a review copy, and Adam graciously provided one for me. Since then, I’ve devoured this rather unique book, and I’m writing to tell you why you too should read it.
First off, what are those words in the book’s title? Matrices? Cosmogram? Ostinatos of Circularity? It’s all part of Adam’s musical vision. Wanting to depart from Western standards of music and musical notation, Adam created his own musical world. And what I think of that is: the more tools you have at your disposal, the more complete a musician you can be. If you’re playing music, composing, or even if you just enjoy listening to music, it helps to know a few fundamental concepts of how music, the musician’s mind, and music theory work. And since there’s not a single “right” way to listen to, view, make music, the more you learn, the best you’ll be able to grasp music. I’ve already written a few articles on this website to showcase some musical concepts that intrigued me and that deviated somewhat from the common practice of Western music, but Adam goes way beyond that.
In essence, Sonic Elements is a book of exercises. These exercises focus on the three musical concepts found in the book’s subtitle (and more!). Each exercise, or example, is followed by musings, which are little words of wisdom. You’ll quickly get the hang of matrices: pick up your guitar, piano, or any other melodic instrument and have fun trying out these matrices, integrating them for yourself and gaining a deeper knowledge of this concept. You’re probably already familiar with Ostinatos of Circularity: they’re basically polyrhythms. Nevertheless, they are here shown under a new light, a different angle, which is certain to give you a new understanding of this concept. Cosmograms, on the other hand… I have no prior experience with something similar. I won’t spoil too much on the concept, but it’s pretty wild! I love it! I think it opens up many ways of how to see, play, and hear music!
The goal here is to then make your own matrices, ostinatos of circularity, cosmograms: use this concept in your daily practice routine, apply it to your own compositions, keep this tool in your musician’s toolbox.
Sonic Elements is a fantastic way of getting to challenge your assumptions on music. You think you know it all? Think again! You’re an avid learner always ready for new musical concepts to uncover? This book’s certainly for you! Its academic nature would make the book quite unappealing to all safe the most scholarly musicians if it wasn’t for the frequent rests provided by Adam’s little words of wisdom. As a recommendation, when you reach one of those, it’s probably time for you to get up and come back to it later. Books like this one are best taken in small bites, easily digestible. And that’s how you’ll most efficiently truly comprehend the concepts laid out.
You can order Adam’s Rudolph’s Sonic Elements right now on his Bandcamp page. Finally, make sure to check out the incredible music of Adam on Bandcamp or other music platforms!