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Lovely Properties


2/3/13  Envoi Recordings

1 Reasons and Boundaries 2 Must Do What Arrow Tells Me 3 Brillig 4 Queen's Gambit Declined 5 Angst in Space 6 Lots of Tiny Robots

Derek Worthington trumpet/compositions Gabriel Steiner trumpet Michael Musick tuba William Marriott soprano saxophone Molly Jones alto saxophone Patrick Booth tenor saxophone Dave Haughey cello Billy Satterwhite bass Jon Barahal Taylor drums Emily Berman voice

My debut album features the nine-to-ten-piece ​​​Arbor Composers Collective performing six of my compositions, which range from through-composed to heavily improvised.  The music is mainly in the modern creative jazz vein, but also draws influence from computer music, classical, and pop/rock.  With Lovely Properties, I strove to create something honest, personal, experimental, and engaging.  To buy the album, click the icon or the button above.  For the reasoning behind the title, and more than you may care to know about the associated philosophy, read on.

Lovely Properties refers to a concept by philosopher and cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett.  There are properties that are inherent to things without needing to be observed; an example is the property of loveliness.  A woman can be lovely regardless of whether or not that quality is ever witnessed by anyone.  In contrast, there are properties that for their very existence require someone to know about them; Dennett's example is the property of 'being a suspect'.  You can be guilty without anyone knowing about it, but you cannot be a suspect unless someone actually suspects you.  Hence the division between 'lovely properties' and 'suspect properties'.

It would seem that even though lovely properties don't need to be instantiated in someone's consciousness, they at least need to be defined relative to some specific class of observer.  But Dennett shows that even though that relation may be the only reason to define such a property in the first place, you could in principle pick out the set of qualities that make up 'loveliness-to-a-human-being' without any reference to humans.  This is all part of a larger point he's making about qualia, such as color and scent, being lovely as opposed to suspect properties.  If you're interested, I highly recommend his original paper on the subject, which you can find here.​


Much of my music is indirectly inspired by scientific and philosophical concepts.  The positive connotations of the word 'lovely', while not relevant to the technical meaning of the phrase, are part of the reason I chose it as a title.  The music onLovely Properties, like the title, is meant to convey joy in abstraction.​

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