# Topic: The Dirac Sea - A WW Quintet

1. ## The Dirac Sea - A WW Quintet

The Dirac Sea - Woodwind Quintet

This fall I submitted a work through the Cleveland Composers Guild in a 'blind' submission for works to be performed by the Solaris Woodwind Quintet, a quintet of faculty members from the University of Akron. This coming March 17, my piece was selected to be performed by the quintet.

The piece is a four movement work called The Dirac Sea.

A bit about the Dirac Sea:

The Dirac sea is a theoretical model of the vacuum as an infinite sea of particles with negative energy. It was first postulated by the British physicist Paul Dirac in 1930 to explain the anomalous negative-energy quantum states predicted by the Dirac equation forrelativistic electrons. The positron, the antimatter counterpart of the electron, was originally conceived of as a holein the Dirac sea, well before its experimental discovery in 1932.
The equation relating energy, mass and momentum in special relativity is:
,In the special case of a particle at rest (i.e. p = 0), the above equation reduces to , which is usually quoted as the familiar . However, this is a simplification because, while , we can also see that . Therefore, the correct equation to use to relate energy and mass in the Hamiltonian of the Dirac equation is:
Here the negative solution was used to predict the existence of antimatter, discovered by Carl Anderson as the positron. The interpretation of this result requires a Dirac sea, showing that the Dirac equation is not merely a combination of special relativity and quantum field theory, but it also implies that the number of particles cannot be conserved.

Now the Four Movements:

I. Turmoil

II. Calm

III. Dark Energy

IV. Ripples

I thought I'd share the Garritan realizations before I get the recording of the Solaris WW Quintet's performance.

Best regards,
Bill

2. ## Re: The Dirac Sea - A WW Quintet

Hi Bill,

I'm always excited when you post another work and if the beginning of the 4th movement is any indication, this work won't disappoint! I've got them all downloaded and have listened briefly, but will get back to comment after I'm able to listen with more time.

I have to ask ... is there any link to your choice of scales, modes, or harmony to the Direc Sea write-up/information? I know you always have a plan so thought there may be some connection (or maybe you just wrote it in a vaccuum! )

Thanks for posting this and congratulations on having it slated for performance!

Frank

3. ## Re: The Dirac Sea - A WW Quintet

Originally Posted by Frank D
Hi Bill,

I have to ask ... is there any link to your choice of scales, modes, or harmony to the Direc Sea write-up/information? I know you always have a plan so thought there may be some connection (or maybe you just wrote it in a vaccuum! )

Frank
I always write in a vacuum! Ah but sometimes I have a plan. E and C were obvious choices. But what to do with poor M. Well if you do a note matrix:

A B C D E F G (ignoring #'s and b's - those are just accidents waiting to happen)
H I J K L M N etc.

You find M is equivalent to F so I now have C, D and F. A nice 4th to fifth relation. From that I created Eb F and Bb using the F as the pivot, F, G and C fit nicely using two common tones as do D, E and B and finally Ab, Bb and Db . . .
You mix these notes together to create the scale: D Eb E F G Ab Bb B C Db (D), an 11 note scale (11 is a prime), and put them in my vacuum of my brain, out comes music...

Oh my, I think I am getting dizzy...

Too much thought there. Actually, that is the devised scale and the piece is based on that scale. It has wonderful possibilities even if it isn't E = M C2

Best regards,
Bill

4. ## Re: The Dirac Sea - A WW Quintet

Originally Posted by wrayer
The Dirac Sea...I thought I'd share the Garritan realizations before I get the recording of the Solaris WW Quintet's performance.
And Thank You, Bill for doing that. I hope you are able to post the live performance recording later on, but it's always interesting to hear the Garritan/MIDI versions of pieces.

The Physics makes me cross-eyed, I have precisely Zero understanding of it, and even though I understand that all music is essentially mathematics made aural, I've never really wrapped my head around Any of that.

But it's at least interesting to see what you inspired you to write this cool, abstract music which seems to be piped in from another dimension. Quite enjoyable. Thanks, Bill.

Randy

5. ## Re: The Dirac Sea - A WW Quintet

Originally Posted by rbowser-
The Physics makes me cross-eyed, I have precisely Zero understanding of it, and even though I understand that all music is essentially mathematics made aural, I've never really wrapped my head around Any of that.
Randy
Thanks Randy, I really appreciate your enthusiasm. I understand the physics, but it really isn't part of the work, just the inspiration. Aren't musical notes, after all just a sea of randomness, bouncing around from negative to positive. I just put the meaning to the music. The piece is best listened to in the dark. Try it, it really does change the quality and the meaning.

Best regards,
Bill

6. ## Re: The Dirac Sea - A WW Quintet

Hi again Bill,

Hmmmm ... I KNEW there was a link to those formulas! Now I'm worried ... Do I know you or what?!

Seriously, thanks again for explaining the correlation; I find this fascinating. Besides the gut-value of your music (which for me always has to be the most important thing), your music always seems to have structure. That's probably why it's fairly accessible to me despite the uncommon scales and harmonies. There's generally a well-defined map to hold it all together.

I'll also take your suggestion to Randy to listen in the dark ... now if I can only find a human-sized vacuum chamber .

Frank

7. ## Re: The Dirac Sea - A WW Quintet

Originally Posted by Frank D

I'll also take your suggestion to Randy to listen in the dark ... now if I can only find a human-sized vacuum chamber .

Frank
NASA has a huge vacuum chamber very close to where I live. They test all kinds of planes and space suits i it. Maybe I'll take my own advice and... Nawhhh!

Music has to take you somewhere. If it doesn't, it's just just a pretty collection of noises. It'd be like reading a novel of words mixed up in any fashion. As far as structure, I always keep the simple ones in mind. These 4 movements are related by repetition and contrast, the key elements of any musical structure.

Enjoy it in the dark, just leave out the vacuum.

Thanks for the wonderful and jovial comments,
Bill

8. ## Re: The Dirac Sea - A WW Quintet

Hi Bill,

It took me quite a while to have the courage to listen to your ww. quintet. You've really frightened me off
displaying all these frightful formulas. During my college time, I was not a bad maths student, but that's all I can say about it. Maths were definitely not my favourite topic... The first impression I had when seeing your introduction was: oh no, not another geometrical or mathematical analysis of music (I had enough of these when Bach's masterpieces were ripped into bits and bites and number-series-constructions). But it was only a source of inspiration... A nightmare was just an ordinary dream.
Now, to the quintet itself. I listened to it in broad daylight, not in a vacuum suit or chamber, not even with a vacuum head. (That would be extremely difficult to listen...) and I was enormously surprised with the first movement. As you may know, atonal music is not my cup of tea, but that movement didn't prove itself as being 'atonal'. I would rather describe it as polytonal or originally tonal and it reminds me somehow of the post war period of serial or dodecaphonic music (12 tones serial music). And you must after all be a master mind in maths to maintain the use of pre-constructed scales and harmonies to the end. And I have to say that you succeeded very well in that system. The first movement appeals very much to me. (Although I didn't notice any 'turmoil' in it, or is the title a contradiction or a joke?)
The second movement is attractive too, but seems to have another ambience (more presence and brightness). Was it recorded differently or is it just an impression?
And a last thing about the fourth movement. This beats everything. I like it a lot. It has contrast, colouring, a very skilful use of all the instruments playing a transparent part (role) each. In this movement, the harmony comes at ease, more peaceful.

And a big hand again for the Garritan woodwinds too. They did a brilliant job here: nice individual,sound, very decent ensemble playing, dynamic contrasts, well articulated.
But a big bravo for your rendering as well!

In short, this quintet must be an utmost interesting challenge for live performers. I'm looking forward to the announced live recording.

Max

9. ## Re: The Dirac Sea - A WW Quintet

Originally Posted by wrayer
, which is usually quoted as the familiar
Well, now I see. ()

Excellent composition. Brilliant performance. Great rendering.
We all wait for the live recording, but you already blew life into it.

10. ## Re: The Dirac Sea - A WW Quintet

Max - I am glad you enjoyed this work. You talk about atonal as if it is always 'ugly' or harsh. A lack of a tonal center is all the word atonal means. With that in mind, mine is not atonal there is a center of pitch, but it bubbles around as if afloat in that Dirac Sea.

As to the ambience of MM II, yes, when I recorded (exported to wave file) it I forgot to set the wet and dry variables. I was too lazy to go back and re-export.

Ah, the last movement was the most fun to compose. I modeled after a scherzo movement, a little joke. The middle section is un-metered, well it is to be played un-metered, a hard thing to create in Finale. Each player gets to cadenza the melodic notes until the 'ripples' come back.

Thanks for the kind words, have a Happy Holiday,
Bill