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moloch whose name is the mind

for taiko and digital audio

This work takes its title from section II of Allen Ginsberg's 1956 "Howl", in which the author asks, "What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination? / Moloch! Solitude! Filth! Ugliness! Ashcans and unobtainable dollars! Children screaming under the stairways! Boys sobbing in armies! Old men weeping in the parks!" Ginsberg uses Moloch, an ancient deity whose worship required the sacrifice of children, as an icon for the sickness of the modern mind.

This work opposes the Molochian hegemony through the development of polyrhythm and cyclical form. The odaiko (big drum), shime-daiko, and chappa (hand cymbals) are combined with digital sounds produced from other instruments of the taiko ensemble. These sounds are composed, processed, and synthesized through various tools including the algorithmic composition system athenaCL. Additional processing and synthesis is done with Csound, Max/MSP, SoundHack, and various other software and hardware.

Odaiko performance

Wynn Yamami, odaiko, performing "moloch whose name is the mind" on 6 May 2003. More information.