2017 Best in Time-Based Art – Jerry Arlen Jones

The Big Bang

The Big Bang is my attempt to convey the early conditions of the universe melodically. To achieve this, I scored with a combination of synthetic sounds and orchestral music. There are over 30 separate instruments in this piece between the sound effects, strings, woodwinds, brass, timpani, organ and marimba. Each carries a symbolic place in the mix, but broadly: the synths project confusion and disarray while the orchestral components imply a structure beginning to take shape.

Like the universe, my piece begins with a large boom and the scattering remnants of charged particles. As the dust settles, my melody emerges from this chaos and takes baby steps toward structure. Early in the piece, we can hear how the different instruments stutter step in finding their melodic place. Yet as the drums build, each instrument’s place within the mix becomes more certain, precise and layered. In the final moments, all chaos dies away and we are left with only beautiful structure. The melody, a product of the chaos, is all that is left of our universe.

Overall, piece is really about the beauty of the universe: in both the chaos we struggle to understand and the meaning we give to the structures that emerge. Like the big bang itself, my score aims to tie all things to a common root and convey the underlying beauty in the movement of time. The contrasting instrumentation attempts to rethink the split between seemingly authentic art and the science which some claim is too mathematical to be emotional. By moving them in and out of rhythm together, I hoped to break down the “barriers” between science and art and show them intertwined.