Standard Deviation

Electrum - Standard Deviation Track Listing
  • The Will To Power (8:42)
  • Degrees Of Freedom (5:47)
  • A Tense Bow... A Moving Target (3:34)
  • The Impudent Piece Of Crockery (4:45)
  • Fugue State (6:50)
  • Apartment Living (2:09)
  • Seven Falls, Eight Rises (14:34)

Gino Foti - Bass Guitar, Synthesizers
Dave Kulju - Acoustic & Electric Guitar, Keyboards
Joe Musmanno - Percussion


Russian-American composer Igor Stravinsky once wrote: "Musical form is close to mathematics -- not perhaps to mathematics itself, but certainly to something like mathematical thinking and relationship."

There are a number (no pun intended) of connections between instrumental music and mathematics. Both are capable of conveying ideas and embodying patterns that cannot be translated into mere words, and the two have been conjoined since the Quadrivium - the upper division of the liberal arts curriculum of Ancient Greece. Given our academic backgrounds, work-related experiences (oh, don't worry, we're keeping our day jobs!), continued fascination with odd meters, and passion for instrumental rock, it is not a surprise we chose a mathematical term for the concept of our second release.

The visual artwork explores several elements relating to the title phrase. Standard Deviation is a statistical concept, but it evokes an emotional and social response, even with people who are not familiar with the mathematics.

The cover image relates on a fundamentally emotional level. The scene is at once completely natural and yet other-worldly. We see, set into the ground, a stone monument in the form of the Greek letter sigma, which is the symbol commonly used to depict standard deviation. Indeed, the sigma pervades the artwork, as an icon of the concept.

A mathematical representation of standard deviation is found on the reverse of the CD insert. And, on the back of the jewel case, we see a lighthearted visual depiction of the phrase: a flag, or standard, in the process of tearing, or deviating. Literally, "standard deviation".

Finally, the music encoded on the disc provides one last interpretation. There is a body of music known as the "standards", and in some ways this recording represents a deviation from that body. Hopefully, the result is a form that, like the cover image, evokes an emotional response which is at once comfortable and exciting, natural and other-worldly.

Composition Notes

Click on the song titles to stream music samples.

The Will To Power (Foti)

Inspired by the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche. For the uninitiated, 'Der Wille zur Macht' (The Will to Power) was his answer to the riddle "What is life?".

"And do you know what "the world" is to me? Shall I show it to you in my mirror? This world: a monster of energy, without beginning, without end; a firm, iron magnitude of force that does not grow bigger or smaller, that does not expend itself but only transforms itself; as a whole, of unalterable size, a household without expenses or losses, but likewise without increase or income; enclosed by "nothingness" as by a boundary; not something blurry or wasted, not something endlessly extended, but set in a definite space as a definite force, and not a sphere that might be "empty" here or there, but rather as force throughout, as a play of forces and waves of forces, at the same time one and many, increasing here and at the same time decreasing there; a sea of forces flowing and rushing together, eternally changing, eternally flooding back, with tremendous years of recurrence, with an ebb and a flood of its forms; out of the simplest forms striving toward the most complex, out of the stillest, most rigid, coldest forms toward the hottest, most turbulent, most self-contradictory, and then again returning home to the simple out of this abundance, out of the play of contradictions back to the joy of concord, still affirming itself in this uniformity of its courses and its years, blessing itself as that which must return eternally, as a becoming that knows no satiety, no disgust, no weariness: this, my Dionysian world of the eternally self-creating, the eternally self-destroying, this mystery world of the twofold voluptuous delight, my "beyond good and evil," without goal, unless the joy of the circle is itself a goal; without will, unless a ring feels good will toward itself - do you want a name for this world? A solution for all its riddles? A light for you, too, you best-concealed, strongest, most intrepid, most midnightly men? - This world is the will to power - and nothing besides! And you yourselves are also this will to power - and nothing besides!" ~ Nietzsche, The Will To Power, 1067

Given the subject matter, this rhapsody is constantly changing in tempo, meter, key, dynamics, etc. -- in short, it is as unclassifiable as the man who inspired it. I may not agree with all of his theories, but anybody who wrote "Without music, life would be a mistake" is alright by me!

Degrees Of Freedom (Foti)

This tune is a departure from our usual compositions with the meter being mostly common time. It features various melodic sections and an unusual arrangement in the way the different instruments are introduced and interact with each other throughout the rhapsodic form, making this piece sound more like jazz fusion than progressive rock, for the most part.

A Tense Bow... A Moving Target (Foti/Musmanno)

"But we [...] free spirits - we have it still, the whole need of the spirit and the whole tension of its bow! And perhaps also the arrow, the task and, who knows? the target..." ~ Nietzsche, Beyond Good And Evil, Preface

The title is an obvious tie-in with "The Will to Power", alluding to Nietzsche's concept of the Overman (aka Superman) - "the bow with great tension" - as the music is mostly comprised of leftover material from it, although it fits the contents perfectly: a three and a half minute rhapsody with a couple of tempo changes, three individual solos, and nine different time signatures.

The Impudent Piece Of Crockery (Kulju)

This piece was an attempt to bring the guitar into a more dominant role and remedy the occasional melodic abyss of our previous effort. The title comes from a line in the animated film "The Sword in the Stone" that gave my wife a good laugh. This piece is for her.

A Fugue State (Kulju)

This piece is characterized by some fairly disparate musical ideas assembled in the least logical fashion; aggressive guitar driven progressions, gentle melodies, blues licks, semi-funky grooves with mean dirty organ, and a quiet but rhythmically unstable fugue-like section.

In addition to the fugue-like section, the title comes from an appropriate psychological condition. From the Mental Health Infosource:

"A fugue state is a type of dissociate disorder in which the individual may flee from his or her usual life circumstances, take on a new identity and have no recollection of his or her previous life. Often the new personality is in stark contrast to the original one."

Apartment Living (Kulju)

This piece was written at 5 A.M. while the juvenile delinquents living below me were having an all night party and making sure that everyone could hear it. This on an evening where earlier the morons above me decided to do karaoke at 130dB. So I guess this piece falls into that self-righteous-contempt-for-all-mankind genre.

Musically the piece's first theme is in 9/8 with some dissonant chords stabbing over a pedal tone. The next theme moves to common time and attempts to settle into a more steady groove but is interrupted every two bars by dissonant and rhythmically strange phrases. An atonal guitar solo follows in 7/8 which sounds especially confusing due to the placement of the accents and the relative stability of the preceding section. The song concludes with a repeat of the second and first themes.

I've since bought a house... it is quiet here... nice!

Seven Falls, Eight Rises (Kulju)

The title is an English translation of the Japanese proverb "Nana korobi, ya oki". The theme of determination is appropriate for this fourteen minute piece, as I have totally scrapped and rewritten the last two thirds of the piece three times. Thanks to my new computer-based home studio, the latest incarnation explores a far more orchestral direction than my past work. At times, it sounds like an orchestra accompanied by a rock band.