Variations on the Game of Life: Four Guitars

by Tom Eisenbraun

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"The seeds of this project started to germinate in the spring of 2013, when I was taking a 20th Century Music theory class--Set Theory and 12-tone analysis and such. With so many numbers running in and through the music, I started to wonder about setting computational engines to composition. John Horton Conway’s “Game of Life” came to mind pretty quickly, because it holds such visual interest for me. Through the rest of that year I set about a number of avenues of musical interpretation of the “Game,” most for percussion and nearly all of them dead ends.

Enter Tom Eisenbraun. Tom and I lived together in college and ever since, he has been one of my favorite sources of recommendations for books and music. I can hardly count the number of nights I’ve stayed up way too late discussing ideas of all sorts with Tom on the various incarnations of Google’s chat engine. It was one of these late night G-Chats when I brought Tom up to speed on the progress of my Game of Life project. At that stage, I was drawing a graphic score representation of the Game, intended for a percussion quartet. The specifics of my interpretation had some obvious application to the guitar, and Tom asked if I minded his taking a shot. Of course I didn’t.

Fast forward to early summer 2015, Tom had sent me a few samples of his piece and we had kept each other abreast of the various progress we had made. One morning I found an excited email from Tom about a rough recording he’d put in our dropbox folder. It blew me away. What I’d heard to that point was a small collection of 60-second-or-less clips, and the complete 20 minute piece was beyond what I’d imagined. From peaceful and plaintive to goofy and quasi-tonal these Four Guitars live and die fantastically."

–Wade Jenkins, June 2015


released June 30, 2015

Wade Jenkins: composer
Tom Eisenbraun: arrangement, guitars, recording



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Tom Eisenbraun Nashville, Tennessee

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