Interview with Alexandre Rodichevski, Scientist and Musician

March 23, 2011

Alexandre Rodichevski: former Scientist at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Novosibirsk, Statistics Specialist, and currently IT Manager. How did you decide at a certain point of your life, to start composing music?

Alexandre Rodichevski, seven years of age, at the piano.

© Photo Vladimir Rodichevski

All my life I have been an avid listener of the best of pop, and later of classical music. As a child I studied piano in a music school in the Urals. I loved music so much that when I did not have any means to listen to it, I would create it in my head. Then, at times in the night, I would dream about it. At a certain point I realized that now and then I did not produce in my mind, music I had already heard, but created it anew. Recently I started to compose, making use of a computer and professional programs.

As of today you have composed four CDs revolving around four distinct themes. Let’s consider them one by one. The first is Minutes, a collection of – using the term you gave - «musical "briefs" about everyday life which reflect a heterogeneous conception of our own time, the rhythms and sounds to which we are daily subjected.» The album is composed of 24 pieces: 24 like the hours of the day, whereas 60 minutes make up an hour. Is there a sort of ratio in this?

Alexandre Rodichevski, eight years of age, listening to a cable radio station.

© Foto Vladimir Rodichevski

The pieces are arranged in such a way as to encompass an entire day and can be interpreted in different ways: it is the day a community lives, where a minute was taken from every hour, or else, can stand for 24 moments in a person’s life.

The second CD is Cosmologies. What concept of the cosmos emerges in this album?

I see the Cosmos not only as the space encompassing all the galaxies, but as three “containers” that lead the listener from the macro to the microcosm: the Universe, the Earth and the living being. The titles clearly reveal that each concept has been placed in comparison with other contrasting or complementary concepts: the Big Bang with the Big Crunch, summer and winter, female and male, etc.

The third CD Ars mathematica is the most unique. What interior relationship is there between music and mathematics?


The relation between mathematics and music goes back to ancient times. The Pythagoric school for example, discovered that the tones of the musical scale were linked to the ratio between whole numbers. More recently, this was applied to particular mathematical instruments such as harmonic analysis. But this was not all. Mathematics, like nature, can become the source of inspiration to musicians, supplying examples of great beauty and offering very rich items, like the Peano curve of or the fractals. Some mathematical transformations furthermore, like symmetry, can be applied to musical phrases. This work aims to make the audience think of mathematics not as an arid matter or for experts, but as a source of beauty, where it works in synergy with the art of music.

The last CD is called The Elements of Quietness an example of meditative music. The album was recently used during a meeting to introduce and disseminate the reiki[1]. What differentiates the type of music in this CD from your other earlier works?

This music is free from rhythm and the need to repeat musical phrases. On listening to it one is carried away by the modulation of the harmonies, scales, and timbre of the instruments. All the pieces of this album present sequences without repetitions borrowed from the phenomena of nature.

There are four pieces in the last CD just like the elements. In Cosmologies, there is the piece entitled Five Elements. Are there four or five elements? What does this piece hold in common with The Elements of Quietness?


The elements are taken up from two schools of thought. In one, there are four material elements, soil, water, air, and fire. In the other, a fifth element is added: essence. The piece Five Elements refers explicitly to the material elements, inserting in the musical weft the sounds of rolling stones, water flowing, the wind and the crackling of fire. Instead, in the album Elements of Quietness each piece is associated to an element: Arcadia (earth), Lotus Flowers (water), Talking Wind (air), and Northern Lights (fire). However, the fifth element is present: the whole album is dedicated to the essence which constitutes the listener’s soul.

Of the four CDs, the one which supposedly is a heterogeneous compilation is Minutes. The others have a more compact thematic structure. Why this difference?

The first album is varied not only in the themes but also in the musical genres. You find for example, pieces inspired by classical and techno music, thrash metal, blues and hip-hop. In the succeeding CDs, I wanted to analyze some themes in depth and concentrate on some methods in composing.

Your ideas come through in this interview. Do the listeners have other aids?

Music for me is an art of thought: through composition, I develop my philosophical thought. My CDs are not a collection of pieces arranged in a casual order: they represent my ideas not only for their content, but also for the order that binds them. A clear example is Cosmologies: it starts with a Big Bang and ends with a Big Crunch. Ideally the concept does not die out when the piece ends, but continues in the following piece. So, to answer your question, I retain that it is important to offer the listener a guideline, setting the music within a context: each CD packet contains a booklet which illustrates the context the pieces refer to. It is precisely this which creates a great unity between the pieces, making the album a unique musical work.

What methods do you use in composing?

Ars mathematica

I follow two attitudes in composing: one is traditional-spontaneous, and the other, rational-constructive. The first elaborates the harmony and melodic curve according to the rules of pop and classical music. The second uses the analogical transformation of the items that are seemingly estranged from music: numbers, geometrical forms, and colors.

Does your scientific background have an impact on your musical compositions?

Yes. In both disciplines you need creativity, and the desire to experiment and open out to new horizons. Besides, to achieve a rational composition I use a systematic approach along with mathematical transformations. For example, randomization and equalization of distributions. The music becomes data to be elaborated with IT tools, like the calculus sheets. Furthermore, it becomes easy for me – knowing them well – to transform in music, phenomena such as the Brownian motion.

You are currently working on two CDs. What are the themes?

The Elements of Quietness

The first is a collection of pieces I wrote in the traditional styles easy listening, modern pop, Russian romances, with themes revolving around man and nature. In the second I am experimenting on new analogical transformations, as I mentioned earlier.

Other projects?

I have many things in mind. Let me talk about three of them. The first is to share my methods of composition through the publication of a theoretical and practice book. The second is to see ballets danced to my music, and some pieces of Cosmologies and Ars mathematica I had composed them while imagining corporal movements. The third is to write music for theatre.

Translation by Yolanda Rillorta

[1] The day meeting was held by the Rainbow Project Onlus Association of Sesto San Giovanni (Milan).