Gone to Tuscaloosa

from by Holland Hopson

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The town of Tuscaloosa takes its name from Chief Tuscalossa of the Mobile trive, first encountered by DeSoto in 1540. This tribe was closely related to the Choctaw people of western Alabama and eastern Mississippi whose music was studied by Frances Densmore in 1933. Included in Gone to Tuscaloosa is "Rabbit in the Garden" as transcribed by Ms. Densmore who notes that the song is a version of a German folk song learned by the Choctaw from European settlers. I became fascinated by this schizophrenic song--wondering how it changed as it passed through various cultures and languages, how it may have been corrupted further by Densmore's authoritative, but inevitably inacurrate, transcription. For many years Tuscaloosa was the site of Alabama's largest mental health hospital, and the phrase "gone to Tuscaloosa" became a euphemism for insanity. This piece represents my first use of fuzzy logic for interactive computer music. Fuzzy logic ameliorates the computer's deterministic, binary structure, making room for ambiguous concepts like 'almost' and 'somewhat.' With fuzzy logic we need not be either completely sane or insane--we may be 'just a little touched.'


from Maps, released May 1, 1998



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