Emergence

“Emergence” is an improvised game piece which explores the mechanisms of flocking behaviour in starlings. A “Murmuration” refers to the phenomenon that results when starlings aggregate into huge flocks of up to thousands of individuals, swirling together to create intriguing patterns in the sky. The complex behaviour of swarming bees and shoaling fish are other examples of similar social behaviour, in which multiple individual components express themselves as a single entity: an emergent system. Humans display comparable self-organising behaviour in crowds or traffic. Emergent properties are also contained in our use of language. This can be observed when speakers try to reach their own communicative goals, using language in a particular way. If enough speakers behave in that way, language is changed.

Murmurations are considered an emergent behaviour, arising from simple rules that are followed by individuals, without any central coordination. Using improvisation as a vehicle, this piece explores ways in which these rules can be applied to the grammatical structure of music. These are systems which can represent the richness of the world around us, emerging from the complex behaviour of many interacting components. In the words of German scientist and engineer Jochen Fromm:

"one water molecule is not fluid
one gold atom is not metallic
one neuron is not conscious
one amino acid is not alive"