Graduation Term


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Music (MM)


School of Music

Committee Chair

Chen Yao


Philosopher in a Jar is composed for vibraphone, piano, electric guitar, and amplified contrabass. The music was inspired by the unpublished short story, "The Galleon," by T.V. Swantek. Drawing from the ideas of the seventeenth century French philosopher René Descartes, the story is a fictional realization of Descartes "evil demon" scenario and references his philosophical idea: "Cogito Ergo Sum." In "The Galleon," the artificial intelligence entity is the "evil demon" and is represented in the music by the use of perfect fourth intervals and steady rhythmic phrases. The protagonist of the story is a consciousness (the philosopher), presumably a former human, which has been placed into a robotic body and is confined to the artificial intelligence vessel. The philosopher is represented in the music with freely performed phrases, improvisation and serial passages. The story is presented in the form of a message being sent by the philosopher. The music incorporates the use of Morse code to convey the moral of the story: "Cogito ergo sum." The title refers to the preservation of the consciousness being held in the AI vessel.


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