Nick Roth Music

Flocking I-II (2012)

Flocking I for string orchestra


Flocking I-II for saxophone orchestra


The Flocking series was developed in collaboration with mathematical biologist Luke Coburn and Dr. Iain Couzin (CouzinLab, Princeton University).

CouzinLab is a highly interdisciplinary environment with a closely integrated experimental and theoretical research program that aims to elucidate the fundamental principles underlying collective behaviour across different levels of biological organization.

Flocking I-II is based on data generated by the study and simulation of flocking patterns in birds, particularly in the spectacular roosting of the swallow, known as a murmuration.

This work was a study into the underlying rules that govern the formation of these patterns. The movements of the birds over time was represented on a 3-dimensional x,y,z axis which maps the spatial positioning over a 60-second period. The translation process for converting the movements of the birds into notes on the score is approximately: x = dynamic,  y = note duration, z = pitch. The data was quantized to fit the 60-note pitch range of the saxophone orchestra and correspondingly each flock is formed of 12 birds.

Flocking I-II composed for saxophone orchestra with transcription for string orchestra of Flocking I.