Ukraine-based musician Denys Zhadiaiev believes that it is possible to create music that transcends the binary nature of the language and formal logic. On November 24, 2023 he released his album, A Cycle to Exist, an ambient electronic project in which 24 tracks tell a story about regularities in nature and cognition, and represent a yearly rotation of the Earth. Denys Dnipro was inspired byProcess and Reality (A.N. Whitehead),Creative Evolution(H. Bergson) and microgenetic theory (Dr. Jason W. Brown). Hecreates his music in the danger of being hit by Russian missile attacks, remaining undeterred by the war waging in his country.
Stream A Cycle To Exist and read our interview with Dennis Dnipro below.
How can music be related to psychology and philosophy? Music is an aesthetic experience. Aesthetics is part of philosophy, and like mathematics, is derivative from logical relations. In this way, sonic art is derived from more abstract categories – existence, freedom, universe, good, beauty, truth.
Why then do you move from philosophy to its “derivative” realm, the music?
I do not literally “move from” it. And music is not just a tool to serve abstract considerations. It is more. Learning and teaching philosophy, doing research I found that words (language) as a “vehicle” for transmitting ideas are far from perfect – they separate things onto affirmed and negated, black and white. Our cognition can be interpreted only through this binary separation. Music overcomes that – it does not analyze. It is what it is per se.
Well, it is known that the same musical piece can be interpreted in different ways, sometimes quite opposite – one hears joy, another may hear irony in the same music. Is it better than language for any introspection and its interpretation?
To be sure, this ambiguity does not help any clarity in cognition, and is the most important drive for me in doing music. But there is one advantage – it gives a kind of coherence and integral picture.
Is your music a sort of science that aids philosophical approaches?
In science we need precision, causes and effects clearly detected. In music we forget the source of sound, the room we are in, and in really good music we forget ourselves. This is beyond causes and effects. So, if my album – A Cycle to Exist– helps listener to forget about bitrate, their speakers quality etc. and helps to gather thoughts and feelings into one coherent picture, like these 24 tracks represent a year on Earth passing the sun – it can be a better tool for philosophical understanding than language (but I hope listeners enjoying the album will not forget to subscribe, add to playlist!).
The album image art and the idea of the album suggest that there are laws of existence, regularities, patterns, something beyond our irrational wishes, emotions. If so, does not your idea contradict the most important part of the human soul – the emotions and feelings? Music, as aesthetics, is what we emotionally and physically perceive and this part is volatile, agile, in change, alive and always needs something new while any rules, ideas, regularities are supposed to have stable, uniform character.
Music needs to be partly uniform as well, otherwise we do not understand it, not feeling at home in it. This is where minimalist composers started their career in the 20th century. But this question is justified – art is not a set of known ideas. We need fresh air to breathe. However, this question is logical and, again, it is another pitfall of language where we fall in this interview – we discuss, separate meanings, making analysis – we are not playing musical phrases here! But the question must be answered.
If we appeal to that lively part of our soul which are feelings and emotions, can we distinguish which emotions are truly ours and the most important for us if they contradict each other? We dreamed about something today, but tomorrow we are glad our dream did not come true. My albums (and next ones) designed to help to stop and think and decide which of the feelings is truly ours. In this way, it is more emotional than it seems to be – it helps to reveal our truest wish and hence, brings us to existence in full.
What does the title of your album mean? Is it about cycling? The picture reminds me of an abstract bicycle wheel…
Yes, it may suggest an ecological and healthy lifestyle such as cycling! However, A Cycle to Exist is borrowed from microgenetic theory where subjects and objects are not considered as separate or one dominating/impacting the other. It is a process of interaction between mind and outer world and this process is cyclic. If anything exists, it is perceived as a cycle. Hence my title: A Cycle to Exist. Music is cyclical (tonic-dominant-tonic) and this is another reason why philosophy should borrow it, not relying on language only.
And the album art shows straight lines that form the cycle like our daily decisions – formal and clear – shape the further events of our lives in the long run. Also, it is after Henri Bergson who compared an intuition to the circle and an intellect to the straight line: intellect avoids contradiction by taking into account only infinitely limited situations like the straight line is an infinitely short part of the full circle.