An Organized Chaotic Space:
The Musical Process of Trout Mask Replica

ESAD (Escola Superior de Artes e Design)

Research / Editorial / Art Direction


An Organized Chaotic Space:
The Musical Process of TMR


Captain Beefheart & his Magic Band’s Trout Mask Replica was an album whose chaotic but organised, or should we say, orchestrated, process left the professional musicians out of the picture in terms of decision making related to the musical composition and over-all outcome. Band leader, Don Van Vliet, a.k.a Captain Beefheart, had complete creative control over the album’s creation. He composed everything on piano, disregarding each instruments and musicians physical limitations and despite having a lack of classical, or any kind, of training on keys. This forced the musicians to try to decipher what Don was meaning to say rhythmically and melodically. Each professional musician, apart from the leader, memorised and practiced their unconventional and difficult parts on their own before rehearsing together, meaning they had no foresight in what the album would sound like. They only realised during the group recordings the amount of layers, tempos, rhythms, melodies, textures and sounds they were actually playing and fitting together. 

This kind of making is what we described as organised chaos, something whose process is logical, and methodical but whose outcome is chaotic, or apparently chaotic.
We created a digital system which appropriates, interpretes and translates this organised chaotic process into a visual output in a form of a book. A system wich reacts to the album’s amplitudes through several ‘if statements’ so it can choose from content and parameters we fed it. Therefore, a system in wich we only control the imput and the criterions and not the output, much like Trout Mask Replica’s musical process.

  1. Research, Design, Art Direction
    Carolina Feijó,  Daniel Bertini,
    Miguel Howard & Pedro Lobo

  2. Consultant
    Nuno Lobo

  3. Guidance

    João Castro, João Martino, Margarida Azevedo,
    Maria João Baltazar, Miguel Salazar,
    Rafael Gonçalves, Susana Fernando

  4. Software

    System build in MAX/MSP

  5. Format

    Book, 140 x 195 mm