Ben Neill playing his Mutantrumpet.
City Life

Math, music and the Mutantrumpet: Indexical hosts a dance of disciplines

It’s a different sort of equation Friday as mathematician and former UC Santa Cruz professor Ralph Abraham joins forces with horn player Ben Neill.

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A really intriguing performance piece lands this Friday in Santa Cruz. The music organization Indexical is hosting an event marking a unique collaboration between a musician and a mathematician.

The former is New Jersey-based horn player Ben Neill, who invented what’s called the “Mutantrumpet,” an unlikely combination of three trumpets and a trombone. And the mathematician is Ralph Abraham, a former UC Santa Cruz professor and well-known historian of Santa Cruz’s 1960s-era counterculture.

Abraham was one of the pioneering figures in the development of chaos theory, a principle that asserts there are patterns and feedback loops underneath the seeming chaos in nature. On his Mutantrumpet, Neill will perform a numerically structured composition produced in part by a software program while Abraham’s animations are shown on a screen.

Check out this fascinating dance of disciplines Friday at Indexical at the Tannery Arts Center in Santa Cruz.