Wednesday, February 26, 2014

"Atomic facts" : Pandolfi scores Wittgenstein

Like we were saying, Poetry Scores has various composers setting Ludwig Wittgenstein's philosophical prose poem Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1921) to music.

We'll eventually create an index page where the entire score can be followed as it emerges, but for now, in the beginning, we'll post finished mixes as they arrive, in or out of order.

Next up: "Atomic facts" by Carl Pandolfi, which sets to music Proposition 2 through Proposition 2.0123 of the Tractatus.


Free mp3

"Atomic facts"
(Wittgenstein, Ogden, Ramsey, Pandolfi)
Carl Pandolfi

Produced, composed, recorded and performed by Carl Pandolfi in St. Louis, Missouri.

Carl Pandolfi plays acoustic guitar, electric bass, piano, snare drum, electric guitar and sings all vocals.
Executive producer: Chris King for Poetry Scores

Music (c) 2014 Carl Pandolfi


We are scoring the first English translation of the Tractatus that C. K. Ogden commissioned and published and took credit for, but F. P. Ramsey actually performed, with benefit of Wittgenstein's corrections, delivered personally, mouth to ear, as Wittgenstein liked to do philosophy (poetry). Their translation is in the public domain and posted on Project Gutenberg, but here is the part Carl scored in "Atomic facts."

Just once, listen to the song while looking at the part of the Tractatus it scores.

from Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
by Ludwig Wittgenstein
translated from German
by C. K. Ogden and F. P. Ramsey

2         What is the case, the fact, is the existence of atomic facts.

2.01     An atomic fact is a combination of objects (entities, things).

2.011   It is essential to a thing that it can be a constituent part of an atomic fact.

2.012   In logic nothing is accidental : if a thing can occur in an atomic fact the possibility of that atomic fact must already be prejudged in the thing.

2.0121  It would, so to speak, appear as an accident, when to a thing that could exist alone on its own account, subsequently a state of affairs could be made to fit.

             If things can occur in atomic facts, this possibility must already lie in them.
            (A logical entity cannot be merely possible. Logic treats of every possibility, and all possibilities are its facts.)

            Just as we cannot think of spatial objects at all apart from space, or temporal objects apart from time, so we cannot think of any object apart from the possibility of its connexion with other things.

             If I can think of an object in the context of an atomic fact, I cannot think of it apart from the possibility of this context.


"From a philosophical point of view, the translation 'atomic fact' is less fortunate than 'state of things,'" says Jaap van der Does, our resident scholar for our Scoring the Tractatus project, "but so be it ..."

Ah, but "atomic fact" is much more fortunate from a poetic point of view!


The composer and one-man-band Carl Pandolfi is a veteran contributor to Poetry Scores and countless other creative projects and bands, notably The Lettuce Heads. This is the atomic fact of one of his eyes. Him on SoundCloud too.

"Kind of turned out like a cross between TMBG (They Might Be Giants) and Leon Russell, but still mainly Schoolhouse Rock," Carl said of this score.


The Ogden/Ramsey translation of the Tractatus is in the public domain. The music is (c) 2014 by Carl Pandolfi. Free sharing of this mp3 is welcome, but please consult Poetry Scores for production-quality audio and composer permission before making any commercial use. Thanks!



Carl Pandolfi scores the title of Wittgenstein's "Tractatus"

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