David Carbonara is the composer of the critically acclaimed series Mad Men, winner of multiple awards including three Golden Globes and four consecutive Emmys for Outstanding Drama Series, and multiply album releases. His latest release is “Axiom of Choice” which includes the singles “Inverse Probability”, “Non-Constant Function” and “The Undefined and Indeterminate”.

Axiom of Choice
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It’s my Latest release, and is out on November 24th

Axiom of Choice represents my latest musical endeavor, set to be available for streaming on November 24th. This album is the culmination of my exploration into incorporating randomness using Ableton Live’s controllers and MIDI devices. However, I channel the resulting random pitches and chords through devices that conform them to scales of my choosing, resulting in harmonically rich melodies and textures in a traditional sense. These melodies, which would not have naturally emerged solely from my own creative faculties, are imbued with a sense of unpredictability through the use of random controllers.

Axiom of Choice

For instance, in track 7, titled “Modeling with Functions,” you can distinctly hear the clashes in the melodies, which are the direct result of the aforementioned random controllers.

Track 7 from “Axiom of Choice”

Notably, what’s missing from this release is hearing how it would change every time I pressed play. The tracks presented on the album represent a single snapshot, recorded on that day. There is, however, the possibility of future “remixes” being released, allowing for an intriguing point of comparison. Yes?

These are the seven from “Axiom of Choice”

  1. Inverse Probability
  2. Non-Constant Function
  3. The Undefined and Indeterminate
  4. Even, Odd Or Neither
  5. Am I Missing the Math?
  6. Isolating the Variable
  7. Modeling With Functions

Yes, there’s a theme here. Set Theory maybe? 

What the heck is Axiom of Choice anyway?

axiom of choice, statement in the language of set theory that makes it possible to form sets by choosing an element simultaneously from each member of an infinite collection of sets even when no algorithm exists for the selection. The axiom of choice has many mathematically equivalent formulations, some of which were not immediately realized to be equivalent. One version states that, given any collection of disjoint sets (sets having no common elements), there exists at least one set consisting of one element from each of the nonempty sets in the collection; collectively, these chosen elements make up the “choice set.” Another common formulation is to say that for any set S there exists a function f (called a “choice function”) such that, for any nonempty subset s of S, f(s) is an element of s.

From Britannica

And what does that have to do with me?

So, I have always found the axiom of choice intriguing, even though I am not an expert in mathematics. This concept resonates with me because, in a way, composing music feels like engaging in mathematical reasoning. Both endeavors bear philosophical implications. Music, like advanced mathematics, stimulates deep contemplation, evokes dreams, and stirs desires. In today’s world, where our lives are intertwined with computers, even if only through our smartphones, this connection feels particularly profound.

When embarking on the creative journey of composing, I consciously choose specific musical notes from a predetermined set. Although this set may not be infinite, it possesses a boundless quality in my perception. I then adeptly intermingle these individual notes, chords, melodies, and rhythms. As the piece progresses, this amalgamation of musical elements changes it into a distinct piece, a musical “set” that can be further used in subsequent arrangements.

Ableton Live

The beauty lies in the infinity of possibilities that can be derived from a finite set of notes. Like the mathematician exploring the infinite with the axiom of choice, I, too, explore uncharted territories within the realm of music composition. Each note, chord, and rhythm becomes a building block, paving the way for new artistic expressions.

In essence, the art of composing music and the practice of advanced mathematics are intricately intertwined. Both disciplines require a meticulous approach, a touch of creativity, and a deep understanding of structure. They possess the ability to fuel the transformation of ordinary numbers and musical notes into great works of art that inspire joy. At least for me, it was an inspiring journey.


“The Undefined and Indeterminate”

While continuing with my adaptation of adding randomness to my music, I’m now releasing my new single “The Undefined and Indeterminate”. It begins streaming on Nov. 3, but you can catch a preview here, and pre-save on your preferred music service here.

Streaming on Nov. 3rd | “The Undefined and Indeterminate”

So after writing for decades using my musical influences, I’ve been aching for something new in the techniques that I use in creating my music. For this reason, I’m hoping to stretch the genres that I’ve found myself living in and trying to “beat the algorithm” that has placed me and my music on the path of predictability, I’m releasing my new single “The Undefined and Indeterminate”. It’s my way of rising above the algorithm machine!

As with the previous two releases, “The Undefined and Indeterminate” is driven by Ableton Live’s randomization controllers, it’s very much in the vein of contemporary film and TV scores of today.

The track uses hybrid synths, piano and beats. A great fit for electronic/hybrid film score fans, and it’s It’s track three from my “Axiom of Choice” album.

More on my use of Ableton’s Randomness

In particular by harnessing the expressive potential of Ableton Live’s randomization controllers, it takes on a captivating journey, through the realm of contemporary film and TV scores. This unique approach, inspired by the avant-garde techniques utilized in the current landscape of audiovisual media, pushes the boundaries of musical creativity to new heights.

Within the intricately crafted sonic landscapes of this release, you’re invited to experience a rich tapestry of undefined emotions and indeterminate moods. The fluidity of the compositions allows for a sense of unpredictability and surprise, creating a hopefully immersive and captivating experience.

What’s more drawing from my musical influences and genres, “The Undefined and Indeterminate” seamlessly blends elements of electronic music, orchestral strings, and atmospheric pads. The result is a mesmerizing fusion that transcends conventional categorization, offering a fresh perspective and a distinct sonic identity.

With its surprisingly well crafted sound design, this release is a testament to the power of experimentation and the endless possibilities unlocked when embracing the unconventional. From simple melodies that linger in the subconscious to the percussive beat patterns that propel the listener forward. This track “The Undefined and Indeterminate” is a testament to the limitless potential of what can be done, using very simple musical ideas as a foundation.

Streaming on Nov 3rd

So dive into this this track on Nov. 3rd, and let the ebb and flow of the music guide you through uncharted territories maybe? To sum up, one could say, the “Undefined” becomes a source of inspiration and the “Indeterminate” transforms into a wellspring of creativity.😎

How I came to compose “Lipstick” for Mad Men.

“Lipstick” is one of my most loved music cues from the series “Mad Men.” The funny thing is that I never composed music for that famous scene in season 1. It’s true but hard to believe, right? After scoring the pilot episode, I worked on episode 102, the second episode in the series titled “Ladies Room.”

Mad Men's Lipstick

“Office Tour”

In “Ladies Room,” Paul Kinsey gives Peggy Olson a tour of the office, and they make a lunch date for another day. When I went to the early cut of the episode, I decided that scene could use a bit of upbeat score to accompany Paul and Peggy through the scene, pausing for his quote of Rod Serling’s “submitted for your approval,” which I would never ever step on! So I scored it with a medium swing small big band sound to give it a bounce, as the actors had when walking through the set. I was happy with the cue and was expecting it to easily go into the final cue. So I sent it to the editor to show producer Matthew Weiner, expecting the best.

Ladies Room Mad Men, Peggy Olson and Paul Kinsey
Mad Men’s Paul Kinsey and Peggy Olson

It didn’t go well 😔 – rejected. I tried again, but “no” once more! I gave up, and the scene remains “dry”, without music. Honestly, I needed a few episodes to learn what worked for Mad Men. This was an early lesson that I needed to learn – only so much underscore could be tolerated by the producers of the show. I myself have a light touch in scoring, so I had a good start, but there is always a learning curve.

Mad Men’s “Office Tour” returns as “Lipstick”

Ladies Room Mad Men, Peggy Olson

In episode 6, I was surprised to find that my cue from the “Office Tour” fitted perfectly with the montage of the “Belle Jolie” lipstick.

The editor, Malcolm Jamison, later told me that Matthew Weiner felt sorry for me because Malcom’s temporary music was so good. But it turned out that my cue worked even better! He was stunned when he learned it was a Carbonara original! So, although the process for “Lipstick” was not traditional, it all worked out for everyone. And in fact, the cue was used more than once in the Mad Men series.

So, thank you Malcom and Director Andrew Bernstein for transforming “Office Tour” into “Lipstick”.

“Lipstick” on Spotify

Okay, less about Lipstick and more about “Mad Men” here:

And check out the infamous Mad Men Christmas Conga!