LMJ 18 CD COMPANION Contributors' Notes
Why Record? Life in the Age of Digital Performance
Terumi Narushima: He resonates five toes...
Contact: Terumi Narushima, Australia. E-mail: terumi.narushima [at] gmail.com.
The starting point for this short study is the Sieve of Eratosthenes (named after the ancient Greek mathematician), a method of finding prime numbers through a gradual sifting process. A prime number is divisible only by itself and one. Many musicians working in just-intonation tuning are interested in prime numbers because of the theory of prime limits, an audible characteristic that is related to specific prime-numbered harmonics. A scale belonging to a particular prime limit has a distinctive hue that makes it aurally distinguishable from scales with other limits.
In this piece the tape part is built from a large set of harmonics (as well as subharmonics) from which different non-prime-numbered harmonics are sifted out, leaving just the primes. Against the ebb and flow of this sound mass is heard a koto, a 13-stringed Japanese zither, which has been retuned to Eratosthenes' enharmonic scale.
Acknowledgment: I would like to credit Warren Burt for recording my koto playing.
Terumi Narushima is a Sydney-based composer who writes instrumental and electronic music. Her musical interests include exploration of alternative tuning systems and sound design for intermedia. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Sydney studying with Peter Sculthorpe and obtained a Master of Music from Sydney Conservatorium in 2003. She also studied koto with Satsuki Odamura. She currently lectures in music in the Faculty of Creative Arts at the University of Wollongong, where she is also completing a Ph.D. under the supervision of Greg Schiemer.
theconcatenator: Placard XP edit
Performed by Diemo Schwarz (real-time corpus-based concatenative synthesis software CataRT)and Etienne Brunet (bass clarinet). Recorded live at the Placard Headphone Festival, October 2007.
Contact: Diemo Schwarz and Etienne Brunet, 3 rue Crespin du Gast, 75011 Paris, France. E-mail: schwarz [at] ircam.fr. Web sites: myspace.com/theconcatenator, theconcatenator.concatenative.net.
Time has passed, time is dead. You have to play live again (and again and again until you're dead) to taste this pleasure that no recording can convey. The precious 1/10th of a second linking past, present and the moment to come. You have to start again to make time advance.
theconcatenator improvises live, with Etienne Brunet on bass clarinet and Diemo Schwarz playing his real-time corpus-based concatenative synthesis software CataRT catart.concatenative.net. Ours is a structured improvisation with two brains and four hands controlling one shared symbolic instrument, the sound space, built-up from nothing and nourished in unplanned ways by Etienne and explored and consumed with whatever the live instant filled it with by Diemo, creating a symbiotic relationship between the player of the instrument and that of the software.
CataRT behaves here like a poetic metaphor, a generator of a cut-up of emotions, an interactive structure where the sonic personae exchange bodies and the score of our minds is rewritten in the instant. Our physical sonic appearance, whether familiar or unknown, is modified. But this is not the dream of the machine taking control of the human, it is the contrary: This software creates a dialectic between the age-old gesture of the musician and its digital transformation and critique. CataRT is the pathway between the acoustic instrument and a recontextualizing synthetic interaction at the heart of our times. In a poetic manner, the discourse of the instrument player, his elementary voice, sad or joyful, skillfully refined or totally stupid, can be resculpted in the instant by the player of the software and the instrumentalist, making the unpredictability of the incoming material an integral part of the live performance.
Despite the unrecordability of the experience of playing live, our track on the LMJ18 CD had to condense the very different time-scale of one of our live performances at the Placard Headphone Festival, October 2007 www.leplacard.org, to a stipulated 4 minutes and 45 seconds, with the help of some editing.
The performance uses the concept of live interactive corpus-based synthesis. Starting from an empty corpus, Diemo's CataRT software builds up a database of Etienne's playing by segmenting his output into notes and short phrases and analyzing it for a number of sound descriptors, which describe their sonic characteristics.
Diemo then recombines the sound events into new harmonic, melodic and timbral structures, simultaneously proposing novel combinations and evolutions of the source material according to proximity to a target position in the descriptor space that he controls. The metaphor for composition here is an explorative navigation through the ever-changing sonic landscape of the corpus being built-up from live recording.
Technically, CataRT splits the incoming sound stream (or any number of prerecorded sound files) into short segments and analyzes each segment for a number of sound descriptors such as pitch, loudness, brilliance, noisiness and spectral shape or for higher-level descriptors attributed to them. These sound units are then stored in a database (the corpus). For synthesis, units are selected from the database that are closest to given target values for some of the descriptors. The rate and target values of the selection are typically controlled by a 2D representation of the corpus, where each unit is a point that takes up a place according to its sonic character. Other control possibilities are external controllers or analysis of live audio input. The selected units are then concatenated and played, possibly after some transformations.
Note that corpus-based concatenative synthesis can also be seen as a content-based extension to granular synthesis, providing direct access to grains with specific sound characteristics in real time, thus surpassing its limited selection possibilities, where the only control is position in one single sound file.
CataRT is used in various contexts of composition, sound design, performance and installations, and is a modular system released as free software under the Gnu GPL, running in Max/MSP with the FTM extensions (see ftm.ircam.fr).
Diemo Schwarz is a researcher and developer at IRCAM, composer of electronic music and musician on drums and laptop. His research work includes improving interaction between musician and computer and exploiting large masses of sound for interactive real-time sound synthesis in collaboration with composers such as Philippe Manoury, Dai Fujikura, Stefano Gervasoni and Sam Britton. He holds a Ph.D. in computer science applied to music, awarded in 2004 for the development of a new method of corpus-based concatenative musical sound synthesis by unit selection from a large soundbase. His compositions and live performances---under the name of his solo project Mean Time Between Failure or improvising with musicians such as George Lewis, Evan Parker, Pierre Alexandre Tremblay and Etienne Brunet---explore the possibilities of corpus-based concatenative synthesis to recontextualize any sound source by rearranging sound units into a new musical framework using interactive navigation through a sound space.
Etienne Brunet is a saxophonist, bass clarinetist, bagpipe player, composer, improviser, tamperer with electronics and writer for several jazz magazines. His classical studies perturbed by adversities, he became an autodidact early on. Principal recordings: Axolotl (1981--1984), Boubou Smoking (1985), Aller Simple (Paris) (1991), Postcommunism Atmosphere (1994), Hexagonal Data Silence (1995), La Légende du franc Rock and Roll (1996), B/Free/Bifteck (1997), Improvisations with Fred Van Hove (1998), Les Epîtres selon Synthétique (2000), White Light (2003), Tips (homage to Steve Lacy) (2004), New Phantom Band (2005) and Bye bye la Perf (with the poet Julien Blaine) (2006). His latest album is Love Try (2007), made with his trio Ring Sax Modulator. He regularly plays solo, with Diemo Schwarz, or with Thierry Negro and Erick Borelva, and as a sideman with the group of the Senegalese griot Djeour Cissokho.
PowerBooks_unPlugged: globophagia no 1
Performed by Jan-Kees van Kampen, Renate Wieser, Hannes Hölzl, Echo Ho, Alberto de Campo and Julian Rohrhuber. Recorded by Karlheinz Essl in the Mücsarnok (Hall of Art) Budapest, September 2007.
Contact: PowerBooks_unPlugged. Web site: pbup.goto10.org.
Live coding is an act of public reasoning, where algorithm, sound and thought become indistinguishable; programs are fragments of conversation---heated, yet laid back. To avoid any display of personality, the ensemble PowerBooks_unPlugged leaves the stage behind, a peaceful empty place that it is. The present recording was done in the Hall of Art Budapest, where we hear the members of the ensemble dispersed in the audience space of the concert hall. With some effort, an attentive listener may hear the paths of sounds traveling from one node to the next, suddenly peeking from an internal loudspeaker of one of the laptops (the new folk guitars). Or was it only the far-reaching tentacle of a polynomial hiding in a corner? Maybe just coincidence. With a little more effort, we may hear how minute algorithms are written by one, and copied and subverted by another member of the ensemble; with a little imagination we may see the source code before our eyes and devour it line by line while listening to it as it resonates through the acousmatic veil. To make sure that no recorded sound is allowed, only algorithmic synthesis is acceptable. Where is the composer? Nothing is certain when one sound particle swallows the next and clouds move like thieves, plagiarizing and appropriating, and noisy worlds feast quietly on each other.
Bibliography Julian Rohrhuber and Alberto de Campo, "Waiting and Uncertainty in Computer Music Networks," in Proceedings of the International Computer Music Conference (2004).
Julian Rohrhuber, Alberto de Campo and Renate Wieser, "Algorithms Today---Notes on Language Design for Just in Time Programming," in Proceedings of the International Computer Music Conference (2005).
Julian Rohrhuber, Alberto de Campo, Renate Wieser, Jan-Kees van Kampen, Echo Ho and Hannes Hölzl, "Purloined Letters and Distributed Persons," Music in the Global Village Conference (Budapest), December 2007.
PowerBooks_unplugged gave concerts at SuperCollider Symposium, Birmingham, England (7/2006); connecting media conference, Hamburg, Germany (11/2006); T-U-B-E, Munich, Germany (3/2007); LOSS Livecode Symposium, Sheffield (7/2007); Mücsarnok (Hall of Art) Budapest (9/2007); ZXZW Festival 2007, Tilburg, Holland (9/2007).
Moscow Laptop Cyber Orchestra: Cyberjam0307
Performed at the Theremin Center, Bolshaya Nikitskaya 13, Moscow, 125009, Russia.
Contact: Moscow Laptop Cyber Orchestra, Theremin Center, Bolshaya Nikitskaya 13, Moscow, 125009, Russia. E-mail: box [at] cyberorchestra.com. Web site: cyberorchestra.com.
Cyberjam0307 is a short extract from an hour-long improvised cyber-jam session that took place on 31 March 2007 at the Theremin Center, Moscow, with a group of eight participants. In this particular session Victor Chernenko checked his algorithm for arbitrary rhythm generation, based on network interaction between several participants. The common intention was to develop a highly tensed, intuitively built musical structure.
Moscow Laptop Cyber Orchestra (CybOrk) is an "open source," improvised and highly integrated sonic environment, created by musicians, artists and programmers Andrey Smirnov, Viktor Chernenko, Alexander Kulagin, Dmitry Savinov, Lubov Pchelkina, Alexey Petrov, Dmitry Baikov, Dmitry Subochev, Artem Rukovichkin, Alexander Zenko and Eugeny Kuzmin, as well as numerous collaborators and occasional partners.
In 2004, during workshops at Media Laboratory at University of Art and Design, Helsinki, Andrei Smirnov was introduced to Shinji Kanki---the founder and conductor of the Helsinki Computer Orchestra. There were more than 20 laptop musicians at once on the stage! Each participant had a small part based on elementary sounds and algorithms, forming a big chaos machine organized and conducted by Kanki. The idea of a computer orchestra was so exciting that within a couple of months Smirnov organized a small laptop orchestra at Pro Arte Institute, St. Petersburg. The project was developed in collaboration with Sophea Lerner from the Centre for Music ¨ Technology at Sibelius Academy. After several successful performances and interesting collaborations, Andrei Smirnov and Viktor Chernenko organized the laptop orchestra in Moscow.
Moscow Laptop Cyber Orchestra was founded in May 2006 at the Theremin Center for Electroacoustic Music at the Moscow State Conservatory theremin.ru. From the very beginning the CybOrk was planned as a net of spatially separated mobile workstations, having local sound and integrated into a wi-fi network to explore all sorts of interaction between players, algorithms, sensors, environments and audiences. It was considered an experimental laboratory, open to any interested artist or musician, rather then a fixed orchestra created for conventional concert projects. The practical results of CybOrk's activities are numerous collaborative projects and new compositions and performances created by CybOrk associates, which can often be heard at different concerts and festivals under various names.
Although CybOrk programs contain pre-composed and structured music, the core aesthetics of the CybOrk is based on Cyber-Jam concept-free improvised sessions focused on exploration of predetermined common algorithms, where no other formal sonic, compositional or genre boundaries are fixed, and no other rules on action are applied. There is only an entry point that triggers adventurous search for constantly changing identity evolving in common time and place. This results in self-generative and self-organizing sound and visual textures raveling and unraveling, fraying and renewing, producing a rich palette of clippings, raw digits, dense overdriven noises, deep drones and skipping solos.
In 2006--2007, CybOrk participated in several festivals and concerts, among them the ADD Noise Festival in Moscow, the AbRaCaDaBrA Festival and the NCCA Audio-Visual Reports concert series. CyberJam sessions take place at the Theremin Center nearly every Saturday and are free and open to any musicians and artists interested in collaboration.
Moscow Laptop Cyber Orchestra members include Andrey Smirnov, Lubov Pchelkina, Viktor Chernenko, Alexander Kulagin, Dmitri Savinov, Dmitry Baikov, Dmitry Subochev, Alexey Petrov, Alexander Zenko, Eugeny Kuzmin, Patrik K-H (a.k.a. Anton Yakhontov), Kurt Liedwart (aka Vlad Kudriavtsev), Olesia Rostovskaya. Collaborators include: Vadim Ugrumov, Nikita Tsymbal, Natalia Poloka, Alexander Golovanov, Alejandra Perez Nunez, Elisabeth Schimana, Cordula Bösze, Alexei Borysov, Nikita Golyshev, Artem Rukovichkin, Stephan Cherepnin and many others.
Jose Ignacio Lopez Ramírez-Gastón (El Lazo Invisible): Madrid 5 No Espera a Nadie
Track produced in 2006. A variation was produced in 2005 for the album Azar (Discos Invisibles). Web site: www.discosinvisibles.org.
Contact: Jose Ignacio Lopez Ramírez-Gastón, Mexico. E-mail: nacho [at] discosinvisibles.org. Web sites: www.blog.discosinvisibles.org, www.discosinvisibles.org.
Alternative Musical Production in the Tijuana/San Diego Border Region
El Lazo Invisible is the central project of the Tijuana-based experimental and alternative electronic sound record label Discos Invisibles. It portrays many of the strategies and conceptual resources the record label applies both as survival measures and conceptual tools. These strategies are a direct reflection of the particular geographic and cultural regions that inform the process of audio generation. Lima, Peru, and the Tijuana/San Diego border have been the initial "neighborhoods" trespassed by the work of El Lazo Invisible since 1998.
A matter of space: mi casa no es su casa but you are welcome
As a general intention, the record label reflects on and invests in a notion of cultural activism that relies on the experience of a place and its "invisible" additions to its own cultural fabric. Facing the globalization of the work of digital art, Discos Invisibles explores and evaluates the resources at hand before audio production. This intentional exploration of space and place is directed at the generation of possible models for an independent sound-art culture that designs itself and is not in control of the space but a participative reflection of its historical development and momentary situation. In order to accept global notions of sound art into "our space," there is a need for a careful critique of how early 18th-century notions of the "alien" and the "indigenous" are still in place. For example, we can revise the marketing strategies of "world music" or "ethnic" music and their appropriation and stereotyping of local musical practices. If the 1980s notion of Glocalization now suggests a willingness to think globally and act locally, this process of bridging involves the still-postcolonial need to attenuate the effect of global standards on the disappearance of local strategies that become insertions or adornments on international "musical templates."
A matter of speed: instant, low sonic gratification
Each track by El Lazo Invisible is produced within a time limit of 30 minutes. After this, the track is considered finished, and no postproduction work is required in order for it to be judged as complete or to achieve the quality necessary to became professionally acceptable. This is a reflection of both the general notion of immediate gratification and the speed of contemporary life. This work is informed by a subculture of non-professionally trained musicians and closet laptop sound performers that, for instance, in the case of Latin America, can only dedicate their spare time to their real interest: sound. El Lazo Invisible deliberately seeks to confront the boundaries between academic and popular music.
A matter of quality
The sound produced by El Lazo Invisible also works as a commentary on the idea that current products must respect and enjoy our contemporary "faith" in disposable and ephemeral creations at the expense of quality. MP3 culture, net-label proliferation, software art and easy access to the essential tools for production and distribution of sound have dramatically changed the negotiation between the sound artist and the listener. Some argue that this logic generates a huge amount of useless products that cannot be described as art; we defend this continuous production as necessary for the development of art output. The ethical dilemmas of DIY techniques and immediate access to technology have created a generation of self-published sound artists, of which El Lazo Invisible is but an example. Discos Invisibles participates in this culture under the motto of: 100% homemade, maybe more.
The work of Discos Invisibles lies in a sector of the musical production normally neglected: the non-professional production of non-established electronic musical styles. The need for output oblivious to the validation of professional critique allows the deliverance of sound as an "instant" reflection of a musical environment and its conditions as opposed to static pieces of "high art."
The track presented here was produced in 2006 and is a variation on one produced in 2005 for the album Azar (Discos Invisibles, 2005). It is dedicated to the memory of those who lost their lives in the 11-M Madrid Massacre, the coordinated bombings on Madrid's Cercanías commuter train system. It lives on an intermediate world between the experimentation with the sound of the academic environment and the intellectually driven conceptual sound arts and the rhythmic and loop-based popular electronic music sound. The track goes from an initial electroacoustic tribute to Paul Schaeffer's first official composition, étude aux chemins de fer, to an abstract interpretation of the sensorial experience of attempting to understand the events and the final return to a daily functional life represented by the looped and rhythmic elements of popular electronic music.
Jose Ignacio Lopez Ramírez-Gastón (a.k.a. El Lazo Invisible) has been a sound artist and producer working in the border region San Diego/Tijuana since 1998. He was born in Barcelona, Spain, in 1968, and since then has lived in different countries, spending most of his youth in Lima, Peru. He is the founder of the record label Discos Invisibles, a collective working on the generation of public spaces for alternative sound arts. He is a graduate student of Computer Music at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) and a researcher at the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts (CRCA). He is also the organizer of EM: Electronica Mexicana, the first all on-line Mexican electronic music festival. His research work involves the study of those cultural strategies unique to the Latin-American environment and the application of technology in a way that represents its users.
Created and performed by Dave Griffiths (using nearmiss, an exceedingly minimal take on an audio-programming language written in Scheme), Alex McLean (using feedback.pl, a text editor written in Perl, for live coding Perl) and Adrian Ward (abusing Quartz Composer, an OpenGL-based compositing environment).
Contact: Dave Griffiths, Alex McLean and Adrian Ward. E-mail: dave [at] pawfal.org, adrian [at] signwave.co.uk. Web sites: www.pawfal.org/dave/, doc.gold.ac.uk/~ma503am/alex/.
Time was short. Expectations were high. Source code was lost. Slub (Dave Griffiths, Alex McLean and Adrian Ward) met in the Foundry pub in East London, U.K., setting their laptops next to their pints. Audio was routed from laptops to a mixer and back to the improvisers via a headphone distribution amplifier. This was to be a private improvisation in very public surroundings. With the Foundry being accustomed to unusual events, and Slub being accustomed to The Foundry, this was a relaxed occasion in familiar, comfortable surroundings.
This is how three people met to drink beer whilst writing software to make music to drink beer to. Slub improvises music and video with the symbols of computer code, composing structures that are brought to life by dynamic interpreters of computer language. They are "live coders" in the sense of "live electricity," in that they modify their music-generating programs while they are running. All three have built their own live coding systems, quite diverse in their operation but united through music.
Due to the comings and goings of life, Slub had not made music for some months, and so at the second pint and the third take, things started to happen. Processes collided, packets were broadcast, patches became overloaded. Suddenly, a field of cicadas appeared, sucked into an industrial electronic food processor ready for packaging and distribution to a city of clouds. Tiny slivers of cobalt alloy scrape from the surface of disk platters whilst patterns shift through registers to form samples, beats, bars and phrases. Runtime becomes devtime, and Slub is producing a track over beer.
Dave is using nearmiss, an exceedingly minimal take on an audio programming language written in Scheme. Bolted together over a weekend in an attempt to simplify sound generation for live coding, it is a personal effort to return to the raw materials of sound---as it contains only the minimum of wave shapes, filters and sequencing constructs required to build rhythm and sound.
Alex is using feedback.pl, a text editor written in Perl, for live coding Perl. It has two threads: one is the editor, the other executes the code being edited. The executing code can make edits to its own source code in the editor, particularly useful for adding and modifying comments to let the live coding human know what is going on.
Adrian is abusing Quartz Composer, an OpenGL-based compositing environment that was never intended to make sounds. By exploiting the rendering engine's execute callback mechanism, he is able to build a plug-in that allows the playback head of a sound to be scrubbed back and forth using code, gently modulated by the subtle variances in the Quartz-rendering pipeline.
Slub are Dave Griffiths, Alex McLean and Adrian Ward. They have been making people dance to their software since 2000 at such places as Club Transmediale, Tate Modern, Ars Electronica, Sonar Festival, Ultrasound Festival and the Foundry. Their releases have appeared on Mego digital sub-label Fals.ch, 8bitrecs and Fällt DIY digital do-it-yourself sub-label Fodder.
Mazen Kerbaj: VRRRT
From the first Al Maslakh release BRT VRT ZRT KRT, mazen kerbaj trumpet solo, 2005.
Contact: Mazen Kerbaj, Lebanon. E-mail: lmaslakh [at] zwyx.org. Web sites: www.kerbaj.com, www.mazenkerblog.blogspot.com.
Al Maslakh and the Unpublishable Lebanese Scene
Back in 2000, after 15 years of civil war and a decade of postwar rehabilitation, the situation of alternative art in Lebanon, especially music, was very poor. From Arabic pop songs to hard rock bands, passing by new age and techno beats, anything heard in Beirut was most likely a bad "Arabized" copy of old or new Western musical fashions. The jazz scene, for instance, was mostly interested in playing standards, be-bop or fusion.
Things began to change around 2000 with the arrival of a new generation of musicians, born at the beginning of and during the war, more interested in experimental art forms than in fame or glory. After a couple of gigs in Beirut, three musicians formed MILL, an association to promote and develop the practice of free improvised music in Lebanon. In 6 years, MILL became the reference for the avant-garde musical scene, both as an exchange platform for different Lebanese musicians coming from improv, free jazz, contemporary composition, noise music and alternative rock, and as the organizer of Irtijal, the biggest festival for experimental music in the Middle East and the Arabic region.
The idea of creating a record label in order to document the nascent scene had existed ever since the scene itself was born. However, it took 5 years to become a reality. In 2005 the name Al Maslakh (The Slaughterhouse in Arabic) was chosen---for reasons that we will let the reader figure out---and the label launched with two initial records. Our constantly growing catalog---exclusively publishing projects involving Lebanese musicians or projects of international musicians recorded in Lebanon---offers with each new release a different and unique musical sound experience.
Mazen Kerbaj, born in 1975, lives and works in Beirut. His main activities are comics, paintings and music. He has published 10 books and many short stories and drawings in anthologies, newspapers and magazines in Lebanon, Europe and the U.S.A. and has exhibited his work in both solo and collective exhibitions in Lebanon, France, England, Spain, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, Australia and the U.S.A. Kerbaj is also one of the founders of the Lebanese free-improvisation scene, both as a trumpet player and as an active member in the MILL association, which has organized the annual Irtijal festival www.irtijal.org in Beirut since 2001. In 2005, together with guitarist Sharif Sehnaoui, he launched Al Maslakh, the first label for this music in the region www.almaslakh.org. Between 2000 and 2008, Kerbaj played solo and with various groups in the Middle East, Europe and the U.S.A. Regular partners include: Sharif Sehnaoui, Christine Sehnaoui, Raed Yassine, Charbel Haber, Jassem Hindi, Franz Hautzinger, Helge Hinteregger, Lê Quan Ninh, Michael Zerang, Michael Bullock, Vic Rawlings, David Stackenas, Martin Küchen and Axel Dörner.
Created and performed by Kevin Blechdom and Christopher Fleeger, January 2008.
Contact: Barnwave: Kevin Blechdom (a.k.a. Kristin Erickson) and Christopher Fleeger, U.S.A. E-mail: barnwave [at] gmail.com, kristin [at] kevyb.com, fleeger [at] acousmatic.com. Web sites: www.barnwave.com, www.kevyb.com, www.acousmatic.com.
CF: Kevin, let's write our program notes for "Prancing" here in this chat window. What do you think?
KB: Okay, because sometimes it is easier to communicate in chat than it is in person. I get flustered when we talk about serious issues in person.
CF: Indeed. And the serious question here at stake is "WHY LIVE????"
KB: WHY LIVE? You mean, "Let's commit suicide?"
CF: That could be part of it, though the broader question could be, "Why perform?" in real-time sweaty rawness?
KB: In real-space too?
CF: In answering this question, it's important for us to address the subject of horse ballet as well.
KB: Hmmm . . . the smell of manure! What is a horse ballet without the smell of manure?
CF: That's LIVE. You can't smell that from an mp3; can you?
KB: Not yet---unless you're sitting next to me. Speaking of pheromones . . . did you know that humans have never been allergic to other humans' pheromones?
CF: Only an aversion or incompatibility in some cases. Can a static painting of a horse reveal the steps needed to make a proper prance?
KB: That makes me think of stop-frame animation.
CF: Wasn't one of the first stop-frame films a moving picture of a prancing horse?
KB: I'm trying to find it online.
CF: I found an animation of Eadweard Muybridge's race horse from 1887, but it appears to be galloping.
KB: I mean there are many ways to see a horse or smell a horse or hear a horse or touch a horse or feel the warmth of a horse or to say, wow that 3-D animation software looks "almost" like a real horse. I want to enjoy the variety of realities and time/space scenarios and it's important that we can discuss their qualities and compare and contrast: Simulation vs. simulated simulation vs. partial simulation vs. that feeling you get that connects you to the youngest version of you.
CF: The youngest version of you?
KB: The "undeniably you" versus the over-stimulating mind zones that get layered on top.
CF: Ah, so it can work as a filter?
KB: Perhaps but is the "undeniably you" the filter or being filtered?
CF: There are smaller buffers in live-time, no delicate rendering---it's very raw.
KB: Yes, you can also present pre-rendered material in real-time. Which makes me think of a violinist having to invent the violin during a performance.
CF: I'm impressed how politicians already have an answer developed for so many possible questions they could be asked.
KB: Yeah, like preset General MIDI answers---oh you want a timpani, here you go. So you bring up TIME in relation to LIVE? LIVE happens through time, possibly through linear time?
CF: Performing polished elements from non-linear performances of yester before. . . .
KB: in the same way the violin was not invented during a LIVE violin performance. A musical instrument is a preset sound. Maybe they think we use Ableton? Maybe they were asking "Why LIVE (TM)?"---BTW I'M SICK OF LOOPS.
CF: LOL ROTFL TMI ;) IMHO They're not so live.
KB: With minimal music, the repetition reveals something else about time, but loops are tainted these days.
CF: Oh memory.
KB: Yes, memory and the memory of previous LIVE performances. The smell of cigarettes and the sale of alcohol, that sound guy I slept with after he got me high and the condom broke---but I didn't know that until I found a piece of latex on my thigh three days later during my weekly shower. As long as the loop doesn't always start and stop in the same place, I think I can stand it.
CF: I do that on this Prancing piece. The granular sampling picks random loop points each time I hit the drum pads.
KB: It's PRANCING together in a consistent and inconsistent fashion. So the computer is making decisions LIVE? . . . and then we are responding LIVE too.
CF: I guess it's not truly random being that it's a computer.
KB: Seems like some chunks are too big to be grains . . . chunkular. . . .
CF: Yes, a Max/MSP patch controlled by drum pads.
KB: I was singing through a pedal and you were receiving my un-effected voice and my effected voice and running it through your max patch?
CF: Yes, both raw and the black box trot. Heavily inspired by horse ballet.
KB: We were walking down the street one night in San Francisco and ended up prancing all the way homo---I mean home. Watching you prance made me laugh so hard. It was literally more fun than dancing. Is it a subset of dancing?
CF: What isn't dancing . . . ? Well, I think we got it. How do you feel?
KB: Fancy prancing panties. I feel great! I feel like PRANCING!
Barnwave is Kevin Blechdom and Christopher Fleeger. They are currently based in San Francisco and hail from Tallahassee, Florida. Kevin sings and plays piano, banjo and computer. Christopher plays computer with drum pads and various sensors as controllers. It's cabaret computer music with lots of false starts and stops, meta-musical dialogs, CPU overloads and theatrical explosions all within the focus on creating the sound of a studio production in a live performance. Crowds in Switzerland said, "You stressed us out---in a good way!" and in Israel a fellow said the show "was like a brutal orgasm." Barnwave, like the word combination itself, maintains a sense of things not quite fitting together. The stride breaks as soon as it starts. The Barnwave duo is currently working on a docu-musical about a preschool teacher (from Kevin's hometown in Florida) wrongly accused of child molestation and satanic ritual abuse.
Federico Schumacher: Print. . . ?
Edited by Pueblo Nuevo Netlabel for Federico Schumacher's DVD album [In]Disciplina, 2007.
Contact: Pueblo Nuevo, Chile. E-mail: mikamartini [at] yahoo.com. Web sites: www.pueblonuevo.cl, www.federicoschumacher.cl.
I own a very modern printer; it scans and photocopies. But it rarely accomplishes its main function, the reason why I acquired it: printing. This short piece is dedicated to all those whose lives are once in a while ruined by technology.
Print. . . ? was previously edited by Pueblo Nuevo Netlabel for Federico Schumacher's DVD album [In]Disciplina (see www.pueblonuevo.cl/indisciplina).
Pueblo Nuevo Netlabel was set up by Mika Martini and Daniel Jeffs in July 2005 to release Chilean electronic roots music. In its initial 2-year span, Pueblo Nuevo released 18 on-line works representing the most diverse electronic music styles, plus two CDs---50 Años de Música Electroacústica en Chile and a compilation through the DICAP label. On-line releases are all downloadable for free; furthermore, Pueblo Nuevo has used and supported Creative Commons licenses from the start, even performing at the Chilean version's presentation ceremony.
Pueblo Nuevo has also featured digital artwork in its virtual gallery. Several members are involved with digital technology, copyright, and new media issues, and also in projects such as Noosferas www.noosferas.net and Comunidad Electroacústica de Chile CECH www.cech.cl, to mention a few. From the very beginning, Pueblo Nuevo has encouraged a different kind of relationship with artists: by submitting their musical work, they become part of a musical community, supporting this project as a whole.
Finally, Pueblo Nuevo is a 100% independent, not-for-profit Chilean project, whose members come from varied disciplines, including graphic design, medicine, engineering, scholarly music and teaching.
Born in Santiago, Chile, Federico Schumacher studied at the Universidad de Chile Arts Faculty College, and obtained a DEM diploma in electroacoustic music at the Pantin National School of Music in 2003 and a DEM in instrumental composition at Blanc Mesnil National School of Music in 2004. His music is performed regularly at festivals and concerts in Chile, the Americas, Europe and Asia. Schumacher has received awards and honorable mentions in national and international contests for his instrumental and electroacoustic music, including the XVIIth Composition Contest of the Catholic University of Chile, the Time-Rostrum Chile contest, the Prix Bruynel 2005 and first place in the Electroacoustic Miniatures Contest 2006. In 2002 Schumacher, along with other Chilean composers, founded the Chilean Electroacoustic Community (CECh), which he has represented at the International Confederation of Electroacoustic Music.
Shelly Knotts: Chordophonia
Performed by Jamie Man (piano), Bethany Spicer (Harp), Ed Nightingale (Guitar), Edward Furse (Cello) and Shelly Knotts (Electronics). Recorded at the Barber Institute, Birmingham, U.K. by Les Hutchins, February 2008.
Contact: Shelly Knotts, U.K. E-mail: mak494 [at] bham.ac.uk.
Chordophonia is an exploration of the diversity of timbre that can be produced with string instruments alone. The setup consists of instruments where the strings are traditionally plucked, bowed and struck. Each instrument uses a combination of idiomatic and extended playing techniques to try and draw out as many timbres as possible. For this reason the live electronics part is deliberately non-invasive and serves only to create a stronger connection between the instruments by means of amplitude tracking and onset detection and to emphasize the quieter sounds that would otherwise be lost in the ensemble.
Born in Newcastle in 1985, Shelly Knotts is a Birmingham-based composer currently studying acoustic and electroacoustic composition with Vic Hoyland and Scott Wilson, with a particular focus on live interactive composition. Her most recent works have been played by Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, University of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and alto flautist Carla Rees. She has now been working with the real time audio synthesis programming language SuperCollider for 2 1/2 years and feels the boundary between her instrumental and electroacoustic works is becoming less and less distinct.
Kassen: Ill at ease at home?
Performed by Kassen (Hori Real Arcadestick Pro, the TR8OR sequencer [written in ChucK], Clavia Nord Modular synthesizer, recorded to 1/4" tape), March 2008.
Contact: Kassen, The Netherlands. E-mail: signal.automatique [at] gmail.com.
In electronic music, the role of the recording studio is unlike its role in more traditional music. Frequently the recording process comes to overlap with the compositional process and may become a large part of the performance itself. This creates many possibilities, but it also leads to questions concerning the live performance of such pieces onstage as well as the role of spontaneous improvisation. Often performances in the more popular dance-floor--oriented styles come down to a presentation of pre-recorded material, typically restructured and manipulated on the spot.
While this can be quite engaging, at some point I started longing for more freedom in my own performances. In particular I wanted to turn the act of sequencing rhythms and melodies into a process that was sufficiently fast and intuitive to be performed onstage. I looked at various (mostly hardware-based) commercial products, but found all of them to be aimed too much at a studio-type process and not at all like how I envisioned a sequencer as a real-time instrument would be. I resolved to try to write my own using the ChucK programming language.
My first attempts at this showed me that while sequencers are relatively easy to write, it is not at all easy to create a interface that allows one to play them as real-time instruments. The largest issue I ran into was that traditional step sequencers took insufficient advantage of muscle memory and needed graphical feedback, something I was attempting to get away from. At this stage I looked at the circular interfaces in some computer games and Dave Griffith's BetaBlocker. It struck me that the arcade joysticks I was using to play console games had eight positions in a circle, which nicely matched dance music's tendency to have eight steps in a repeating loop. My idea was to use the joystick to "point at" locations in the loop and to use the buttons to turn sounds at those locations (or moments) on and off. A basic prototype of this was fairly straightforward to write, and after a few hours of testing and practicing, I knew I had the beginning of what I needed. By the end of the day I could write a simple rhythmical loop in roughly as much time as it took for this loop to play: the beginning of the real-time sequencing I wanted. This still left plenty of hard questions, such as how to deal with melodies and intonation. Space does not permit me to go into these but this was a very much longer process than these first steps. Invariably, issues were eventually resolved by sticking as closely as possible to the simplicity of the original idea. Simplicity became a necessity because playing a whole song worth of musical elements without visual feedback places such large demands on concentration.
Now that I have worked with this system for some time and played a few performances on it, I am finding that the directional nature of the joystick as my primary interface is changing the way I experience repetitive music. A strong spatial image emerges, where temporal intervals become angles, and this is making remembering and playing patterns a lot more intuitive. I am also finding that this physical method of manipulating musical data is more engaging to the audience (something I fear won't come across from the audio-only recording attached to this text). The "downside" of a system without permanent storage of musical data, where all music can and indeed must be improvised on the spot, is of course that it takes a lot of practice. I'm finding this process very rewarding, and while performances are now extremely hectic and fatiguing events, they are also a much larger thrill to me than the presentation of pre-prepared material ever was.
Kassen is a composer and sound engineer living in The Hague, the Netherlands. His main focus is the link between automation and expression, both in interfaces and in the psychological experience of sound. Although this may sound academic, he believes dance music can be a very appropriate medium for such exploration. Aside from joystick-based sequencing he enjoys live coding and the border between DJ-ing and sound collage. Most of his music is released by the Dutch Creme Organisation label, through which he can also be booked.
Yunasi: Kumbe Kumbe
Performed by Benson Mutua, Thobias Imani, Dominic Odhiambo, Erick Odhiambo, Ngalah Davis, Simon Maranga, Mathew Rabala and Estelle Lannoy. Kumbe Kumbe is track no. 12 on the Yunasi album Nairobi, Sounds of Sesube, recorded by Tedd Josiah at Blu Zebra studios in Nairobi, Kenya, October 2006.
Contact: Yunasi, Kenya. Web site: www.yunasi.com.
In addition to programmed sounds, Kumbe Kumbe has a nyatiti (a traditional eight-stringed instrument of the Luo, a tribe living around Lake Victoria in Kenya), a marimba (xylophone) and a lead guitar. The song is performed in a variety of languages, mainly a mix of Swahili, English, French and Luhya (a Kenyan language).
The song talks about bad politics and the need to coexist peacefully. The message is not to let our leaders incite us to rise up against each other, neighbor upon neighbor, tribe against tribe, brother against brother, etc. Due to petty politics, it is the common man who suffers and also gets killed. Politics makes us angry and sick because of the incitement. Whilst the leaders are only looking out for their own interests, the common person is the one who stands to lose much more if they don't live in peace with their neighbors. This message was prophetic, as evidenced by what has happened in Kenya with the post-election crisis and resultant violence. The song is also aimed at any region that is in conflict and where people mistrust each other despite living together for long as neighbors. Singing in the local Swahili and Luhya languages for the song to be understood locally and in English and French for the rest of Africa and the world. Yunasi's music aims to create social awareness and is geared for both the young and the old.
In 2004 Yunasi developed a unique East African music style called Sesube, which is a combination of sega, isukuti and benga. It takes sounds and inspirations from local Kenyan communities, cultural styles and languages and fuses those sounds with a European component. The sound is achieved by playing a variety of instruments, both traditional and modern. Their music is not only popular and progressive but also emphasizes the theme of social responsibility and harmony. Yunasi work at a youth project in the Mathare slums to show the youth that music and sport can be a way to escape poverty as well as a way to avoid the pressures to use drugs and engage in crime.
In March 2006 Yunasi were announced as prize-winners at the prestigious U.S. International Song Writing Contest held in 2005 for the song "Ji Opogore" (The Difference of People)---obtaining 3rd place in World Music out of 15,000 entries from all over the world. They also won the 2004 Kisima award for best Afro Fusion band and were nominated for an All Africa Kora award in South Africa 2003.
The band comprises seven men from Kenya and a Frenchwoman (Benson Mutua, Thobias Imani, Dominic Odhiambo, Erick Odhiambo, Ngalah Davis, Simon Maranga, Mathew Rabala and Estelle Lannoy). They sing in several languages, including Kiswahili, English, French, Luo and Luyha.
Thor Magnusson and Rúnar Magnússon: giooia---a variation of SameSameButDifferent v.02---Iceland
Contact: Thor Magnusson, U.K., and Rúnar Magnússon, Denmark. E-mail: thor [at] ixi-audio.net and runar [at] this.is. Web sites: www.ixi-audio.net, myspace.com/runarmagnusson, this.is/whitelabel.
SameSameButDifferent (SSBD) is an ongoing generative music project. SSBD v.02---Iceland concentrates on field recordings from their native Iceland. Its basis is a computer program written in SuperCollider. The software has an interface that invites the listener to listen to a new composition each time or re-listen to an already played composition. The interface allows the user to store the name of the track (which gets converted into a random seed for the performance) or record the track as an audio file for playback in other systems.
The sound sources of SSBD v.02---Iceland are field recordings of Icelandic nature (geysers, hot springs, rivers, springs, ocean, wind, fire, birds, foxes, sheep, snow, ice, glaciers, rocks, etc.) recorded over a long period of time. In choosing the recordings, we have deliberately excluded human noises, which was relatively easy as there was hardly any human noise in the remote places where the sounds were recorded. Our aim is to represent the natural soundscapes of the country in as many ways and combinations as possible, and for that purpose the generative music format is ideal. The recordings serve as raw locations, but in each performance of SSBD we get a unique fictional place, which could or could not possibly exist. The listener is situated in these locations with a binaural head that could or could not possibly exist, as zooming into particular sounds and their subtle processing can be disproportionate to other sound origins. Not only is the head dispersed in space, but the sound sources themselves change locations gradually, creating the illusion of a levitation and movement inside the soundscape.
The focus is on location, presence, temporality and the subjective dislocation in space that we have termed here "schizotopia"; namely, the fact that we are faced with infinite locations and infinite ways of virtually placing our ears within that space. We find this creative dislocation of time, place and ears interesting and ear-opening. It is as if the frames of the recordings converge into a multidimensional space where our physical laws do not exist. The experience becomes closer to the logic of dreams.
Thor Magnússon is an Icelandic musician/writer/programmer working in the fields of music and generative art of all kinds. He is currently working on a Ph.D. at the University of Sussex where his research is focused on the semiotics of computer music interfaces, human-machine interfaces and the sociology of programming computer music. He is a co-founder and member of the ixi audio collective www.ixi-audio.net.
Icelandic sound artist Rúnar Magnússon has been creating adventurous and imaged music for 15 years. Rúnar's roots lie deeply embedded in field recordings, nature sounds, sound collages and secret recordings of the people and places around him. His work has been described with terms such as electroacoustic, experimental and sound art, but it still manages to remain eclectic and versatile. Rúnar's work is focused on surround sound, and he has played several concerts using multiple speaker systems in churches, theaters and museums.
rohan drape: piano & sine tones #15
Contact: Rohan Drape, Australia. E-mail: rd [at] slavepianos.org. Web site: www.slavepianos.org/rd/.
A set of 40 four-, five-, six- and seven-note chords sound on 72 occasions at intervals of 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 seconds to form a work of 3.4 minutes duration for piano and sine tones. The work was generated using the Glasgow Haskell Compiler and the SuperCollider real-time synthesizer on 28 February 2008.
Rohan Drape lives in a northern suburb of Melbourne.
Wang Changcun: 2008020912
Created using a Max/MSP-controlled piano sampler, January 2008.
Contact: Wang Changcun, China. E-mail: ayrtbh [at] gmail.com. Web site: www.post-concrete.com/wangcc/.
I have made a lot of piano tracks like this. They are made for my personal listening, like a diary. I write a patch, connect the sampler, run it, leave the computer and fetch a book; when I get bored with it, I change a preset or terminate it.
Wang Changcun is a sound artist, web site designer and Flash coder currently based in Shanghai, China. Born in 1981, He was one of the earliest practitioners of sound art in mainland China. In 2003, six of Wang's works were selected in CHINA: the Sonic Avant-Garde, the first compilation of Chinese sound art, released by the California-based label Post-Concrete. In November 2003, Wang performed in Sounding Beijing 2003, the first-ever large-scale experimental music festival in China. In the October of the following year, he toured in Europe (France, the Netherlands, Belgium) for one month.
Updated 22 July 2009