Leonardo Music Journal, Volume 10 | Leonardo/ISAST

Leonardo Music Journal, Volume 10

December 2000

Contents

Origins

  • An Approach to Compositional Trends in Latin America
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    Any attempt to theorize about Latin American composition will necessarily involve a prejudgment of which composers to consider. In addition the context of a colonial system of cultural transmission should not be ignored. This context makes it important to evaluate a composer's significance in terms of his or her distinctiveness in the light of metropolitan composers and compositions. A number of characteristic trends can be seen in the works of composers who meet these criteria, including a distinctive sense of time; use of nondiscursive, reiterative processes; austerity; violence; the breach of technological and cultural boundaries; and an interest in cultural identity.

  • The Development of Electroacoustic Music in Colombia, 1965-1999: An Introduction
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    The author presents a general view of the development of electroacoustic music in Colombia from its beginnings up to the recent present. The article covers major protagonists and events that have contributed to the development of this new field of music. The author also focuses on several key works in the development of this media and their creators.

  • The Brazilian Group for Computer Music Research: A Proto-History
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    The Brazilian Group for Computer Music Research (NUCOM) has become renowned for its annual Brazilian Symposium on Computer Music. The author recounts the group's proto-history-the period of the 1970s and 1980s-with particular reference to the early works of Aluizio Arcela and Eduardo Miranda. The author continues his discussion to focus on NUCOM, which began to take shape in 1993 when Miranda and Geber Ramalho (one of Arcela's students) met in Paris and decided to launch a discussion list on the Web. The following year, Maurício Loureiro chaired the First Brazilian Symposium on Computer Music, affiliating NUCOM to the Brazilian Computer Society (SBC).

Interlude

  • Island Landscape: Following in Humboldt's Footsteps through the Acoustic Spaces of the Tropics
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    The author describes his sound-image installation Island Landscape and its inspirations: the flora and fauna of Cuba and the writings of Alexander von Humboldt. Humboldt was a forerunner of the acoustic ecology movement, which endeavors to preserve and record the natural sounds of environments. Through his vividly written descriptions of the sound landscapes of the New World, Humboldt created a lasting work that continues to inspire artists today.

  • The Technology and Music of the Nigerian Igbo Ogene Anuka Bell Orchestra
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    The author discusses the Nigerian Igbo Ogene Anuka music style, a complex form using iron bells of the same name. The article addresses the form and content of the music as developed and modified by its master practitioners. The author then investigates the technical processes involved in achieving the distinctive sound quality of the bells-processes in which musical considerations interact significantly.

Ways Means

  • Too Many Notes: Computers, Complexity and Culture in Voyager
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    The author discusses his computer music composition, Voyager, which employs a computer-driven, interactive and “virtual improvising orchestra” that analyzes an improvisor's performance in real time, generating both complex responses to the musician's playing and independent behavior arising from the program's own internal processes. The author contends that notions about the nature and function of music are embedded in the structure of software-based music systems and that interactions with these systems tend to reveal characteristics of the community of thought and culture that produced them. Thus, Voyager is considered as a kind of computer music-making embodying African-American aesthetics and musical practices.

  • Beta Foly: Experiments with Tradition and Technology in West Africa
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    In 1994, together with several West African traditional musicians and German electronics expert Kurt Dahlke, the author founded the music ensemble Beta Foly, based in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire. The group explores creative musical possibilities generated through the bringing together of different cultures and traditions, placing a strong emphasis on the use of both ancient African instruments and the most recent music technology. The members of Beta Foly compose and improvise eclectic, polymetric music, trying to combine styles in innovative ways in order to find new avenues for composition, ensemble interplay and cross-cultural understanding.

  • Vox Populi: An Interactive Evolutionary System for Algorithmic Music Composition
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    While recent techniques of digital sound synthesis have put numerous new sounds on the musician's desktop, several artificial-intelligence (AI) techniques have also been applied to algorithmic composition. This article introduces Vox Populi, a system based on evolutionary computation techniques for composing music in real time. In Vox Populi, a population of chords codified according to MIDI protocol evolves through the application of genetic algorithms to maximize a fitness criterion based on physical factors relevant to music. Graphical controls allow the user to manipulate fitness and sound attributes.

  • Compositional Processes from an Ecological Perspective
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    The author discusses the conceptual basis of an ecological approach to music composition, considering the epistemological and compositional concepts involved. The author's text-and-tape piece, touch'n'go/toco y me voy, is presented as an example of an ecologically based musical work, in which the sound event functions as the basic unit of multilevel musical structures. Digital resynthesis techniques are integrated in the compositional process by means of environmental sound models. Ecological models establish formal relationships without obscuring the recognizability of everyday sounds. Materials, techniques, perceptual constraints and references to social issues are integrated in a consistent compositional method.

  • A Spatial Theory of Rhythmic Resolution
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    Cyclic arrays, such as clock faces, have advantages over linear arrays for conceptualizing repetitive rhythmic structures. The author maps rhythms from African and Indonesian musics into cyclic arrays and analyzes them using concepts from Gestalt psychology, mathematical group theory and psycho-acoustics. The perceptual structures thus revealed exist between the different musical parts played on various instruments and contradict the usual processes of auditory segregation according to the physical locations of instrumentation. This prompts a proposal for a theory of musical despatialization to explain the psychological efficacy of these rhythms.

LMJ 10 CD Companion

Contributors' Notes