Leonardo Music Journal, Volume 27 | Leonardo/ISAST
Leonardo Music Journal 27, 2017
On the cover: Nancarrow Percussion Orchestra, consisting of an array of percussion devices originally developed by Conlon Nancarrow and made electromechanical by Trimpin. (© Trimpin)
ISSN: 
0961-1215
111 pages

Leonardo Music Journal, Volume 27

December 2017

Contents

Introduction

Articles and Notes

  • Acouscenic Listening and Creative Soundwalks: Evoking Memory and Narratives through Soundscape Exploration
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    Sound art is at the vanguard of contemporary creative practices seeking to establish a platform for meaningful debate on a range of accelerating global environmental crises. This paper explores how the Softday art/science collaboration moved from exploring histories of the natural world in the epoch of the Anthropocene, while engaging in a continuum of public and politicized contestations addressing climate change issues, to a participatory sound art practice that that we call Acouscenic Listening and Creative Soundwalks, which may help to develop a novel frame of understanding of the world.

  • Be Here Now, and Then: Urban Ecological History into Art
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    Urban ecological history can give us a fascinating glimpse into the sometimes completely obscured natural past right under our noses. It is also an effective vehicle for reconnecting people with their urban environment. Interdisciplinary artist Edmund Mooney uses eco-history as an invitation to walk into New York City, against the grid, with an eye and an ear to land and water features long erased.

  • Resounding Memory: Aural Augmented Reality and the Retelling of History
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    This text discusses sound art projects in which artists have used augmented reality along with recordings or data of public spaces. All the works mentioned here were carried out in Spain from 2010 to 2016. In them, memories become tied to the physical space through social interactions facilitated by communication technologies; listeners get involved through the use of mobile devices. These practices consider the role of sound in the display of memories in the public space, thus configuring a subjective memory that contrasts with the institutional narrations of the history of a place.

  • A Memory of Almost Nothing: Luc Ferrari’s Listening During Presque Rien No.1
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    Luc Ferrari’s Presque rien, ou le lever du jour au bord de la mer (Almost nothing, or daybreak at the seashore) represents one of the most significant milestones in the development of field recording as it is understood today. His piece, recorded in 1968 in Vela Luka, is both a composition and an execution of auditory memory making. The work demonstrates the agentive capacity of Ferrari’s listening and sets a framework for future executions of the relational condition between human listening and the audition of the prosthetic ear: the microphone. In 2013, the author visited the same location to reconsider Ferrari’s sonic subjects and to update Ferrari’s exploration by expanding on the French composer’s listening methodologies.

  • Times Square: Strategies and Contingencies of Preserving Sonic Art
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    The author traces the artistic and institutional complexities of preserving sonic art. He situates these problems in an analysis of the iconic public sound installation Times Square (1977–1992; 2002–present), which was constructed in an abandoned subway ventilation chamber by sonic artist Max Neuhaus (1939–2009). Next, the author describes how it aided a revitalization of the Times Square district but fell into disrepair and was dismantled in 1992. The author then describes a 2002 reconstruction that incorporated long-term speculative self-preservation strategies. Finally, the author discusses the acquisition of Times Square by the Dia Art Foundation, highlighting challenges that circumscribe preserving sonic art.

  • Historical Virtualization: Analog and Digital Concerns in the Recreation, Modeling, and Preservation of Contemporary Piano Repertoire
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    Modern efforts to preserve and reinterpret canonic musical works in the contemporary piano repertoire often take advantage of new technologies, fundamentally changing core aspects of the works themselves. By approaching preservation as a form of virtualization—in this case the creation of a functional interpretative model of each musical work—artists and researchers can create robust and performable digital versions of important musical systems. This paper introduces the idea of virtualization as a compositional modeling technique and offers three case studies in which digital versions of contemporary piano repertoire were designed and developed.

  • Transcoding Nancarrow at the Dawn of the Age of MIDI: The Preservation and Use of Conlon Nancarrow’s Player Piano Studies
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    This article focuses on the process by which, in 1987, sound artist and inventor Trimpin converted composer Conlon Nancarrow’s Studies for Player Piano from their original hand-punched rolls into the MIDI format. In addition to presenting the technology utilized in this conversion, the article focuses on the collaboration between Trimpin and Nancarrow, and on the significance of the act of porting works composed upon a vulnerable media format to a format that affords extension, analysis and preservation. The article concludes with an overview of a number of example uses of the transcoded Nancarrow scores, including traditional performances and two extended performances and installations.

  • On Improvised Music, Computational Creativity and Human-Becoming
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    Music improvisation is an act of human-becoming: of self-expression—an articulation of histories and memories that have molded its participants—and of exploration—a search for unimagined structures that break with the stale norms of majoritarian culture. Given that the former objective may inhibit the latter, we propose an integration of human musical improvisers and deliberately flawed creative software agents that are designed to catalyze the development of human-ratified minoritarian musical structures.

  • Phonological and Musical Loops in Live Coding Performance Practice
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    This paper explores how various phenomena of working memory are actively drawn on and can provide useful insights into live coding performance practice. The author argues that the phonological coding processes that cognitive psychologists believe underscore how auditory information is retained and recollected in working memory can enrich our understanding of live coding performance practice, where loop-based processes often provide key structural units. The author suggests that such practice finds structural coherence and aesthetic value through a real-time play with the effects of working memory.

  • Uncanny Materialities: Digital Strategies for Staging Supernatural Themes Drawn from Medieval Ballads
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    In the medieval tradition of ballads, a recurring theme is that of transformation. In a staged concert for chamber orchestra, singers and dancers called Varelser och Ballader (Beings and Ballad), we explored this theme using ballads coupled with contemporary poetry and new music. The performance made use of custom-made digital musical instruments, using video analysis and large-scale physical interfaces for transformative purposes. In this article, we describe the piece itself as well as how uncanny qualities of the digital were used to emphasize eerie themes of transformation and deception by the supernatural beings found in the medieval ballads.

  • The Cadolzburg Experience: On the Use of Sound in a Historical Museum
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    The museum at Cadolzburg Castle in Germany, opened in 2017, uses a sound installation to present aspects of the building’s history that could not be materially reconstructed. In this article, the curators and the sound artist explain how the installation alternates between sound effects and musical signifiers to engage visitors with their environment and to spark reflection on the problems of “authenticity” in museums. While the musical thread offers quotes from musical styles representing the castle’s history, the sound thread gradually deconstructs a “castle soundscape” inspired by film soundtracks.

  • A Personal Reminiscence on the Roots of Computer Network Music
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    This historical reminiscence details the evolution of a type of electronic music called “computer network music.” Early computer network music had a heterogeneous quality, with independent composers forming a collective; over time, it has transitioned into the more autonomous form of university-centered “laptop orchestra.” This transition points to a fundamental shift in the cultural contexts in which this artistic practice was and is embedded: The early work derived from the post-hippie, neo-punk anarchism of cooperatives whose members dreamed that machines would enable a kind of utopia. The latter is a direct outgrowth of the potential inherent in what networks actually are and of a sense of social cohesion based on uniformity and standardization. The discovery that this style of computer music-making can be effectively used as a curricular tool has also deeply affected the evolution and approaches of many in the field.

  • Updating the History of Sound Art: Additions, Clarifications, More Questions
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    The author takes a close look at the origins of the terms sound art and sound installation, identifying additional historical sources and addressing misconceptions about their origins. The author then focuses on two early sound works by Max Neuhaus, a sound art pioneer who is frequently said to be the creator of the first sound installation.

  • A Documentation of Sound Art in Japan: Sound Garden (1987–1994) and the Sound Art Exhibitions of 1980s Japan
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    This article examines the exhibition series Sound Garden (1987–1994) as a first step toward analyzing the sound-based artwork exhibitions of late-1980s Japan. The article begins with an outline of the series and the types of artworks exhibited therein, followed by an examination of the context in which Sound Garden was created by considering prototypes that predate the exhibition series. Finally, the authors discuss related exhibitions and highlight the educational context that inspired these presentations.

  • Gambioluthiery: Revisiting the Musical Instrument from a Bricolage Perspective
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    Gambiarra is a popular Brazilian expression that describes an improvised and informal way of solving an everyday problem when needed tools or resources are not available. Since the turn of the 21st century, the term gambiarra has been a part of Brazilian art discourse. This article first analyzes the genealogy of the word gambiarra, including its global and local contexts, and then looks at the use of gambiarra in the production of music and sound art instruments, or gambioluthiery.

  • TA [P] CHAS: References to Indigenous Traditions in Peruvian Electroacoustic Composition of the 1960s
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    This article reviews the compositional practice of Peruvian electroacoustic music in the 1960s, to investigate the methods and sources of influence on music and new technologies of that time. It therefore explores local expressions and national and regional identities through elements of folk and traditional music used in these practices. The analysis of this repertoire, from a cross-cultural perspective, sheds new light on the history and originality of experimental art and music in Peru, as well as on Peruvian ethnomusicology.

Artists' Statements

  • DATs, MiniDiscs and the Self-Idiomatic Archive
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    The author discusses recent efforts to archive his personal catalog of live recordings on Digital Audio Tape (DAT) and MiniDisc and the challenges that arise in returning to these once popular, now defunct formats. The materialized history represented by the objects puts pressure on the memories of what they contain.

  • Soundwalking Salzburg, Forty Years Later
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    The authors follow a 1975 soundwalk through old Salzburg, Austria, forty years after its creation, reflecting on issues of sonic lasting, transience, accessibility and futurity.

  • Corposing a History of Electronic Music
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    A current research project led by the author has collated nearly 2,000 historic electronic music works for the purposes of musicology; nonetheless, this collection is highly amenable to composition. New pieces can be realized by rendering a selected chronology of electronic music history. The context is a wider field of compositional endeavor in “corposition” over large audio databases especially opened up by new research in music information retrieval.

  • LOOP: A Circular Ferric Memory in Slow Decline
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    The author describes the manipulation of time and memory in his work LOOP, a tape-based sound installation started in 2004.

  • Aurosion: Eroding Sonic Landscapes with the Internet Audio Cyclotron
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    The authors describe Aurosion, a performance piece utilizing “the largest feedback loop in the world,” the Internet Audio Cyclotron. Using field recordings, they subvert compression algorithms to explore emergent devolution.

  • Environmental Histories and Personal Memory: Collaborative Works in Sonification and Virtual Reality
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    This short paper will present an overview of two historical data projects developed at the Sensory Computation/Experimental Narrative Environments Lab at Stevens Institute of Technology between 2015–2017. The first project focuses on the sonification of environmental data derived from a ubiquitous sensing network embedded in Tidmarsh Living Observatory in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The second project presented in this short paper explores a history of instrument gesture data as a basis for interactivity in a virtual scene. This short statement discusses these two projects and their creative implications.

  • The Piano Mill: Nostalgic Music and Architecture in the Australian Bush
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    The Piano Mill is a tower in the forest of New South Wales designed and purpose-built to house 16 reclaimed pianos. Architect Bruce Wolfe conceived it as a massive sound sculpture incorporating a steampunk look and nineteenth-century acoustical devices. To launch The Mill the author composed a new work, All’s grist that comes to the mill, that responds to the architecture, the natural environment and Australian colonial heritage.

  • Folto giardino: Hybrid Cross-Pollination of Score, Performance, Installation and Technology
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    This article presents a series of works for chamber ensemble (incorporating both scored and improvised material), electronics and an installation of long strings. The folto giardino of the title (derived from Mozart/Da Ponte) is a listening, performing environment in which a dramaturgy of relationships, of knowing, hearing, understanding or ignoring, can be played out. Such an approach is offered as a way of thinking about form and material when dealing with the hybrid resources typical of contemporary musical work.

  • Sounds of Wow: Tape Composition and the Poetics of the Index
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    Sound artist Joseph Kramer discusses the function of indexical signs when working with magnetic tape and tape loops to elicit a non-symbolic connection to the past. Compositional and technological strategies using custom devices to employ indexical signification are described.

  • A Work for the Jewish Soul of Warsaw, Old and New
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    In 2015, Lukas Ligeti created a site-specific, audience-interactive performance work while in residence at the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. Based on interviews with residents of Warsaw, the piece examined aural memories of Jewish life in the city, tracing the extermination and re-emergence of the Jewish community through speech and songs as well as creative musicians’ reimaginings of these memories, with computer technology as a mediator.

  • Memory Piece: Memory as a Compositional Process
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    The author describes the use of memory as a compositional process in his recent orally and digitally transmitted compositions.

  • The Chinwag: Memory, Digital Technology and Traditional Music
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    The author discusses her piece The Chinwag as sound art that has recorded memory and history, its impermanence and its relationship to digital memory and traditional music.

LMJ27 Audio Companion