Leonardo Music Journal, Volume 28 | Leonardo/ISAST
Leonardo Music Journal 28, 2018
On the cover: Detail of The Migration of Data & Other Life Forms (2016), a sound installation by Nicolás Varchausky.
ISSN: 
1071-4391

Leonardo Music Journal, Volume 28

December 2018

Contents

Introduction

Articles and Notes

  • The Migration of Data and Other Life Forms: A Sound Installation for the 70th Anniversary of the Darmstadt Summer Courses
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    The article discusses a sound installation premiered during the 70th anniversary of the New Music Summer Courses in Darmstadt. The project proposes a dialogue between the archive of the Internationales Musikinstitut Darmstadt (IMD), which preserves the voices of contemporary music composers who lectured at the summer courses, and Archivo PAIS, the author’s personal archive of anonymous voices of street vendors, informal preachers, institutional announcers and street artists. Speech analysis software, transducers, modified stethoscopes and a 15-meter-long by 4-meter-high fence were used to reflect on issues of survival, access and displacement though sound.

  • Heavy Metal: An Interactive Environmental Art Installation
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    This article discusses Heavy Metal, an interactive installation work by Nigel Helyer. The authors situate this work within the context of a collaboration among environmental science, art and media theory, a three-year research project entitled When Science Meets Art: An Environmental Portrait of the Shoalhaven River Valley.

  • On Stockhausen’s Solo(s): Beyond Interpretation
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    Using Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Solo für Melodieinstrument und Rückkopplung (1965–1966) as a starting point, the authors investigate the affect and effect of technological transference when reproducing historical repertoire with live electronics. A suggestion of technical transparency often accompanies digital sound technologies; we aim to challenge this notion. We argue that the coloring that emerges with digital media can (and perhaps should be) used to inject new life into, and ask new questions of, the works that are being preserved.

  • A Musical Suite Composed by an Electronic Brain: Reexamining the Iliac Suite and the Legacy of Lejaren A. Hiller Jr.
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    In 1956, Lejaren A. Hiller, Jr., and Leonard Isaacson debuted the Illiac Suite, the first score composed with a computer. Its reception anticipated Hiller’s embattled career as an experimental composer. Though the Suite is an influential work of modern electronic music, Hiller’s accomplishment in computational experimentation is above all an impressive feat of postwar conceptual performance art. A reexamination of theoretical and methodological processes resulting in the Illiac Suite reveals a conceptual and performative emphasis reflecting larger trends in the experimental visual arts of the 1950s and 1960s, illuminating his eventual collaborations with John Cage and establishing his legacy in digital art practices.

  • Two Faces of a Cathedral: Ákos Rózmann’s Black Illusions and Organ Piece No. III/a
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    After composer and organist Ákos Rózmann (1939–2005) moved from his native Hungary to Sweden in 1971, it became his conviction that instrumental composition had no future, and he committed himself completely to the electroacoustic studio. An important part of Rózmann’s self-characterization and the early reception of his music was the statement that his electroacoustic compositions were the results of working as a spiritual medium. While the author demonstrates the relevance of this statement, he also challenges it by presenting an exception, Black Illusions (2003), Rózmann’s only work admittedly created as a sounding autobiography. He also presents Rózmann’s last finished composition, Organ Piece No. III/a—a “dizygotic twin brother” of Black Illusions—and the differing ways in which the two pieces are related to St. Eric’s Cathedral of Stockholm. One of them thematizes the church as a place of personal earthly suffering, while the other presents it as a symbolic stage of otherworldly processes.

  • Sound Technologies as Agency-Granting Prosthesis to Vocal Body
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    Western voice is historically de-agentialized, that is, gendered female, opposed to performer self-listening, de-privileged relative to composition and rendered ocularcentric by recording technologies. However, by employing sound technologies as prosthesis to the vocal body, and by self-listening to manage the body-prosthesis relationship, contemporary extended voice practitioners figure as cyborgs reclaiming vocal agency, that is, input into mediation of and by one’s technologized vocal body.

  • Beyond Schemata in Collective Improvisation: A Support Tool for Music Interactions
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    This article presents results of experiments undertaken with expert musicians using the author’s original system for systemic improvisation. By promoting the formation of parallel and simultaneous layers of sustained musical relationships, this system facilitates an enhanced focus on local clusters and their development over time. This tool opens a novel perspective on improvised interactions and how they are formed, evaluated, updated, modified and abandoned during a performance, encouraging a critical evaluation of collective schemata.

  • The Music of Human Hormones
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    In this study, the authors take on the challenge to translate biological form (science) into musical form (art). Through scientifically developed methodology, the authors link two aspects of human experience that influence human emotions: hormones, from the inside, and music, from the outside. The authors develop an original algorithm, which they use to represent the properties and the effects of the human hormone oxytocin in a musical composition. The authors performed a neurological test to verify the accuracy of the musical interpretation and investigated the parallel neurological impacts of the hormone’s biological and musical form. This article describes the preliminary results of the study.

  • Translating Historically Reflexive Perceiving from Visual to Sonic Art
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    This article discusses making Within History, an artwork that translates a commentary on historically situated perceiving from the visual realm to the sonic.

  • The Public Utteraton Machines: Recording What People Think of Public Art in New York City
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    In 2015–2016 the author installed interactive public artworks on sidewalks in Brooklyn and Queens using ordinary city permits. The locations were chosen in counterbalance to the dominant choices of location for public art in New York, which tends to be placed in Manhattan or other tourist-concentrated areas. The works are entitled the Public Utteraton Machines and enable passersby to utter their opinions about other public art in the city as well as art’s role in society. The device’s earpiece recorded over 100 open-ended narratives and 391 responses to quantitative data questions via an integrated e-paper display screen. This public art project combines social practice with object-based public art into a conceptual public art practice that forms a commons or civic art. Sound archives of the responses can be found at local libraries in Queens and Brooklyn and at http://utteraton.com/.

  • Listening to Wetland Soundscapes
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    The author introduces a soundscape project involving wetland field recordings and an original sound time-lapse method used as the basis for the design and implementation of a sound installation.

  • Crossing the Muddy Field of Witness, Calling the Lonely Crowd: A Walk to Meet a Sound
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    The artist Elizabeth McTernan and the mathematician Luke Wolcott collaborated on A Tree Calls, in which Wolcott chopped down a tree in the United States and McTernan simultaneously led a group in Copenhagen to walk toward the arrival of the sound of the tree falling. How does the sound of this tree falling, and the story of its journey and reception, help us walk into a framed void, alone together? In its faint vibration, how can we hear both the idea’s persistent unity and the silent physical arrival of absence?

  • Sound Straight Ahead: Parametric Speakers in Two Soundscape Installations
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    This article concerns the realization of two sound installations that use a parametric (directional) loudspeaker as a central element of their working systems. The Soundhouse is a rotating structure that projects sounds in a directional way. El bosque y las sombras is instead an interactive multimedia setting where the visitors can trigger sounds and affect a video projection by moving in an enclosed, soundproofed space. A short introduction to parametric loudspeakers is provided; then the concept and the construction aspects of both installations are presented. Finally, an overall aesthetic assessment of the use of parametric loudspeakers in the above works is given.

  • Experimental Sound Mixing for The Well, a Short Film Made for Tablets
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    This article presents an overview of the use of binaural recording and experimental headphone mixing for a short film. Drawing loosely on theories of proxemics, the article illustrates how sound mixing can be used to create a unique subjective perspective. In particular, the authors sought to experiment with and to use the peculiarities of stereo headphone mixing and binaural sound to reinforce visual elements of a film designed for horizontal viewing on tablets.

  • Notation by Context: Digital Scenography as Artifact of Authorial Intent
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    Digital technology can be used as a scenographic tool to project visual settings in the theatrical space. However, digital scenography that incorporates “faux-interactivity,” or the illusion of a causal relationship between live performers and digital elements, can also serve as a form of notation that digitally preserves the physical movement of live performers through scenographic context. This paper explores the potential for faux-interactive scenography as a method of spatial notation through which scenographic environments might contribute to understandings of authorial intent in a traditionally ephemeral space.

  • Using Psychological Principles of Memory Storage and Preference to Improve Music
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    This paper proposes a novel approach to automated music recommendation systems. Current systems use a number of methods, although these are generally based on similarity of content, contextual information or user ratings. These approaches therefore do not take into account relevant, well-established models from the field of music psychology. Given recent evidence of this field’s excellent capacity to predict music preference, we propose a function based on both the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve of memory retention and Berlyne’s inverted-U model to inform recommendation systems through “collative variables” such as exposure/familiarity. According to the model, an intermediate level of these variables should generate relatively high preference and therefore presents significant untapped data for music recommendation systems.

  • Collaboration and Consensus in Listening
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    This article adapts a conversation on a network project, Listening across Disciplines, which brought together artists, musicians, scientists, technologists and social scientists to discuss the use, value and application of listening as a shared methodology of inquiry and communication. The discussion focuses on one of the key issues emerging from this network: the question of consensus and collaboration in the development of a shared listening methodology.

  • Oral History as an Agent of Form in Electroacoustic Music
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    This article reflects on how the author’s use of oral history recordings as source material in three electroacoustic works suggests ways in which complementary threads of storytelling and recorded memory can be shaped into purposefully directed forms.