Leonardo Music Journal 30, 2020
On the cover: Electromagnetic Boot (2017), ex–military boot, a black stapler painted red, DIY Electromagnetic field sniffer circuit, a power coil and polyvinyl acetate paint on lampshade. (© Neal Spowage)
ISSN: 
1071-4391

Leonardo Music Journal, Volume 30

December 2020

Contents

Editor's Note

Introduction

Articles and Notes

  • Musicking with Music-Generation Software in Virtutes Occultae
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    This article explores concepts of compositional meaning that arise from cocreative composing with music-generation software. Drawing from an analysis of the 2017 electroacoustic composition Virtutes Occultae, the composer discusses the implications of computer-generated music for the role of the composer. After an overview of how the music-generation software he developed contributed to the creation of Virtutes Occultae, the composer makes comparisons between his process and the use of generative commercial music software to create music, in order to draw distinctions between creating computer-generated music to extend aesthetic sensibilities and creating computer-generated music that iterates based on established commercial styles. Finally, the composer proposes future paths for further investigation involving the development of new musical styles through computer-generated music and reactive computer improvisation.

  • Beat Machine: Embracing the Creative Limitations and Opportunities of Low-Cost Computers
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    The Beat Machine is a handheld music synthesizer and sequencer. The authors discuss the development of the Beat Machine and how creative constraints and opportunities were introduced by the particularities of low-cost microprocessors and associated electronics. The discussion is framed as an exemplar of Kåre Poulsgaard’s concept of enactive individuation, a framework for relating material engagement to digital design and fabrication. In reflecting on the design and making of the Beat Machine the authors connect this framework with more established notions of creative interaction and the affordances of digital media.

  • Minding the Gap: Conceptualizing “Perceptualized” Timbre in Music Analysis
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    In the past decade, a growing music-analytic practice has emerged around timbre, a parameter long considered either irrelevant to musical structure or too unwieldy to tackle. This new practice centers on an understanding of timbre as a perceptual rather than physical (acoustical) attribute and privileges timbre as a bearer of musical meaning. Through a focused survey of scholarship on timbre from the 1980s to present, this article considers theoretical commitments and challenges that have attended the shift toward this subjective, “perceptualized” conception of timbre, particularly in light of music theory’s objectivist and structuralist disciplinary leanings.

  • Sounding Time: Explorations in Audio Time-Lapse and Temporal Layering in Interdisciplinary Collaboration
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    In this article, Evelyn Ficarra considers her compositional practice, giving particular emphasis to the techniques and aesthetics of using time-lapse media and other temporal manipulations in interdisciplinary contexts. Foregrounding her collaboration with media artist Ian Winters on the large-scale interdisciplinary installation/performance Summer, Winter, Spring, Ficarra describes her attempt to model audio-temporal methods on techniques borrowed from the visual realm. She considers temporal compression, extension and layering as compositional tools, highlighting issues of scale, structure and experience, and suggests that radical temporal manipulations of material can serve to bridge referential and abstract sound worlds. Ficarra concludes with reflections on the meanings and poetic resonances of time-lapse media.

  • Deep Listening to the Amazon Rainforest through Sonic Architectures
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    De Rerum Natura is an electroacoustic composition by the author, based on field recordings from the Brazilian Amazon rainforest. The piece is part of wider research from the author that explores the act of listening, associated visual mental imagery and dynamic subjective links between the composer’s experience of listening to/recording experience of the original material and the audience’s perception of the final composition as it is performed. This article focuses on the author’s process of developing De Rerum Natura, based on Deep Listening. De Rerum Natura also examines the merging of the composition with the acoustics of the performance space.

  • A Generative Sound Mural, The Whole Inside: Sounding the Body
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    The author discusses her approach in conceiving The Whole Inside, a generative sound mural combining artificial and human voices. Using nine Visaton speakers, Pure Data and data projection, the author confronts femininity and violent misogyny, by which the body is being depersonalized, leading to subsequent dissociation as a defense mechanism to cope with traumatic events. The work is based on a graphically violent text sourced from the incels.me (“involuntary celibates”) forum.

  • Stowaway City: An Immersive Audio Experience for Multiple Tracked Listeners in a Hybrid Listening Environment
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    Stowaway City is an immersive audio experience that combines electroacoustic composition and storytelling with extended reality. The piece was designed to accommodate multiple listeners in a shared auditory virtual environment. Each listener, based on their tracked position and rotation in space, wirelessly receives an individual binaurally decoded sonic perspective via open-back headphones. The sounds and unfolding narrative are mapped to physical locations in the performance area, which are only revealed through exploration and physical movement. Spatial audio is simultaneously presented to all listeners via a spherical loudspeaker array that supplements the headphone audio, thus forming a hybrid listening environment. The work is presented as a conceptual and technical design paradigm for creative sonic application of the technology in this medium. The author outlines a set of strategies that were used to realize the composition and technical affordances of the system.

  • Topology of Networks in Generalized Musical Spaces
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    The abstraction of musical structures as mathematical objects in a geometrical space is one of the major accomplishments of contemporary music theory. The author generalizes the concept of musical spaces as networks and derives compositional design principles via network topology analysis. This approach provides a framework for analysis and quantification of similarity of musical objects and structures and suggests a way to relate such measures to human perception of different musical entities. Finally, network analysis provides alternative ways of interpreting the compositional process by quantifying emergent behaviors with well-established statistical mechanics. Interpreting the latter as probabilistic randomness in the network, the author develops novel compositional design frameworks.

  • Study in three phases: An Adaptive Sound Installation
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    Study in three phases is an adaptive site-specific sound installation that includes 22 solenoids placed on metallic arches that surround visitors and react to environmental perturbations, creating a self-regulating soundscape of metallic hits that serves to renew the visitors’ acoustic perspective. Adaptivity is a crucial aspect of the work: Similar perturbations will not generally cause similar reactions from the installation based on past interactions, thus allowing evolution over time to play a key role artistically and technically. This article discusses the author’s position on adaptivity in music interaction and composition and reports on the technical and artistic aspects of the installation.

  • Music Gesture and the Correspondence of Lines in a Multimodal Compositional Practice
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    Music Gesture can be thought of as being made up of dynamic, multisensorial lines. From this, the author draws from Ingold’s “correspondence of lines” as a conception of music and a transformative compositional process, informing gestural line expressions and the development of notation systems for the body. The author outlines the technology he has developed for two compositions, involving a video scoring methodology and software that enables interactive video gestural sampling in a collaborative art music context. The author also engages with Ingold’s concept of the “mesh,” as lines that overflow, and imagines how the mesh could be perceived through sensory modalities. This discourse of lines is contextualized through examples of absurdist instrumental pieces and corporeally based music.

  • Music as Epistemic Construct: From Sonic Experience to Musical Sense-Making
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    Taking an epistemological stance towards music in a real-time listening situation entails a definition of music as a temporal and sounding art. This means that music cannot be described in abstract and detached terms as something “out there” in a virtual space but rather as something that impinges upon our senses in an actual “here and now.” Musical sense-making, therefore, should be considered a kind of ongoing knowledge construction with a dynamic tension between actual sensation and mental representation of sounding events. Four major dichotomies may be considered in this regard: the focal versus synoptic overview of the sounding music, the continuous/discrete processing of the sounds, the distinction between sensory experience versus cognitive economy, and the in-time/outside-of-time distinction. The author argues that a deliberate combination of these diverging approaches makes the musical experience a richer one.

  • Exploring the Nexus of Holography and Holophony: In Visual Music Composition
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    In this article the author explores the idea that, owing to their shared three-dimensional nature, holophons and virtual holograms are well suited as mediums for visual music composition. This union is ripe with creative opportunity and fraught with challenges in the areas of aesthetics and technical implementation. Squarely situated upon the bleeding edge of phenomenological research and creative practice, this novel medium is within reach. Here, one methodological pipeline is delineated that employs the convergence of holophony, virtual holography and supercomputing toward the creation of visual music compositions intended for head-mounted displays or large-scale 3D/360-degree projection screens and high-density loudspeaker arrays.

  • Now I’m Digital, Where Is My Ritual? Exploring Post-Digital Performance Objects as Totems for Agency and Ritual
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    The author argues that significant aspects of electronic music performance have been diminished in the rush to incorporate the latest, often discreet (as in intentionally unobtrusive) technologies. He identifies these aspects as agency, ritual and, to a lesser extent, serendipity and mess. Using references to his own work, he suggests that applying an understanding of how actors create totems to present agency and affordance is essential to regain, and possibly acclimate, these tools and practices so they are relevant to live electronic music performance practice in a contemporary technology environment.

  • The Presence of a Mysterious Black Silhouette: From a Print to a New Form of Usage of Guitar Multiphonics
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    The author recounts how she came to carry out artistic research on guitar multiphonics when composing a piece for solo guitar. She explains how the investigation gave rise to a new form of usage of that unconventional technique.

  • A Conflux of Musical Logics: Memory, History and the Improvisative Music of SLANT
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    The author discusses SLANT, an improvisation-based project he coconceived, recorded and performed on tenor saxophone in duo with pianist and new music specialist Richard Valitutto. The project deconstructs sound worlds such as late nineteenth-century Romanticism, avant-garde/free jazz, microtonal spectralism and southeast European rural music. Drawing on George Lewis’s systems of improvisative musicality, the article analyzes SLANT through the lens of sociomusical experience. The author shows how Afrological, Eurological and other systems of musicality participate together, manifesting in dialogical improvisative music-making that emerges from multiethnic and multicultural histories of improvised music.

Special Section: Re:Sound—Media Art Histories 2019

  • Introduction to Special Section: Sound as Evidence
  • The Hearing Test: Evidence of a Vegetal Entity
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    The author’s artistic experiment The Hearing Test focuses on detection of high frequency clicking sounds that are emitted by the tips of plants’ roots. Scientists have claimed that plants’ roots produce high frequency clicks between 20 and 300 kHz by bursting air bubbles. But while the phenomenon has been described, its cause remains unexplained. This lack of knowledge opens up possibilities for multiple interpretations and invites experimental approaches as well as speculation concerning plant intelligence, the role of species-specific hearing and sound as evidence. The article is an extended reflection on the experiment.

  • Transductive Wind Music: Sharing the Danish Landscape with Wind Turbines
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    In this article the authors present their sound art project Nephew vs. Overheard as an exploration of a messy, fragile and incoherent local approach to public ecological art, an approach that aims at creating links of affectivity with technological creatures, such as large wind turbines, with which we share our landscape. Supplementing, as well as challenging, the dominant global strategy of ecological art, the authors argue that it is essential to experiment with transductive chains of local environmental data, creating sensibilities that we can relate to in our everyday environments.

  • Interspecies Bodies and Watery Sonospheres: Listening in the Lab, the Archives and the Field
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    In this text, the author brings together scientific interspecies communication experiments, artistic practice and feminist posthumanities to inquire into the transformative role of sound and listening. Departing from an archive with recordings of human-dolphin language experiments, this research attends to sound as evidence and listening as a situated knowledge practice, with ethico-political implications that trouble Western, visually oriented knowledge systems. By imploding interfaces into situations of shared surfaces, the author directs attention to the logics of the skin to bring forth matters of care and suggest how listening might contribute to more careful and attentive modes of knowing.

  • Tactical Soundwalking in the City: A Feminist Turn from Eye to Ear
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    This article investigates a turn from eye to ear in the literature and practice of walking-as-art. Arguing for listening as a feminist and ecologically oriented mode of engaging with the world, the author examines the practice of soundwalking (Westerkamp) and Deep Listening (Oliveros), placing them in conversation with the work of Michel de Certeau, and concludes with a discussion of the creative projects of Suzanne Thorpe, Viv Corringham and Amanda Gutierrez in order to chart the importance of relational listening practices today.

  • Microbial Sensing: Constructing Perception through Technological Layers
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    The author introduces the concept of looking without seeing to describe the layered use of technology required to experience microorganisms during the making of The Stars Beneath Our Feet: an audiovisual installation for Lumiere Durham, a four-day international light festival produced by Artichoke in the U.K. First, the author describes the experience of technological layering when attempting to perceive microorganisms in the visual field and then the methodology adopted to determine how the same microorganisms might be perceived in the auditory field. The conclusion describes the author’s sense of being with the organism as a form of constructed perception in the context of “looking for” and “listening for” microorganisms through an expanded technological frame.

  • Sociosonic Interventions: Distributed Authorship in Socially Engaged Sound Practices
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    How do creative sound practices function in the context of socially engaged art? Toward developing a practical methodology, this paper focuses on sound-led projects that stage socially engaged art practice in community settings, including some involving the author. Aesthetics, ethics and politics are employed as interrogative lenses for distributed creative processes. Methods for collaborative art-making that facilitate a balance between these lenses are discussed, with the author further arguing the necessity of artistic “disruption.” Such sociosonic interventions are demonstrated to occur most effectively when sound practices challenge the paradigm of unidirectional audial reproduction: rupturing traditional hierarchies of creator and listener

  • Listening Geopolitics and the Anthropocene Contact Zones of the Bali and Georgia Strait
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    Building on Pratt and Haraway’s ideas of the contact zone, we examine the soundscape in two maritime boundaries: the Bali Strait and the Strait of Georgia. Both places, imbued with colonial histories, are rich in ecological diversity and signify different degrees of violence perpetuated against those who attempt to cross their geopolitical boundary zones. Using practices taken from sensory, multispecies, sonic and autoethnography, we explore how sound and listening offer a textural analysis of space, a way to sense and experience histories and the possibility of listening as activism.

LMJ 30 Audio Companion

2020 Leonardo and Leonardo Music Journal Author Index

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