Vol12 No.23 INICIO
Vol12 No.23
ISSN 2317-9694

Materiales EXTRA Materials



The Phenomeology of Musical Gesture

What is it about the viscerality of human movement and physical gesture that brings to music forms of compelling liveness? How can we capture this viscerality with interactive interface technology? What are the perspectives for understanding our own corporality and approaches for composing gestural musical works? In what ways can this translate to the audience, the beholder of a gestural performance, so that it is compelling, interesting, and moving? Can the experience of performing the piece be shared with the spectator to create a shared experience?

In order to do this, we need to understand the nature of human gesture in nonmusical and social settings. Gesture can accompany or replace language. It can even precede language. A performer’s understanding of his own gesture relies on proprioception − the sense of one’s own body.

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A Memoir of a Composer Working on interactive computer music

It has been almost forty years since I began practicing computer music. My first experiences were with real-time computer sound synthesis techniques. At the beginning of the 1980s, I studied programming of real-time computer sound synthesis technique using PILE software of Paul Berg along with Macro Assembler Language for PDP-15 computers at the Institute of Sonology, the University of Utrecht, in The Netherlands.

Here in this memoir, I would like to summarize my Odyssey of thirty-five years in the interactive computer music world, describing my technical invention and maneuver in the computer parts as well as a compositional strategy for the instrumental parts.

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Machine Learning and Composition

Machine learning has recently produced unprecedented results on tasks ranging from translation to image recognition to mastery of the game Go [Silver et al. 2017]. Though concepts behind the basic architecture of these machine learning processes have been known for decades, networked learning models are now the foundation of the latest advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), to the point that one could argue machine learning is artificial intelligence. Three main advances have produced this spectacular rise in research energy: new methods for training networks with many interconnected layers; the development of very large data sets for several tasks of interest; and an enormous increase in the amount of available computing power.

These advances in machine learning have been applied to the study of music and audio, particularly in the field known as Music Information Retrieval (MIR). Practitioners define MIR as “as a research field which focuses on the processing of digital data related to music, including gathering and organization of machine-readable musical data, development of data representations, and methodologies to process and understand that data” [Serra et al. 2013].

The possibilities of Music Information Retrieval (MIR) for music analysis are clear, and many studies have begun to explore them. In this article we will consider how such analytical advances could be adapted to compositional processes, and review a few representative examples. A first step in such a consideration would be to distinguish between symbolic and sub-symbolic representations of music.

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ONCE.THEN–ONCE.MORE: the composition, performance, and recording of my Piano Trio with Electronics

Fifty years after the conclusion of the famed ONCE Festivals in Ann Arbor (1961-1966), the University of Michigan staged a multi-day festival called ONCE.
MORE to honor several of the composers of the ONCE Group: Robert Ashley, Gordon Mumma, Roger Reynolds, and Donald Scavarda. ONCE.MORE coincided with the twenty- fifth anniversary of the university’s Center for Performing Arts & Technology (CPAT). The juxtaposition of old and new featured historical works that were premiered at the ONCE Festivals with new works composed by CPAT faculty and students. This article discusses the historical impact of the ONCE Festivals, the influence of the ONCE Group on the founding of CPAT, and how the technological experimentation of the ONCE composers influenced the composition of my Piano Trio with Electronics that was premiered during ONCE.MORE.

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Computational Media: new sounds, algorithms, processes, and interaction

By surveying 45 years of personal activity in the field of computer music, during which I have attempted to create and discover new sounds, develop compositional algorithms and processes in real-time, and design interactive environments for musicians, I offer one perspective of the broader effort by artists involved in computational media to critically investigate the role of technology in the arts.

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An approach to a Theory of Musical Attractions (on the project for piano and electronics for Mr. Daniel Barenboïm)

I will start soon a new work for piano and live electronics that Mr. Daniel Barenboïm asked me to compose for him. This piece, which I imagine being about 20 minutes, will be premiered in the BoulezSaal in Berlin during the season 2021/2022. This piece could be considered as a chamber piece where the piano will have a dialogue with an electronic discourse, not totally fixed in advance, as a sort of open form. In fact, many aspects of the electronic music will come from the piano itself and the way it will sound. The computer will analyze the sound of the piano during the performance, and this analysis will be transmitted to sound generators in order to determine several categories of the electronic music such as tempi, transpositions, spatialization, etc. It is what I call “Virtual Scores” when a part of the electronic composition is depending on the performer. I begin by exposing a few basic ideas of this project.

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Composition in the Age of AI

This article considers the plight of the contemporary composer, and various options they have to engage with AI beyond simply sticking their head in the sand, from writing software to deliberate subversion of corpora and moving social goalposts. If composers aren't intimately involved with next generation music AI, they may find themselves on the sidelines, at the mercy of the musical representational decisions of the software should be engineers, whose musical and/or commercial preferences often favour more popular and Western idioms.

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Five incitements for Electronic Music Makers

Computers enable the musician to rethink any and all aspects of the way we create and enjoy music. Rather than simply use the computer as a cheaper recreation of pre-digital technologies, to take full advantage of its power we should seek music-making approaches that take specific advantages of what computers offer that the traditional music-making environment doesn’t. In this paper I offer five examples of uses of computer technology that came of my own search for new musical ideas that are specifically afforded by computers. These are offered in the spirit of inciting the reader to explore them further.

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Cybernetic music in practice

"The play of interconnected feedback loops that set a process in motion" Roland Kayn.

Summer of 2010 and I am in a damp basement in Malmö, Sweden. Outside it is raining and the sofa I am on is not glamorous. As so often, I am waiting in a generic backstage area - this time
for rehearsals to resume. My body posture is sloppy - balancing between laying down and sitting up. I am wearing headphones and have my laptop here. Seeing this scene from outside, one might think: that person is utterly bored.
The contrary is true. There in that no-place, I have sunken deep into not only the sofa but also my own mind. Fluid and fragmented thoughts are floating around in my head, interrupted by sudden thrills and flares of enlightenment.
My notion of time is severely skewed. Some moments rush by while others stand still right beside me. Programming my computer, I have yet again managed to get myself entrenched inside the structure of a particular piece of code. Here and now, I am lost in time, my brain on fire and my mind in the flow.

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Remains of The Sky: Weather-driven interactive intermedia

Remains of the Sky (2018) is a sound and light installation composed by George Lewis, specifically in dialogue with Twilight Epiphany, a James Turrell Skyspace created in 2012 and sited at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in Houston, Texas. Since 1974, Turrell has created over eighty Skyspaces, which he describes as “a specifically proportioned chamber with an aperture in the ceiling open to the sky. Skyspaces can be autonomous structures or integrated into existing architecture. The aperture can be round, ovular or square.” (Turrell 2020). The Rice University Skyspace is an autonomous structure; Timothy Morton describes it as “a large wafer-thin square of metal with a square hole in it. This metal wafer rests on thin struts on top of a pyramid covered in grass, reminiscent of Aztec and ancient British and Egyptian burial sites” (Morton 2014, 269).

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