I did an interview with Steve Ashby of VCU a few days ago. I talked about my listening habits and approach to sound in general.
I taught two introductory classes about electroacoustic music in Fall 2015. One of the assignments in these classes is a weekly listening report on selected music. Can you guess the topics discussed in each week by looking at the listening list?
Autumn Signal (1978) by Joan La Barbara : Identify signal processing techniques that extends the singer’s acoustic limits
Klang (1982) by Jonty Harrison : What is the computer’s role in creating harmonic language and form of the piece?
Out of Breath (2000) by Paul Koonce : What can you listen and identify besides “two” flute notes?
Kits Beach Soundwalk (1986) by Hildegard Westerkamp : How were the studio techniques used to narrate the story in this piece?
Read & Summarize Section 1 (pg 1-7) of Sound Reinforcement Handbook by Davis and Jones
Read pg 9-10 of Living Electronic Music about WSP and Kits Beach Soundwalk
Read Soundscape and Truth section (p120-124) of the same book
Gainesville Soundscape (2007) by Joo Won Park : There is no need to write a summary on your teacher’s piece, but have a listen.
Appalachian Grove I (1977) by Laurie Spiegel : Could this piece have been played by non-electronic ensemble (i.e. orchestra)? Why or why not?
Two-Part Invention in F Minor (1977) by Wendy Carlos : discuss the historical/social significance of this piece.
Compare and contrast Bye Bye Butterfly (1965) by Pauline Oliveros and Silver Apples of the Moon (1967) by Morton Subotnick. Do a little research on the instrumentation and their usage.
Crystal (1982) by Maggi Payne : This piece may appear to have no conventional sense of rhythm. What should we listen for, then?
1971 Arp 2600 by Benge (2007) : The artist uses the same synthesizer we have in the Studio 4. Discuss how envelopes, filters, and oscillators were used in this piece.
Apparitions (2004) by Ed Martin : How effective was the notations of electronic parts in this piece?
O Superman (1982) by Laurie Anderson : If you were to perform this piece on stage, how will your setup look like?
Listening/Reading Report I is due
Cubicle (2007) by Paul Riker : Discuss the form of this piece.
Three Fictions (Northern Mix) (2000) by Natasha Barrett : The composer states that “each movement presents a brief glimpse of a sight, a sound, a sensation.” Do you agree?
Requiem (1973) by Michel Chion : The piece was recorded/edited/processed in magnetic tape. Listen to the entire album. Write a response on techniques (you may need to do some research) and aesthetics.
Maa (Earth) I. Journey (1991) by Kaija Saariaho : Discuss the transitions from one section to another.
Grains of Voices (1995) by Ake Parmerud : Describe how the sense of time and place was composed and manipulated in this piece.
The following pieces use sound materials quite different from what we have heard so far in the class. Describe how the two pieces use such sounds to create music (or not).
10’00 (2006) by Shibuya, Moslang, Nakamura
Time…dot (2002) by Carsten Nicolai & Alva Noto
Read one audio/electronic music magazine available the public lab. Write a summary on the magazine itself or an article.
Compare and contrast the following two pieces. Discuss the artistic usage of time and place.
sparrows in supermarkets (2011) by Paula Matthusen
Petite Musique Sentimentale (1984) by Yves Daoust
Submit the listening/reading report BEFORE the reading period begins.
I taught Digital Signal Processing Theory class in the last Spring. I have never studied this hard to teach a course. As a result, I learned (or relearned) about DSP quite a bit. More specifically, I learned to appreciate elegance of “classic” techniques, such as AM, FM, sample-and-hold, and delays. I think I can explain them in digital terms. Most importantly, I learned that digital signal processing is all about (good) math.
The best way to wrap up the semester and summarize what I have learned is to make a piece using the new techniques I have learned.
1. To start the piece, I begin with a sinusoid generated with very slow Low Frequency Oscillator (LFO) on its pitch. The LFO’s shape is made with a wave shaping function using polynomials. The result is an unusual curve pitch pattern.
2. On this polynomial curve, I add sample and hold. The smooth line gets “steps” in terms of pitch. I change the S&H rate to create different rhythms
3. As the piece progresses, I would like to have some frequency modulation gradually fading in.
4. This should sound fun if I have more of them. Here is an example of all the techniques with four sinusoids. The rate of S&H, the shape of polynomial curve, and the modulation rate of FM are randomly selected for each line.
The resulting sound sounded like a good accompaniment for a noisy electronic piece. So I played a no-input mixer and custom synthesizer over the polynomial pads. I also continued the piece with algorithmically drum part that I have developed for Snake and Ox track in my latest album (more about this track later).
Here’s the final result, Snake Extension. I think I’ll add this to my solo repertoire.