Showing posts from 2010


Granular synthesis is a fundamental sound synthesis or rather sound processing method. Working on a new composition, Electroclarinet 3 for basset-horn and live electronics , I've been studying Native Instruments Reaktor 's take on granulation. When teaching sound granulation , I like to use two engines based in cycling74's Max MSP: granularized , available in the Max examples Nobuyasu Sakonda's granular synthesis patch Granularized, a Max MSP example The interesting approach in Reaktor's Grainstates FX consists in eight "scenes" that can be recalled at will, and in the presence of a rotating buffer easy to freeze. The main adaptation I needed to do was to increase the buffer size from 8 to 60 seconds to record my whole "theme" when it's first played. But I'll let you know more about the composition next year (coming soon!) Grainstates, one of Reaktor's granular instruments. If you want to know and experiment more, one of the referenc

Armand Angster on France Musique

Armand Angster is my clarinet master. Listen to him talk (in French!) about his ensemble Accroche Note , improvisation, and working with composers. He was the guest of Anne Montaron in the program Le Portrait (France Musique radio) on November 22nd. You can stream the half hour program until December 22nd: Armand Angster on France Musique . Armand Angster and his contrabass clarinet

Mary Lou Williams: the Zodiac Suite at Harvard

My friend Michael Heller is the new leader of the Harvard Dudley House Jazz Bands . He is brilliant both as an ethnomusicologist and as a musician. I am thrilled to announce the wonderful program he created for this winter concert: the big band is performing Mary Lou Williams's Zodiac Suite on December 17th at 8 p.m. in Harvard's Paine Hall ( Harvard Music Building ). This is the first large ensemble performance of the work in 65 years: I hope you can attend! More details on the Dudley House web site .

Electroclarinet 1 Score

At the beginning of November, I told you almost everything about the multiphonic sounds in Electroclarinet 1 . Here are two excerpts of the score, far easier to read than my manuscript ! It starts like this: On the following excerpt, the framed melodies are turned into chords, harmonies: Well, given the recent weather in France, it makes sense that I speak about frozen sounds.

Bleu 2 in Poland

I first met Marcin Wierzbicki in Cracovie in 2000 during the Acanthes / Ircam summer academy. He is a great composer with a deep knowledge of acoustics, electronic music, interactive music, spectral sound processing, and more! Tonight, he is spatializing my composition Bleu 2 (electronic music) during the Laboratory Festival in Bialystok. In case you're in the area, make sure to attend the concert: you'll get to hear Marcin's brand new composition Transient Music for computer.

Clickers & quality of teaching

Yesterday, Jacques Steinberg wrote an article about the use of "clickers" in education: More Professors Give Out Hand-Held Devices to Monitor Students and Engage Them . I'm glad to read about this pedagogical tool in the Times, but it's important to mention that the benefits of the clickers, when backed by a great pedagogical approach, go far beyond the article description. In The Physics of Music & Sound , a course from the General Education program at Harvard , the clickers are part of the numerous tools Pr. Eric Heller uses to engage the students in a deeper level of reflection (I was a Head Teaching Fellow for the class in the Spring). He uses them to make the class as participatory as possible. Discussions, live demonstrations of experiments, student demonstration of voice and instruments, computer experiments that you can also easily do, peer instruction and PRS "clicker” participation are all part of the experience . In Pr. Heller's class, peer i

Duke Ellington's 1932 Rhapsody in Blue

Last year, I invited you to the concert of the Dudley House Jazz Bands , during which we performed three versions of George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue . Here is the live recording of Duke Ellington 's 1932 arrangement ( also on youtube ): Featuring: Piano & musical research: Ryan Raul Bañagale Clarinet intro & musical direction: Jean-François Charles Soprano & tenor saxs: Eric Diebold Alto saxs: Kimberly August, Jillian DeMair & Richa Gawande Baritone sax: Aaron Silberstein Trumpets: Evan Biela, Gary Smiley, Chris Zuidema & Stephen Furqueron Trombones: Ethan Fenn, Rob Cautillo, Cara Takakjian & Tim Fung Guitar: Jonathan Buonocore Bass: Andres Enrique Drums: Max Behrens Update after L's comment. CDs and mp3s of the two other versions we played during the concert: Billy Strayhorn's Rhapsody in Blue (Duke Ellington's band) and Bill Putnam's Rhapsody in Blue (Stan Kenton's band). Widgets

Music on a Park Bench

On May 12th, 2008, I played clarinet in a student orchestra, in Harvard Pforzheimer House. I was thrilled to take part in a recording session for a new movie project - more than a movie: a musical! - by a team of Harvard undergraduates. Writer & director Damien Chazelle '08 and composer Justin Hurwitz '07 were leading what was surely one of their first recording session with an orchestra. Since then, the project went a long way, and the feature musical Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench was just released in New York this week-end: get your tickets now on Cinema Village . Make sure you watch it when it comes close to your place! Damien Chazelle was a Harvard Artist Development Fellow .

Clarinet multiphonics in Electroclarinet 1

Looking for the studio album? Visit A clarinetist recently asked me some help before performing my composition Electroclarinet 1 , for Bb clarinet and live electronics. I've been thrilled to help her, and at this occasion, I engraved the multiphonics with the correct fingerings: These are split tones, played with regular fingerings. Low & higher harmonic region refer to the amount and relative frequencies of the partials present in the sound, similarly to what Xenakis uses in his composition Charisma .Timbre trill with low F key.   Multiphonics with specified fingerings.   Soft diphonic.   Harmonic note over tremolo. For the high note, it is normal to hear a slight pitch variation, not written here.   With given fingering.   "Underblown" multiphonics. Notes with fermatas are played with regular fingerings. Eighth notes are played with "regular" open fingerings, as indicated.   Regular split tone, play with full sound spectrum.   Have

Shortcuts CD

Great clarinetists Petra Stump and Heinz-Peter Linshalm are celebrating tonight at the Porgy & Bess in Vienna their Shortcuts recording . The CD is part of the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik collection. Among the numerous composers involved, two of them are especially close to my heart: first Chaya Czernowin , of course, who has been a friend of the composers at Harvard for years, and second Johannes Kretz , because we meet regularly during the Prisma group meetings. The three miniatures of mine on the CD are Play along 1, 2, and 3 - clarinet duos designed for a student and a teacher (listen to a live recording, different from the studio version - tracks 11, 12, 13 on this page ).

Talk box & Vocoder

When teaching composers about voice, giving a class on the talk box & the vocoder is a great complement. Here are a couple of notes I took to prepare the class I'm giving tomorrow. Talk box The talk box is mostly known as an effect enabling to apply vocalic sound colors to guitar sounds. My teaching material includes: a copy of the original patent for an electronic voice box apparatus , designed to be used as an artificial larynx. a video of Peter Frampton performing with guitar & talk box (the device is used from around 5:40 in the video): a picture of Peter Frampton's talk box, by Carl Lender: drawings on the blackboard, to remind students about formants , resonances of the vocal track, voiced and un-voiced sounds, vocal folds, guitar strings, and more. Vocoder Going from the talk box to the vocoder, it's going from real-world formants to modeled ones , where the resonances are not made by a human's vocal tract, but thanks to electronic resonator circuits

Spectral Tools

Martin Jaroszewicz just made available a free application that might be useful to composers & music producers: Spectral Tools . He programmed it with Max & Jitter . In case you want to control more details, tweak the analysis parameters to suit your own sounds, feel free to make your own version from the patches you'll find under my name on Cycling 74's share page . But using Martin's work, you benefit from a nice interface, you can go straight to making music!

Screaming Headless Torsos in Geneva

Yesterday, I attended the last concert of the Screaming Headless Torsos ’ European Tour 2010. David Fuze Fiuczynski is an amazing musician - I already told you when he came to talk with the composers at Harvard . The band was in great shape. The essence of today's funk, straight from New-York. And a killer duo made of drummer Louis Cato and percussionist Daniel Sadownick . In addition to playing originals, they kept with the tradition of playing “standards”: like Bach when he was re-writing Vivaldi, like the boppers when they were playing the Broadway hits, the Torsos rendered the most funky version of Michael Jackson’s Remember the Time. Well, they also played Charlie Parker, it was a “jazz” concert, after all. Widgets

Hanson Prize

Dudley House is a very important place for the community of Graduate Students at Harvard. I've been blessed to work with great colleagues, and to make real friends in the house. Energy, creativity, and concern for others , these are qualities that we are all striving to develop. Thank you, Dudley House, and all of the persons who keep this place well alive!

From granulation to spectral processing, with Max and Jitter

From granulation to spectral processing, with Max & Jitter : this is the title of the class I’m giving this year at the Conservatoire de Montbéliard. It’s 17 meetings (Friday morning, 9-10:30), and the schedule is looking like that: Free sampling (September 17th) Granular “synthesis” (October 8th) Get ready for Halloween: Spectrum study! (October 22nd) Sonograms, back to Max (November 5th) The famous “Forbidden Planet” (November 26th) Christmas market in Montbéliard: Freeze your sounds! (December 3rd) Phase vocoder (December 17th) Old-fashioned vocoder (January 7th) Phase vocoder encore! (January 21st) Software design 101 (February 18th) [poly~]phony (March 11th) Hibernatus: frozen life (March 25th) Phase vocoder: still blurry! (April 8th) From melody to harmony (April 25th) Interactive speed (May 6th) Spectral sound slicing (May 20th) The best of both world (June 10th) It will be my modest contribution to a great composition curriculum. Whether you are looking for a composition te

Time to dance

On Thursday, I took my first ballet class in France. After my recent composition for dancing clarinetist, electric guitar, and electronic music , I'm eager to continue and learn more in the art of movement. José Mateo Ballet Theater: a great ballet school But let me praise the dance school I left in June. In case you live in the Cambridge/Boston area, I encourage you to check out the José Mateo Ballet School . On January 2nd of this year, I dared push the door and take an adult class. It turned out to be a great new year's resolution. I met with awesome dancers & students, and I was lucky to work with two amazing teachers. One of the beautiful studios, shot by Susan Young , July 2010. First, I must thank Cosmin Marculetiu . Trained in Romania, I guess he inherited a lot from the Russian tradition; he made me discover the masculine nature that I didn't know in ballet. He loves having men in his classes, and he created course reserved to young boys. Thanks Cosmin for a

Acquainted with the night - Pictures

I just discovered that Jonathan Ruel posted great pictures of the Acquainted with the night concert. With singer Michael Barrett, we premiered my composition for voice, basset-horn, and live electronics. But as you may recall, four other premières took place during this musical evening. See all of the performers and composers on Jonathan's shots:

Learn spectral sound processing with Max

During the recent years, a number of musicians have been interested in my article A Tutorial on Spectral Sound Processing Using Max/MSP and Jitter . Great news if you desire to learn more on this topic: I'll be teaching a class on spectral sound processing with Max and Jitter during the Fall. It will be a few hours roughly each other week, and will be part of the composition curriculum in Montbéliard Conservatory. If you live in Paris, Strasbourg, Lyon, and you want to learn more about Max, don't hesitate to drop me an e-mail. Topics will include: Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) with Max and Jitter Filter and denoiser Audio freeze Extreme time stretching Graphically based sound processing Automatic sound slicing Anything related to the phase vocoder Max patches I made available on cycling 74's share page Your related questions & projects! (maybe you already use Audio freeze inside Max for Live , and want to know all about it...) Freeze 1.0, device for Max for Live by Egor

Benedictus - First sketch

Yesterday, I jotted down a few notes for a new composition: Benedictus , seventh part of my Arc-en-ciel cycle . It will be for soprano voice, clarinet (or soprano sax), double bass, percussion and live electronics. I have known for a long time that this piece will include latin words: Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini Hosanna in excelsis But I just decided they would be complemented by Charles Baudelaire's poem L'examen de minuit ( English translations ). When it's over, it will be interesting to see how much of this sketch remains in the final version!

Acquainted with the night - live recording

In March, I announced the creation concert "Acquainted with the night" , during which we premièred five new musical compositions on Robert Frost's poem . I just posted the live recording. It features singer Michael Barrett (I was playing the basset-horn and live electronics).

Clarinet multiphonics

On July 4th at Ircam in Paris, during the July 2010 Prisma meeting , I included in my presentation a few sonograms of clarinet "multiphonic" sounds, these sounds in which one can hear more than one pitch at the same time. Sonograms I recorded these rough multiphonic clarinet sounds in Cambridge on Friday, June 19th, 2010. The four sound files are available on freesound: Clarinet multiphonics . bb-clarinet-01-split.aif This is the sonogram of a rich multiphonic sound, commonly called a split tone . Here, it's played on a low fingered E (concert D), the lowest note of the Bb clarinet. The clarinet player can emphasize different harmonic regions. This is what Iannis Xenakis is calling for in his 1971 composition Charisma for clarinet and cello , when he writes Harm. Zone I, II, III, and IV . To achieve this effect, the clarinet player modulates the air pressure and changes the shape of his/her vocal cavities. We see on the sonogram that this selective reinforcement of h

Prisma meeting - Summer 2010

Prisma stands for International Pedagogy and Research on Assisted Musical Systems. This summer, this group of composers, musicians, and software developers is meeting from July 2nd to 5th at Ircam in Paris. Participants include: Guilherme Carvalho Michele Tadini Mikael Laurson Hans Tutschku Jacopo Baboni Schilingi Johannes Kretz Örjan Sandred Julien Vincenot Ircam in the back of the Stravinsky fountain. My talk this year: the Physics of Music & Sound Last year, my talk was entitled Ableton Live for Live Electronics . I compared Ableton Live to Max 5 , highlighting what was easier to realize using one or the other piece of software, in the context of composing for classical instruments and live electronic music. I also talked about Logic Pro, since most of the "live electronic music" capabilities used by many composers are also implemented inside Logic Pro's environment. This year, I'm going to present several dimensions of the Harvard course The Physics of

Soon, a new music composition professor at Harvard?

Harvard Music Building - picture by eileansiar During the Spring, the students in the music department met a number of candidates for a new position: professor in composition at Harvard. All of the students who met with candidates were asked to share their thoughts with the recruiting committee. Here is an excerpt from my letter to the committee. I was not completely clear on the type of profile the department was looking for (see the original announcement for this tenure position ), so I imagined a course that could be a great addition to the department's offering: an exciting Gen Ed class about 20th and 21st century music... ...A Gen Ed class that would show how great and influent have been creative artists such as (I'll name just a few from the top of my head, trying to keep in mind the American orientation) George Antheil Milton Babbitt John Cage George Crumb Miles Davis Duke Ellington Michael Jackson Scott Joplin Alan Parsons Les Paul Pink Floyd Steve Reich Buddy Rich Ka

Dancing musicians from Iran at the Louvre

After watching my recent dancing clarinetist video, my friend Behtash Babadi shared with me the following video, another fusion between music & dance. Quite a number of different styles in this work! Watch till the end to see the modes of interaction in the different sections. ( link to video on youtube ) Behtash told me that The ethnic music/dance is from southern Iran, by the Persian Gulf. With Mehrtash Babadi, they founded The Garden Throne project. Listen to their music, too!

The 6 a.m. Dixie gig

Tomorrow is graduation day at Harvard . Last year, I was an usher in Sanders Theater . This year, I'm in for a more musical job. With friends, we're playing Dixie music at 6:30 a.m. during an early walk to Memorial Church , after a 6 a.m. Champagne breakfast. Looking forward to that!

My first ballet class

As you may know, I've been interested in the relations between music and dance for a few years. My interest started maybe with the study of Karlheinz Stockhausen 's operas and compositions for moving musicians. When I took part in the Stockhausen courses in the summer of 2001, I attended Markus Stockhausen's yoga introduction, every day at 7am. That was quite a fun experience, and I remember that composer Flo Menezes attended, too. It took me time before I dare try ballet: I took my first beginning class at the Harvard Dance Center in February 2009. My teacher was Margot Parsons, whose first words to me were " Left hand on the barre "! The Harvard Dance Center's nice Studio 1, in concert configuration. Margot Parsons co-founded the Dance Visions company; you can watch her interview on To the pointe TV . Thank you Margot for accepting me and teaching me the basics of what a ballet class is!

Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart perform Risorius

You are invited to the last concert of the 2009-2010 HGNM season. Concert is Saturday, May 15th, 8pm, in Harvard Music Department's Paine Hall. The Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart are performing seven new compositions, including my work Risorius , and new works by my colleagues: Edgar Barroso 's Metamorphoseon Bert Van Herck 's Psalm Kristian Ireland 's Opposing Stricture Hannah Lash 's We on Earth: Migration Karola Obermüller 's mass:distance:time Hillary Zipper's Aventine Program notes I composed Risorius in 2005-2006 as the third part of the cycle Arc-en-ciel . Risorius is a facial muscle, which pulls the corners of the mouth laterally. In 2004, I started exploring the musical potential of laughter with Zygomatic , a composition for voice & live electronics. Both works are part of a long tradition of compositions using laughter, such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Magic Flute , the 1923 OKeh Laughing Record , or Karlheinz Stockhausen's Luci

Coeur brisé - In memoriam M.J. - the video

This has been one of my main projects since January. I've been fortunate to have been helped by many friends (list at the end of the video). Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart. Coeur brisé on youtube

Seven Harvard Talks

Last week, my dissertation colloquium was my last and seventh talk in five years at the Harvard Music Departement . The piece most of the audience talked to me after the colloquium has been PPP : One of the presentation slides from my dissertation colloquium. The six previous talks were: Fall 2005 Incoming PhD student, I presented some of my compositions in the fields of chamber music, dance & music, and interaction with live electronics. Violinist and composer Hillary Zipper joined me very friendly and we performed excerpts from Plex , a composition for violin and live electronics. Fall 2006 I was blessed to have the Ying string quartet for this talk. We played together a preview of the two first movements of Carlina acaulis for contrabass clarinet and string quartet. I presented my work in progress, including the drafts and ideas for the third movement, that wasn't completed at the time. Fall 2007 During the musicologists' colloquium series, I presented my explora

Electroclarinet 2 - Live Sound Processing Part 2

Looking for the studio album? Visit A month ago, I described the live electronic processes used in parts 1 and 3 of Electroclarinet 2 . Let me now present the processes number 2, 4, and 5. They use real-time harmonization, either to create chord sequences (part 2 & 4) or arpeggios (part 5). From frozen sound to chord sequence At the end of the serenade, at around 3:18, I freeze the clarinet note. This frozen sound is heard synthesized at around 3:30, then transformed from 3:49 into a chord sequence. I especially like this sound processing, because it uses the harmonic sequence that Debussy composed in the third movement of his Sonata for Cello & Piano . Patch #2: a sound is frozen live, then harmonized into a chord sequence. Patch #4 is similar to patch #2, with a different harmonic sequence. Sound is frozen at around 5:25, played back at 5:33, and the chord sequence starts around 5:40. Arpeggios in a whole tone scale The last live electronic sou

Coeur brisé at Arts First 2010

This week-end is time for the great celebration of the arts at Harvard, Arts First . On Saturday afternoon, I am performing a new composition for dancing clarinetist, electronic music, and electric guitar (guitarist Jonathan Buonocore is playing). Title & details: Coeur brisé - In memoriam M. J. Lowell Hall (Cambridge, corner of Oxford & Kirkland Street) Saturday, May 1st - 4:30 pm Free admission (as for the whole Dance festival taking place there from 1 to 5pm) Many thanks to the wonderful persons who have helped me making this project become reality. Thank you.

Harvard Dissertation Colloquium

You are invited! On Friday, April 30th, I'll be presenting a "Dissertation colloquium" at the Music Building from 3 to 4pm. I'm going to give an overview of my recent works, linked to four topics I've been interested in: Chamber Music Text & Music Dance & Music Third Stream Then I'll give insights into Electroclarinet 2 , the composition for contrabass clarinet and live electronics that I created in December of 2009. You'll hear numerous musical excerpts linked to the examples, of course! Want a preview? Here are screenshots of the handout I prepared for the occasion.

A Jazz Night in Paris

I am delighted to invite you to my last concert leading both Dudley House Jazz Bands before moving back to France. I'm very happy with the repertoire that covers American and European Jazz, standards and creations... You shall discover a number of autobiographic traits in this program! Jazz Combo The jazz combo has been a huge group this year. We are beginning to know each other well, and the ensemble is sounding better & better. The group is Richa Gawande & Michael Heller (alto sax), Alan Lenarcic, Will Ramsey & Jabulani Barber (tenor sax), Jean-François Charles (Bb & Eb clarinet), Rakeen Mabud (violin), Iacob Koch-Weser (guitar), Brigham Hall (piano & melodica), Marc Gidal (bass), Max Behrens (drums), and Imani Roach (voice). The program: Bonjour Paris (Sidney Bechet) Parker’s Mood (Alan Matheson, based on a solo by Charlie Parker) Charméditerranéen (Paolo Damiani) Aldwell Schachter (Michael Heller) Green Tea (Brigham Hall) Those Blue Eyes (Alan Lenarcic)

Electroclarinet 2 - Live sound processing part 1

Looking for the studio album? Visit Electroclarinet 2 is a composition for contrabass clarinet and live electronic processing. All of the electronic sounds you hear are produced in real time; they result from transformations of the clarinet sounds played live. In this post, I am describing the first and third processes. Live electronic musical processes are implemented as what many musicians call patches . Patch is a term used in electronic music to describe the organization of small sound processing modules. The term patch is used when working with Hardware ( patching a Buchla 200 ), Software ( Max patches ), and combination of software & dedicated hardware ( Nord Modular G2 patches or patches for a Roland V-Synth GT ). Serenade The first patch I use in Electroclarinet 2 is called Serenade: Patch #1: Serenade It features a long reverb module, the main culprit for the atmospheric sound. Then, a module that slices and transposes the sound is followe

Suggestioni, a Festival of Italian Music

The festival of Italian Music Suggestioni is taking place this week-end at Harvard , and on Monday and Tuesday at Columbia University and at the Italian Institute of Culture in New-York. This event has been organized by composer Gabriele Vanoni , a friend of mine at Harvard. He invited great composers: Pierluigi Billone Stefano Gervasoni Fabio Nieder Davide Rondoni Paolo Valesio If you're around Boston or New-York, seize the opportunity to meet with the composers, and to enjoy their music during the concerts!

Dancing the Swing

You are invited to enjoy the music and the dance: Dudley House - Harvard Yard Saturday, March 27th, 2010 8:30pm - swing dance lesson 9:30 pm - party with live big band Live music for a great dance party The Spring Swing is a great tradition at Dudley House. I would be happy to see such events appear in France someday. In many conservatories, where jazz is taught, that would be a fun way to have a party involving students, parents, teachers... Before coming on Saturday, look at Jonathan Ruel's pictures from last year:

Homage to Debussy with contrabass clarinet & live electronics

In the Fall of 2009, I was a Teaching Fellow for Professor & Pianist Robert Levin 's course Chamber Music from Mozart to Ravel . In the syllabus, Pr. Levin included the study of Claude Debussy 's Cello Sonata . Along with many students, I found this rebel piece wonderful. So, I decided to compose an homage to Debussy for the Harvard Hydra Winter 2009 concert . I entitled this new work for contrabass clarinet and electronics Electroclarinet 2 . This composition is directly inspired by the second and third movements of Debussy's Sonata for cello and piano. Inspired by Debussy Sonate pour violoncelle et piano First pages of Debussy's score, with my annotations The Cello sonata was and remains a modern piece of music. In the first movement , you can hear a D dorian / Eb modal juxtaposition that we will later associate to Miles Davis' Kind of Blue . But to find such adventurous moves as the ones in the second and third movements, we may have to study the music of