Showing posts from 2012

Tempomaton pictures

The Tempomaton Arduino discovery workshop was a fun event. Joël Lorcerie brought a selection of instruments from his great collection. MA Scène nationale just posted a short video about the workshop. See - and listen to - the automatons at 1:40!

The guitar pedal in the mystery box

Did you guess what was lying in last week's mystery box?It was a RingWorm guitar pedal, an analog ring modulator made by Way Huge. Ring modulators are fascinating pieces of gear, especially when you know how masterfully Stockhausen used it for Mantra (I already mentioned this composition when I talked about the Electro-chamber music session around Mantra).Ring modulation turns most harmonic sounds into inharmonic sounds. For instance, the grand pianos in Mantra often sound like different kinds of bells. Other analog ring modulators include Moog's Moogerfooger MF-102 and the device used by Stockhausen in the 70s: Picture by composer Felipe Lara

Mystery box

One of the last assignments of the semester for the students at the Université de Franche-Comté, in the Master's program for multimedia - music & sound option, consisted in the study of a mystery box providing live sound processing. The students were given an audio connection to the input & output to the box, and were to determine its function.The students came up with clever ways of exploring the box, feeding it with sinusoids, musical sounds, or a-periodic signals. They also listened to the output of the box with "no input" (i.e. low level noise). Here is an example of a screen shot included in a student's report. Sonogram of the output of the mystery box, fed with "silence" (left) and a 500 Hz sinusoid (right).The students were free to use the tools of their choice. Mostly, they used Logic or Audacity to feed and record signal, and Sonic Visualiser to analyze the sounds.Looking at the sonogram above, what kind of processing does the mystery box pr…

Concert with the Tao Saxophone Quartet

Thanks & congrats to the Tao Saxophone Quartet for a great concert last Thursday. From left to right: Nicolas Sidoroff, Jean-Philippe Danjou, Étienne Demange,
Noël Pelhâte, Gilles Michaud-Bonnet, Jean-François Charles.
Photograph by Gabriel Vieille - thanks!

Coming soon... Electro-Jazz Dance


Tempomaton: handout excerpts

Spending 3 days with teenagers and percussionist Joël Lorcerie has been a treat. Everyone had lots of fun - and learnt a lot, too. At the end of the workshop, the participants had constructed automatons and programmed fun rhythms in the Arduino software.The most importantI hope everybody will remember what we discovered during this exploration of science and music: Everyone can program.
Everyone can make music.
Here are a couple of excerpts from the handout.Day 1: rhythms with lights Day 2: rhythms with solenoids & percussion instruments Day 3: adding sensors

Musical instruments: electronic & improbable

Choose what you want to learn in November! From the 5th to the 9th, you could try the orchestra of electronic, improbable, and acoustic instruments at the Maison Populaire in Montreuil or the Arduino and percussionist automaton workshop at the Montbéliard Scène nationale.Orchestra of electronic, improbable, and acoustic intrumentsThis workshop is taking place on November 5, 6, 8, and 9, 2012 at the Maison Populaire in Montreuil. It is lead by Jean-Yves Gratius, cellist, electronic instruments designer (real time - or unreal), and more. At some point, he studied in the Music Studies section at INSA de Lyon; this is where we met. I've had the pleasure to perform with him, notably with the ensemble Une recette de cuisine gouzni.
More information about the workshop: this way...Arduino workshop (with percussionist automaton) : Tempomaton There are still a few spots to take part in the workshop in Montbéliard, November 5-7 : more information.

Electro-chamber music: from loopers to... loopers

Last year, I told you about the new course I set-up at the Pays de Montbéliard conservatory: Electro-chamber music. After studying delays and ring modulation through Stockhausen's Mantra, the students went on with further explorations.
Here is a summary of what they did during the second part of the class:using a live granular delay (example with Reaktor Grainstates)focus on loopers (see below)audio freeze with Maxmicrophones and sound design (examples with Hans Zimmer & Diego Stocco, a.o.)composing a performance environmentMore on loopersWhen asked to come up with examples of performers using a looper, the students gave me the following examples:Phil Stendek
Bittersweet symphony, guitar & voiceMichaël Brecker playing the EWI (Akai electronic wind instrument) - looper example from 2:10a bassoonist in his roomstreet improv on the cello, by Prypjat SyndromeMy choiceI gave the students the following video of guitar player and composer John Gilliat. I especially like this exampl…

Tempomaton: Arduino workshop

I'm glad to announce the Tempomaton workshop, which is taking place in Montbéliard, France, on november 5, 6, and 7. During three afternoons, I am going to introduce participants to the world of musical robots through the famous Arduino platform.It is the perfect place if you want to learn about electronics, microprocessors and programming, and to have fun discovering all of this! Plus, percussionist Joël Lorcerie will be there to share his insights in percussive sound production. Joël is passionate about music, creation, experimentation, and teaching.At the end of the third day, participants will have built a simple musical automaton, and will be ready to go into further explorations on their own - I hope they wish so! Tempomaton is the fruit of a collaboration between the Conservatoire du Pays de Montbéliard and MA Scène nationale ; Tempomaton is a part of the ars numerica 2012 festival.

Madonna is the Miles Davis of pop music

Miles Davis picture from You're under Arrest - Madonna from Polari Magazine After attending Madonna's show in Zürich, Switzerland, I couldn't help but think about the traits she shares with jazz genius Miles Davis.Both of them knew how to choose great collaborators. Steve Jobs used to say "A players hire A players". Miles and Madonna are definitely A players. When the former chooses to work with Gil Evans on Sketches of Spain, Madonna chooses to record Patrick Leonard's La Isla Bonita. When Teo Macero produces '58 Stella by Starlight, William Orbit produces Ray of Light, and when Miles gets inspired by younger Marcus Miller, Madonna finds inspiration in the moves of dancer Lil Bucks.In his autobiography written with Quincy Troupe, Miles Davis says: "The very first thing I remember in my early childhood is a flame." A fascinating thing about Miles Davis is the incredible inner flame which pushed him to go beyond what he knew, to look for new ways …

Arduino class this morning

This Thursday morning: some theory and lots of practical work for the students in the Multimedia Masters Program at University of Franche-Comté. I had them introduced to the world of micro-controllers through the ARDX Arduino starter kit: the students had fun with LEDs, photo-resistors, temperature sensor, and more. I hope they are going to put this knowledge to good use with fun projects mixing physical computing and music!

Gunther Schuller: the autobiography

I just received Gunther Schuller's memoir A Life in Pursuit of Music and Beauty.Gunther Schuller is an exceptional musician. I am not going to summarize his biography, since it already takes him more than 600 pages to tell the first 35 years in the book.
Here is a short video where he's talking about Miles Davis' Birth of the Cool recording:I have been blessed to meet with Gunther and work for him during my time in Cambridge, MA. He has a great eye for score engraving. His experience as a performer, composer, and conductor taught him that the quality of music engraving has a direct influence on the use of rehearsal time. This is especially important when you are working with a full orchestra, of course. That's why he is almost picky with the placement of expression marks and other such details. When it comes to making parts layout very efficient for rehearsals, Gunther Schuller is very much like Karlheinz Stockhausen, whom I also worked for.Here is an excerpt from the b…

Master in Multimedia: Fall news

A new semester is starting at the university of Franche-Comté, where I've been involved in a few changes in the curriculum of the Master in Multimedia, option Music & Sound.As I announced in February, we worked with the teaching staff to include new topics for "Master 2" students, especially theoretical work on microprocessors and practical applications at the crossroads of arts & technology with the Arduino platform.I'm very excited since two groups of students chose final projects using these technologies:A first group is going to work on a 21st century version of the Syhamo, Oscar Wiggli's synthesizer reacting to its environment.A second group chose to work on a novel musical instrument with hardware inspired by a traditional flute - maybe connected to a smartphone...Music & 3D videosI invite you to watch the winner of the Spring 2012 Rhizome competition. In this event, teams of "Master 1" students create 3D videos, from the story to the …

Concert picture

Patrice Thomas, guitar - Anne Condamin, piano
Jean-Marc Larché, saxophone - Jean-François Charles, contrabass clarinet & electronics
June 15th, 2012, Prisme concert

Prisme... the program

Tonight's concert features a unique blend of classical and improvised music. Piano compositions by Scarlatti, Bach, Bartok, and Crumb, are interlaced with variations by Jean-Marc Larché (soprano saxophone), Patrice Thomas (guitar), and myself (contrabass clarinet & electronics).Anne Condamin & Jean-Marc Larché are giving with this program their personal vision of the third stream music. Yet another reason why I'm so happy to perform with them tonight.

Prisme... the artists

You are invited this Friday night, June 15th, 2012, in Montbéliard (France). I'm going to let you know about the program, but first, let me introduce the artists: I'm thrilled to be performing with amazing musicians.The artistsAnne Condamin, pianoAnne Condamin enjoys performing piano music covering an impressive range of classical music, from baroque music to creations in collaboration with the composers. Check out her recent album simply titled Schumann: Jean-Marc Larché, soprano saxophoneJean-Marc Larché is known for his collaborations with pianist François Couturier: their most recent major project is the Tarkovsky Quartet. Patrice Thomas, guitarPatrice Thomas performs with different groups, composes, and teaches jazz workshops. He won the 1st prize at the La Defense (Paris) jazz competition with the Isis Quartet.

Music & Mind maps

I've been an active user of the mind mapping technique for years. Again and again, I find it very useful in many situations:planning a concert or a tourworking on a course syllabusdesigning electronic music software or hardware set-upeven composing new musicI recently discovered a beautiful mind map conceived by pianist and music educator Margaret Brandman. A rich drawing with many ideas to think about for music teachers, and for students, too: I hope you find it thought-provoking - and useful!

Alpine music workshop

On Saturday, I'll be leading a workshop dedicated to Alpine music. I summed up the day's content on the following sketch: I'm looking forward to this day of musical exchange with amateur musicians, keeping in mind that amator is latin for lover.

Old & new: pipe organs of our time

Two recent takes on a wonderful instrument : the pipe organ.First, listen to this story of a Melbourne Town Hall's pipe organ controlled by gestures. Microsoft's Kinect connected to Cycling 74's Max has enabled composers to control music with gestures for a while. The interesting point in composer Chris Vik's approach is the mix of old and new, as well as the scenic aspect (although a computer screen on stage is not appealing). Check it out here: Kinect-Controlled Pipe Organ. Second, I'm glad that reverend Gomes' project for Harvard Memorial Church is achieved: Memorial Church's new organ. Listen to the new Fisk Organ in Memorial ChurchThe last event in the inaugural series is the ARTS FIRST Concert, taking place this Sunday, April 29, at 4:00 p.m.
The Harvard University Choir presents a program showcasing the new organs in The Memorial Church, including works for two organs and choir.

Concert with Tadja

Vincent Vigon is a mathematician, and a long time friend of mine. We studied together at the Insa de Lyon, in the Musique Études section.Come listen to his group Tadja - I'm gonna jam with them, too. Concert is this Thursday, April 19th, at 8:30pm at the Xanadu bar in Strasbourg. By the way, how does Tadja sound? Here is how they describe their music - en français dans le texte :Musique azimutée Est-Ouest, Celtique-Yiddish
Musique Trad relookée, mixerisée, micro-ondée

Dave Liebman & the Dudley House Jazz band

I'm very excited to announce that Dudley House, where I had a lot of fun serving as a jazz band leader, is holding its first artist residency with saxophonist Dave Liebman.Residency starts tonight!At the warm Cafe Gato Rojo, the Dudley House Jazz Combo performs a free pre-residency kickoff concert: Liebman and More. The Cafe Gato Rojo is a lovely place - I spent quite some time there, meeting friends, studying, reading, composing, and even playing music: nothing like a jam session at the Gato!David Liebman Master ClassOn Wednesday, Dave Liebman is giving a master-class at the Harvard music department. It will be a great event. Dave Liebman is an amazing artist & composer who enjoys talking about theory. I discovered him through his book: A chromatic approach to jazz harmony and melody.World première: the Liebman ConcertoIf you're in the Boston area, don't miss the concert on Thursday, April 19th, in Harvard Paine Hall at 8 p.m.The Liebman Concerto, a new work by compos…

Composer Cyril Michaud awarded Maurice Ohana prize

I first met composer Cyril Michaud in Montbéliard, France, at the Conservatory. He has studied both guitar and composition, while pursuing a Master in Multimedia at the University. I was thrilled to learn that he was awarded the 1st prize at the 2012 Maurice Ohana composition competition.A singular composition competitionThis year, the composers had to write a composition for solo acoustic guitar in three versions : easy, medium level, advanced/professional level. Here is the first four bars of Cyril's score, in each of the three versions:easy:
medium level:
advanced/professional level:
Nebula chromaLast week, Cyril kindly accepted to answer a couple of questions. He started by explaining to me the composition title:"I chose the word Nebula because I wanted to translate in the music a kind of perpetual harmonic fog. I play quite a bit with the instrument resonances.""Chroma simply stands for chromatic. The harmonic language of the piece is built out of two intervals: m…

Interactive Musique Francaise

On Friday & Saturday, March 23rd & 24th, the Ensemble de Musique Interactive are performing in New York City. Led by composer Jacopo Baboni Schilingi, this French ensemble is dedicated to 21st century music, focusing on works for classical instruments & live electronics.Musical interactivity: a festivalThe concerts are part of the event Ghost in the Instrument, a festival Exploring Trends in Music for Instrumentalists and Computers from Boulez to the Next Generation:Friday, March 23rd, 7 p.m.
Prentis Hall, Computer Music Center
632 West 125th Street New York
Music, dance performances, installationsSaturday, March 24th, 7 p.m.
Miller Theater, 2960 Broadway (at 116th Street)
Marathon concert with 4 classics, 11 world premieres, including a work with sculpture, and two with videoSunday, March 25th, Columbia University, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Workshop on PWGL, a software for Computer Assisted CompositionGreat performersAll of the performers making the trip from France have been committed …

Christopher Trapani in New-York & Paris

I met with composer Christopher Trapani during Expo'74, an interactive electronic music expo that took place in Brooklyn, New-York in October, 2011. We enjoyed talking about Harvard, where he was an undergraduate student, and about Paris, where he spent quite a few years already.I'm thrilled to see that Christopher was recently selected for a six-month Musical Research Residency at IRCAM, the Parisian . I'm sure his stay at the Parisian institute for research & coordination acoustics/music will be very productive; I'm looking forward to hearing the music he will be producing after that. Christopher Trapani's upcoming concertsIf you're in New York City, here are two upcoming events to discover:From Beaubourg to Brooklyn: electroacoustic music from Paris, a concert Christopher curated for the MATA festival.A new work is going to be performed in March by the Ensemble de Musique Interactive, a French ensemble visiting Columbia university in March - I'm going…

Be brave & kind!

Music & education often cross paths. But they are rarely linked as in today's event: Lady Gaga's presence at the Harvard Graduate School of Education to launch the Born This Way Foundation, which goal includes inspiring bravery and kindness in young people and stopping bullying.
Alyssa Rodemeyer, "youth empowered", talking with Lady Gaga in Sanders Theater. Of course, we want to believe their messages:Lady Gaga: You are all born superstars!Alyssa Rodemeyer: If one kid can set an example, then the rest will follow.The live event just ended: it might be time to watch Lady Gaga's recent video Marry the night:

For a better teaching

Harvard recently kicked off a new initiative for better teaching. As a music educator, I feel very much concerned by the quality of teaching, and I feel very lucky to have been working with great mentors at Harvard. In Professor Heller's Physics of Music & Sound course, the teaching staff were working hard to make the class engaging and efficient. For instance, we were using methods with great records of success, such as peer-instruction and live student response systems ("clickers").Since I was recruited in the Conservatoire du Pays de Montbeliard, I've been working on improving the art & science connections around. I've been impressed to see so many talents in the area: in universities, high schools, public and private organizations; but a lack of communication between people prevents the emergence of real creative breakthroughs. After recent invigorating talks, I'm confident great multimedia projects are going to crystalize in the next months.Think…

Master in multimedia, option music & sound

I have been teaching for a year in the Music & Sound part of the master multimedia products & services offered by the Franche-Comté university - yes, in this post, most of the links point to French sites! This cursus is organized in partnership with Pays de Montbéliard Agglomération and the composition & creation section of the conservatory. The cursus is based on the integration of an artistic approach with technical and scientific knowledge.I taught subjects like interactive music with Max & Jitter, as well as theoretical and practical notions on digital sound. Next year, I hope an introduction to microprocessors & physical computing will be added to the course plan - surely based on the Arduino platform. I'll let you know. I have been in charge in 2011 of coordinating the conception of a web site presenting this cursus. You will know more when visiting the web site: master multimedia, specialty music & sound. Congrats to Romain, web designer, who is now a…

Carlos Caires: Irin & microsound

Composer Carlos Caires has been a friend of mine for several years, and even more since Fall 2009, when we taught together at Shanghai Conservatory. Carlos is a professor at the Escola Superior de Música in Lisboa.One of his long term projects has been the development of a micromontage software tool : Irin. He conceived this tool for his own use, in order to compose the music he had in his mind. It is a great reason to develop a new tool, and it is a very traditional approach in music making. Johann Sebastian Bach was acting alike when he was working on new refinements in organs, for instance: he was working on tools to make the music closer to what he had in mind.Spectral slicing in IrinCarlos made me the honor of using a spectrally-based slicing tool of mine inside the most recent version of Irin :I encourage you to check out Carlos Caires's music, for instance his Duetto for piano & live electronics, recently recorded by pianist Ana Telles.

Ulrich Kreppein gets Composers' Prize

I spent a couple of years with Ulrich Kreppein when we were in the Ph.D. program at the Harvard Music Department together. A great orchestral composer, Ulrich is also interested in writing opera and chamber music. Discover a part of his sonic world in the string trio Windinnres:Composers' PrizeUlrich Kreppein is one of the three recipients of the 2012 Composers' Prize, awarded by the famous Ernst von Siemens foundation. Congratulations, Ulrich! Of course, I do congratulate Ulrich's fellow composers: Luke Bedford & Zeynep Gedizlioglu!

Electro-chamber music: around Mantra

The fourth session of my Electro-chamber music course was dedicated to Karlheinz Stockhausen's classic Mantra.This composition for two pianos (with rind modulators, crotales, woodblock, and more) is a beautiful example of new soundscapes unveiled with live electronic music. It reminds as well that the artistic use of live electronic sound processing predates digital technology.Composing for a traditional instrument and live electronicsDuring the class, the students explored crucial moments of the composition. In Mantra, Stockhausen found many great connections between the acoustic properties of the piano and the ring modulation process.
For instance, at the top, the first piano's modulator frequency is set at 220Hz, the fundamental frequency of the A3 repeated in the melody (musical formula, to use Stockhausen's lingo). With this setting, the piano sounds almost natural on the A3 note, and grows stranger and stranger the farther the note is from this central pitch.
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