Showing posts from 2017

Electroclarinet 4: live recording

Looking for the studio album? Visit www.electroclarinet.comHere is the live recording of Electroclarinet 4, performed with Andrew Bentley on December 1st:Electroclarinet 4 - Live by Jean-Francois CharlesMessiaen Synthesizer You can see on a previous post the schematics for the synthesizer: it is building on the tradition of the no-input mixer.I call it the Messiaen Synth not just because the piece is an homage to Olivier Messiaen: the synth itself is related to some of Messiaen's visions - it creates music out of thin air, and with two ring modulators, it is more about symmetrical harmony than about root-based harmony.

Double bell trumpets

Double-bell trumpets have a long history, dating back to the 18th century. I've been interested in this instrument for a while, until I decided to use it in a composition. I'll let you know more about this new piece soon...
Schiller Instruments' version of a double bell trumpet. Musical examplesHerb Alpert playing It's Only a Paper Moon:In the United States, the double bell trumpet may be called a Shewhorn, at least when you are talking about Bobby Shew's horn:More recently, Matthias Höfs creates a piece with extended symphony orchestra:Trumpeter Marco Blaauw performs the music of Georg Friedrich Haas:Below, Marco Blaauw presents his instrument: not only a double-bell, but also a quarter-tone trumpet.P.S.: on this page about the history of brass instruments during the romantic period, you will see a picture of Adolphe Sax's 7-bell instrument!

80/20 Percussion Stand

Rehearsed yesterday with my new percussion stand. Here are a couple of pictures:
Not far from the blueprint...

Audition Quartet

On Thursday, November 30th, took place the School of Music Audition Day, when High School students visit and audit to enter the School in next August. For the occasion, we performed with our guest Andrew Bentley and doctoral students Carlos Toro-Tobon and Carlos Cotallo-Solares. Here are excerpts from our Audition Quartet:InstrumentsAndrew Bentley plays a synthesizer made of guitar pedals (including the discontinued Pigtronix Mothership and Way Huge Ringworm). The three other instruments have been built by the musicians around the axoloti DSP platform. Carlos Toro-Tobon's recycled guitar pick-up can be played with a drill: Carlos Cotallo-Sorales and I worked on the guitar pedal format:

New Musical Instruments Concert

Coming up on Friday: New Musical Instruments Concert with special guest Andrew Bentley, Professor of Music Technology at the Sibelius Academy, Helsinki University. This will be Concert #10 in the Center for New Music Season. Event takes place at 7:30 p.m. in the Voxman Recital Hall, University of Iowa.Synths-in-BottlesOne of the projects the students worked on consisted in building a synth using a glass jar. Here is a preview of the instruments in their October version:Electroclarinet 4Among the new pieces, we are going to perform my composition Electroclarinet 4, for Eb clarinet & analog synthesizer. The synthesizer is akin to a non-input mixer, made with guitar pedals. Andrew Bentley will be performing on this instrument. The circuit includes several levels of feedback: ProgramMetal Choir (collective installation)Electroclarinet 4 (Jean-François Charles)Focus (Andrew Novitskiy)Synths-in-Bottles (collective creation)Songs of Tomorrow (Mauricio Da Silva)Impressions (Alexander Toth)


Deanne Wortman is the Program Manager of the Virginia A. Myers NEXUS of Engineering and the Arts at the University of Iowa's School of Engineering. She is an a print-making artist, and passionate about collaborative art. She has been taking care of an old piano in her office, until it became... something else. This "new" instrument inspired Alexander Toth (from the New Musical Instruments course) to compose a new piece using live feedback. We are thrilled to invite you to the première performance of the piece:November 29, 2:30pm
NEXUS office, 2313 Seamans Center
University of Iowa, College of EngineeringDecomposition: artist statementDecomposition is a musical work that strives to strip down the teleological implications of a traditional musical instrument and the roles of musician and composer through augmentation of a disassembled piano by means of a contact microphone and a transducer. The artist explores the sonic capabilities of the piano’s base elements through exper…

80/20 Percussion Stand - Blueprint

I've been working on a new composition featuring metal percussion instruments. To properly experiment and perform, I need a percussion stand. With Ensemble New Flore, I already used DIY percussion stands: see them on this picture of the Nowa muzyka program, with Édith LeRôle and Jean-Daniel Hégé: I explored several options for my new projects, including steel bars. Finally, after talking with specialists at the Machine Shop at the School of Engineering, I studied the 8020 line of products. I've been seduced by the flexibility of this approach, and I've always loved Legos. Here is my sketch for part of the stand, I'll let you know when I'll have built it:

Digital Arts Creative Projects 2017

In the spring, I'll be teaching for the second time Digital Arts: an Introduction at the University of Iowa. I loved teaching this class during spring 2017: the students learn about the history of interactive art, analog & digital, they program with Max and Arduino, and most importantly they create their own final projects.
Here are highlights from the Digital Arts Fair 2017, when the students presented their interactive works:Lien vers la vidéo sur youtube.

Crystals for Reed Trio & Electronics

The wonderful Voxman Reed Trio premièred Crystals during the 2017 International Double Reed Conference at Lawrence University. Many thanks to Courtney Miller (oboe), Jorge Montilla (clarinet), and Benjamin Coelho (bassoon)!Live ElectronicsIn this piece, the oboe plays an acoustic part, and is accompanied by electronically-augmented clarinet & bassoon. Jorge used a PiezoBarrel pickup, Benjamin a Little Jake bassoon bocal pickup. Their sound was processed by an analog frequency shifting pedal and an especially programmed Eclipse sound processor. I love how Ben interpreted the cadenza part: indeed, this cadenza may be improvised. Listen to his version from 5:56 in the video.

Meeting Point

Treffpunkt by Jean-Francois CharlesBack online, the version of Treffpunkt (Meeting Point) bassist Franck Cottet-Dumoulin and I recorded in 2001. Treffpunkt belongs to the Aus den sieben Tagen series of text compositions by Karlheinz Stockhausen (see also this page for more information about the cycle). The file I shared in 2007 had disappeared, and I was recently asked to make it available again.
Cover from the 1973 Deutsche Grammophon vynile That request came just after we heard Nomi Epstein at the University of Iowa: she is a composer who works a lot with text and alternative musical notation in her own scores. With the ensemble, they gave a great performance of TIME WITH PEOPLE, an experimental opera by Tim Parkinson.Here is another take on intuitive music, where Franck Cottet-Dumoulin plays with pianist Jean-Marie Reboul:

In Transition - Live Recording

In April, I announced the concert where I performed In Transition, for Bb clarinet & live electronics, a composition by Joseph Norman. Well, the recording is now on soundcloud!
Composer Joseph Norman took part to the interpretation workshop on electro-acoustic music at Ircam in June 2017.

New Musical Instruments with Axoloti

We just started a new course at the University of Iowa School of Music: MUS:3285 New Musical Instruments: from Design to Performance. The School of Engineering's Electronics Shop laser cut the boxes, made by after vorplus's axoloti enclosure plans. I like the personalized engraving: Here is an excerpt of the syllabus:Registrar's descriptionAcoustic principles of selected traditional instruments (e.g., winds, strings, percussion) as well as principles of electroacoustic sound production (e.g., analog synthesizers, microphones, transducers); students work in teams to build, test, and improve their own musical instrument and experiment with its playing modes; projects may include inharmonic variations upon classical instruments, musical bots, guitar or voice-processing pedals, transducer-driven DIY Gamelans, and more; for composers, performers, engineers, and sound enthusiasts who want to design, build, and/or perform with new musical instruments.Objectives and Goals of the C…

Crystals Première

I composed Crystals, for reed trio & live electronics, for Courtney Miller, Jorge Montilla and Benjamin Coelho. Their wonderful reed trio is premièring this work today, June 24th, at Lawrence University, during the International Double Reed Society Conference 2017.

Guitar School

I composed Guitar School for guitarist Steve Grismore, a take-no-prisoners improviser, who immediately accepted my invitation to perform with the Laptop Orchestra at the University of Iowa.
This work is my first contribution to the guitar ensemble literature. Enjoy the recording of the world première, which took place on Saturday May 6th, 2017:Guitar School by Jean-Francois Charles

Scratch at NIME 2017

I'm thrilled to announce that Flutist Margaret Lancaster performs Scratch at NIME 2017, the New Interfaces for Musical Expression conference. The performance takes place on Tuesday, May 16 at 8PM, at KoncertKirken Blågårds Plads 6A, 2200 København N. "..... Touched....." Concert ProgramMilica Paranosic: Lady MJean-Francois Charles: ScratchRikard Lindell: Critical DigitalismRobert Pritchard: The Memory of Your TouchChris Chafe: A Day in the SunScratch Program Notesfor melodic instrument & live electronics
Jean-François Charles, 2016-2017
Homage to Karlheinz Stockhausen & Grandmaster FlashThis composition is inspired by Karlheinz Stockhausen’s work Solo, for melodic instrument and tape delay, and by Grandmaster Flash’s innovative techniques, which helped transform the turntable into a musical instrument.
In Vinko Globokar’s 1969 recording of Solo, Stockhausen scratched, braked, and cut sounds on tape. A few years later, Flash modified his audio mixer to improve the …

In Transition

In Transition is composer Joseph Norman's new piece for clarinet & live electronics. I'm honored to play the première this Sunday at 7:30 in the Concert Hall of the Voxman Music Building. I hope you can attend!

LOUi Laptop Orchestra meets Gozo Yoshimazu

Coming up on Wednesday! LOUi, the Laptop Orchestra at the University of Iowa meets poet and artist Gozo Yoshimazu. I just met this afternoon with him, his translators, and the organizers: the project is really exciting! Theater B, Theater Building, Wednesday April 19th, 2017, 7 p.m.Nima Hamidi, setar & live electronicsJoseph Norman, electric guitar & live electronicsKris Peysen, electric guitar & live electronicsJacob Simmons, guitar & live electronicsCarlos Toro-Tobon, Buchla analog Synthesizer & live electronicsSpecial guest: Patricia Hartland, electric bass & moreI hope to see you there!Update April 18: see the article in the Daily Iowan.

Scratch (bassoon & live electronics): first videos

Scratch, with bassoonist Benjamin Coelho. Friday's performance at the Java House:And here is the recording of the première, with a prelude for clarinet & bassoon, each with embedded electronic processing. This is the video of the complete Presidential Lecture, which starts with the musical part (10 minutes):

LOUi @ UI Computing Conference 2017

The LOUi musicians are thrilled to perform tomorrow during the University of Iowa Computing Conference! We are going to play with special guest Ryan Wedoff, who is not only the President of the UI ACM Student Chapter, but also a great jazz trumpet player. For the occasion, we came up with a very special program, including a brand new version of Duke Ellington's In a Sentimental Mood, for trumpet, jazz guitar, acoustic guitar, synthesizer, alto saxophone, and four computers:

Scratch at the Java House

I had the pleasure of meeting excellent musicians at the University of Iowa School of Music. Among them is bassoonist Benjamin Coelho, with whom we just performed together on Sunday, February 19th: we were invited to introduce the University of Iowa's 34th Presidential Lecture, given by Professor Gregory Carmichael.We performed a new piece: Scratch, for melodic instrument and live electronics, an homage to Karlheinz Stockhausen and Grandmaster Flash. I like a lot working with Ben: not only for the music, but also for his sense of humour!I hope you can make it to our next performance:
Friday, February 24th: I Hear IC, Java House, Iowa City, event starts at 7:30 p.m.

Composit Live Electronics Ensemble 2017

I'm thrilled to take part in July to the Composit Music Festival & Summer Course 2017. The new Composit Live Electronics Ensemble, CLEE, will get started this year. Following Composit 2016's improvisation sessions with instruments, laptops, and analog electronics, we will include regular ensemble workshops in the July 2017 schedule. The students will play in the ensemble, mixing acoustic & electronic music. The ensemble will work on improvisation and on compositions by the group members. Of course, there will be a public performance in beautiful Rieti! Apply to the composition program to get your piece performed by great new music specialists, and to work closely with composers Pierluigi Billone and Davide Ianni. Or apply to the Sound Augmented program, get live electronics and advanced Max lessons, discover the axoloti music making platform, take part to CLEE, maybe work on an installation project, and get feedback from artist and composer Peter Ablinger.Don't hesi…

The Eleventh Year: Film Screening

This Friday,January 27th, I'll be presenting the movie at the invitation of the University of Iowa's Department of Cinematic Arts and Film Studies Colloquium. After a short introduction (including words from other members of the team), we will screen the film, and have time for Questions & Answers. I hope to see you there: it's at 3:30 p.m. in E105, Adler Journalism and Mass Communication Building.More information: Eleventh Year's movie trailer