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Showing posts from 2019

Aeris

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The Latin aeris is the genitive form for aer, "air" and for aes, "bronze," airain in French. In this piece, the natural resonances of a cymbal are highlighted through a feedback system. These metal resonances translate to audible air vibrations.Aeris fits in the tradition of pieces exploring the sound of metal, like Mikrophonie I. Frederick Skiff, Professor of Physics, explains how the cymbal sounds like a butterfly wandering through hyperspace. The picture was taken by Miranda Meyer on the day of Scientific Concert's première, October 27, 2019.

Mikrophonie I Excerpts

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Mikrophonie I (1964) is a very important composition by Karlheinz Stockhausen, written for tam-tam and live electronics, to be performed by four percussionists and two musicians at the filters and sound projection.I had the great pleasure to perform the piece with the Ensemble Sillages in 2016. Percussionists were Hélène Colombotti, Maxime Echardour, Laurent Mariusse and Vincent Leterme; Stéphane Sordet and I were playing the filters and sound projection. Here are excerpts from our January 2016 performance of Mikrophonie I:Although a first glance at the score might suggest that the piece is all about experimentation and noise, numerous rehearsals and performances led me to realize that Stockhausen used quite traditional composition techniques. This is especially stunning when you consider the different sections, in which he uses polyphony, accompanied soli, or homorhythmic orchestral tutti.Mikrophonie outdoorsAfter performing the piece in Brest and Paris, we performed outdoors, during…

Trevor Wishart's Timbre Map for Strings

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Here is an inspiring Timbre Map for Strings drawn by Composer Trevor Wishart. He presents different classes of sounds and connects them in a graphical way recalling the mind map technique: This map reminds me of how Helmut Lachenmann classifies sounds and sorts them along different types of scales. This thinking mixing timbre and instrumental gesture can be used in many different contexts.I copied this fascinating drawing from Trevor Wishart's book On Sonic Art. Another great read is Audible Design. Find more information about Trevor Wishart's work and writings on his web site.Think about an instrument: what would your timbre map look like?Timbre & Strings in ConcertTo listen to parts of this timbre map - and surely some sounds not included on this map, make sure you come to the JACK Quartet concert on Friday, December 6, at 7:30pm in the Voxman Music Building. These wonderful musicians are playing music by Sky Macklay, Luca Francesconi, Helmut Lachenmann, and more!

Max Patches for Spectral Audio Freeze - Part 1

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In 2008, I shared a number of Max patches for live audio freeze, using the techniques described in the Computer Music Journal article A Tutorial on Spectral Sound Processing Using Max/MSP and Jitter. These patches use the FFT - Fast Fourier Transform in Max to achieve a vivid, alive spectral freeze. The links mentioned in the 2010 post Max patches back online are not valid anymore, so I revamped a first series of patches to ease the learning process. They are now available on this Download page.Contents:01-freeze-spectrum: analysis/re-synthesis of one spectrum02-stocha-freeze: analysis/stochastic re-synthesis of n successive spectra03-denoised-freeze: add rough denoiser04-ar-freeze: add attack/release smoothing05-harmonic-freeze: freeze successive "notes" or sounds to build harmony

Prisma at Ircam 2019

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The Prisma group of composers & researchers met again at Ircam in the Summer of 2019. As per usual, the initial spark was lit by composer Jacopo Baboni Schilingi. This year, the conference featured the following presentations:Alessandro Ratoci: New composition for electric guitar and live computer based on Sonic Youth's Confused Idols and Sexy KillersNicolas Jacquot: Metalepsis - reflection of the figure in the field of compositionJacopo Baboni Schilingi: 25 years of aesthetic research: the Idio-spheres, and the introduction of Für Hans, a sonata for piano and live computerJohannes Kretz: String quartet using real time composition with 5 tablet computersJean-François Charles: From Magma (2003) to Petrified (2019): the evolution of a composition for instruments and live electronicsÖrjan Sandred: Using PMC in MaxMauricio Valdés San Emeterio: current researchThis meeting is always the occasion of learning a lot from each other: every composer/researcher comes with a specific doma…

Dance Gala 2019

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I've been honored to collaborate on two creations for the University of Iowa Dance Gala 2019. (dis)APPEAR(d)ancesThis has been a true collaboration with choreography by Jennifer Kayle live video and media design by Daniel Fine, and music created with Joseph Norman & Jonathan Wilson. We play live to the show: Jonathan on tenor sax & Buchla analog synthesizer, Joseph on electric guitar, and me on custom live electronics.Struggle for PleasureFor this piece, choreographer Armando Duarte invited Joseph Norman to compose a new score for the Laptop Orchestra at the University of Iowa. The composition is a kind of concerto for double bass and soprano: the soloists are LIGAMENT. The orchestra features setar, laptop-based synthesizer, electric violin, bass, live electronic processing of the soloists.
Before the curtain lift, dress rehearsal #2. I hope you can make it to the Hancher auditorium tonight for the second show!

Grant Wood Operas on Iowa Public Radio

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Tonight 8pm and tomorrow 4pm! Stream live from Iowa Public Radio.The original commission, The Grant Wood Operas: Strokes of Genius, was premiered in April 2019 by the Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre. Enjoy these three one-act operas — one each by composers Robert Lindsey-Nassif, Jean-François-Charles, and Michael Ching. Each opera highlights strong threads between the paintings and the life of Grant Wood. The Grant Wood operas are:American Gothical by Robert Lindsey-NassifGrant Wood in Paris by Jean-François CharlesEight Woods and a Van by Michael Ching

Water Clock: Top of the Hour

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To cap a great day with two performances of the Scientific Concert, the clock greeted the audience with the top of its hour: the minutes column is reset while the hours display is incremented from 3 to 4 bulbs.The clock was built by Benjamin Revis at the University of Iowa. It was invented by French artist Bernard Gitton.

Sonic Pi Workshop

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Last week, I gave a workshop at the University of Iowa College of Engineering, introducing students to the Sonic Pi language and environment. This music-oriented programming language is designed for live coding. It can also be used to introduce text-based coding to people with no programming experience. The students were very curious and active: we had the time to go through all of the examples and to introduce what live coding is in the electronic music community. Find below the code excerpts I used for this one-hour workshop.Play a noteplay 70
Cmd-R to run the codeChordplay 72
play 75
play 79Melodyplay 72
sleep 1
play 75
sleep 1
play 79Play with durations & pitchDuration is in “beats”. Default BPM is 60, i.e. 1 beat is 1 second.
Pitch is the MIDI note number. Try 60.25 if you like eighth tones.First option: amp
play 50, amp: 0.1
sleep 0.25
play 55, amp: 0.2
sleep 0.25
play 57, amp: 0.4
sleep 0.25
play 62, amp: 1Using synthesizersuse_synth :saw
play 38
sleep 0.25
play 50
sleep 0.25…

Scientific Concert Teaser 02

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Come and let yourself be enchanted by the water clock built by Benjamin Revis after French artist Bernard Gitton's design: it's going to be live on stage this Sunday, October 27, 2019.Scientific Concert at the University of Iowa School of Music.
2 performances: 3pm & 5 pm.

Scientific Concert Teaser 1

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I'm excited to share with you a couple of images from work and rehearsals before the upcoming Scientific Concert. In this video, Matthew Wortel and Dan Moore are extracting sounds hidden inside of an Iowa stone:Only on October 27, 2019, University of Iowa School of Music.
2 performances: 3 pm and 5 pm.

Water Clock Presentation

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Last week, scientific glassblower Benjamin Revis gave a great presentation at the School of Music, University of Iowa. He explained the inner workings of the water clock designed by French artist Bernard Gitton. Benjamin already presented at the Chemistry Department and School of Engineering. If you missed the presentation, he is giving one more at the Department of Physics & Astronomy on October 28, 3:30-4:30 pm. Don't miss it!

Jorge Montilla Moreno performs Electroclarinet 1

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A colleague of mine at the University of Iowa School of Music, clarinetist Jorge Montilla performed in April 2018 Electroclarinet 1, a composition for Bb clarinet & live electronics. He gave a beautiful performance: I'm honored that the School of Music featured the live recording on their youtube channel: Jorge Montilla performing Electroclarinet 1.For more on the Electroclarinet project, check out the Electroclarinet web site.

Sonic Rocks

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These last couple of weeks, I've been setting-up stone instruments for an upcoming composition for double bass and percussion. On this picture, you can see slices of agate, phonolites from Auvergne (France), lava from La Réunion, sand, etc.
More to come...

Masse pétrie

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Here is a video of the première of Masse pétrie, a new piece for cello and live electronics system Sampo. Cellist Marie Ythier gave a wonderful performance during the Impressions concert at Musinfo's festival Art & Sciences Days 2019.Youtube link: Masse pétrie for cello and Sampo live electronics. RencontresDon't miss Marie's new album, just released: she performs Schumann as well as new music by Tristan Murail in this album titled Une Rencontre.

Composing for the Sampo

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I am honored to have been awarded a commission and residency at the 2019 Sampo Composition Competition, organized by musinfo.Following this award, I have composed a new piece Masse pétrie for cello and the live electronics system Sampo, which will be performed by cellist Marie Ythier. She has worked with many composers, and has recorded new works for cello and live electronics in her album Le Geste Augmenté.I'm looking forward to working with her, and to meeting the festival guest composers.What is the Sampo?The Sampo is a live electronics set-up that implements a simplified version of one algorithm available on the Lexicon sound processor LXP-15. Although the Sampo hardware is quite advanced and expensive (it includes a computer and a sound card), the software's capabilities are more limited than these offered by the original LXP-15 sound processor.
Sampo implements a simplified version of the Pitch-Delay algorithm,
from the Lexicon LXP-15 sound processor. Composing for this ins…

Petrified: double bass & live electronics

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Petrified is a composition for double bass and live electronics. Bassist Will Yager premiered the piece during our Spring 2019 Laptop Orchestra concert. In this first version, I performed the live electronic processing live. Will asked me to prepare a standalone version that he could take on the road. Here is a screenshot of the live audio processing interface: In this work, the electronics consist of two layers:live spectral processing of the double bass, including pitch shifting, frequency shifting, noise shaping, etc.multi-playhead sampler, applied to sound sampled at different points during the piece.These sonic layers are also mixed with the direct sound of the instrument, and sent to a delay and two reverb lines.Tonight, Will is performing Petrified with the standalone live electronics, during the Electronic Music Studio concert, Stark Studio, Voxman Building, 7:30.

Dusapin's Anacoluthe

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This semester, I've been coaching bassist Will Yager and soprano Anika Kildegaard on their chamber music project LIGAMENT. They have been building a great repertoire of pieces for double bass and soprano. Then, we had the idea of working on Pascal Dusapin's composition Anacoluthe, for soprano, double bass, and contrabass clarinet. Last week, during Ensemble Accroche Note's residency at the School of Music, we worked with clarinetist Armand Angster and soprano Françoise Kubler - she took the pictures. We are performing Anacoluthe tonight, at the School of Music, University of Iowa, at 7:30 in the Recital Hall. You are invited!By the way, do you know what an anacoluthe is?

Grant Wood in Paris: Music Engraving

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To engrave the score and parts for the Grant Wood in Paris opera, I used Dorico. You'll find more information in this conversation with Daniel Spreadbury: Dorico Showcase: Celebrating Grant Wood’s Strokes of Genius.Here are a couple of examples that could not be included on the article:

Canvas and Composers

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You are invited on Thursday night at the Canvas & Composers event, featuring the composer-librettists who created The Grant Wood Operas: Strokes of Genius:Jean-François CharlesRobert Lindsey-NassifMichael Ching With the presence of the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art staff:Executive Director Sean UlmerAssociate Curator Kate KunauThey are going to discuss the Grant Wood painting that inspired the three new operas.Canvas & ComposersThursday, March 14, 7-8 pm
Cedar Rapids Museum of Art
410 Third Avenue SE, Auditorium
Free and open to the public

Grant Wood in Paris: the paintings

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The Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre production Grant Wood: Strokes of Genius is coming soon! Here are the paintings that inspired me to compose Grant Wood in Paris. The postcard written by Grant Wood in Paris is not going to be shown, but you will see that the set includes projections of the paintings. If you want to buy your tickets, they are available online at the Cedar Rapids Theatre.

Electroclarinet reviewed at The Whole Note

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The Whole Note is a wonderful music magazine serving Toronto and Southern Ontario. I am very proud that they chose to review the new album Electroclarinet: Three tracks are also available during the month of February in their Listening Room. Thanks for listening!

Residente and Ute Lemper

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Here are two albums I have listened to a lot in 2018: Residente's first album and Ute Lemper's Paris Days, Berlin Nights. I found Residente's music very fresh and inspiring. The Residente album (amazon link) is truly Third Stream music: he didn't limit himself to mixing influences from around the world, but he really managed to invite musicians from different cultures to give their best and be part of a new sound.Ute Lemper is a wonderful performer. Paris Days, Berlin Nights is excellent, not just because of the singer, but also thanks to the arrangements crafted by composer and conductor Stefan Malzew. He arranged the whole repertoire for string quartet, bass, and either accordion, piano, or clarinet. The refinement of the string writing is among the very best that you'll find in such a cabaret or song context: Stefan Malzew came up with a very imaginative and beautiful variety of timbres.I hope you have a chance to listen to this music, and you have a good time!