[microsound] Electroacoustic techniques
lsutton at libero.it
Tue Feb 23 10:08:51 EST 2010
It's nice to have this kind of discussion. Hope my email is not too long :)
I'm a musician with "traditional" (classical guitar and musicology
studies) who has recently started studying (as a worker) electronic
music... so not so many electronic pieces, yet.
While reading your email I thought, though, of a recent piece for piano
and electronics I did for an assignment. Unfortunately I haven't found a
'real' pianist willing to play it. The assignement was to start from
different small series of notes and expand on those then also create an
electronic part, but it wasn't so strict. I decided to restric myself
only to a selected few I liked and then elaborate on those, both for the
piano and the electronic part, I also chose to restrict the electronic
part to only be elaborations of the recorded piano.
I posted the material here:
hoping some pianist would be interested (a full 'rendered' is also
available together with a low-res score)
My performance idea was to have the pianist have also fun while playing,
and while the timing on the score is quite precise, I'd like the
possible player to 'play' (in the fun meaning) with the electronics, as
if they were another 'performer'.
For this reason I created a visual 'score' which is more an
impressionistic one than a scientific one: it's to give a visual clue to
the piano player possibly giving him/her hints. I think reading the
score while listening to the piece is pretty self-explanatory.
The piece got very good reaction and encouragement from my tutors and
colleagues, yet as I said has never been performed live :(
As for tools, I'm a linux guy now and used rosegarden+lilypond for
writing the piano score (after taking some sketches on paper while at a
real piano) and inkscape for the electronic part.
The electronics, as said, are all electronic elaborations based on the
recording of the piano part (of course in this case it's a sampled one)
and were processed with PD and ardour.
I love PD as a tool to try out and experiment new sounds, because I find
it easy to prototype stuff that plays soon (vs csound etc where you have
to write a lot before hearing something..) but that's a matter of
Happy you started such a stimulating dicussion.
All the best,
PS: Should you really be more interested I have a more hi-res version of
the score which is supposed to be printed in A3.
> For a new project (actually Pi Day), I have decided to take a
> different route and compose my piece in a more traditional manner,
> basically as a piano piece, and then add in electronic elements, some
> of which will probably be based on probabilities and some more or less
> So with that being said, in my mind the great weakness in the classic
> books for electronic techniques that I've read ('Formalized Music' and
> 'Microsound') is that, in my opinion, they fail to bridge the gap
> between the world of composing as I know it, and new ways of
> approaching sound. I am not interested in discarding traditional
> techniques but rather extending them.
> So, I would be interested to hear from composers who work with
> traditional musical materials and instruments alongside electronic,
> especially those who use "normal" notation, manipulate cells and
> motives, and do not rely on improvisation for the performance of the
> electronic elements. How do you approach the use of electronics in
> your work? How do you bridge the gap in sound between the electronic
> and acoustic elements in your piece? Any software and technology that
> you find to be especially helpful? If you work on micro timescales,
> how do you bridge the gap between that timescale and the more normal
> timescale of notated music?
> I'm considering finally digging into CSound to do the current piece;
> the other options that occur to me offhand are ChucK, for the Physical
> Modeling code, and PD, which I know reasonably well but usually only
> use to generate data which I send via MIDI or OSC elsewhere. Any
> advice would be appreciated.
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