A specific example discussed was Eisenstein's theory of montage, in which the juxtaposition of conflicting or contrasting information results in an independent context. This is important in that it is an example of an artist working within the limitations of the technology (the discrete nature of frame by frame photographs in this case).
We noted the similarity of the discrete versus the continuous in film and in computer music.
We discussed technological change that affected art including the invention of celulite that facilitated film (and replacement for ivory in musical instruments), the clarinet, the transformation from plucked string to hammered string mechanisms in musical keyboards (and the subsequent invention of double escapement mechanism to facilitate faster action on the piano).
We examined the transformation from tempera to oil based paints as a result of the codification of perspective. Leonardo's anatomical drawings are an example of the blurred boundaries between art and science.
We discussed the inherent dangers of industry in artistic development. Examples cited include the invention of stereo FM radio (and its surpression by networks), the adoption of inferior technology due to marketing (as in the VHS/ Beta wars), and the dangers of a single company owning not only the recording and playback technologies but also the artists themselves (Sony, for example, sells CD Players, CD's, and holds exclusive recording contracts with artists).
Finally we discussed listening strategies for electronic music.
German, French, (and American and Japanese) aesthetic mindsets.
Why did musique concrete first develop in France while early German electronic music was primarily synthesized sound?
The class heard three Etudes. One was a French work of Musique Concrete from 1948 by Pierre Schafer based on a recorded train. The second was a 1952 Etude by Karlheinz Stockhausen whose concrete source sounds were distorted recordings of a voice. The third was a Stockhausen Etude from 1956 for synthetic sounds.
Geographical relations of light and texture qualities in early 20th century painting were compared to orchestration and sound qualities in French and German music of the same period. Objet Trouve in poetry, collage in visual arts, montage in film, were compared to musique concrete.
Basic concrete techniques such as looping, and reversed or backwards playing and variations in speed were discussed and compared to traditional motivic variants of inversion, retrograde and mensurational changes.
loops, cutting and splicing, speed change, direction change, tape delay
Schafer's Etude aux chemins de fer (an analysis of the composer's sketches)
Reich's It's Gonna Rain (1965) and Come Out (1966)
A follow up to Bobby's presentation on his own music in which he incorporated a sort of granular synthesis approach to composition with a lexicon of feed-back guitar sound sources that replaced the written (and jumbled) text of William Burroghs.
Today we examine the music of two prominent composers who used text as sound sources in their tape music.
Luciano Berrio's Thema (Omaggio a Joyce) was composed in 1958 at Radio Milan's Studio de Fonologia. The sound source of the work is a recording of soprano Cathy Berberian reading the opening of chapter eleven of Ulisses.
Berio categorizes sounds into segmented (discontinuous), repetitious aand continuous. Often the composer applies the 'wrong' sound to a given category (for example, continuous sound is often on 's' rather than on a vowell sound).
Berio was concerned with the transition between text and music. In other words, he was as interested in the timbral properties of speech as in the text itself. Tape manipulation was the sole method of transformation of sound. At the opening of Thema, Berio verticalizes the text, essentially making a 'chord'. By superposition Berio creates 'harmony' and 'chorus' from monophonic sources. Falling into a western tradition in text setting, Berio makes use of text painting. Towards the end of the first minute the word 'blooming' is disected and overlayed so that the word literally blooms from 'bl' to 'bloo' to 'blooming'. At points vocal quality is distorted beyond recognition. This is achieved by a combination of standard procedures including splicing, speed and direction change, and tape delay. In a sense the work stands as an early experiment in morphing.
Berio's use of language in non electronic pieces (Sinfonia, Cries of London) shows a similar interest in timbral focus, musical texture from speech, and a blurring between speech as language and as music.
Pendercki's Psalmus (1961)
Another composer who used the voice in (his only work for) tape is Krzysztof Penderecki. Penderecki is interested in exploring the music inherent in Polish speech. Inflection in male and female voice is studied. Rapid articulation of consonants and the use of clusters became a mainstay in his earlier instrumental music.