Peer Landa has earned a living composing computer and instrumental music since 1989. He was invited to CCRMA in 1990 by John Chowning.
Downcast was commissioned by NICEM, the Norwegian section of the
International Confederation for Electroacoustic Music. Downcast was
completed after two years of work and had its first public performance in
Oslo 1993. Since its premiere, Downcast has been performed at festivals
and concerts twelve times around the world, including England, Japan,
Finland, Norway, Sweden, Argentina, and the US. The compositional
technique for Downcast is entirely based on digital signal processing.
Several DSP applications in the C programming language have been written
exclusively for this piece, i.e. no commercial application has been used.
Downcast serves as a presentation of these programs as well as a
demonstration of a rather modern compositional technique which is a spinoff
from the idea of using a general-purpose computer language (its code) as
the musical notation. The initial audio material for the piece is derived
entirely from a recording of a female voice; this voice is rigorously
processed by the computer programs. The original sample, a recording of
short laughter, can be heard at the very end of the piece. Complex
rhythmical syncopation is a crucial component of the composition. At times
there are up to a thousand layers where the melody line jumps from one
layer to another following the pattern of these syncopations. Elements
such as dynamics and spatiality are also fundamental to the piece.
Reverberant spaces are derived from actual physical rooms in the
CCRMA-building (everything from the smallest closet to a large auditorium
have been used for reverb impulse-responses). The convolution of those
room-responses are combined into layers and used in the style of classical
counterpoint. Since the composition is entirely processed and edited in
the digital domain (no analog to digital converters have been used) the
sound is extremely clean with a very wide dynamic range..