1996 Summer Concert

Digital Music Under The Stars

CCRMA Courtyard Concert

Featuring works by Celso Aguiar, Nicky Hind, Jun Kim, Fernando Lopez Lezcano, Jose Montalvo and Juan Pampin

With Keith Chapin (viola), Cem Durouz (guitar), and Ken Piascik (percussion)

The first event of the new CCRMA concert series, "CCRMA Courtyard Concerts". The courtyard of CCRMA's residence on the Stanford campus will be the new venue for performances of "Digital Music Under The Stars". Music involving real and virtual instruments, sound processing, and synthesis, projected in a surround-sound, multi-channel environment, will make the latest pieces composed at CCRMA come alive.

Bring a blanket to sit on the lawn (chairs will be provided as well). Parking is provided at Tresidder Union, signs will guide you from there to the Knoll.



Ripples (1995), for Guitar and Live Electronics

The composition of Ripples was inspired by and is an attempt to realize in music a transcendent experience I recently had, while floating on my back in a swimming pool. This was an outdoor pool at a motel situated in the "Organ Pipe Cactus" National Monument in Southern Arizona, very close to the Mexican border. It was late at night, and I was attempting to find out how long it would take for the water to become completely still, while I floated, as motionless as possible, staring up into a cloudless, star-filled sky. After some time, the water had become very calm, but it was not completely still, and it seemed that so long as I was breathing (even in slow, steady breaths), some ripples would be created, and that these ripples, reflecting back from the perimeter of the pool, would eventually return to me, denying me my wish for perfect stillness. After some more time, I realised that the closest I could get to this stillness, was to time my breathing with the reflection of the ripples, harmonizing myself with them and with the water which supported my body. This seemingly trivial experiment however, revealed to me a great truth: That so long as I am alive I cannot avoid action (even breathing is an action!), and that my every action will return to me in some form; harmony with my actions will tend to bring peace, and lack of harmony will increasingly perturb that peace. The experience was for me, a striking illustration of the nature of karma.

In Ripples, the patterns and their transformations, are in "harmony" with the stereo echo effect through which they pass, in fact there are four settings (one for each of the main sections), and thus four different "harmonies" that result.

I hope that the action of composing Ripples, may somehow communicate the sense of harmony which I felt that night.

Nicky Hind, emerged as a composer with the 1987 release of the album Hindsighta collection of compositions which combine atmospheric textures with (jazz) improvisation. Since then he has received commissions to write music for acoustic and electro-acoustic media, and in conjunction with dance, theatre, and video. In addition to Scotland, his home country, works have been performed in Japan, Australia, Argentina, Iceland, and the U.S.A.

An interest in computer music has led to the pursuit of doctoral studies at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA), Stanford University, California, where he is presently based. In addition to composing, he is also active as a radio presenter on KZSU (Stanford's radio station).

ZephyrBells (1996), for Quadraphonic Tape

ZephyrBells is a composition for quadraphonic sound and my first computer music work created using CLM, SoundWorks and on the NeXT computer at CCRMA. I only used one sound source which is a synthetic bell sound for this piece. The basic idea is that we can hear the bell sounds from afar by the zephyr winds. Special thank to Fernando Lopez-Lezcano for his Quad-box and Craig Sapp for technical support.

Jun Kim was born in Seoul, Korea in 1964, where he received a Bachelor's degree in composition from Kyung-Hee University. He also has a master's degree in composition from Boston University. He is currently pursuing a D.M.A. degree in composition at Stanford University, studying with Jody Rockmaker and Jonathan Harvey.

Metal Hurlant (1996), for Metallic Percussion and Electronic Sounds

We live in a society of immaterial materials. More and more, we manipulate things we are unable to touch. Sounds and images traveling through networks at increasing speed reach us everyday, but their apparently physical presence is no more than the semblance of digital information. The intangibility of sound compounded with the homogeneity of the digital medium contributes to digression from the qualitative aspects of acoustic material. In the process of abstracting sounds into notes or events, notes into numbers, and numbers finally into bytes, the digital medium runs the risk of losing qualitative differences intrinsic to sound. The seeming immateriality of music may result in the tendency to entrust the process of compositional work to the logic of algorithmic procedures. Exclusively guided by a processual logic, music produced in this fashion depends on a set of basic logical expressions and their associated rules of transformation. A composition mainly governed by formal operations ends up in most cases neglecting the acoustic quality of musical material. One of the intents of my project is to reverse the tendency toward homogenization and hierarchization the digital medium induces in the composer.

Metal Hurlant has been composed for a percussion player (playing metallic instruments) and computer generated sounds. The hybridity of the piece serves a qualitative logic. Atonal music during the '20s and serialism later stressed what Adorno referred to as the inner logic of procedures. In contrast, this work follows the logic of the sound materials, not the logic of the procedures, to shape acoustic matter.

The acoustic material comes from a studio recording of metallic percussion instruments. Spectral analysis of these sounds provides the raw matter for the composition. This data is a digital representation of the qualitative traits of metallic percussion. It defines the range of acoustic properties available for manipulation and determines the further behavior of qualitative traits in the overall composition. In this way, qualitative parameters supply compositional parameters.

Access to the interiority of the sound material is mediated by the digital medium. In this work, the digital medium does not flatten the qualitative structure of matter. On the contrary, spectral analysis is used here to explore what can be called the sound "metalness" of the selected instruments. Since the range of compositional operations is provided by the isolated sound metalness, to certain extent the qualitative structure of the material takes command over the compositional process. Moreover, the metalness ruling the computer generated sounds furnishes the morphological boundaries of the instrumental part. _Metal Hurlant_ is an expression of metalness sculpted on percussion and electronic sounds.

Juan Carlos Pampin has studied composition with Oscar Edelstein and Francisco Kropfl. He holds a Masters in Computer Music from the Conservatoire Nationale Superieur de Musique de Lyon (SONVS), where he studied with Denis Lorrain and Philippe Manoury. As a Visiting Composer at CCRMA in 1994, he composed the piece "Apocalypse was postponed due to lack of interest" that received an award in the Concours International de Musique Electroacoustique de Bourges 1995, and has been selected to be performed at the ICMC96 in Hong-Kong. He has been composer in residence at the LIEM-CDMC in Madrid, where he started working on the piece that is premiered today. He is currently a Ph.D. student at CCRMA, and an associate researcher of the LIPM Computer Music center of Buenos Aires. His music has been performed in the United States, South America and Europe.

House of Mirrors (1996), for PadMaster, Radio Drum and Midi Instruments

"...come, travel with me through the House of Mirrors, the one outside and the one within. Run, fly, never stop. Never think about being lost in the maze of illusions, or you will be. Glide with me through rooms, doors and corridors, surfing on tides of time, looking for that universe left behind an eternity ago. Listen to the distorted steps, the shimmering vibrations that reflect in the darkness. Watch out for the rooms with clocks where time withers and stops..."

A real-time improvisation software package (PadMaster) written by the composer controls the performance of MIDI synthesizers and soundfile playback. The surface of the controller (the Radio Drum) is split by PadMaster into as many as 30 virtual pads, each one individually programmable to react to baton hits and gestures, each one a small part of the musical puzzle that unravels through the performance. Hits can play notes, phrases, or can create or destroy virtual musical performers. Movements of the batons can be linked in each pad to several dimensions of expression control. The virtual pads are arranged in sets or scenes that represent sections of the piece. As it unfolds, the behavior of the surface is constantly redefined by the performer. The performance of House of Mirrors oscillates between the rigid world of determinism as represented by the scores contained in each pad, and the freedom of improvisation the performer has in arranging those tiles of music in time and space.

Born in Buenos Aires Fernando Lopez-Lezcano received a Masters in Electronic Engineering (Faculty of Engineering, University of Buenos Aires) and a Masters in Music (Carlos Lopez Buchardo National Conservatory, Buenos Aires). He started working with electroacoustic music by building his own analog studio in 1976. After graduating he worked for nine years in industry as a microprocessor hardware and software Design Engineer for real-time systems, and later spent one year at CCRMA as an Invited Composer (part of an exchange program between LIPM in Argentina, CCRMA at Stanford, and CRCA at UCSD). He did research in dynamic sound localization and taught an Introduction to Electronic Music course for one year at the Shonan Fujisawa Campus of Keio University, Japan. He is currently Lecturer and System Administrator of the computer resources at CCRMA, where he divides his time between the company of good friends, keeping computers and users at CCRMA more or less happy, and enjoying the arts of composing music and writing software. His music has been released on CDs and played in the Americas, Europe and East Asia.

All blue, I write with a blue pencil, on a blue sky (1996), for computer-generated tape

This title was drawn from the writings of Walter Smetak (composer, instrument- builder, cellist and writer) to whose memory the piece is dedicated.

The piece is about sound transformation. Sound transformation in the sense of a metaphor to our own transformation. The materials used were cello and percussion sounds. The percussion sounds are ever present and the cello is broken into its raw components. The basic cuisine for this tape piece was set up from these spices.

The cello is transformed in its identity, its defining harmonic series, making it closer to the percussion. Later, the pitches from this now bent, inharmonic series, are used as a framework for a game of background-foreground (the blue pencil, on a blue sky) played by cello and percussion and concluding the piece.

I'd like to thank David Soley for his careful advice, showing there is no safe road in creativity. Evoe! No more claims. If the pearls are brighter, it's because I could dive deeper.

Celso Aguiar was born in Palo Alto, California in 1957 and grew up in Brazil in the city of Salvador, Bahia. He began his musical studies at the Federal University of Bahia where he studied, among others, with the swiss-brazilian composer Ernst Widmer. Since then he became particularly interested in electroacoustic music and as a consequence developed a project to construct a computer-controlled digital synthesizer in Brazil.

Celso Aguiar has written music for traditional instrumental as well as electroacoustic media, and his main approach in this area is the application of new digital signal processing techniques to Composition. With these objectives in mind he is currently pursuing a DMA in Composition at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA, Stanford University).

Constellation (1996), for Radio Baton and string soloist

Constellation is for Radio Baton and string soloist. It is based on a simple algorithm, "random.c", adapted by Max Mathews for use with his Radio Baton. Additional code was provided by Craig Stuart Sapp. I used these materials to create a gestural work that mimics a concerto for orchestra and string soloist, in this case a violist. Although the structure of the work is determined by specific recurring gestures I wanted and have given the piece a largely improvisational feel. The soloist for the first presentation was the violinist Karen Bentley.

Jose A. Montalvoholds a Phd. in Music Composition from New York University, and Bachelors and Masters degrees from Indiana University. He came to Stanford as a visiting scholar to pursue interests related to multimedia and the internet. During the fall quarter he taught a course titled "Contemporary Music of Latin America". As a visiting scholar with the Latin American Studies Dept. he presented a lecture on 20th century Puerto Rican history, and one at UC Berkeley on "20th century music of Puerto Rico". He also organized and participated in the CCRMA concert at the New Guinea Sculpture Garden last May.