Jon Appleton: An inflection point
This moment looks suitable to reminisce about other times since Jon Appleton's passing several weeks ago is bringing back memories not so forgotten. Normally we try telling and cluing what is being done days, weeks or even couple of months before. However and given the occasion, we are relaying any sort of technical report, descriptions summaries or the like for next entry even though hinting we've been revisiting cool hacks on abandoned software for composing means. Hitherto asserting that Appleton was an inflection point on a composition career is not an understatement.Through the years contact between us was not as close and direct but still he remained influential on many respects.
I first found about Jon Appleton on the nineties while teaching a course on Electroacoustic music history and aesthetics, because of his book “The Development and Practice of Electronic Music”, Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1975. Later, I saw him in person at the San Jose State computer music conference complaining about poor and mediocre functionality of Apple's sound manager. -At the time Macintoshes were not so suitable for music or sound processing (only MIDI) until Apple acquired NeXT Computer and its sound legacy.- He was there with some of his students and composers from Dartmouth. Next year to my surprise, found out he was being considered among guest composers for the Contemporary Music Festival at Bogota on which I was part of the board of advisers and on the organizing committee. Luckily Jon was able to fund himself his trip to Colombia and to be part of an instance of this now historic festival. Given the shot, spent time with him sharing concepts and certainly arguing on his viewpoints and «concerns» about the state of the art of Computer Music at the time.
A birdseye view of Appleton's issues on new music had been published one the Computer Music Journal: "Live and in Concert: Composer/Performer Views of Real-Time Performance Systems," Computer Music Journal, Vol. 8, No. 1, 1984., and "Science in the Service of Music; Music in the Service of Science," Computer Music Journal, Vol 16, No. 3, 1992. These points were outlined on his talks at the festival permitting arguments and controversy. Part of his illustrations included performing on the “pizza-box” radio-baton to show how «real-time» live performances would take center stage on the evolution of computer music systems. Of course, he was demonstrating Max Mathews' “conductor” program while performing a composition of himself. Even though at the time (and still now), he is known because of his role while developing the “Synclavier” which in those days was the most outstanding instrument after the electric guitar, he was fond of performing with a radio baton. -Savvy people in the audience wanted more answers on the Synclavier and fewer on the radio-baton-. Nonetheless, corroborating his ideas and the fact that I knew that Max and Charles Dodge were also regulars at Dartmouth's electronic music studio and seminars, having a radio-baton in Bogota was something somehow historic.
Jon didn't waste time arguing that in music getting the right notes was not objective. Instead, and in tandem with Max's and Dodge's ideas, right gestures were more convincing while listening to a performance and thereby: “the conductor program”. Questions such as how can a computer interact in a live performance with a soprano?, scattered better with him rather than sound synthesis tricks. Though, need to acknowledge that I dared asking about sound and likewise that I had hardly been exposed to Jean Claude Risset's catalog of computer synthesized sounds before these talks. There it was when I got a response on the role of synthesis.
On perspective after almost three decades now, questions dealing with real time “live” interaction alongside computing systems seems barely pertinent. We've came to an age when even “Computer Music” jargon sounds demode. Recall James Beauchamp twenty years ago hinting that this term will dilute into one or several music or art forms as time passes. But ten years ago confabulating on the future of this branch of new music, on a related conference, I informally underlined the notion that in spite of evolution and changing of times, a mere definition of “Computer Music” is always at change. At the moment colleagues agreed and came off caressing the idea. But for good-or-bad practice of music with a machine keeps going, and following Appleton's concerns new issues are on the rise.
Can't deny evolution because of new instruments, new interfaces and on the whole, novel ways of performing and listening are floating all around. Parlance along frameworks within “digital music” might seem overcrowded giving air to speculation along subjective meanings because “the digital” encompasses generalized labels of what looks new and just out-of-the-box. Meaning that anything mediated is a byproduct of an informatics system. But musically speaking not necessarily so. Appleton and other colleagues of his time alluded that music was made for humans by humans, overextending that music made with computers is a consequence of human touch.
A great concern nowadays relates to choice for listening, -music consumption for some-. Paraphrasing Jon on “what is up there?”, -on the cloud-, interesting and appealing to the ear wherefore worth listening?, it appears that choice is harder than ever because of big-data and huge piles of sound files or otherwise digital music on servers around the world. In other words, meaningful music retrieval is posing various constraints. Pattern matching classification gets a choice closer to what is desired but a listener's mind is what counts at the end. Worth mentioning are distinctions among the practice of listening and conceiving a musical piece. Thus, seems imperative pointing out that digital music might as well be stored energy of expressions of any sort producing impulses on the ears thereby deciphered and framed as a piece, song, or composition. This in contrast to the practice of what we have been referring as “computer music” framed rather on composition and performance. Consequently there is a distinction between “digital music” more related to media and media is the message, and the subject of “Computer Music”.
Furthermore, there are digital sound files conceived by algorithms developed by people appealing to computer techniques also on the web. These can be renditions of a live performance or simply a recording of a so called “tape music piece”. This rises questions about pertinence of live-performance concert situations versus digital renditions of the same music. Are listeners biased into one form or the other?. Tradition has told us of a concert as a ritual where people will listen to performers and in some cases loudspeakers acting as performers. Aware of media being ubiquitous, a ritual is just a subset on how music is presented to a subject these days. Therefore knowing that in most cases a piece would be listened on a smart phone, gaming console or a multi-media system, in lieu of a concert situation, getting a listener focus on a computer music piece on these days poses a huge concern.
Questions respecting the practice of music by computer keep coming. We are grateful to our mentors and figures like Appleton to keep our minds active and reluctant to accept just what is there. Being the case, music involvement is substantial to performers and composers alike to the extend that in situations listeners become part of a piece. “Embodiment” of music stored in a file is like matter embedded in a real time concert situation, otherwise whatever a digital format is, only meaningless data is stored as bits and bytes. How this embodiment makes sense to a listener is consequential on getting a human involved in active listening. Here we want hearing to unfold meaning and sense in addition to being interesting to a mind. Hence sounds possible that quests dealing around “music embodiment” show hope on the issues of «listening choice».
For several years now, many people have conceived media pieces without live instruments or just alluding them. General audiences accept this practice appealing because media over loudspeakers and monitors is the norm, in addition to fashion and pop culture. In cases a pop concert is just an over amplification of a sound rendering on smart phone. To this sort of misinterpretation enhancing compositions counting on media attributes and dysfunctions might help on what is needed to be projected to a listener. Lessons learned on making tape music interesting to audiences should also be counted. Take for instance virtual listening and 3-D simulations or re-creations that empower liveliness in a sound object. Further, embodiment constructs mental representations of real acoustic environments as well as instruments, and by now using sound synthesis there is an optional desire for discovery.
Perception of this sort alludes a ritual in most cases. Recall music is by humans for humans and in a concert space there is transmission of signals among people. Although, not all of music substance is evoked by sound and acoustics, paraphrasing Appleton again “there are poetics on every song.” Even so, whatever the case, music remains intrinsically personal even when people retrieve it from digital archives. The body still a mediator between energy and mind thus a real human gesture triggers a body on motion so that the mind makes sense of a message. Do we need educated listeners or just listeners?.
Needless mentioning, Jon's concerns as well as those of many of his friends and colleagues whom I also met, have transcended and made music sound better through the years. This is a legacy alongside a constant redefinition of Computer Music as a heuristic for some of us. Remebering a great time in Bogota!.
[ Sat Mar 19 03:10:32 PM PST 2022 ]
Graphic Expression and Open Scores
Composer-Performer interaction can be a challenging task when issues pertaining to ``open scoring'' are on the table. Further, how an improvisation can be notated is often questionable. Performer's epexegesis on first sight and thereafter impulse to what is being seen are crucial for achieving success on a real time performance. On these days of telematic rallying everywhere and all abroad, not every instant can be captured by hand. Thereby a composition relies on the energy and state of mind of every musician part of a tele-performance. As of now, seems trivial that scores have transcended into digital scores, here taking advantage on knowledge acquired on the days of pitch tracking for machine score followers that used pattern recognition. As research and testing have shown, colleagues are even trying interactive digital scores which change accordingly, given states on an improvisation.
This leaves teeny hope on automatic transcription, sort of what we thought years ago, when we fantasized that a computer would listen to every note played on a keyboard and get every detail transcribed on paper. It is known that there are solutions to this challenge, and every now and then, somebody writes a dissertation on another incomplete approach to automatic transcription. But wherever a trail goes, seldom practice of music notation is scrutinized as a composition method. We want specifics notated because we want real time performance. Live music is uppermost on majority of listening instances, condoning a lot to be discovered and learned from ``live'' musicians on a performing event. Therefore the need for analysis and methods for encapsulating qualitative and quantity issues in regards to a ``live performance''.
Interaction, a field on itself bearing profound implications on engineering and design, presents options which help on solutions for composer needs. In this, interactions are often visualized by taking hints from graphic expression which can be further expanded or customized. For people symbols on this domain feel natural since their connections are learned at a very young age. Therefore, seems rational to use grammars embedded on graphic expression for open scores. Adaptations might be necessary but a method for composer-performer communication should not be a complicated endeavor. On this path, seems like time-based performing arts like music, take the line as a process from left-to-right when making sense from a graph.
On a greater extend, a line might be a sequence of dots as time goes by, and thereupon a nucleus for this grammar. Lines on an open score make a performer react to the semantics of what is being visualized. On a graph, lines can be horizontal or oblique; going up or down, possibly cluing crescendi or decrescendi; accelerandi or diminuendo, among time-based types of music parametrization. Several lines create densities as well as, sets of connected lines creating objects. Usually on an open score performers assign value (meaning) to these objects depending on their state of mind or to pressure resulting from an ``impulse'' while rehearsing or studying the score. A given object relates to a gesture or an expression. Should be said that above tips are far from being inventive. Procedures like this have been exhausted on scores of Morton Feldman, Stockhausen and Cage, among many others.
On this kind of composer-performer interaction, questions conform a grammar consisting on suggestions, directions and clues for connecting dots of a line on a graph in an open score. Recall that form in music is shepherded by tension and relaxation. If a line is homogeneous, nothing is happening as consequence and thus, the need for densities of any kind. Whether this language extends traditional notation or not, mixtures or combinations among traditional and the new, assist on hermeneutical interpretation of scores given this subject matter. As adjunct traditional notation becomes a subset for hinting instead of a concrete transcription of what should be played, scores become an intersection of graphic expression and conventional notation. In a nutshell, an open score is a sequence of condensed data for a performance to take place.
Tools for accomplishing graphic expression on open scoring facilitate a method that helps prototyping, thereby providing means for composer-performer interaction. Aside from vector based software and postscript utilities, heuristics using algorithmic composition go beyond MIDI in order to generate conventional notation scores. But as expressed, not everything can be notated. Use of several programs which complement tasks each other, assist on getting graphic expression on paper. Meaning that, there is no package performing all functions needed for open scores. But few come close: namely, Open Music and PWGL Nevertheless, and for our purposes, have tried Common Music Notation and Lilypond to finish everything on LaTeX. A workflow for each piece might be necessary: for example, a MIDI file containing a theme can be converted into a score with a MIDI utility. Regular expressions and AWK might be useful to edit lines on a score file. Once lean, file is taken into CMN or Lilypond for additional editing. Then, graphic expression is added. Finally, all material is typeset using LaTeX. On this chain of events other utilities might also be needed. For illustration purposes see KitiKit (a composition for viola and other sounds).
[ Mon Dec 6 03:47:13 PM PST 2021 ]
On several spaces at once, memories for present
Yesterday my nephew phoned saying that his therapist pinpointed so called, "Cabin Fever" as an usual scene on present days. Not on so shallow, seems that many around might have its symptoms. Moreover, seems that all days belong to the same season, thereby following a pattern far from a random walk for everyday quotidian and thus recurrent life. However, mental activity on passed details seems to guarantee well being for present. On this tone, need to outline that seven years have passed after we made happened the first Colombian inter-university teleconcert taking place among The Autonomous University of the Caribbean in Barranquilla (who was hosting), University of Caldas in Manizales, and Icesi University in Cali. Piece for this venue was "4.25 Orejas" or rather "BatSears”" composed under the pseudonym of Christian Ramones by me.
While preparing the event, audience was skeptical of what was going to happen, not only on a technical side but also music wise. Rehearsal time was little. Got connections and multichannel audio at a good sample rate, in addition to separate visuals. All left were instrumental levels and ensemble interaction. Centric to this performance, a grand piano in Barranquilla, out of tune, -Don’t think this piano was used very often-, probably used for comping hymns such as the city’s and school’s. But for me it was a captivating white piano in a small foyer able to produce resonant clusters of every sort. Doubters of any sound coming from this instruments and tele-performance itself ended up paying attention to some extend but still disbelief any expression coming out as bytes, notes or music.
At the end all resulted in a telematic venue, historic to a great extend, happening on three different sites, at least four hundred miles apart. Worth saying, on the land of Joselito Carnaval, avant-garde improvised, telematic, live electronics were a first not well taken because lacking of strong rhythm and beat entities. Likewise, dance or theatrical components were not part of the event. Widely known, presentations of this sort post more questions than answers for most details. Hence hoping something was seeded. From each performer’s perspective, music was on the air and on wires for that matter. Need not to say, Video parts and visuals were relished and consequently better taken. Again widely known, people are more susceptible to visual discoveries. Of course visuals were also telepresent.
Coming back to present times, telematics are not an option anymore. Seems to many that it is the "status quo" for newest expressions. Hereby general audiences need to acknowledge that the frontal listening paradigm governing performances has been broken, giving way a myriad of means for listening and perception. An instance of breaking frontal concert paradigms comes to mind few weeks ago, while attending a multi-place / multi-space composition (installation for others), where sounds emanating triggered synesthesia and other gestures. Here telematics on several spaces were happening at once, and for the listener an illusion of perceiving a single piece on different spaces at once was sparked somehow. This effort buzzing on Philadelphia’s center city, on several landmark buildings, if reality bounds what is brisking inside.
For an account of what is going on our own, for the purpose of this log and, and in spite of cabin fever, a lot seems like a static bike. Nevertheless need to acknowledge that most of Solimar compositions have been recovered from aging DAT tapes and quarter inch analog tapes. Hope to have them online soon. On parallel time, issues regarding "open scores" have turned on few lights. On this matter we are now gearing toward an analogy concerning "fractalization" using macro vs. micro structural perception and methodological interpretation of how a performer might interpret these kind of scores. "Sight reading might help but a performer still need to learn a score".
[ Fri Oct 22 03:25:37 PM PDT 2021 ]
Caribbean Lives, Caribbean Insight
Remembering Alvin Toffler's Future Shock these days. This book was among first readings in English suggested by my pal Susan Sears, during early college years in the U.S. She and I used to engage in long talks over sighting society issues, while looking down the hill on Southern Pennsylvania, just north of Philadelphia. Little we knew about what was going to happen around us on issues such as a communications revolution then turning into a flatten world with people knowing each other everywhere. Toffler's idea of future (circa 1970) spoiled the notion of ``too much change in too a short period of time''. Although aimed towards technological, for many of us changes were more concerned around cultural and sociological aftermaths more than anything else. This was a melting mixture of Anglo-Saxon ideas with those of Hispanic heritage, among others. If we tackled technological aspects, it meant the Stereo Hi-Fi planet and unrest because of the wait for the ``Digital domain''.
Cultural and rather sociological because for many of us, our endeavor seemed to be too homogeneous in most part with everything given and rather tasteless. But as bothersome as it might seem, in those days (circa 1980's) recall confronting my identity and leaning toward a Caribbean heritage, not just because of my Spanish accent but because of origins and sharing oxygen at sea level with others like me. Call it spirit because of my Caribbean ties. Need to say that in those days I hanged out a lot with Venezuelans because a hunch pertaining as to what things should be, amongst, tale telling, food, dancing and certainly music. How can we forget Monday nights and the Village-Gate in Manhattan, not listening to Opera or Jazz but to Salsa. Touching on this as a preamble for a response as to why is Barranquilla , a city on the Caribbean, so important and inspirational on life and in a lot of my work. Here reiterating a link to peoples on these coasts while overcoming cultural-shocks. Not by geography, it's easy to think this sea goes all the way down to Rio de Janeiro and even beyond, meaning that all of us along these shores share something in common. Far from speculation, 'mandioca' pastry and black beans, we are talking about music and its environs.
There are ties as Hispanics, but this label is far from homogeneous. On every tale, on every situation, there is insight. Cheat chat on these coast lands doesn't exit, because on every word participated, there is fantasy and thereby, confronting reality seems quite pointless. Teasing about life is a way of living and dreaming on this side of the world. On the same token, thinking this way triggers imagination and creativity on many instances. With my feet on the ground, and to be fair to tax-payers in Barranquilla, this city on a hill just above sea level and facing one side the Magdalena river and on the other the Caribbean, was among first cities on the Latin American continent to see the industrial revolution. It bears its fame as birthplace of commercial aviation but not just that. For years a submarine telephone cable joining North and South America lands on the city and thus fruit for fiction stories. Further, its layout follows a pattern also found in Pasadena, California.
In spite of its Carnival, people commit to 'hard' challenges through the year, though always fantasizing and imagining answers very often too idealistic to materialize. Normal talk is tale telling on literary boundaries. Whatever this Caribbean spirit is, it is embedded with curiosity and imagination and a magnet forcing fictional or realistic ideas sprout, though gravitating into a dynamic fun lifestyle most of the time. Will fall short by saying that it was on this city where I first realized that music is something beyond what is heard. Recall listening to a tale teller speculating as how a song should sound. But outlining here as to why this is inspiring, insights just alike consequently trigger a sort of imagination not so constrained to creativity but also to ingenuity as well. There it was, where we saw chemistry and physics in action and where fondness for aviation and electronics also begun, among other insights.
As for Toffler's Future Shock, on a flat world and instant communication all around, a cultural shock goes on parallel though feeding from each other. An homogeneous lifestyle is not more than a pale colored picture. Facing these shocks has been a swing to blue prints in two dimensions meaning and as my Irish pals in Pennsylvania will allege, ``your mind is really looking at three dimensions or more.'' So the Caribbean, part of one's cultural shock was not more than a window and further awakening to people on a variety of latitudes. Furthermore fantasizing around common semantics because grammars and symbols seem to be universal for that matter.
[ Tue 06 Jul 2021 06:16:19 AM PDT ]
Is hardware still relevant on any lifestyle?
There we were trying to revive a Sun SparcStation. All efforts because as with other Sun hardware, this was an outrageous piece of computer equipment. Not so widely used for music, although it could do an amazing amount of signal processing when it came out. Sun didn't bother on designing digital-to-analog converters for audio, since focus was more on data crunching. Besides, it had a seamless system administration software in addition to a well implemented file server which kept happy a lot of 'sys-ad' people. Recall calling Sun, once or twice, and they would answer anything without hesitation. Though reminisces of past moments and previous concepts on what equipment and support should be, this undoubtedly makes us think on approaches about these regards these days. In fact, should we ask ourselves if there's a notion of hardware today?. All that people care today are graphic user interfaces and software layouts.
If the above seems like a complaint, may be it is. Last year after carefully following manufacturer's directions I ended up burning a motherboard of a laptop. Of course, this was not a Sun but a major manufacturer of these days. Punishment, yes!. Countless hours waiting for a call center (somewhere in the world), to answer or respond anything about my issue. Then, days weeks and months, waiting for parts due to shipping delays on these pandemic days. Hence, time went on and warranty passed its void date. Needless to say no one acknowledged responsibility and when parts showed up, charges amount the cost of a new machine. Then again, does hardware matter anymore?. For our generation when engineering was sublime, these situations are displeasing and quite frustrating.
In spite of these aggravating situations, finding time for working out issues around notation and illustration, concerning improvisation in open scores. On ``time-scrolling'' representations for a performance, should micro-structures still guide interpretations of composer's intentions? or, should visual gestures give enough information about sequence of events for a performance?. Hoping to see some light soon and in particular for algorithmic solutions that ease the job of this kind of representations.
[ Sat 14 Apr 2012 10:24:12 AM PDT ]
On the Search for a Grammar for Graphic Expression in Composition
Notation for ``New Music'' works is a loose end, and more so when composer's intentions are tied to ``Open Works'' and improvisation. Furthermore common music notation seems to limit creativity in pieces that are not necessarily instrumental or when composition requires mixed media. The quintessential question arises: should every event be notated on the score?. Ligeti's Désordre comes to mind. Here thousands and thousands of note events are written for the pianist. Likewise on few new music open scores seen recently, though we find common music notation, have seen that not everything is notated, favoring instructions and suggestions to performer(s). As usual, been on this path before but now seem to be finding more loose ends. Hence, we are looking for a grammar on the domains of graphic expression to serve as complement to the composition of sounds for a machine but farther to instrumental parts of live performers. Once again this has led on to known territories where great minds have already stepped and not so queerly those of composers of the sixties and seventies' Manhattan scene. On one side graph music of Morton Feldman, and on the other, Jim Tenney's composition recipes outlining a customized notion of harmony in contrast to orthodox guidelines of diatonic coerce. Not without passing through Terry Winograd's classic hypotheses wary on music and linguistics.
Have found that Morton Feldman's systematic procedures for visualizing sound and performance are quite enlightening, among many, because of ties to works and specifically paintings of his contemporaries on the plastic world. On Feldman's scores we can see a horizontal timeline with segments and at the rightmost end (maybe several pages after) a point signaling overall duration. Second, structures with different shapes indicating notes and sounds for an instrumental performance. Third, densities result of clustering of elements in addition to intensity indications. Organization within a perpendicular axis suggests pace and thereby pulse and beat. Here we have a composer's bird's eye view of composition and couple of simplified questions: from a composer's perspective, - how about visualizing a sound or a structure?, and from performer's viewpoint, - how a visual structure might sound?.
James Tenney's concept of traditional de-harmonization acquaints a view that a composition is conceived as a result of a search returning a set of grammar rules for a customized language unique to the harmony of the piece, being graphic, musical or sound wise. Perhaps a combination of the above.
This research and experimentation is exploring heuristics for implementing graphic expression beginning with two compositions for mixed media and instrumental parts: TikiTik adn ReadingT. Thanks to Joana Holanda for her piano performances and encouragement. These words and many more to come in memory of a great friend and colleague, my pal Francisco Iovino who passed away in New York on Thanksgiving weekend -MMXX-.
[ Sat 12 Dec 2020 03:35:53 PM PST ]
Modeled Acoustics: yes!, provided that hearing remains physical
Looks like the dusk of Loudspeakers as objects as we know, and the dawn of a genre that as well might be labeled: ``binaural art''. Listening habits are changing and music production seems to be stirring multi-path with emphasis on earbuds and headphones rather than systems of woofers and tweeters. Air pressure: where?. Further and among the sprout of 'virtual' performances over the net, looks like they seem to question laws of physics in favor of cosmetic contours that overshadow telepresence, network performances and network art. But on the above one question out stands: where is the audience?. Bet various creative minds are going over these issues, among others, these pandemic weeks while coping with a metaphor of an endless loop.
But can't stop thinking of trade-offs on stereo and quadraphonic listening in favor of head-related transfer functions used to personalize earbuds for binaural listening. Take for instance ``Lissajous'' sound source paths such as those on John Chowning's Turenas. Perception of this piece over loudspeakers differs from binaural even using convolution reverb. Should encourage people to do listening tests in order to find thresholds and boundaries of both domains (stereo vs binaural).
Over and above this, don't think at the time that the mind can be teased on the notion of ``virtual space''. Even so, need to acknowledge a new form of acoustics that appears to be forming within confines of modeled environments mostly in tandem with cognitive patterns of the brain. Same as the analogy of motion on cinema in contrast to motion in a real space (e.g. dance).
For years it's been said that most people don't go to concert halls anymore but rather listen to music on earbuds. More adventurous souls rather go to stadiums to ``see'' a circus of a musical instance where actors lip-sync to tracks of a chant. However the situation, it must be seen as through ``colored glasses'' with an artist vision: ``new medium'' implies ``new forms''. Though the concert hall and now loudspeakers seem nostalgic now, it's imperative to state that acoustics, the instrument, chorales and orchestras still belong to the physical world. Given this essence most probably the concert and the art of listening will remain as rituals and, perception of new works still a hope.
Searchings on binaural listening and testing are being carried out. In particular, trials on sound source motion using artificial reverberation, Ambisonics as well as canonical listening cues in motion such as Doppler effects and inter-aural delays for headphone listening are spurring several clues. Still some questioning remains, will there be binaural music only on earbuds? and further, are we narrowed to the static paradigm of the ``Soundscape''?.
Back on the issue of so called ``virtual performances'', it comes to mind that we've been doing telepresence and telematic performances for more than ten years now. On this subject matter need to acknowledge that latency as well as delay remain as crucial constraints ( components? ) for the existence of this form. Network speed has improved and connectivity is now widespread. Thus, let us insist on the notion of an audience as an important component on this kind of ``live'' performance. Having a teleconcert on simultaneous geographical spaces, time change, and a mixture of anthropologies, opens up paths for new music and expressions. These can only be perceived by each independent audience on different spaces. How each performer senses audience feedback from all over a teleconcert radius becomes part of a telematic composition. Recordings of these venues are just memories and testimonials of a happening in the past . Let's keep thinking on acoustics of the physical world, instruments, interfaces and the trend to new forms of art.
BTW, Reading Terminal(2020) for ``virtual'' piano sounds is a candidate for a telematic performance. Listen to its music(-)one version: [ HERE ]
[Tue 15 Sep 2020 03:19:02 PM PDT]
On Geometry and Musical Structure
These days of confinement are slow but something makes -time- perception seem shorter. Not to say that along one-thing-or-another, time falls unmanageable. However and worth mentioning, one's mind is amazingly dynamic, neurologically and apprehensively far from static. Ingenuous or creative, lots of stuff is passing through, and though, wishing could get a snapshot of every moment. Perhaps by writing down a descriptive narrative of every taste and every ingredient will suffice for moments to stay but will see. Lots of ideas have sprout, even composition and performance. Some seem within a shorter delta on social distancing but others just about at ``a right space''.
Among these moments of brain turmoil, an idea involving mechanical rotation of not so symmetric objects outshines others. This because of figure-cognition as consequence of motion, inherent velocity, momentum and inertial values. On the issue of making something move (giving an impulse) several questions arise: what if different axes of rotation are tried out?, and what about if the whole system displaces?. Picture this as sort of a platonic solid, not that regular, made of polygons suspended in space. On top of it, several spotlights facing at different perspectives that project over two or three planes or screens. Resulting shadows create two dimensional projections depending on the angles of light and their perspective. For good-or-bad figures depicted on each plane differ due to intrinsic irregularities on shape and lacking of symmetry, thereby gestating unequal variations between the object and what is seen beneath the shade. Consequently from -one- object in motion, we get several two-dimensional images which change in time. If we record these changes we might get points for a script on a timeline and perhaps variations to be used in parametric or musical scores. As a counter-idea and reinforcing this notion of movement,what about some static shapes that seem to be on an everlasting motion or at least seem stressed all the time?.
With little imagination, Oscar Niemeyer's Copan building in Sao Paulo seems to appropriate a kind perpetual vibration changing shape all the time. Similarly, let's take the case of Thomas Heatherwick's Vessel (structure) in New York, although here, a seldom periodic rotation around a non-uniform axis seems to be making this structure dance above ground. How are these examples of static motion depicted on different perspectives or planes?. Sure centers of gravity do not seem obvious forcing one to untangle their asymmetries, points and angles with almost not hope. In regards to its patterns on their projections, what is their real structure?, and, are there any beginnings or ends? or, do they converge along the original shape?. Further, where does cognition and imagination supersede perception on these forms?. To assist solving the puzzle another image comes to mind: Alexander Calder's ``Mobile'' sculptures. On them, one or several structures hold the piece together. Therefore, motion can be regarded as function of structure. Sort of the purpose of endless screws and gears. Then again, what about rotation of not so symmetric objects and its transcendence to music?.
If we use terms pertaining to a geometry of music, musical structure might be described under the meanings of a gravitational center, a rotational axis, transposition, displacement and a myriad of other variables. Using these concepts a piece can be conceived by delineating figures based on structures and spread over several planes. Elements on these structures need not be oblique, horizontal or vertical, but hopefully enough, product of reflections because of their rotational axes, momentum and patterns that can be projected on different or overlapping planes in a composition. Provided that motion is being encompassed as displacement of an object through time, namely: a moving structure. Many of music structures change through time and thus might be geometrically correlated.
In general and down-to-earth, while conceiving and composing a piece, sequences of notes have their analogy to geometry in space. From this perspective, forms such as regular polygons are at the core for creating structure in a piece. For instance, very symmetric figures like a triangle and a hexagon. But, how come?. Take three numbers (perhaps representations of notes in a triad), and map them to three points in a triangle. If these points are cycled, triangle starts rotating around its center of gravity. If these numbers are cycled through time, motion is perceived. If something is moving along a line, a parallel can be traced by outlining a structure of horizontal or vertical features -like points in the triangle-, semantically defined as a musical event through time.
A hexagon, like a hexachord, gives more combinations. Squares plus triangles arise figures that sometimes not only tease visual cognition. Hexagons and triangles also combine for more variety, given that in music hexachords, tetrachords and triads are very often used. By rules of sets and groups on symmetry, these shapes can be mirrored and inverted, in addition to transposition (when the same value is added to the points), and amplification (when the same value is multiplied to the points). A set of numbers can be notes of a triad, a tetrachord, or more, but a difference between them defines their interval value. Intervals are relationships in scales and give tuning. Therefore it can also be said, there is geometry in tuning.
Whether we want homophonic or heterophonic structures in a piece, the way we manipulate geometric points representing values on given semantics could be fruitful on creating loose and tense events in music. If applied to inversions of a triad seems too simple, venturing on sonorities, exploring sound textures, and beyond might be rewarding because of manipulation of interesting shapes and objects. If we find cumbersome perpetual motion on imaginary vibrations of forms like Calder's sculptures, Vessel in NYC, and Copan Building in Sao Paulo, let's experiment on projecting these instances of movement on screens and planes and see what kind of images and variations we get. Assign points to these patterns and rotate them around several axes. For sure there will be resemblance to the original shapes but most certainly variations on the original subject will light the dawn of a new composition. Most of these ideas have sprout while researching on Bruno Maderna's thoughts on composition and Jonathan Goldman's analysis of Pierre Boulez' Rituel.
[Tue 02 Jun 2020 03:02:08 PM PDT]
Not a desired performance and technical mishappening: Do bugs distort creativity? or do they supply alternate or parallel ideas?.
Given a concert situation of a digital work: what if a piece is performed at a wrong sampling rate (namely wrong tempo)?. What if a cord is plugged into a wrong input?. What about soldering and causing a short. ``Technology ghosts'' not present at rehearsals usually make their appearance on the actual performance. Never a law of Computer Music but always a given. More generally, a broken string while performing: a mishap? or, devil's finger to start an improvisation. Could this mean a new idea, a different version or a germination process to sprout something without premeditation.
Aside from consolation, bugs happen and stick inside a conscious mind until found. Some are benign but to a great extend, very often they bear head scratching situations. From an expression, or maybe from an aesthetic point of view, and although `bugs' are not intrinsic part of conceiving a work or a piece, one needs to get used to the fact that they circumvent. Not so surprisingly enough, they might become part of an idea. On the artist's framework (spirit), giving up because of a 'weirdness' is trashing or losing an option.
Perhaps aesthetic values needed for developing a gesture or an idea are naive from a scientific perspective and often funneled as illusions or byproducts of imagination, instead of facts. But on many given scenes, imagination triggers ingenuity either for manipulating a brain or ``to bring a kite down to earth.'' A deep slope and a skewed trail for creation consists of chaining challenging demands with unknowns, in addition to solutions for inquiries posted by imagination on the creative act. Frequently a composition results of untangling knots and the threading of hits and failures in a narrative for a timed sequence or space.
As Stanford Art's Professor Jenny Odell portraits in regards to productivity and living: Life is not always a vector. ``Things have a myriad of meanings.'' Thus, perfection doesn't need to be an objective. Perfection should be nearer to the act of accomplishment and tallied in the conscience of a creative mind. As per the above, need to acknowledge that some of my compositions still have bugs. Further, some performances have not been completely successful, and my code still buggy on several good algorithms.
Past days instead of coding and bringing down to earth imaginations or ideas for musical gestures, have been debugging code and rethinking old pieces. Some bugs have led to new ideas, but for the most part they keep on being mind-boggling situations. Have re-mixed some pieces and still working on understanding bugs and finding optimal conditions for Ambisonics reverb. [Thu 19 Mar 2020 03:35:46 PM PDT]
Bowed String Model on Miles Davis Subtle Melodic Lines
Miles Davis subtle melodic lines provide good semantic values, and give a gamut of options to frame grammars for further composition. Several years ago, lines from Freddie the Freeloader and Seven Steps to Heaven, were the subject for a piece that ended up as a sound installation coped with visuals. From its conception this work had the Bowed String Model and Bohlen-Pierce scales as elemental features on its construction. If we want to call upon exploration and nuances of Physical Modeling, that journey ended up as a search for a new language thereby providing new symbols and options for composition.
On the other side of the token, Sound Installations, once presented, will frequently end up stocked in a drawer. A bowed string model, Bohlen-Pierce tuning, in addition to sound-space manipulation were enough reasons to re-hook cables for getting a revised concert version of the original piece, but this time not so relying on visual components. Revising a computer music piece means adapting and debugging code, however in most cases, writing more. Most notably this endeavor took us to add and perfect delay-lines for modulation effects such as vibrato and Doppler. To complicate matters, automatic connection between software applications was not supported anymore. Namely between Common-Music (CMv2) and Snd. Luckily enough, had Scheme code that still runs on Snd, but had to write SEd scripts and Emacs macros to facilitate inter-connection between these applications. However, not such a big deal.
A new and revised version of FtheF (AKA: Freddie the Friedlander) is on its rebirth. Further explorations on the bowed string model have resulted on a useful resource. From a composing perspective, recall that ``an ensemble without strings is not an orchestra'' therefore, sounds of strings are always in need. But of course, resemblances in contrast with the real instrument show up with probably unheard variations, even though there always be missing ones. Additional research for this piece, unlocked possibilities while using Bohlen-Pierce tuning. This scale also lends itself to symmetrical intervals and manipulations to achieve a variety of sonorities. Structure of the piece remains, as well as most of its melodic development and its rhythmic features but, for those familiar with the installation, this version of FtheF certainly sounds different. Thanks to Dan Altsman for his encouragement and remarks, but specially for listening to my music. [Fri 20 Dec 2019 12:48:36 PM PST]
Starry Eyed Composer
Several years ago Bill Shottstaedt (among the pioneers of computer music) outlined the term ``starry eyed composer'', while discussing points and comparing, so called real time systems, against deferred time rendering systems. Main issue portrayed on the exchange dealt with results of rendering a piece, and how a deferred system might easily go faster than its counterpart, although sound was not being perceived. Then the question was, what are the expectations while the starry eyed composer is waiting to listen to the rendered piece?. Further, the feeling that adjustments to the piece have to be made after a first or, after various listenings of computation results, perhaps as rehearsals or experimentation results. Contrasting real time versus deferred (rendering) time systems brought a cold fact: though real time allows performance and gestures like an actual musical instrument, its opposite deals more with conceptualizing and parameterized music and sound events. In this sense, deferred composition follows a path related to ``the abstraction of timbre elements, their quantification and formalization of relationships among events.'' (Xenakis, 1971). Thereby, we can see the use of mathematics as composition tools (as applied by Boulez and Xenakis), not necessarily, ``suggesting aesthetic values or a particular mode of perception'' (ibid). Thus, the quest for mathematical functions that permit musical gestures and events.
But the issue with ``starry eyed composers'' everywhere has not changed through time. Many still believe that the machine, the computer, either in real time, or in deferred processing mode, can solve itself all composition questions. True that we are in an era of shifting paradigms, where structure goes to process, and where truth changes to approximate descriptions, but we cannot be so starry eyed, too optimistic on automatic process generation. If composition follows a path such as sculpting with clay, or with a rock, software is just like hammer and chisel. Form, shape and structure are still concepts on the imagination of a creator. -This points out states of mind while producing pieces where gestation seems over easy. Being the case, something is loose on the process, and better get appropriate screwdrivers-. Perception of music is the result of parallel streams of events which surprise, delight, frighten or bore. Emotions triggered by these events are intimate and personal experiences. Many are consequences of expectations but seldom a chance of discovery and arousal generates images or even imaginary worlds. Technical dexterity often overshadows composer's intentions and subtracts chances for real expression. Back to consequences of paradigm shifting; changes on role assumptions, product of starry eyed attitudes, can be seen pretending to switch the acts of composition and performance. Thinking counter wise, because piece conception still differs from piece performance, even if we are talking about ``open-works'', and improvisation, which still are product of ideas coming from various sorts of categories in composition practice. Here thought go for conceptualized elements that cast features for a performance of a work.
Therefore 'the quest' for acquiring elements and tools for creation remains, and in cases, becomes overwhelming. It is the mind of a composer what teaches a neural network (or DNN). Further ``the net'' supplies ideas to the composer working on a piece. Don't let the abletons mold the iron on creative goals that are to be implemented at the dawn of a new composition. The choice between following languages and styles, perhaps imitation, in contrast to genuine original ideas is not frequently relayed to machines and automation. Recall that perception is a human activity. Imitations are easier to perceive because of prejudice and expectations. Genuine ideas trigger discoveries, though are harder to evaluate. Past weeks experimenting, and further building a knowledge base with construction blocks and structures for new pieces. Instances of these, encompass geometrical shapes, and patterns transposed to the time domain. [Sat 28 Sep 2019 03:44:46 PM PDT]
Xenakis I., Free Stochastic Music (1965) in Xenakis, Formalized Music: Thought and Mathematics in Composition, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1971, pp.38-42.
Has the Lyric Suite been influential?.
Is Berg's Lyric Suite a benchmark in composition?, you bet!. George Perle's analysis of Alban Berg's masterpiece brings out dozen of clues, useful for constructing ideas, and in many ways, brings back insights on composition with ``pitched sounds''. But whatever the insight, this piece is worth listening many times, not only because of its serial manipulations and atonality, but because of sound. Hope I had studied it at an earlier stage of my life, and my path would have been different. On several issues, this work brings back insights on the why's and how's of new musics, but further, enlighten ideas established by Boulez, Maderna and, Nono. Also on this trail, had to acknowledge that Dallapiccola's searches on the language of sound from serial sequences on instrumental fixtures, complement thoughts not only laid out by the above composers but previously accounted by T. Adorno (and Webern). Musical notes are important but: ``sound and texture enhance performance.''
Have done more experimenting -and on the subject- context based on Dallapiccola's tone rows and heuristics. Mostly, it summarizes on approaches for methods by means of computer aided composition and mathematical modeling. The Lyric Suite was a departure for using tools at hand and others developed ``on purpose,'' for working with cycles and symmetries of PCS's. At the same time, results -also on the subject- have made their way into Do_Marin-TA and Arch Carrellage, which seem completed works for now. More trial-and-error on composition with first-and-second order Ambisonics, in addition to Ambisonics reverb, have also been heard implemented on these couple of pieces. Though, still waiting for more testing of these features on different multi-phonic and multi-speaker layouts. Additional results show that subtle sound-source motion provides good results while delineating spatial acoustics composition. Static sound sources placed ``in'' the sphere, give a 3-D space perspective because of their behavior as a ``sound object''. Further on this path, have found options for blending independent characteristics sprout among atonality, micro tonality, twelve tone tonality, and symmetries, on efforts to frame a language for gestures and identity. [2019-06-12]
Two of my dearest friend have passed away in the past six months. Sure they deserved more time on this world. Wherever they are now, the above research and these compositions are dedicated to them.[2019-06-24]
Guest editor at "MAVAE", Journal of Music, Visual and Scenic Arts
Guest editor at "MAVAE", Journal of Music, Visual and Scenic Arts, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Bogota, Colombia. Vol 14 No.1 with a dossier framed on the state of Sound-Art. Wrote editor notes on historical junctions and surroundings around art-music ET music-art and gearing towards sound-art as an independent and outstanding form. Here, evoking the works of Salvatore Martirano, Iannis Xenakis and Pauline Oliveros, on their legacy, and their plowing of furrows for the "new" on music and arts. Read editorial [here]. Spectrum of articles on this dossier range from sound installations, sound sculptures, semantics, and grammars, to performance, silence, listening, among others. [2019-01-20]
Works relying on symmetries and modeled acoustic spaces
Working on musical symmetries and modeled acoustical spaces using Ambisonics and other tools. Mostly lab, testing and listening to structures for Arch Carrellage and do_Marin-Ta. Hereby applying symmetrical techniques and signal processing on construction of parts for these pieces. Exploring new lands, perhaps too old for some acousmatic contexts, competitions, etc, but worth the risk. Have found on this path that there's always a finding at home for new expressions. Listen to, or read about Arch Carrellage for more on the above. On YapaYa you can listen to permutations constrained to almost-symmetric tetrachords and hexachords. YapaYa is a piece for Marimba and telepresence on multi phonic spaces. At the moment Arch Carrellage and do_Marin-TA are works in progress. [2018-12-25]
" A lot is about combinations and combinatorics! "
A lot of composition is about combinations. Pattern recognition can be eased, if a kernel, or rather seed feature in a combination, is found or segmented. For instance, take a rhythm of four measures, there can be twenty four combinations by arranging each one of the measures. If rhythmic duration is symmetric, there can be palindromes, and further on, we might end up with more than forty arrangements of these rhythms. With four measures on segmentation's recognition, remaining rhythms are found just by combining (perhaps permuting) their arrangement and repetitions. By the same means, perception teases us when we look at patterns on Persian rugs. Although we delight from their grandeur, a seed or template might not be apparent at first sight. But we are confident by prejudice that a seed pattern will repeat itself by rotations, flapping, and even transposition, amplification or compression. Certainly this analogy has been used on constructing rhythmic combinations, however, its numerous perspectives can be deceiving. For some listeners there are minimalist periodic repetitions of one pattern. But for others, and from a wider profile, complexities such as self organizing systems arise. Been working on the above for generating source material on several drafts for instrumental sounds pieces. Still hooked George Perle's searches around symmetries on harmonic and time features of music.[2018-12-10]
Frameworks for art-music
Frameworks for art-music: on the influences for development of works for new music, art-music and sound art. A recount of trails and influences for languages in use today was researched through works of Xenakis and Salvatore Martirano. Have found that Xenakis' Pour la Paix (1981) and Martirano's L's GA (1967) prevail as works that validate the state of art. Aside from technological accomplishments these works carry on a legacy established by Alban Berg's Lyric Suite and the question of what is it that they express?. A composition, a work, should express more than cause-and-effect in order to prevail. Xenakis and Martirano works reveal different humankind dramas by generating a thread of prejudices that live on the listener's mind as fuel for imagination engines. Findings on these topics have led me to various influences from the University of Illinois but in particular from ``EMS'' or Experimental Music Studio at the Music Department. Have to say that it was there where I materialized my interest on Computer Music, and where I met Xenakis and Martirano in person.[2018-07-28]
Colombian contributions to computer music
Published a section on The Routledge Research Companion to Electronic Music: Reaching out with Technology Emmerson S., editor. Extending the range: gesture, performance, synthesis and telematics, Colombian contributions to Computer Music, on chapter Research-creation in Latin America, pp-34-37. This section portraits how research in computer science by few Colombians was seminal for methods in algorithmic composition and real-time interaction around the world. This essays portraits achievements such as PatchWork (Camilo Rueda), Wiring (Hernando Barragan), in addition to physical modeling and tele-concert accomplishments by Juan Reyes. [2018-06-08]
6.75 Orejas aka (6.75[S]ears) a new rendition of 4.25 Orejas by Christian Ramones and Juan Reyes. Although its original version was casted as a piece for live electronics and tri-dimensional FM Spectra ostinato, there are more than a few subtle differences. For this version sound sources follow paths along lengthier durations, and on top, short durations contrast with originals. Furthermore, there is a new counterpointing structure comprising of tones following symmetric arrays. Sequences of tones are plunged inside an echo chamber, like a horizontal column hosting symmetric spectra. Original score calls for live performers but this one adds the option for in-situ performance in addition to remote performers and tele-presence. This piece was premiered with Roberto Garcia and the composers on a live-electronics set-up at Matik-Matik in Bogota, on March 2018. [2018-03-25]
Reflections are part of symmetry in Music
Corner of 17th. and Arch, across the street from Comcast Center Building No.1, by the shores of Schuylkill river on City Center, Philadelphia. Few blocks away, on Rittenhouse Square, found a book on tessellations as examples of a world of symmetries useful for complementing research on symmetries of music. Wrote a toolbox of helper functions for applications of tilings in Lisp to also assist on the manipulation of Schoenberg's tone rows and George Perle's,``twelve tone tonality,'' these also known as horizontal plus vertical interval symmetries. Had the notion of first applying tessellations to form and structure in composition but found that symmetric features have been applied to ``grundgestalt'' using intervals and tone rows for a while now. Grundlagen, and leitmotifs on composition of a piece, its connections and assembly have made use of different sets of tessellations for constructions and design thinking. As previously stated, computer models for searching a suitable ``grundlagen'' for a piece require some knowledge of combinatorics as well as group theory and linear algebra. Some relate this topic to topology and Galois theory. Deepening my insights on this subject goes beyond the scope of this blurb.
Hoping to find solutions by implementing mappings of the above on mini structures and on super structures. Experimentation on perception needs to be done for several structural applications of this kind of symmetries on structural forms of music. Tessellations can also be implemented to dynamic intensity panning on the time domain as well as in other time domain parameters of acoustic and sound manipulations. More reporting on the subject should be expected. Result of the above research: Symmetrical Reflections of WaWa, possibly an essay, a composition or an installation of sound and light reflections. Wish I got a shot of this WaWa image. Not a photographer, what a shame I missed the moment!. My gratitude to the University of Pennsylvania and all my friendships in Phily. [Something about WaWa] [2018-02-05]
Millions of Bells in the Cathedral
Walked into Saints Peter and Paul cathedral and got impressed as when walking through rooms at La Alhambra in Granada, Spain. Difference here was that perception is not as related to pattern matching of visual sights but instead as to thousands of aural clues radiated from at least a quarter of a sphere beyond the transept of this space. Moving from one position to another along the nave seemed that reflections would only marginally change. Several insights came to mind. If symmetries are part of pattern recognition while looking at floors and ceilings on La Alhambra, could a similar behavior arise product of reflections and resonances on this cathedral as well as on spaces alike?.
Could we model this behavior for artificial reverberation or Higher order Ambisonics' reverberation. How symmetries affect resonant modes on big spaces like this. Would symmetric reflecting paths affect localization clues for sound sources. A side approach for resolving these questions was that of taking impulse responses on different positions using an Ambisonics' microphone approach on three omni-directional microphones using a 'x-y-z' pattern. These responses would later be used on the Zita Convolver for convolution reverb and perhaps some Matlab modeling to adjust parameters. Although still a hunch, there might be some symmetrical perception effects result of colliding impulse responses from different points of sight in the cathedral. The above points can also be summoned on Barry Blesser's book ``Spaces speak, are you listening''( (pg 247):
``Think of a cathedral as millions of bells(resonating
oscillators), each with its own pitch(resonance
frequency), and each with a slightly different decay
rate(reverberation time). The clarinet sound (or a flue
sound) rings (excites) only those bells with a pitch
corresponding to the frequency content of the clarinet
(or flue).- In other words, you are actually hearing the
bells of space, not the original clarinet (or flue)
- Equally inspiring Messiaen on the cathedral's 100+ ranks organ!.- [2017-11-15]
 Blesser B. and LB. Salter, Spaces Speak, Are You Listening? Experiencing Aural Architecture MIT Press, Cambridge, USA, September, 2009.
At 143rd AES New York 2017
Got invitations for AES-2017 143 International convention at Javits Center in New York City. Not presenting paper this time though. Primary objective was to find out about commercial applications for First Order Ambisonics (FOA). Also to seek for network-Ethernet speaker-monitor implementations on multi channel applications like High Order Ambisonics (HOA). Got to listen and test Waves Ambisonics plug-in with bin-aural modeling on headphones. To my taste, ``sounds good but is not the real thing''. Further on AES show, got lucky to be in an almost bis-a-bis demonstration of JBL-7 series monitors. They demoed 7:2 and 9:2 applications for studio monitoring in addition to a further monitor count on Dolby Atmos surround environments. This last demonstration was ``as close as it would sound'' to HOA 3-D audio diffusion. JBL 7 Series sound great plus there is a passive version network-able to some extend. Amplification calibration and equalization is done through a networked system called Intonato 24 and multi-channel amplifiers easing installations and portability. -Not that we are endorsing this system but seems like a good option-. Wish that audio through Ethernet were beyond its dawn phase and that more companies were supporting more open source efforts. Thanks to Waves and JBL for taking my concerns. [2017-10-19]
Data-sets for manipulating hexachords from tone-rows
Still on the question or rather inquiry of ``past is new'' in relation to various aspects of creative processes. Had to return to scrapbook notes on composition with tone rows and pitch classes. Perhaps the musical event in contrast with the sound event or the overlapping of both. Seems that due to some complexities arising from working with sets of pitch classes (PCS), manipulation of resulting data might be bounded to set theory or combinatorics. No news though, but an opportunity for a window on ``computer assisted composition'' (CAC). Common rationale on these methods are often portrayed as keeping up with bunch of calculations and operations which by hand might end up as tedious or cumbersome processes (also a reason why many people avoid this kind of procedures). Models assist on dealing with this data and its transcendence into musical meaning.
Had the idea of working on a composition using two tone rows. Given that a tone row is a list of numbers representing pitches or note events, these lists can be stored on data structures such as arrays, vectors or lists themselves as in the case of Lisp. A hexachord (HC) is a subset of a tone row and a list with fewer elements. Being so, each HC has its own identity. Symmetries are tallied by taking resulting HCs from the prime form of the row, its retrograde, inversion and retrograde inversion. -For this research had to concentrate on prime forms and inversions to make things manageable-. Wrote algorithms in addition to helper functions to access tone rows as data sets, for casting HCs, and to further find combinations and permutations for chord candidates.
Trial and error resulting from computer modeling and prototyping on horizontal samples for laying out hexachords has helped on finding sequences transcending to musical events and fulfilling composition ambitions. Though most tests end up being done by ear. Note event sequences are the result of ``pattern processing'' using methods like weightings, cycles, rotations and palindromes. Common Music (CMv2) still alive and useful for CAC, and for implementing these procedures (thanks to Anders Vinjar, Torsten Anders, Tito Latini, Rick Taube, and others). Worth saying, heuristics have been focused on symmetries given by hexachords, rhythmic measures and others. Not to say the least, the above is currently used as source in a piece for tele-performance and marimba named Yapaya. [2017-09-05]
On a side note: a recurrent insight in regards to composition of new works is that of the 'concert' as a form of presenting time-based works. ``Concert presentations should be continuously reevaluated''.
Twenty(plus) years of Equus and Resonances
This composition served as incidental music for a stage production of Equus by Peter Shaffer in Bogota, featuring prominent actors, dancers and production team. It was among the first time computer music took a role on a stage play in Colombia. Synthesis of computer music was rendered -not in real-time- using Csound and Common Music on a Macintosh II computer. Several of the signal processing techniques included phase vocoder, FOF, convolution of spectra, as well as FM and substractive synthesis. Rendering of a one minute single channel of audio took several hours with this kind of hardware. [read more and listen to some excerpts] [2017-05-06]
Spectra and Tranversal Sonora November 2016: Final remarks at a composer's gathering
Following are final remarks, and what was forgotten, or simply couldn't be said during a composer's round table that turned out to be a composer's gathering while at Spectra et Transversal Sonora new music venues in Bogota on November 2016. For this purpose Roger Reynolds composer and mentor of mentors is quoted from his book, Mind Models, New Forms of Digital Experience , first published more than forty years ago.
The most basic and still expanding capacity of human
intelligence is the ability to retain 'images' of experience
and to influence subsequent behavior by drawing upon them in
the absence of conscious volition.
If we are to to expand the size of our internal and
emotional space art -as an integrated individual response to
life in a given society- is an efficient agent to this
Questions of academics, artistic responsibility, aesthetic
conscience, dexterities, social duties among others were
surfaced a this meeting. Next statement summons a basis for
Because of synchrony between art
ideas and techniques for realizing them, composers today are
more than music theory advocates. Implying that modern
creation with all means at hand is conceived and perceived
on several layers by all senses, and not so constrained to
the eyes and ears. As suggested on Reynolds' quote at
the beginning, a work should trace an image on the minds of
If as artists we should assimilate our surroundings, the
ability to tackle different domains can pose some
complexity. But the sole issue of focusing on 'the
image' invites inspiration for inter-and-trans
disciplinary cooperation. It might be that we are not so
dreaming anymore when we find musical scores representing
perspectives, differential equations, vectors, matrices, and
etc. -And who said being an artist was an easy way of life.-
Quoting R. Reynolds again,
It is crucial to develop an
understanding of the present expansion of material and
means. However, be clear that dexterity on a
particular technique might not be enough.
"New music" might not sound sweet to strands of music tastes but this should not restrain artists from efforts to compose new works. If art as a response in a given society, and provided that there is always someone willing to enlarge her/his mental and emotional world through new aesthetic experiences, creators should extend boundaries so that a piece is a remark and listeners are gratified by their own discoveries. A remark on a piece or a work of art might as well be the voice of the unconscious or even the conscious. To make a statement through a piece, the work must be executed, presented and perceived so that the listener apprehends those extended boundaries mentioned before. [2016-11-26]
 Reynolds R., Mind models: new forms of musical experience,First Edition, Praeger,USA, 1975
Semana del Arte @ PUJ, P. Universidad Javeriana, Santiago de Cali
One of guest keynote speakers at Semana del Arte (ART-WEEK), organized by artist and dean Sofia Suarez of the fine arts department. For the occasion, a new instance of 'Marimonda Sketches', now called Arimond came into being. As the notion of spatial textures, as well as 3D perception of music was trying to be portrayed, Arimond posted several challenges in order to become a second order Ambisonics piece. Like on the original, sound paths follow an infinity-figure-path along the plane, or perhaps the sphere, because of a metaphor based on real elephant ears (not the plant). The ears of the marimonda, a character of the Barranquilla Carnival, resemble those of the elephant, and marimondas claim "to hear music better".
Furthermore, because of factors function of Newtonian physics such as speed, time and distance for motion in space, a diversity of patterns following the marimonda metaphor have been achieved. Add this to context features like room-size plus reverberation and a variety of gestures come out, while dealing with this sort of composition. An infinity-like path can be obtained by using schemes such as those of Lissajous Figures, Spirogrpaphs, or maybe patterns commonly used on the Jacquard loom (listen to J. Chowning's Turenas for more on the subject). On a technical side note, used S7 Scheme programming to debug old code and to model spatial patterns for Arimond. In particular fine tuning of delay lines size.
On a final note, wish spatial features in music were better understood by new electroacoustic audiences. As in the past, sometimes they come as a shock for some people or as sound effects of fiction movies for others. - Met wonderful students, colleagues and friends. My gratitude to Sofia, Maria, Daniela, Lorena, Sebastian, Paula, Coco, and Santiago Rueda.- [2016-10-06]
Dynamic patterns for motion of sound on ``Os grilos''
Article on Sonic Ideas/Ideas Sónicas Vol 8 No. 16
Motion of sound sources on multiphonic compositions can often become artificial and nonsense. Most composers tackling the issue, carefully aboard the space parameter. One direction, not so artificial, and from a perception standpoint, deals on how we trace with sound textures on a 3D space. On Os Grilos, a computer music and multiphonic piece, sound textures are cast using Scanned Synthesis techniques. Thereon textures are scattered through various planes by means of several natural tracing techniques such as Lissajous Figures and similar patterns. As explained by Pablo Di Liscia on his introduction of Volume 8 No. 16 of Sonic Ideas, this article describes nuances to achieve spatial manipulation and haptics for the sound of this piece. [2016-06-02]
Expyezp: constructivism avoiding data redundancy
A paper and presentation at BunB(2016) conference describing ExpyeZp, an -all inclusive- collaborative effort aimed towards discussion of new music, science and technology. On its beginnings ExpyeZp was a colloquium and physical gathering evolving through the years into an Internet mailing list and a forum reaching an audience throughout Latinamerica and beyond. On its modus operandi is seeded on the assumption that there are not bad ideas and further no idea is better than other. Consequently interactions and efforts strive on avoiding two or more ideas on the same concept otherwise known as data or information redundancy. This article portraits traditional hacker's postures on community development, confrontation of ideas in constructive mannerisms for building knowledge and ingredients used on development and creation of new forms of arts. [Presentation Slides] [article]. [2016-05-10]
Searching gestures with LPC
Neat sounds have came up while using speech signals and bowed string sounds through LPC. Ever since I met Paul Lansky a dozen or so back ICMCs, I've been intrigued about LPC. -And speaking of getting those FFTs right-, "hands on because you don't know until you try it". Paul Lansky's computer music encircle emphatic rhythmic components on most of his compositions and thus contrast with other pieces. In our chat at ICMC he surfaced core facets in LPC, but at the time I did not get all ideas. To my defense, LPC software was out of reach unless you had access to NeXT computers or DEC Mainframes. Even so, analysis and re-synthesis were slow and patience teasers, just like with the Phase Vocoder. Mid nineties' Csound will run on Macintosh II therefore enabling analysis tools for re-synthesis accessible on desktop machines.
More recently Josh Parmenter while at DxArts wrote 'ugens' implementing LPC and other analysis tools for SuperCollider based on code suggestions in Dick Moore's book EOFCM, and fast enough to bring back my attention to the subject matter. While analysis is not real time, re-synthesis and transformations can be done on the fly. A real time implementation of LPC is rt_lpc developed at Princeton by Perry Cook, Ge Wang and others. It reminds me of Paul Lansky's keynote speech at ICMC-89, Ohio State. Although I don't want to appropriate Lansky's sound on Idle Chatter or from any of his pieces, at this time it seems feasible to experiment, because on parallel layers, LPC signals are also control signals. Aside from carrier signals for amplitude modulation, FM or PM, LPC analysis is also a good pitch tracker. [2016-03-30]
What about those applications of the Fourier Transform?
On a recent discussion among new generation of spanish speaking composer/performers and lone wolf somewhat older composers, the issue of timbre's exhaustion came on [see here]. It has been seen -and listened- that recent performances and composition of young creators comprises a constrained set of sounds and timbre's manipulation techniques. One reason might be easiness and availability of real time audio processing. Young ones complain: "If we have 'rt' tools why should we explore further". Few of us were surprised that applications of the Fourier transform are unknown or seldom used by new practitioners of computer music. Therefore terminology like Convolution, Phase Vocoder, LPC, FOF, and Spectral modeling, seems Greek to many. While they know about commercial software packages, few care about the FFT. Is this good or bad, an answer rather lies in the domain of aesthetics. FTR, these notes are being written while waiting for the LPC analysis of a sound file. [2016-02-20]
TikiTik performed on TeleMAMM _@_ Radical Chamber
TikiTik performed on TeleMAMM at Radical Chamber series (cámara radical) on the Modern Art Museum of Medellin (MAMM). Telepresence for this piece featuring Elena Fuentes(violin), Simón Castaño(water flute), Miguel Vargas(armonica) and Andrés Sampedro(IT & systems-ad bureaucracy). This tele-concert -first of its class in a private museum on these latitudes-, also featured Simón Castaño's Canción de Mantas for distributed ensembles, Mario Valencia's Mirror for remote percussionists, and Terry Riley's In C. Oscar Ceballos at Caldas University in Manizales(UdeC) and Fernando Mora at Antioquia Univestity in Medellín(UdeA) conducted ensembles consisting of guitars and electric guitars in addition to flutes and percussion. Mario Valencia, Sebastian Castaño and Fernando Mora developed and implemented a MAX/Jitter patch for close-to-real-time visuals among the three remote locations of the concert, namely UdeA, UdeC and MAMM. Jacktrip on Linux and Mac was used for audio over UDP and to connect all concert's sites. Audio system at MAMM featured a second-order Ambisonics setup. [2015-11-24]
Restoring old compositions "A curious Character" (curioso caracter)
Some Ampex 456 tapes were baked in order to rescue "Curioso Caracter", a Musique Concrete piece done in the early nineties and dedicated to maverick educator Ernesto Bein. At the time a Sony TCD-D10 PRO DAT digital recorder with a stereo microphone was borrowed to record source material at "El Moderno", a school in Bogota on the middle of the prestigious neighborhood of El Nogal. Nevertheless most signal processing was analog using tape manipulation techniques on MCI Recorders and AKG Reverberation plate and spring units. Sound sources for this piece were those of the school between 10:00AM and 12:30PM back in 1990. Worth to point out were bell sounds coming from a nun cloister next to the school which indicated 30 minute intervals. In addition to boys' voices there were pigeon sounds and bird singing. This school housed pigeons in a 'palomar' feeding them every day at 10:00AM. Some of the captured material is taken from students doing these feedings. "Curioso Caracter" though Musique Concrete, today might be tagged as a "Soundscape". [2015-09-15]
A telematic art exhibit and gathering including teleconcerts, installations, and workshops. Among participants Jacktrip developer Juan Pablo Caceres, trombonist and UC Irvine Music Dept. chair Michael Dessen and telematic arts maverick Chris Chafe. Teleconcerts included works by José Gallardo, Juan Pablo Caceres, Bruno Ruviaro, Juan Reyes and Hector Fabio Torres. Organized by Juan Reyes and Mario Valencia. [2015-05]
A multiphonic computer music using eight channels et Ambisonics for live telematic performances.
'Os Grilos' for Scanned Synthesis and second-order Ambisonics was programmed at one of the concerts at the Triple CCRMAlite venue. John Chowning encouraged Juan Reyes on keep working on this type of synthesis. See more of the story at the program notes. Thanks a lot to Eoin Callery and Nette Worthey for their support and encouragement. [2014-10]
A Multichannel second-order Ambisonics computer music using Bill Verplank's and Max Mathews' Scanned Synthesis.
Research on implementation of delays and moving sound sources with application to the Leslie speaker. ChucK, Scheme and Lisp code that implements Smith, Serafin, et al, "Doppler simulation and the Leslie", Web page [here].
Tele Espacios Activos I
Grain of salt to 2014's International Festival of Image in Manizales, Colombia. First rendition of Tele Espacios Activos featured a teleconcert with performances between Manizales and Stanford, and between Manizales, Cali and Medellín, Colombia. Natalia Castellanos (at U. de Caldas) and Juan Reyes (at Stanford) had a tele performance of Reyes' Open Spaces on this venue.
Joined performers and composers from around the world. While main stage was at Stanford's Bing auditorium, there were other stages around the planet. Tele-espacios Abiertos was performed by Zhengshan Shi at Bing as well as Lilian Campesato and Julian Jaramillo in Sao Paulo and Daniel Osorio, Mario Valencia and Juan Reyes in Manizales. View concert performance.
A composition for telematic performance as well as a video sound installation. Sound sources and material come from physical models of banded waveguides, namely a model of the Tibetan singing bowl programmed by the composer. More about banded wageguides on Georg Essl's web page.
Invited to Arcured in Barranquilla Colombia. Arcured is a network of culture and arts conformed by members of academic institutions affiliated to Red Clara throughout Latinamerica. This conference aimed to professors and artists focused on new network technologies applied to the arts. Gave a talk on Group Interaction and Telepresence at Simon Bolivar University. Also a performance of Computer Music concert at MAMB, Museo de Arte Moderno de Barranquilla and a Colombian Tele-concert featuring Cuatro25 Orejas for piano, electronics and visuals with performers at Icesi Univerity in Cali, Caldas University in Manizales and Juan Reyes at the piano at Universidad Autonoma in Barranquilla.
Congreso Internacional de Artes del Caribe
Invited talk at the Caribbean Art Congress at Cartagena, Colombia. Organized by the School of Arts of Bolivar and University of Antioquia, this congress was a gathering to reflect on art and technology. Subject of this talk focused on spontaneity on music performance and the arts.
A celebration of John Chowning's return to Bogota this time at Javeriana University. This venue was a four(+) days gathering and included talks and a composer's colloquium in addition to Maureen and John Chowning's concert and a telematic performance of John Cage's Four6 between Bogota, Sao Paulo and Stanford. This venue was organized by Ricardo Escallon and Juan Reyes.
FLAMIM or Latinamerican forum for new musical interfaces inside frameworks of Diseño(+) at Icesi University in Cali, Colombia. Joined Wendy Ju, and fellow colleagues Michael Gurevich and Jaime Oliver for panels, workshops and discussions on the subject matter of music interaction. Part of this forum included a teleconcert (first of its kind using advanced networks in Colombia), with performers at University of Michigan, Stanford University and Icesi University. Performers included Stephen Rush and his Digital Ensemble at Ann Arbor, Chris Chafe, Roberto Morales, Rob Hamilton, et al, at Stanford, as well as Jaime Oliver, Michael Gurevich, Daniel Gomez, Juan Reyes and others at Icesi. Other performances at FLAMIM featured a new realization of John Cage’s Rozart Mix in honor of the composer’s centennial directed by Michael Gurevich. Program also featured Juan Reyes' Oranged (lima-limón) for multi-channel tape. This venue was organized by Maria Clara Betancourt, Daniel Gomez and Juan Reyes.
An electronic arts exhibit with Colombian artists at Caraffa Museum in Cordoba, Argentina. On the program there was a live performance of Horace in San Mateo and improvisation on piano of Cuatro25 Orejas for piano and live electronics at La Cúpula Gallery. Venue curated by Jorge Castro and supported by the Alzate Avendaño Foundation of Colombia.
A realtime algorithmic computer music and live electronics piece for "Fender Rhodes" (if possible) and pianoforte Sounds. The piece follows on the spirit of the augmented ninth dominant or plus eleventh chords seldom used by pianist Horace Silver on several of his compositions.
This is a sound installation as well as an eight-channel tape music composition. In this piece sounds travel a path inside a boxed environment obtained by Lissajous patterns applied to intensity panning on each source.
A sound art exhibit featuring Chuchoter as well as other works from various artists it the Museum of Modern Art of Bogota. This exhibit also featured talks on the subject matters of computer music and new ways of expression and performance.
A sound art exhibit featuring FtheF for visuals and modeled bowed strings and artificial performer. This is a multichannel composition and sound space intervention. Sound sources come from the physical model of the bowed string.
This is a new rendition of the original ``Freddie the Friedlander'' for physical model of the bowed string plus artificial performer. This version adds visuals and color in an attempt to image-by-synesthesia fabrication.
This is an algorithmic miniature piece for sound samples of saxophone. In its code the algorithm pursues J. C. Risset's rhythmic paradoxes, which in this case give the illusion of an ever lasting accelerandi o decrescendi. This piece is dedicated to music education advocate and winds performer Terry Mohn.
This is a course offered for students interested in symbols, semantics and grammars of gesture on various domains. Initially conceived for music performance students have also found applications on visual and space arts as well as dance and body art.
Not too recent but current:
A tutorial for electroacustic composition or sound art production 'en español'. Used on several workshops at Universities and institutions throughout Latinamerica.