Saturday, January 30, 2010

2nd Kyma International Sound Symposium: Vienna, Austria

@Symbolic Sound and Wiener Klangwerkstatt invite you to share your ideas, experiences and results with fellow practitioners at the Kyma International Sound Symposium (KISS), an annual conclave of current and potential Kyma practitioners who come together to learn, to share, to meet, to discuss, and to enjoy a lively exchange of ideas, sounds, and music.

[This year's theme]
[How to submit]

#KISS10 is scheduled for 24-26 September 2010 in the newly renovated Casino Baumgarten, a spectacular ballroom from 1890, which - due to its excellent acoustics became one of the main recording studios in Vienna in the 1960s and 70s.

[Casino Baumgarten]

Cost: € 90, students € 40
Deadline for submission of proposals: April 11th, 2010
Organizers: Wiener Klangwerkstatt in cooperation with Symbolic Sound, supported by Analog Audio Association Austria (AAAA), Preiser Records and Stadt Wien

[Full details - via]

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Live Electronics: a conversation with Michele Tadini

18th Festival Milano Musica
Percorsi di Musica d'oggi
@ Teatro Franco Parenti
Milan, 22nd October 2009

Michele Tadini live and work in Paris. He composes music for soloist, ensemble, orchestra, with or without electronics, for theater, dance and interactive installation, collaborates with video-makers, painters, directors and writers. He was the chief of production at AGON acustica informatica musica (Milan), co-directed Centro Tempo Reale (Florence) and, now, coordinates the activity of IRMus, Istituto di Ricerca Musicale (Milan). His music is performed all over Europe, USA, South America, Canada and Japan. He recently earned the Prix Italia with the radio-opera "La Musica Nascosta". He teaches composition and technologies in the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et Danse of Lyon. He has an intense activity of conferences and master classes. Suvini Zerboni, Rai Trade and Edipan publish his music.

[English subtitles are shown by default, you can turn them on/off by clicking the menu button located at the bottom right of the video player]

The 'live electronics' is the real-time electronic processing of acoustic instruments and voices. This practice has infinitely expanded the horizon of compositions. Michele Tadini reflects with U.S.O. Project about the historical aspects of electroacoustic music of the last 50 years.
The concert presents works of composers Tadini, Francesconi, Manzoni, Stroppa and Boulez. It will available for deferred broadcast Sunday, January 24, 8:30 p.m. (GMT+1) on RAI-Radio 3.

Michele Tadini (1964)
...da viva Voce (2009)
for Voice and electronics

Luca Francesconi (1956)
Animus II (2007)
for Viola and electronics
IRCAM Commission (Paris)

Giacomo Manzoni (1932)
Sei canti dal Kokin Shū (2007)
for Soprano and live electronics
MiTo SettembreMusica Commission

Marco Stroppa (1959)
I will not kiss your flag (2005)
for augmented Trombone and chamber electronics
Wittener Tage für Neue Kammermusik Commission

Pierre Boulez (1925)
Anthèmes 2 (1992/1997)
for Violin and electronics

Laura Catrani, Soprano
Garth Knox, Viola
Benny Sluchin, Trombone
Jeanne-Marie Conquer, Violin

Michele Tadini, sound director
Luca Francesconi, sound director
Alfonso Alberti, Keyboard
Marco Stroppa, sound projection

Special thanks:
Cecilia Balestra - Associazione Milano Musica
Michele Tadini

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Brian Eno on Synthesisers

"Synthesisers interest me for two reasons. One is because they do introduce new sounds into the world, and the other is because in working with them, I learn a lot about how sounds made up. The DX7 has been very useful for that, I use it almost as much as a research tool for seeing how a sound is made. [...] My solution has been to make the equipment unreliable in various ways. I used to like to old synthesisers because they were like that. My first synthesisers - the EMS, the AKS and the early Minimoog - were all fairly unstable and they had a certain character. Character has really to do with deviations, not with regularity. And then, of course, I used to feed them through all sorts of devices that also had a lot of character: that were themselves in various ways unpredictable. The interaction of a lot of these things started to create sounds that had an organic, uneven sound to me."

[Music Technology interview, 1988 - pdf | via EnoWeb]

Quotes from some of the conversations recorded for the BBC4 Arena documentary series, dedicated to the life and work of Brian Eno: 
"One of the important things about the synthesiser was that it came without any baggage. A piano comes with a whole history of music. There are all sorts of cultural conventions built into traditional instruments that tell you where and when that instrument comes from. When you play an instrument that does not have any such historical background you are designing sound basically. You're designing a new instrument. That's what a synthesiser is essentially. It's a constantly unfinished instrument. You finish it when you tweak it, and play around with it, and decide how to use it. You can combine a number of cultural references into one new thing. [...] They are a very new instrument. They are constantly renewing so people do not have time to build long relationships with them. So you tend to hear more of the technology and less of the rapport. It can sound less human. However ! That is changing. And there is a prediction that I made a few years ago that I'm very pleased to see is coming true – synthesisers that have inconsistency built into them. I have always wanted them to be less consistent. I like it that one note can be louder than the note next to it."

On the naming of things:
"My interest in making music has been to create something that does not exist that I would like to listen to, not because I wanted a job as a musician. I wanted to hear music that had not yet happened, by putting together things that suggested a new thing which did not yet exist. It's like having a ready-made formula if you are able to read it. One of the innovations of ambient music was leaving out the idea that there should be melody or words or a beat… so in a way that was music designed by leaving things out – that can be a form of innovation, knowing what to leave out. All the signs were in the air all around with ambient music in the mid 1970s, and other people were doing a similar thing. I just gave it a name. Which is exactly what it needed. A name. A name. Giving something a name can be just the same as inventing it. By naming something you create a difference. You say that this is now real. Names are very important."

On the end of an era:
"I think records were just a little bubble through time and those who made a living from them for a while were lucky. There is no reason why anyone should have made so much money from selling records except that everything was right for this period of time. I always knew it would run out sooner or later. It couldn't last, and now it's running out. I don't particularly care that it is and like the way things are going. The record age was just a blip. It was a bit like if you had a source of whale blubber in the 1840s and it could be used as fuel. Before gas came along, if you traded in whale blubber, you were the richest man on Earth. Then gas came along and you'd be stuck with your whale blubber. Sorry mate – history's moving along. Recorded music equals whale blubber. Eventually, something else will replace it."

[ via]

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Agostino Di Scipio - Ecosystemic Sound Construction

"Stanze Private - Private Rooms" | sound installation (audio feedback system with glass objects, wooden boxes, miniature microphones, earphones, speakers, live signal processing)

A few excerpts from the full version of the interview to Agostino Di Scipio by Digicult. His work was represented by the new gallery Mario Mazzoli based in Berlin, one of the first galleries in the international dedicated to sound art.

Agostino Di Scipio: For "Private Rooms" I have outlined a network of miniature microphones and headsets (ie, miniature speakers) that, by accumulating background noise from the room environment, could possibly generate sound. Then I spent a long time to implement, empirically, the mutual influence between the various network components, making it to some extent self-regulate over time, and to dynamically change its own process depending on acoustic events in the surrounding space.
"Stanze Private - Private Rooms" amplifies the noise inside these small rooms, these few jugs and glass ampoules, transparent. And it amplifies the noise in the surrounding environment, in the largest room where the installation is placed. It produces sound from the audience. We as listeners can not only be part of this small ecosystem, our physical presence alters the acoustics of the surrounding space, altering the dynamic. Listening thus interferes on listening, the listening is never something objective, is always something that changes the listening itself.
I usually use electroacoustic transducers (microphones of various types, sometimes accelerometers or other) to detect the acoustic reflections of the walls or other niches resonant in a given space. Often I detect sounds reflecting the social function of the surrounding space, but small sounds that are typically removed from our auditory experience - acoustic scraps, sonic garbage. These sounds are analyzed by a computer, with digital signal processing methods, so the computer measures some features of sound, and that information is finally used to drive the process of generation and transformation of the environmental sound itself. At the base, there is a kind of retroactive scheme in which the sound production is at least partially modified by the manner in which the space responds to the very same sounds that are produced: the computer process is rendered space-dependent, adaptive.

[Music, photos and sketches from the installation]
[Watch: video interview with Di Scipio | Italian-only @ AMI - Agenzia Multimediale Italiana]

Daniela Cascella wrote an essay about Agostino Di Scipio, included in the catalogue of the ANLAGE art exhibition:

The air is filled with snow and the morning hours sound hushed, and soft. As I enter the space drawn by Agostino Di Scipio's Stanze private I am subtly pervaded by a sense of loss, of subtraction, which defies any easy expectations for polished, sheer minimalism per se: these suspended signals, or filaments of sounds, at times gently hued by hushed human voices drawing close on prayers, call for a rigorous inspection of the space inside, around and without. If one should speak of voyeurism, it is one reversed on ourselves: it is us that we ultimately are compelled to watch – us, at our most hidden, in those nooks and crannies which we only dare sneak into as detached spectators of ourselves. These 'private rooms' (thus translates the title of the installation) are not a mere representation: instead, they are defined by the continual exchange between what happens inside the glass vessels, the pulses and the structure which feed them, the very space which hosts them, the spaces of our minds which perceive them, the presence or absence of our bodies as related to them. Di Scipio calls such systems 'audible ecosystemics', by their very nature of self-feeding, endless evolution and ever-adjusting balance. In this small room within the art fair, I end up thinking of poetry. A stanza is a group of lines within a poem, usually home to its basic metrical unit and to its fundamental rhythm. What sort of rhythm encompasses the dimension outlined by the sounds, space and people in Stanze private? It's not the regular, recurring pace of the refrain, but a form more free, that designs a 'listening place' while it grows, and which embraces unexpected occurrences and withdrawal as vital elements. By investigating – or pointing at – the very threshold between what is there and what is absent, between a structure which is built and one which is eroded as we enter its field, this piece prompts reflection upon what could be audible and what is audible. A constant hum which we either experience, or we chase, and cannot get rid of: we need noise, as we need the air that we breathe. Di Scipio calls it "low-frequency turbulence material" (see his notes to Craquelure. 2 pezzi silenziosi, a Giuliano, 2002), or sonic dust.
Di Scipio has stated that he does not compose sounds: rather, he generates interactions, "[...] a shift from creating wanted sounds via interactive means, towards creating wanted interactions having audible traces. In the latter case, one designs, implements and maintains a network of connected components whose emergent behaviour in sound one calls music." Most notably, interactions are not merely between man and machine: ambience plays a much greater part: "I will from now on refer to 'interaction' as not meaning the man/machine interrelationship, but the machine/ambience interrelationship, and always keeping in mind the triangular, ecosystemic connection, man/ambience/machine, that can be thus established." He does not act upon or against a space: he welcomes it, and he moves towards it.
In his 1894 essay Introduction To The Method Of Leonardo Da Vinci, which explored the fluctuating, insidious and uncharted territory of artistic creation, Paul Valéry wrote: "One often forgets that works of art have not existed forever... Such research implies the abandonment of any notion of glory... It takes you to finding relativity beneath apparent perfection... What is final, tricks us, and what is made to be watched, changes its shape." This sense of ever-slipping away structures, and lack of big statements, could well be used to read Di Scipio's work, which also keeps a strong focus on what comes before sound, on the conditions which generate sounds, that are hereby defined as consequences and trails of certain choices. Sounds emerge, not as abstracted shapes, but in a dynamic interchange which shifts any idea of pureness into an ever-changing motion. "Music never ever exists before such phenomenon of emergence, it is not guaranteed at the start. The ear does not dictate conditions, but for sure it controls in the way it knows and must. And it does it endlessly." Before composing you have to listen carefully, Di Scipio seems to imply. He knows shapes, trajectories, he knows how a sound is born and how it is nurtured, and how to place it, so as to embrace what's between himself and sound. To quote the fundamental conjecture of actor-network theory, "human and non-human elements in a given network take the shape that they do because of the ways they relate to one another. Nothing lies outside each network, and there is no difference in the ability of technology, humans, animals, or other non-humans to act". One could say that in the work of Di Scipio – who maintains that "sound is the interface", and who in a 2005 essay stated that "music has always been the art of relationships, of welcoming or refusing, of the rhythm of exchange, of keeping everything together (even if alone) in time" – such networks can be examined and researched with a specific eye on sound, as a surface mirroring endless exchanges of aural glances, hints and voices and murmurs and inputs and outputs and appearance and dissimulation.