AUDIBLE ECOSYSTEMICS

n.1 / Impulse Response Study (2002), live-electronics, small percussions

n.2a / Feedback Study (2003), solo live-electronics

n.3a / Background Noise Study (2004-05), solo live-electronics

AUDIBLE ECOSYSTEMICS is the title of a series of works including both live-electronics performance pieces and sound installations. In this concert, the main three performance pieces are presented. The compositional challenge consists in shaping out desirable interactions among the audio equipment (several loudspeakers and microphones, and a programmable digital signal processing computer) and the acoustics specific to the given room. Sound is experienced here not only as a material to work with, but as the medium of information that drives the processes by which it is generated and developed. Thus, the resultant network process implements a form of self-organization driven by the room acoustics and other contingencies (technological infrastructure, the logistics of the room, etc.). The peformer supervises the ‘structural coupling’ between the equipment and the room environment, and enters their mutual interactions by creatively exploring the emergent sonorities. A good performance is when the composed array of interactions goes through a large variety of system states, resulting in a variety of shapes and gestures of different pace and rhythm, sonic dusts and abrasive residues of varying  density, intermittence phenomena and larger developments spanning across several time scales. 

In the first piece, Impulse Response Study, pulse sounds are originated in the room, and the room response drives the computer-operated sonic transformations to which the pulse material itself is subjected. The feedback loop thus established affects the overall articulation in the larger polyphonic sound texture. For this concert, the pulse material is provided by either small percussion instruments or by computer-synthesized pulses.

In the Feedback Study the source of the overall process is deliberately generated ‘Larsen tones’ (audio feedback). The attempt is to turn a phenomenon that normally is experienced as a technical problem, into the only source of sound and music. The computer manages to avoid saturation and develops the feedback sounds into a polyphony of textural and gestural events. This work was born of an invitation at IPEM, Ghent.

In the Background Noise Study, the source is any background noise in the performance venue. This work starts with ‘nothing’ (barely audible events we usually do not pay attention to, or unconsciously remove from our auditory focus) and tries to make ‘something’ with it. The response to the (greatly amplified) background noise affects the way the computer manipulates the source background noise itself. When the texture gets thicker and denser, the process is automatically discontinued and is restarted. That may happen two or more times in a performance, and each new time around the overall sonic behaviour will develop in a slightly different manner, due to modifications in the meantime occurred in the noise source and the room response, and certainly due to ‘sonic wastes’ left behind in previous previous stages of the complete performance process. This work was born of a commission of the DAAD Künstlerprogramme Berlin.

  

  

TWO PIECES OF LISTENING AND SURVEILLANCE

autonomous feedback system, with flute and live electronics (2009-2010)

The flute is involved here as a very tiny space, a small conduct or pipe of variable resonance (variable length). The piece explores the balance between this smaller niche and the surrounding space, the performance area having a rather more stable resonance (yet not perfectly constant). The process is made audible by accumulating the background noise circulating across the two. Actions on the flute are made in the attempt to make no sound (!), that is, to avoid adding more materials to those that emerge from within the feedback process alone. Listening is a crucial part of performing. The most minute manipulations of the flute, however, especially if repeated, may break the desirable balance: when that happens, the sonic process may quickly grow into a thicker and denser texture. In its turn, that induces a self-regulatory policy in the overall process, with the aim of balancing-off the runaway. Anyway, the performer him/herself is to guard off undesirable consequences of his/her wanted and unwanted actions, and if this surveillance reveals inappropriate, then s/he moves on to take ‘security measures’ and exert a little violence on the system in order to restore the desired balance or more acceptable conditions to keep going. This piece, therefore, is not ‘about’ listening and  surveillance. It is a piece of listening and surveillance, it turns them into the experience of a performance policy. It develops as the gradual and tentative accomplishment of a task, one that may fail in the course of the attempt. In sound, we hear the failures, as well as the accomplishments. We hear the risk and the responsability exerted over a fragile ecology of actions.

  

  

Drei Stille Stücke

streichquartett (2005-2009)

Each of these three ‘silent’ pieces creates an overall musical flow with tiny sonic byproducts of playing techniques (either normal or unconventional), sonic byproducts normally not experienced as having musical relevance. This is evident already in the Game that the four performers play at the beginning of the first piece, which is based on ‘prolonged bouncing’ (a playing technique distinctive to this piece, turning the string-bow interactions as in the usual jeté into a kind of mechanical oscillator). Another important aspect of this work, is the recylcling of standard string music repertoire, used here not as a quotation, but as ‘mere means’ in order to articulate the texture of small noises made by tapping with the left-hand fingers against strings and fingerboard. This latter is a technique the composer has also explored in other works, including Texture/Residue (any number of keyed woodwinds and bowed or plucked strings, and electronics, 2007) and 2 sound pieces with repertoire string music (any number of bowed string instruments, and electronics, 2012).

  

  

CHORALE

singers/performers, microphones, and ‘combo’ amplifiers (2014‐2015)

Four or more feedback loops are created, using microphones and combo amplifiers. The performance praxis consists in handling the microphone to cause feedback tones, and singing along the sounds thus generated. Performers gradually bring themselves closer to the amplifiers, and then move back to the initial position. That path in space maps a very simple arch‐like sonic structure of variable density and variable harmonic content (from sparse to dense and back, from few pitches to several pitches and back, from soft to loud and back). The duration of the complete path, as well as all details of pitch, timbre and overall density, are to a very large extent left to the performers’ creative exploration of the particular context. (Like other pieces of the composer, the score illlustrates more ‘ways of behaving in sound’, than specific sequences of events). Chorale follows from other recent works using easily-available analog technologies only, such as the yet-unpremiered Impedance (2014), Set-ups (disassembled amplifiers and other analog electronics, 2010). Also related to this line of experimentation are two sound installations, namely Modes of interference n.3 (autonomous feedback system with three or more guitars, amplifiers and computer, 2007), and Modes of interference n.4 (four disassembled amplifiers and other analog electronics, 2011).