Diffusing the Norm – Brian Eno's Music For Airports

Brian Eno’s Music For Airports presents to us the destruction the familiar, the removal of expectations. The album attempted to avoid the classification of Muzak and brought to us another world completely. Background music often adds a stimulus that has a polarising effect. It’s often assumed that, once forgotten, the music should merely exist as ambience ; the quality or character given to a sound recording by the space in which it occurs. The opposing effect is that it offers to us a dislocation or diffusion of the norm; in that it allows to be transported to a place where the mundane is bypassed and replaced by something that’s meditative and completive.

This paper attempts to address such issues while examining the albums role in establishing a forum for the use of ambient music in public spaces. It examines the role of the environment and what musical stimulus can provide within this space.

Diffusing the Norm – Brian Eno's Music For Airports

Tambambient: sound mixtures in surf, dip and bit dilations

Brian Eno’s Discreet Music and Music for Airports have, since their publication in the 1970s, opened up new ways to conceive sonic worlds that listeners could “swim in, float in, get lost inside” (Eno B. , 2017), using a vast electronic palette of sound.  Different senses of the immersive experience evoked by Eno have inspired our composition Tamba.  In Tamba, we explore the possibility of generating electronic sonic temporal dilations of an immersive experience, using synthesized sounds programmed in Pure Data. 

Tambambient: sound mixtures in surf, dip and bit dilations

Watermelons (Or The Limits of Capitalist Materiality)

This set of texts comprises an attempt to analyze some of the difficulties that living composers face under today’s global economy. The author introduces a number of interrelated, speculative thoughts on the nature of aesthetics in order to push the reader to challenge common, reified views of music as nothing more but a tool to perpetuate reactionary means of social reproduction. Ultimately, a metaphor ('watermelons hitting a wall') is used in order to suggest that New Music can exist as a projection of future, unknown material realities.

Watermelons (Or The Limits of Capitalist Materiality)

Parametric polyphony in recent guitar music

This article approaches the performing/interpretative issues arising from the performer’s relationship to models of extended/multi-parametric notation in guitar music. Two works are examined: Aaron Cassidy’s The Pleats of Matter (2005-7) for electric guitar and electronics and Wieland Hoban’s Knokler (2008-16) for solo classical guitar, although I argue that Hübler’s Reisswerck (1987) for solo classical guitar can be regarded as an antecedent Finally, I discuss the performer’s relation to these models of notation beyond the mere exploration of new playing techniques.

Parametric polyphony in recent guitar music

Fingers, Fragility and Freedom – Christian Wolff’s Pianist: Pieces

This article examines two movements of Christian Wolff’s Pianist: Pieces (2001) to illustrate how in this work the physiology of the pianist’s hands limit and shape the music both in terms of what is played (which sounds are heard) and how they are played. Specifically it looks at how my hands and my interpretative preferences determine what is played and heard when I am the pianist in these pieces.

Fingers, Fragility and Freedom – Christian Wolff’s Pianist: Pieces

Multiphonic Mobile

Multiphonic Mobile is an improvised work for an oboist-in-motion and a mobile. For its creation, the work uses a range of pre-selected multiphonics and sound distortion techniques (flutter-tonguing, embouchure modifications etcetera) which are read from the planes of the mobile, alongside improvised movements which are dictated by the mobile.

Multiphonic Mobile

Communicative movement in contemporary chamber music: hand werk in the rehearsal of new works by Thierry Tidrow and Georgia Koumará

Movement, that essential element for any musician, plays a distinct role in new chamber music. It is one of the ways that musicians communicate and it is a choreography that leads and shapes the performance of the work. We use movement to help guide each other through the piece, to indicate shifts in texture and dynamic, and to breathe and find a common pulse. It is regularly annotated in a precise manner, clarifying where to look or who should be given a signal, and each annotation reflects the needs of that particular instance in the score. Notation guides our movements just as we guide each other.

Communicative movement in contemporary chamber music: hand werk in the rehearsal of new works by Thierry Tidrow and Georgia Koumará

Resonances and Responses

The idea of resonances and responses as a fundamental compositional principle is found in many of my compositions. I have used it in instrumental pieces both with and without electronics, in theatre contexts, in conceptual works and in intertextual and intermusical referential structures. In Terpsichord, a piece for percussion and pre-recorded sounds, the resonances from the acoustic instruments form sonic bridges to the pre-recorded electronic sounds, that, in turn, prolong the resonances, re-shaping them into new sonic gestures. A dialogue of actions and reactions is created that drives the trajectory of the music.

Resonances and Responses

Reinventing Harmony in Splintered Echoes (2014)

This paper discusses the new harmonic possibilities enabled through the implementation of Sethares’ theory of the dissonance curve in MAX and its use in a live electronic composition Splintered Echoes with Monty Adkins (composer), Jonny Axelsson (composer and percussionist) and Adrian Gierakowski (programmer).

Reinventing Harmony in Splintered Echoes (2014)

Patterns in Radical Spectra

This paper contextualises my creative practice produced over the past 20 years and discuss how some of the themes arising from this work relate to some of my contemporaries and wider musical and cultural thinking. These works have little or no percussive content yet are still loosely defined as, or considered to be, ‘post-techno’ (I discuss this term below). Here I describe these works, consider my relationships to them, and reflect upon my responses to those works – leading to the installation ‘The Moment of Impact’ (exhibited as part of the Beyond Pythagoras Symposium, March 2014).

Patterns in Radical Spectra

The Politics of Resonance

‘GIB SIE WIEDER’ is a series of two political compositions, dedicated to exceptional performers Garth Knox (viola d’amore) and Rhodri Davies (harp). In this project, the central focus is on resonance in both a musical and wider socio-cultural sense. Finding the term closely correlated to the construction of gender, I direct my inner ear to the hidden background noises of the organisation of society. As a woman and composer, I perceive aural patterns of individual and political significance.

The Politics of Resonance

Tuning Systems as Processual Material

The scope of this paper is to introduce and present two recent pieces I made for solo keyboard, Contracting triads in temperaments from 12 - 24 (2011) and Similarly spaced triads in temperaments from 12 - 24 (2011), and discuss the manner in which I used various equal-temperaments within a simple iterative framework to explore transformation of a chord pattern.

Tuning Systems as Processual Material

Strata Sequence: From Musical Rocks to Palaeo-Soundscapes

Strata Sequence is a body of work comprising a range of creative outputs, including compositions and installations. The work represents a series of collaborations with museums and festivals related by the theme of geology.

Strata Sequence: From Musical Rocks to Palaeo-Soundscapes

The Harmonic Sequencer: Mapping the Harmonic Series to a Sequencer

This paper discusses a software tool created by the author in MAX. I have created a sequencer that mimics (in reverse) the relationship between the harmonic series and the equal temperament tuning in terms of temporal timing. I will discuss the theory underpinning the software and its implementation.

The Harmonic Sequencer: Mapping the Harmonic Series to a Sequencer

An alternative approach to 3D audio recording and reproduction

The following paper provides an overview of an alternative method of recording 3D sound scenes using several separate SD card microphones as opposed to using single multi capsule ambisonic or surround sound microphones. Instructions are provided on how to set the microphones up, appropriate directivity and positioning, and speaker setup for reproduction.

An alternative approach to 3D audio recording and reproduction

Strategies for spatial music performance: the practicalities and aesthetics of responsive systems design

This article will explore practical and aesthetic questions concerning spatial music performance by interrogating new developments within an emerging hyperinstrumental practice. The performance system is based on an electric guitar with individuated audio outputs per string and multichannel loudspeaker array. A series of spatial music mapping strategies will explore in-kind relationships between a formal melodic syntax model and an ecological flocking simulator, exploiting broader notions of embodiment underpinning the metaphorical basis for the experience and understanding of musical structure. 

Strategies for spatial music performance: the practicalities and aesthetics of responsive systems design

Exploded sounds: spatialised partials in two recent multi-channel installations

I discuss two recent sound installations that both explore a spectral sound diffusion technique based on partial tracking that allows individual partials of a sampled sound to occupy individual locations in space. The two installations, The Exploded Sound (60 channels) and Significant Birds (12 channels), use similar techniques and modes of presentation to different ends.

Exploded sounds: spatialised partials in two recent multi-channel installations

Aural Territories: how phenomenology taught me how to compose electroacoustic spatial music

In this article I describe the process of creation, performance, and reception of two sets of multichannel pieces - Journey I and II and Night Song I and II - performed as part of Aural Territories: a concert of spatial electroacoustic music. The main philosophical foundation for this experience has been the views on phenomenology as conceived by Merleau-Ponty (2004) and Dufrenne (1973). In these pieces, I explore compositionally three aspects of the interrelationship between sound and space that were fundamental for my theoretical and practical understanding of electroacoustic spatial music: acoustic space, sound spatialisation, and reference.

Aural Territories: how phenomenology taught me how to compose electroacoustic spatial music

Multichannel sound and spatial sound creation at Sporobole: A short account of live performance, studio design, outdoor multichannel audio, and visiting artists

The recent history of multichannel audio at Sporobole, an artist-run centre located in Sherbrooke, Canada, is discussed based on a multidisciplinary exercise. The underlying working axes are presented, from the experience of hosting an experimental rock band in an artistic, electroacoustic, and multichannel context, to the centre’s development, which includes a multichannel sound studio in its recently renovated building. 

Multichannel sound and spatial sound creation at Sporobole: A short account of live performance, studio design, outdoor multichannel audio, and visiting artists

New developments for spatial music in the context of the ZKM Klangdom: A review of technologies and recent productions

The Institute for Music and Acoustics is a production and research facility of the ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe. In this paper, we present some general thoughts on spatial music and its implementations as a motivation for our efforts. We outline the development of the ZKM Klangdom, a multi-loudspeaker facility for spatial sound diffusion that aims to provide artists and composers with new possibilities.

New developments for spatial music in the context of the ZKM Klangdom: A review of technologies and recent productions

Audium – sound-sculptured space

Audium has established a series of ideas, expanding the layers of controlled sound in space and evolving a paradigm for positioning and listening. Additionally, it has taken a new architectural approach to the performance-space, with a potential for flexibility through a myriad of environmental combinations.

Audium – sound-sculptured space

Introduction: Sound.Music.Image

The idea of compiling artistic research together with more traditional academic research is not new, but in my view is not practiced enough either. In the case of music these days, composers tend to have a university education, often at graduate level, which allows for a more fluid conversation with musicology and other text-based (as opposed to object-based) forms of research in music. This issue of the Divergence Press journal was called with the intention of enabling this conversation to take place particularly within the field of audiovision: music, sound, and the moving image.

Introduction: Sound.Music.Image

Sound and image relations: a history of convergence and divergence

This paper examines the topic of sound-image relations in its evolution towards the contemporary context of digital computational audiovisuality and its interactive forms. It addresses the multiplicity of sound and image relations and their different conceptions, and then focuses on aesthetic artefacts that propose interactive experiences articulated through images and sounds. 

Sound and image relations: a history of convergence and divergence

Electroacoustic Movies: A visual music practice and its contexts

This article presents an overview of a visual music collaboration between film-maker Dr Nick Cope and electroacoustic composer Professor Tim Howle. The article draws heavily on research for the former’s recently completed PhD by Existing Published Work, Northern Industrial Scratch: The History and Contexts of a Visual Music Practice (University of Sunderland, October 2012). This article specifically addresses the contexts of the collaboration Electroacoustic Movies, which forms one element of a wider body of work addressed in the PhD. With online links directly to the works in question, the critical and historical contexts with which the practice engages are examined and elaborated. 

Electroacoustic Movies: A visual music practice and its contexts