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Computer Music Blog Posts

Sonoridades Liquidas

An interactive installation made for Casa da Música – Porto, Portugal – with João Ricardo de Barros Oliveira and Luís Girão. Shown here is the algorithmic composition and synthesis patch I made in Max/MSP and the Arduino-based sensor system, co-developed with Luís Girão.


Interview with Adam Scott Neal

Yesterday I had the opportunity to talk with Adam Scott Neal about his new CD, Parallel Lives. Neal is one of the most visible young composers in the computer music scene. His work has been performed at many conferences and concerts, and he can be heard at the Toronto Electroacoustic Symposium that occurs August 6 – 9.

Adam Scott Neal Contemplating a Mix
Adam Scott Neal Contemplating a Mix

In this interview, we talk about how the theme for this album just arose naturally, and how he plays off listener expectations in his music.

Listen to my interview with composer Adam Scott Neal

Baffin Bay by Adam Scott Neal

Adam Scott Neal recently sent me an email about his latest release, Parallel Lives. Neal is one of the few young composers who has really made his presence felt in the recent computer music scene. In his latest release, he continues to show why his music is performed so often.

Baffin Bay is one of the highlights from Parallel Lives.

The program notes on Baffin Bay:

BAFFIN BAY is a body of water between Greenland and Baffin Island, Canada. Near the Arctic Ocean, it is a cold, forbidding, but beautiful place. I have never visited, but I have long been fascinated by the arctic seascape and its indigenous wildlife. This relaxed and contemplative work was written for laptop quartet, and each player is assigned two instruments for a total of eight unique instruments. The form is based around four quartets featuring different combinations of these instruments, as well as duos and trios building up to and receding from these quartets. The players improvise within a structure that determines who will play at a given time, and what pitches will be present at that time.

This version was performed and edited by myself, and can be heard on my new album PARALLEL LIVES. This video features some related computer paintings, which I made with ArtRage.

Later this week, I’m going to get Adam on the phone to discuss his new music.

Oraison Performed on Buchla 200e and Haken Continuum

From the performer, Richard Lainhart:

…from the time I first touched the Haken Continuum, I’d dreamed of using it to play a composition by Olivier Messiaen called “Oraison”. I first heard “Oraison” years ago as a student of electronic music, and had fallen in love with its simple, beautiful harmonies and profound sense of mystery.

“Oraison” is not only a lovely piece of music, but has historical interest too – it may be the first piece of purely electronic music written expressly for live performance. Also of note is that Messiaen re-arranged “Oraison” for cello and piano and used it for the fifth movement of “Quartet for the End of Time”, which he composed in a German prisoner-of-war camp in 1941; the “Quartet” is one of the great classics of 20th-century music.

“Oraison” (“prayer”) is from a suite of pieces for six Ondes Martenot called “Fete des Belles Eaux” (“Celebration of the Beautiful Waters”), composed for the Paris International Exposition in 1937. The Ondes Martenot was among the first electronic instruments, and is still among the most expressive. The Continuum’s own expressive qualities seemed at least the equal of the Ondes Martenot’s, while allowing for polyphony and the possibility of performance of the work by a single player. I transcribed “Oraison” for my Buchla 200e/Continuum system, programmed the modern system in homage to the sound of the Ondes Martenot, and now offer this performance to you.

Kevin Austin Lecture on Stockhausen’s Kontakte

Browsing the most recent issue of the SEAMUS newsletter, I noticed a link to a recorded version of Kevin Austin’s lecture on Stockhausen’s Kontakte. In this lecture, Austin breaks down Kontakte, and tries to make the piece listener-friendly. At SEAMUS 2009, he also handed out a packet, which contains his listening notes for the piece. These notes guide the listener through Austin’s 38 subdivisions of the piece, giving the listener cues for each moment of the work.

Here is the listening guide in pdf form, so that you can follow along with Kevin Austin’s lecture on Kontakte.

I am going to try and get Kevin on the phone for an interview later this week.

Pianist Adam Tendler on Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes

Interview with Adam Tendler on John Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes

Today I had the opportunity to speak with pianist Adam Tendler about his involvement with John Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes.

A part of the preparation table for Sonatas and Interludes
A part of the preparation table for Sonatas and Interludes

Tendler has performed the Sonatas and Interludes all over the country, including a recent concert in Chicago for The Chicago Composers Forum, which is where I saw him perform.

Adam Tendler on stage
Adam Tendler on stage

In this interview, we talk about how he came to know the piece through a silent piano and some of the unique things that have occurred at performances.

Adam Tendler preparing a piano for Cage's Sonatas and Interludes
Adam Tendler preparing a piano for Cage's Sonatas and Interludes

Interview with Adam Tendler on John Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes

The Rest is Noise

In this interview, Alex Ross talks about his 2007 book The Rest is Noise. The book treads familiar territory: 20th Century Music. Still, it is one of the few books that tackles the subject at a layperson’s level. His book is one of very few that attempt to make 20th Century music accessible to people without music degrees.

Ross also writes a blog called The Rest is Noise.