30 years of spatial music for computer

I will be giving a colloquium and concert at the Center for Computer Music in Research and Acoustics (CCRMA), Stanford University; March 4th 2015. Click here for further info.


In the mid-1950s American composer Henry Brant wrote that “single-style music can no longer evoke the multi-directional assaults of contemporary life on the spirit.” In pursuit of a framework for music based on simultaneity, he made a series of experiments and compositions exploring the physical position of sounds as an essential compositional element. David A. Jaffe met Brant in the mid-1970s and became a life-long friend and advocate. In 1979, at CCRMA, he began applying the principles of acoustic spatial music to the computer domain. In this colloquium/concert, Jaffe discusses and presents three of his spatial works, spanning a thirty-year period.

"Silicon Valley Breakdown" for synthetic plucked strings (1982) will be heard in a newly-restored form, a rare opportunity to hear this well-known work in its original 4-channel format. "Impossible Animals" (1986) for live performers and computer-synthesized voices creates a hybrid human-bird vocalise, as if the brain of a bird were transplanted into the body of a wildly-gifted soprano. Finally, "The Space Between Us" (2011), an acoustic spatial work with interactive computer control, uses twenty-one robotic mechanical instruments created by Trimpin, positioned around and above the audience. A video of this work will be presented, featuring CCRMA alumnus Andrew Schloss performing on a new version of the Boie/Mathews Radiodrum, accompanied by eight string players distributed throughout the hall.