This page contains writings, interviews and lectures on composition, aesthetics, and computer music technology

Orchestrating the Chimera: Musical Hybrids, Technology and the Development of a "Maximalist" Musical Style

This article describes the "maximalist" approach I take in my musical composition. This approach embraces heterogeneity and allows for complex systems of juxtapositions and collisions, in which all outside influences are viewed as potential raw material. I focus here on the notion of hybridization, in which two or more sharply-defined and highly-contrasting aspects of experience are combined to produce something that is both alien and strangely familiar. Recent technological advances have allowed hybridization to extend into the realms of the synthesis of sound itself, the ensemble relationship between musical lines and the connection between performer and instrument.

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Performance Expression in Commuted Waveguide Synthesis of Bowed Strings

In [Smith 1993], an approach was described for implementing efficient real-time bowed string synthesis. Recent work has focused on differentiating the members of the violin family, as well as on the flexibility necessary to create expressive performance. This paper presents a technique for creating smooth transitions between notes, enabling a variety of bowing styles to be synthesized, such as legato, marcato and martele. A method for supporting such left-hand techniques as vibrato and glissando is also given, as is the efficient simulation of pitch-correlated bow noise. Examples from various periods of music history have been convincingly synthesized in real time using the Music Kit and DSP56001 under NEXTSTEP.

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A Virtual Piano Concerto

We describe here the process of collaboration that went into the creation of a The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World a seventy-minute, seven-movement concerto, scored for remote-control piano and an acoustic ensemble of eight instruments. The solo piano part, written specially for Andrew Schloss and developed in collaboration, is for the Yamaha Disklavier C7 Grand Piano Mark II (a piano that can "play itself" under computer control) and the Mathews/Boie Radio Drum [Boie et al, 1989] (a device that conveys three-dimensional gestures to a computer.) The Radio Drum and Disklavier are connected via a computer running software created for the piece. Thus, the final result of this work is entirely acoustic.
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Music and the Computer: Up-Ending the Family Tree

Keynote Address to the 1995 Conference of the Australian Computer Music Association

Computer music is nearly forty years old. Electronic music is twice that old, dating back to the invention of the Theremin Vox. In that time, computer music has brought together many diverse disciplines, creating hybrids such as psycho-acoustics and algorithmic composition, as well as spawning its own diverse branches. These range from performance instruments to music printing, from MIDI sequencing to automatic transcription. Such diversification is an indication of the success of the field. Yet some categorical divisions arose as a result of philosophical schism, often in response to limitations in the technology of the day.

As this is my first trip to Australia, it seems fitting to flip things upside down and take a fresh look at some of these traditional divisions. Focusing on areas such as sound synthesis, performance, and the role of the composer, we will see which of the familiar constructs still apply and which may no longer serve our best interests. The intention here is not to survey all existing work--this would require more time than we have--but rather to discuss a few examples drawn from my own work and that of several of my colleagues in order to show that hybridization is still an active force throughout the computer music family tree.

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