I am a fan of a wide variety of music, including American folk music and Chinese folk music. In the middle of switching between Sanxian (Chinese traditional 3-string banjo) playlists to bluegrass playlists, I suddenly noticed that there was a great many similarities between the two genres. Both featured fast, colorful strings that operated in the major scales, often pentatonic scales, giving them energetic but grounded feelings. The topic of the songs are also similar, describing longings of home, the beauty of rural environments, and amusing interpersonal relationships. What this meant to me was despite the genres being folk, there was room for new growth and cross-cultural synthesis, and that the two cultures I have grown up were strangely bridged.
I searched for any realized union of the two genres, and I was happily surprised to find Redgrass:
The Chinese musical group featured frequently experiments with combining traditional Chinese instrumentation with the music from other cultures, including American jazz, Malaysian percussion, and experimental electronic music.
For week 4 looking outwards, I wrote about Ryoji Ikeda, I really appreciate his work with full of beauty of math. His work is more “sound art” than music, becuase there are a lot of visual element invovled and it needs you to “interpretate” it instead of only “listen” to it. I want to talk about another piece of his work I really like, “datamatics [prototype-ver.2.0]”.
Using pure data as a source for sound and visuals, datamatics combines abstract and mimetic presentations of matter, time and space. datamatics is the second audiovisual concert in the datamatics series. Projecting dynamic computer-generated imagery in pared down black and white with striking colour accents, the intense yet minimal graphic renderings of data progress through multiple dimensions. From 2D sequences of patterns derived from hard drive errors and studies of software code, the imagery transforms into dramatic rotating views of the universe in 3D, whilst in the final scenes four-dimensional mathematical processing opens up spectacular and seemingly infinite vistas. A powerful and hypnotic soundtrack reflects the imagery through a meticulous layering of sonic components to produce immense and apparently boundless acoustic spaces.
datamatics [ver 2.0] is the full–length version of this audiovisual concert. With a commissioned second part added, datamatics [ver.2.0] is significantly developed from the earlier version of this piece which premiered in March 2006. Driven by the primary principles of datamatics, but objectively deconstructing its original elements – sound, visuals and even source codes – this work creates a kind of meta–datamatics. Real–time program computations and data scanning are employed to create an extended new sequence that is a further abstraction of the original work. The technical dynamics of the piece, such as its extremely fast frame rates and variable bit depths, continue to challenge and explore the thresholds of our perceptions.
Caption: “Star Wars- Imperial March on Eight Floppy Drives”
For this week’s looking outwards post, I decided to talk about this interesting YouTube video made by user MrSolidSnake745 (whose YouTube channel contains other technology-based music). I really admire this project because the whole set-up is very unique. Using 8 different floppy drives to alternate between tones and pitches to create a universally famous theme is a cool idea!
I have no idea how the creator actually got to create this music, but if I had to guess, the creator probably set up each individual floppy drive to play a certain tone and timed each floppy drive perfectly to play the “Imperial March” theme perfectly. All in all, I thought this was a very cool project!
I think this is a very interesting project using computational music. The project is called, Weather Thingy – Real time climate sound controller. This project is created by Adrien Kaeser at ECAL (Media and Interaction Design Unit). Weather Thingy is a sound controller using real-time weather data to modify settings of music instruments. The controller has three weather sensors including a rain gauge, a wind vane, and an anemometer. The device translates weather data to data that musical instruments can use to generate sound. I really appreciate this project because it still allows the musicians to use their creativity since musicians can use the controllers to change the melody in real-time. It creates more potential for music creation, really focuses on the presence and capturing the moments. I guess the algorithm needs to turn the collected weather condition into data, then turn those data into music notes. There must be a system that links the two logically.
When I realized this week’s theme was computational music, I immediately thought of Alan Walker specifically. He is a music producer and he creates his music (EDM type of music) using a computer program that allows him to combine synthetic instruments and sounds. He is also able to edit the sound waves in the program to tweak it any which way he wants and add effects such as echo or reverb to name a few. The song that I chose specifically is ‘Faded’ which is one of his most popular songs. When I first came across this song, it really piqued my interest in computer music and I actually felt motivated to learn about computer music.
Walker obviously begins with an artistic vision and then he tinkers with the program to make sure every beat and sound is placed exactly where he wants it to be. Provided below is a video of one of this studio sessions and he has other studio sessions on his channel. I am thankful to live in a generation where computer music allows someone to create music with all sorts of synthetic instruments on their own from the comforts of their own home / studio!
Alan Walker in his studio session for ‘Faded’, showing snippets of the thought process behind his hit song.
Laetitia Sonami is a sound artist, performer, and composer of interactive electronic music based in San Francisco. What initially drew my attention is “The Lady’s Glove”, an instrument she developed herself, which triggers and manipulates sound in live performance. This instrument is worn on her right hand, and is a black glove made of mesh integrated with a lot of different sensors such as micro-switches, pressure pads, ultrasonic receivers, and light sensors, just to name a few. The signals the glove receive are connected to a hardware named Sensorlab, which is then mapped onto MAX MSP running on a computer, which connects it to pre-stored sounds.
Sonami said that through creating this instrument, she was trying to figure out at which point does a controller become an instrument. I found what she said to be very insightful and thought provoking, especially applicable today when there are so many tools around us that we can just use to generate things without even putting much thought into it. Sonami concludes that when a software starts adapting to the controller, it becomes more of a symbiosis between the controller, the code, and the software. I think her glove does successfully embody that and qualify as an instrument, not just a controller/generator.
(jump to 10:34 for Sonami performing with the glove)
This week, I chose to write about Ryoji Ikeda, a Japanese computational musician whose work uses computers in order to create music that can convey emotion differently and convey more complex concepts. In particular, I want to talk about one of his projects, Superposition, which is a collaborative work by Ryoji Ikeda with Stephane Garin, Amélie Grould in 2012.
Superposition is a project that aims to help people understand nature on an atomic scale. It was inspired by the mathematics that go into quantum mechanics. The project makes use of quantum information. While bits are typically displayed in binary (0 or 1), quantum information is QUBIT (quantum binary digits) where 0 and 1 superposed at the same time. This is incredibly concept conceptually, but is much more replicative of nature. Using sound as at the medium and quantum information is the inspiration, Ikeda takes significantly from computation in developing the work as well. It is nearly entirely data and algorithmic driven and makes a powerful commentary on the nature of computationally inspired and created music. This is perhaps what I most admire about the piece and the composer.
Created by a song done for German duo Meier & Erdmann, this example of computer generated music not only involves the use of algorithms to create music, but also how those patterns in the music can then be translated into a 3D digital landscape. Visual artist from Spain, Victor Doval utilizes the different frequency bands in the music to translate into a visual representation of the band. Inspired by the inherent “journey” music takes its audience on, the music is broken down into data that is then sorted and identified with different lights, shapes, and textures to overlay on the 3D shape and create that “journey” visually to the audience. Note in the background the change in the daylight and sun position as the song progresses. The background is a simple digital representation of the music timeline, where the sun rises in the beginning and sets at the end of the piece.
What I find most interesting about Doval’s work is the idea of visually representing the unseen and utilizing the patterns that can be heard and translating them into something that can be seen.
For this week’s looking outwards, I decided to write about computer music since last time I wrote about sound art. I was particularly interested in the combining computer generated sounds with vocal music, and an artist that I like had a video on how their music was made. What I admire about this project is only computer instruments used to produce the song. Even though they used samples from a vocal artist, the sample was included to the program instead of keeping them separate. I also admire that with the usage of computer software, one can alter the qualities of the voice, so that one doesn’t need to find a perfect vocal artist, but rather alter the sample to meet the feel of and standards of the song. From an interview, Odesza stated that, “As far as software, we use lots of Native instruments plug-ins, SoundToys, Logic, Ableton, Maschine, and Ozone 5.” So for the algorithms used for the work, they definitely must have used looping algorithms, with algorithms re-organizes parts to match the beat perfectly. This would be achieved probably by using if functions and millies(). Of course, these elements would already be installed in the software that is used, but in a way, computer music production is like programming with already made functions. I think that artist’s artistic sensibilities came into play when all the parts of the music are harmonic and work to add to the song.
Link to work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqoLCvsy8_c
Creator: Odesza, Naomi Wild
Title: Higher Ground
Year of creation:2018
A computational musician I found to be interesting is Mari Kimura, a violinist. The project I am focusing on is Bebe, a project made performed by violin and computer. The piece was originally written in 2008, with edits made to it in 2012. From Kimura’s description of the project, it seems she used the Max computer program to play music along with her. What caught my eye (or should I say ear) is how she created the program to follow along with her in order to let her improvise. From her comments, it seems that many computer music projects she has previously worked on put the musician in a place in which they had to play exactly to the note to keep up with the computer. I think it is amazing what she accomplished and what technology can do to improvise and keep in harmony with brilliant musicians.