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Technique

2003-12-26

The development of music is more dependent than any other
art upon the development of its technique. A truly new idea – at least as musical
history reveals – is hardly imaginable without significant changes in musical
technique.

A. Schoenberg: Problems
of Harmony
. 1934

MIDI

2003-12-26

We no longer think of the history of cinema as a linear march toward a single
possible language or as a progression toward perfect verisimilitude. On the
contrary we have come to see its history as a succesion of distinct and equally
expressive languages each with its own aesthetic varables and each closing
off some of the possibilities of its predecessors.

Lev Manovich: The Language of New Media p.8.


During DEAF’03 I bought a 3
CD collection of early electronic music
. One of the recordings that really
astonished me was Clara Rockmore playing “Valse Sentimentale” by Tchaikovsky
on a Theremin. The expressive quality of this kind of performances has since
been more or less lost in the further development of electronic music.


There has not been a lot of attention drawn to the 20th anniversary
of the MIDI protocol in January 2003.000 Even
if the development of MIDI as a standard for communication between musical devices
has been one of the major inventions of electronic music ever it leaves a lot
to be desired. The MIDI protocol is modelled after one of the instruments that
offers the least interaction and expression the organ. The most basic information
of the MIDI protocol is “note on” and “note off” messages.
Once you’ve programmed the synth to use a certain sound the ability to further
interact with the sound during performance is minimal: When to start when to
stop and also how hard to hit the key. Once the key is down there’s no further
possiblities of changing or moulding the sound.


The MIDI protocol provides some additional messages for expressive
means (breath control after touch expression). The problem is that except
for a crude joystick controlling pitch bend and vibrato and a single fader
hardly any keyboard provides additional support for continuous controllers.
In addition manipulation of continuous controll data is physically detatched
from the keys used to trigger the notes. This is very different from the way
you are able to mould the sound for the total duration of the notes when playing
violin flutes or singing.


Audacity

2003-12-22

Discovered Audacity an ****** source sound editor available for Mac OSX Linux and Windows and spent some time checking out. The complete manual contain some tutorials that might provide quite useful for film producers as it also discuss how to do sound production for movies.

On the downside I’ve noticed:
- Audacity permits only one audio clip per track. It’s common that editors can only play back one audio clip per channel at a time but most of them permits several clips in sequence.
- VST plug-ins has to be copied to the Plug-ins folder. It would be neat if Audacity could check the Library/Audio/PlugIns/VST folder as well. Most programs supports this on OSX.

It still looks promissing and I’ll try it for a while.

4 days in Oslo

2003-12-19

Just back from 4 days in Oslo working with the theater ensemble Verdensteatret. We’re currently developing a new performance to be premiered at Black Box Oslo 3rd of March next year.

Rehearsals and development will go on more or less continously for three months December through February. Earlier this autumn we traveled to the west coast of Greenland to do research for the production and stayed for about 10 days in Illuliset in the Disco Bay area and then sailed southwards along the coast to Nuuk.

In September Verdensteatret did a workshop at BiT Teatergarasjen in Bergen as part of the Autunnale contemporary music festival. The workshop involved almost 40 artists and art students mainly members of Verdensteatret art students from the Academy of Fine Arts composition students from the Grieg Academy and artists connected to BEK. The workshop resulted in a two hours event. Two Tibetan monks creating a Mandala in the middle of the room became the point of gravity of the workshop and event. At the end of the event the Mandala was destroyed and the sand poured into the ocean.

Verdensteatret went on to perform Tsalal in Reykjarvik and Beograd and also did a workshop in Beograd. I did not take part on these two trips.

The different journeys and the workshops will become points of departures for the new production.

lp.stacey

2003-12-19

Today I received beta version of an upgrade to the Max external lp.stacey for the Litter Power Package a bundle of Max MSP (and in the near future probably Jitter as well) externals providing a number of stochastic functions. Peter Castine started developing Litter Power Package during a residency at BEK in 2001.

I’ve been doing a number of projects the last couple of years involving some kind of interactivity. One of the big challenges when using sensors or tracking information from video or audio is how to create a system that is able to tune itself and behave predictable from one day to the next. Sensors and analysis might depend on the physical equipment temperature humidity light sound levels etc. and all of these might fluctuate. lp.stacey provides statistical information about incoming data: min max mean value standard deviation and more. Earlier on lp.stacey provided statistical results for all data received since onset. A while ago I asked Peter if it would be possible to add a feature so that you could specify window size and get statistical information for e.g. the last 200 values received. Just in time for Christmas Peter mailed me beta version of lp.stacey with this ability added. I tried it today for scaling audio envelope tracking data and the result was beyond expectations. lp.stacey without doubt will become one of the most useful (maybe THE most useful) externals of the Litter Power Package.

I’d still like to see one more feature added: The ability of specifying a window/weight function. If Peter is Santa I guess I’m the greedy child that can never get enough…

 
 
 

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