Asyncronisity- getting off the time grid

Ive been thinking for a while about exploring asyncronisity in electroacoustic music for a while now- ever since I’ve been practising electroacoustic music Ive never liked or even trusted quantising to any grid or particular time frame because it often feels very lifeless- and in my experience theres no substitute for interplay between musicians/instruments/ lines of music as opposed to everyone (or thing) obeying the command of an overall clock.

This has also come from hearing some performances of complexity music and talking to the composer Marc Yeats who has also been exploring asyncronisity between musicians and had some really dramatic performances, same with recent performances at HCMF over the last couple of years, on top of that Ive really enjoyed performing my own compositions live, and to me, essentially letting the music breathe. So with this in mind I wanted to experiment further, with structures that have multiple pulses, or none, where things intend to sound loose, but integrated (famous Led Zeppelin quote “tight but loose”)

So I did this:

The key to this is its all done live- the synths were sampled and put into a polyphonic keyboard. The step sequence bit was sampled in the same way, then what I did was this: Having got my sounds I pressed record and played the keyboard conventionally- the computer recorded the audio. I then put the cursor (what used to be rewinding the tape) to the beginning and played the keyboard again, with one of the other sounds, reacting to what I was hearing being played back from the previous track. I did this process for all four tracks which is why you hear interplay, At no point was any of it quantised so there was no fixed outcome other than my initial score which laid out the structure. Now also the bit that a computer had played (the rigid step sequencer) that was sampled straight from the synth- now when that is sampled the sampler pitches by speeding up and slowing down, so if I press a key a octave lover the speed will be slower, with longer note envelopes and the pitch 1 octave lower- generally the tempo of the lower note half the tempo of the note played at root octave. The same applies if I play the note an octave higher, only the tempo doubles. So if I play any of the notes either side one gets multiple tempi and harmonies. Ultimately if you speed a rhythm right up it becomes a timbre and if you slow a timbre right down you get a rhythm. Theres nothing new in this,Stockhausen had done this years ago in the 1950s (before hippydom took him over) . So I have two dimensions at work, multiple tempi and notes without grid- what we have instead is cause and effect where Ive reacted to what I have heard, played it and its been recorded- so we have interplay between the instruments (in this case four samplers being driven by a keyboard)

As a result of the ever increasing amount and variety of controllers appearing on the market at affordable prices, together with the reissuing and emergence of analogue synths I am going to explore live electroacoustics more.

Also something from rock  music; the tradition of recording something in the studio thats almost impossible to play live, then going out and performing reinterpretations interests me- because this makes available different versions of the same musical idea and that diversity can make for interesting comparisons, in my opinion and in electroacoustic music that might also add another interesting aspect of having both a recorded playback version and a live performance version.

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About stuartrussellcomposer

Composer/ sound artist. Electronic musician. Modern classical composer
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