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Indian E-music – The right mix of Indian Vibes… » 2020 » April » 17


Trace the revolutionary link of graphic to sound, with a free book on Xenakis, UPIC, and legacy

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 17 Apr 2020 8:39 pm

Electronic sound is in theory a limitless blank canvas. Iannis Xenakis and his work imagine what image of sound could fill that page – and leaves a legacy that’s still radical today.

Now, we get a view of those multi-faceted possibilities from an array of angles, in a new book from the legendary ZKM Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, Germany. The book is available digitally, for free, as downloadable PDF (along with other archival materials). These accompany the print edition, just released today.

From Xenakis’s UPIC to Graphic Notation Today

If you don’t know the UPIC, it’s hard to overstate the importance of this invention, originally seen in 1977, whose impact touched everyone from Risset to Aphex Twin. Its breakthrough was to let the composer draw with sound – paint with the tablet, and the results are synthesized in pitch and time. We’re actually so used to the concept now that it might even be tough to see this as an invention. But thanks to Xenakis’ larger compositional work and the extensive writing and teaching he did and other instigated, any real odyssey into the world of the UPIC winds up being a saga into digital art and sonic interface, how to make and teach them.

The book is a complete look at the machine and its associated composer, but also the ways those connect further afield.

The book is a journey through graphic notation and visual interfaces for music across nations and decades, as well as a comprehensive look at Xenakis’ own work, and its influence and use in education. There’s a star-studded media art editor lineup helming the project – ZKM’s iconic artist/curator/theorist Peter Weibel, pioneering composer/electronic musician Ludger Brümmer and musician and Xenakis scholar Sharon Kanach.

Kanach’s work is already familiar to any Xenakis nuts – not only did she work closely with Xenakis himself, and translated his writing, but co-authored with him the other must-have Xenakis text, Musique de l’Architecture (2008) along with working on editing enough texts to fill … well, a building, actually.

In another decade, all of this might be seen as archaic academic stuff. But now we live in a world where experimental sounds and post-tonal timbres sing and scream into dance music charts and popular music. We see visual interfaces – once confined to Xenakis’ unique machinery – as commonplace as we do a music stand or manuscript paper, if not more so. They’re on computers and free software and iPads and phones, recognizable by people on the streets in every populated continent.

And in the meantime, the aficionados of Xenakis and graphic notation have taken those once-marginal ideas about image, interface, and graphic music and brought them to apps and schoolkids. That poetry is accessible to everyone.

The pages trace the uses of UPIC and the ideas beyond from teaching to composition.

ZKM’s tome begins its story with the origins of the UPIC, the strangely ahead-of-its-time machine Xenakis engineered with a “musical drawing board” that could blur the line between score and interface. You can read the book as a complete background on the history of that instrument and its influences.

But the full context is here, too. And what makes it special is that this is not just a detached theoretical text, but written by people who have gotten their hands on the machines.

Andrey Smirnov, best known for his intensive background and advocacy of early Soviet experiments in graphic music, weaves together a rich yet breezy overview of the interconnections of ideas around the globe in graphic sound. Smirnov’s prose is uniquely readable in part because it easily switches between the mechanical engineering reality of these machines and their more philosophical, even spiritual conception – without missing a beat, either way.

Guy Médigue, who worked on this machinery in the 70s, gives an accessible but comprehensive explanation of everything from acoustics to technology in his essay. It’s a class in a chapter. It’s also worth watching him speak at ZKM, apologizing for his English, yet lucid in everything he says:

There’s also the perspective of composers and teachers – teachers of composers and teachers of kids – for a view of technique and pedagogy. It’s a chance to see this not only as a monolithic composer and machine, but a set of ideas that grew out of it and continue to travel.

And there are deep conversations about institutions, resources, and the challenges of supporting experimental music invention inside the society. Katerina Tsioukra aand Dimitris Kamrotos describe the ups and downs over the history of UPIC and its experiments in the composer’s father-and motherland, Greece. Too often it seems those conversations aren’t translated or that international audiences simply disregard them. Now, with Europe in new crisis, it seems an essential time to examine these fragile links. It’s important reading for anyone working in nonprofits, cultural diplomacy, curation, and the like.

Pointing the way to the future, roughly half the text is devoted to exploring the ideas the UPIC presented, and its relevance to new interfaces and composition and the larger world. Kiyoshi Furukawa investigates utopia, artwork, and architecture. Chikashi Miyama builds as convincing a family tree and conceptual map as I’ve ever seen, compromising the UPIC canvas and other graphic interface and digital art idioms, as well as the various UPIC descendants, like IanniX and UPISketch. (Julian Scordato goes deep into IanniX, for someone wanting to try this hands-on now in software.)

This topic could easily become deeply academic, but writers like Victoria Simon make it visceral – connecting to the composer’s own personal views. Her essay on the tactile begins with this challenge from the composer:

The book is replete with visual illustration, as it obviously needs to be.

“It is necessary to relearn how to touch sound with one’s fingers. That is the heart of music, its essence!” Xenakis

This was 1951-53, long before the Dynabook, let alone the iPad… and it just as easily could be viewed as an admonition to get more tactile still.

I can’t wait to read thoroughly. Marcin Pietruszewski’s “digital instrument as an artifact” sums up about half of what I’ve ever tried to work on in the title, so… there’s that.

The site is accompanied by music examples, too – fantastic avant-garde sounds that many readers of this site will love. Oh and – if you happen to be in lockdown with someone who’s getting on your nerves, and that person is not into avant-garde sounds, nothing says “oh, I really should catch up on my exercise routine with some headphones on” like blasting Eua’on’ome. (Hey, I’m just performing a public service here. You’re welcome.)

But it’s a joy to have this arrive now. Nothing can pierce the darkness or fight loneliness quite like sound and ideas. I hope it reaches some new shores.

https://zkm.de/en/from-xenakiss-upic-to-graphic-notation-today

https://zkm.de/en/event/2020/04/book-release-from-xenakiss-upic-to-graphic-notation-today

The post Trace the revolutionary link of graphic to sound, with a free book on Xenakis, UPIC, and legacy appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

The Rules to Live By, Part II

Delivered... whitney | Scene | Fri 17 Apr 2020 5:43 pm

Our newest series Ode to the Night captures the rave as a rite of passage. Each personal essay reveals how the party scene is as much about hedonism and celebration as it is about coming of age. In the inaugural piece, writer Geoffrey Mak searches for himself within a helix of self-destruction and enlightenment during his first year in a new city. This is part two of his essay. Read part one here.

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Hodge on How Gardening Influenced His Debut Album “Shadows in Blue”

Delivered... Caroline Whiteley | Scene | Fri 17 Apr 2020 5:42 pm

It’s no secret that many of TEB’s favorite artists have talents far beyond making beats. Folks like Yu Su and DJ Tennis whip up exquisite home-cooked meals, Manuka Honey is an avid tarot card reader and astrologer, and British DJs anu and Danielle are illustrators. For Jacob Martin AKA Hodge, it’s all about gardening. Sit in the green room with him, as I did during our Boiler Room Budapest event...

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Comment Dates Set on Possible Revision to Rules on Significantly Viewed Television Stations for MVPD Carriage Purposes – What Is Being Asked?

Delivered... David Oxenford | Scene | Fri 17 Apr 2020 5:03 pm

This week, the FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Significant Viewing was published in the Federal Register, setting a comment deadline of May 14, with reply comments due by June 15.  The NPRM asks for comments as to whether the FCC should update its rules for establishing whether or not a TV station is “significantly viewed” in a market other than the one in which it is located, and whether the FCC has the statutory authority to make changes to these rules that have largely been in effect since 1972.

A determination of significantly viewed status is important for determining whether a cable system or satellite television company will carry a TV station in areas that are not part of its home market.  For FCC purposes, significantly viewed stations generally are not subject to the network nonduplication and syndicated exclusivity protections provided to home market stations – meaning that their programming that duplicates that of a local station need not be blacked out by the MVPD at the request of the local station that has the rights to such programming in that market.  For copyright purposes, if a station has significantly viewed status, the MVPD pays at the low rates applicable to a local station pays for the compulsory copyright license needed to carry all of the programming of a television station.  If the station is not significantly viewed, the much higher “distant signal” rate applies, giving the MVPD far less incentive to carry such stations.

The current rules define significantly viewed stations as those that were determined to have a significant level of viewing by television households receiving only an over-the-air signal.  Most of the stations considered to be significantly viewed were determined to have that status in 1972 based on audience surveys conducted in 1970 and 1971.  Changes to that list (adding or subtracting a station) can only be made upon a petition to the FCC showing whether, in the communities at issue, the station has achieved a set amount of viewing and circulation among viewers in those communities over a given period of time.  A link to the current list is available here.  Only over-the-air viewers are included in making this determination.  The rules require two surveys by an independent professional audience survey company done at least a month apart.  The FCC has also permitted the use of two quarterly Nielsen television reports reporting on the over-the-air listening in the communities at issue.  The FCC identifies two principal issues that make these surveys difficult to use in the current television environment – (1) in many communities, there are very few over-the-air households to survey to determine if they are watching the out-of-market station, and in some communities Nielsen is not able to provide any information for over-the-air households, and (2) Nielsen is moving to a constant electronic measurement system that may not produce the quarterly average listening numbers on which the FCC relies, and may not break down the over-the-air households with the detail required by the current rules.

So the FCC asks whether there should be a new methodology to measure significant viewing and, if so, what that should be.  The Commission puts forth only one alternative that has been proposed – using a technical showing of signal strength of the station to see whether or not viewers in the community can pick that station up over the air.  The identified issue with that process is that the statute dealing with satellite carriage requires that significant viewing decisions must be made by assessing the shares of viewing hours and audience surveys.  The FCC asks how a showing that a station provides technical service to the community meets that statutory standard.  If that alternative does not work, the FCC asks for other suggestions as possible alternatives to the audience surveys currently used in assessing significant viewing.

The other issue in changing the rules lies in differences between the statutes applicable to significant viewing in the Communications Act and in the Copyright Act.  In the Copyright Act, for purposes of determining which stations are required to pay the higher distant signal rate to get the “statutory license” that confers all the rights needed to retransmit all of the copyrighted materials in a television broadcast, significantly viewed stations are exempted from this higher fee – but the determination of who is significantly viewed is to be made by the FCC based on its rules in effect as of 1976.  There is no similar statutory limitation on the FCC’s own determinations as to what stations are significantly viewed.  Thus, if the FCC were to change its rules, for syndicated exclusivity and network nonduplication purposes, a station could be found to be significantly viewed, while for purposes of the statutory license, the same station could still be considered distant and any MVPD would have to pay higher fees.  The FCC seeks comment on this reading of these two statutes.

The FCC also asks if it should change the definition of a network station for purposes of these rules.  Network stations have to achieve higher audience circulation and share numbers to be considered significantly viewed than do independent stations.  But, at the time that these rules were drawn up, there were considered to be only three networks – ABC, CBS and NBC.  Fox stations are not considered to be networks for purposes of these rules.  Because of conflicts with Copyright Act definitions, the FCC has declined to change that interpretation in the past, and is asking if it should do so now.

These and other very nuanced issues are set for comment in this proceeding.  Carefully review all of the issues raised in the NPRM and, if they could affect your operations and competition, file your comments by the May 14 comment date.

Lea Bertucci: Acoustic Shadows review I John Lewis’s contemporary album of the month

Delivered... John Lewis | Scene | Fri 17 Apr 2020 10:00 am

(SA Recordings)
This musical piece of civil engineering was assembled from recordings made under a bridge in Cologne

New York composer Lea Bertucci made her name as an unorthodox saxophonist – some of her most compelling performances see her playing alto sax or bass clarinet, using assorted looper pedals and tape effects to create improvisations that are pitched somewhere between the hypnotic drone music of La Monte Young and the ecstatic free jazz of Evan Parker. But her most adventurous work fits into the rather nebulous category of “sound artist”.

For several years, she has been exploring the acoustics of unusual venues, including an underground lake in upstate New York, a nuclear plant in Stockholm and a former military base in Paris. Instead of describing her work as “site-specific” (which implies that a listener needs to be present for it to work) Bertucci prefers “site-responsive”, tapping into each space’s unique acoustic properties. She starts by establishing the “room tone” – the point at which the space resonates – and uses that as the harmonic basis for what she plays.

Continue reading...

Lea Bertucci: Acoustic Shadows review I John Lewis’s contemporary album of the month

Delivered... John Lewis | Scene | Fri 17 Apr 2020 10:00 am

(SA Recordings)
This musical piece of civil engineering was assembled from recordings made under a bridge in Cologne

New York composer Lea Bertucci made her name as an unorthodox saxophonist – some of her most compelling performances see her playing alto sax or bass clarinet, using assorted looper pedals and tape effects to create improvisations that are pitched somewhere between the hypnotic drone music of La Monte Young and the ecstatic free jazz of Evan Parker. But her most adventurous work fits into the rather nebulous category of “sound artist”.

For several years, she has been exploring the acoustics of unusual venues, including an underground lake in upstate New York, a nuclear plant in Stockholm and a former military base in Paris. Instead of describing her work as “site-specific” (which implies that a listener needs to be present for it to work) Bertucci prefers “site-responsive”, tapping into each space’s unique acoustic properties. She starts by establishing the “room tone” – the point at which the space resonates – and uses that as the harmonic basis for what she plays.

Continue reading...

News | Brian Eno Remixes Headie One’s ‘Told’ – The Quietus

Delivered... | Scene | Fri 17 Apr 2020 8:00 am
News | Brian Eno Remixes Headie One's 'Told'  The Quietus
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