After traveling for most of December (to Africa and Wisconsin), I have done my best to settle in and work on some new music. The new semester started in January, so my composition time has been sporadic at best. On top of that, I’ve been stuck in some kind of perpetual pre-compositional limbo for several new pieces that I want to write and have been stuck in post-compositional limbo on another piece.
As usual, I’ve got some grandiose compositional plans for 2012. Several pieces are planned and laying around in various pre-compositional stages. However, the time has come for me to focus on one or two things that I can work on regularly and complete within the next couple of months. I have decided to focus my energy for the near future on writing a new four-channel electroacoustic piece and on bringing my errant quintet Icons to a true state of completion.
A few years ago, I attended the last summer session at CCMIX (Center for the Composition of Music Iannis Xenakis). I spent a lot of my studio time there messing around with the UPIC system and I recorded a great deal of material. For those who don’t know, UPIC is a sort of synthesizer in which the parameters change over time based on an inputted score. However, the score is a drawing or sketch (Xenakis workshopped this with Kindergartners, who I’m sure got a big kick out if). Here’s some information about the original system, I worked on a computerized version developed in the 80s.
In my rudimentary experiments with the UPIC, I was surprised at how much sound you can get out of drawing just a few dots or lines. Then, by changing the parameters, you can create infinite variations out of a simple picture. I found that each picture is almost a miniature meta-piece. By applying different waveforms, frequency parameters, and processing options, you can get infinite variations on the simplest little scribbles, or structural variations by running the whole page. Unfortunately, my little UPIC drawings were left behind somewhere, so I can’t actually show them. They were pretty rudimentary however, nothing as fascinating as Xenakis’ drawings for Mycenae Alpha.
I’ve always been fascinated with the quirky, glitchy sounds that I created at CCMIX, so they are the basic sounds that I will be using in this new electroacoustic piece. The set of sounds is quite rich, ranging to analog mechanical types of sounds, Metastasis-like gestures, to granular types of sounds. I will be using some other programs to manipulate these sounds. I’ll probably be using some of my recent Max/Msp patches and Digital Performer. On the metalevel, I’ve got a superimposed textural plan & a Ulysses subtext in two panels.
Almost an intact miniature… I think there are gremlins in the speakers.