The seventh edition of TES brought together researchers and practitioners from diverse backgrounds to share and discuss their interrogations of the many diverse aspects of EA practices — from laptop orchestras to software development to interactive performance practices. TES 2013 co-presenters CEC and NAISA were pleased to welcome Francis Dhomont as keynote speaker.
From August 14 to 17, 2013, the seventh Toronto Electroacoustic Symposium (TES) was held in various spaces within Toronto’s Artscape Wychwood Barns. This edition of the annual symposium, co-presented by the Canadian Electroacoustic Community (CEC) and New Adventures in Sound Art (NAISA), featured four days of concerts, paper sessions and installations, as well as a spatialization workshop led by NAISA’s Artistic Director, Darren Copeland. It was thrilling to be in the midst of such a diverse group of scholars and artists exploring so many different and interesting aspects of EA. This issue of eContact! includes a selection of the papers presented at TES 2013, and I encourage you to also visit the CEC website for a complete listing of the 2013 symposium.
Thursday’s sessions featured keynote speaker Francis Dhomont. Having taught for many years at the Université de Montréal, as well as being a founding member of the CEC, his relationship with Canada and his contributions to our community have been significant to the development of Canadian EA. He has devoted decades to his creative work, and it was striking to hear his perspectives on the evolution of his own creative practice and his assessment of the current state and development of EA in his Keynote presentation, “Abstraction et figuration dans ma musique… et autres considérations.” Dhomont expressed the desire that EA practitioners ultimately take the time to deepen their artistic practices, rather than always fleeing and seeking the new, a sentiment that was particularly relevant to many of this year’s presentations.
Steven Naylor has been a regular presenter at the symposium over the past several years, offering his distinctive observations on issues concerning EA composers. In previous years, he explored some of the ways ageism may appear in the practice and study of electroacoustic music, as well as the role of procrastination and distraction for the digital artist. This year, in “Mastering the Mutable/ Music, technology and change,” Naylor addressed questions surrounding the artist-machine relationship, examining whether technology plays a servant role in the production process, or whether it participates in a manner that changes the artistic language, creative process and final result.
This multi-faceted relationship was a theme echoed in many other presentations during the symposium, as numerous participants in their presentations considered the implications of the technology used to their benefit in their creative practice and production process.
Creative process was another central and noteworthy subject at this year’s symposium. A pioneer in soundscape composition, Barry Truax offered detailed insight into his compositional approach through the description of two extremes of the world of sound in “Interacting with Inner and Outer Sonic Complexity/ From microsound to soundscape composition.” The performance of his work Pendlerdrøm (1997) served as an example of his reflections. Examining spectral approaches to composition, David Litke presented his paper “From Sound to Score and Back/ Approaches to composing with spectral data” and his composition Synesthesia (2013), for live electronics. From the distinctive vantage of Litke’s diverse artistic practice, encompassing both electroacoustic and acoustic composition, he shed light on the compositional application of spectral analysis data. Another research-practitioner with a wide-ranging practice, UK-based Nick Collins is highly active in composition, research and teaching, with interests in live computer music and musical artificial intelligence. Collins presented Supersonic Aortae (2013) in concert and offered explanations of two plugins that exemplify live applications of source separation for SuperCollider in his paper, “Live and Non-Real-Time Source Separation Effects for Electroacoustic Music,” illustrated via two compositions using his plugins. Finally, through his paper “Lost in Transformation/ Composer as translator” and his work OSCines (2013), Benjamin O’Brien outlined differences in the use of the term “translation”, providing a practical definition for music composition, and also shared compositional sketches derived from his translational studies.
It was exceptionally instructive to hear composers explicitly address their creative work process through insightful presentations about their work complemented by the performance of a related composition during the symposium concerts. It offered the opportunity to learn about each of the composers’ work and creative struggles, while also hearing the final product of their labour.
In the format of a lecture-recital there were two more presentations that explored aspects of the creative process. In Michael Palumbo’s presentation “CrossTalk: A Reflection on the development of an interactive performance,” we experienced the interactive performance work, which “explores the ways in which control affects relationships between performers, performers and their audience, and of the audience members amongst each other.” Palumbo detailed the creation of this interactive musical performance and how it evolved over the course of three presentations. Michael Rhoades has a unique artistic practice that encompasses painting, photography and multi-channel compositions. Rhoades detailed his current composition work, and the complex processes involved in his recently completed project, “Hadronized Spectra (The LHC Sonifications): Sonification of proton collisions.” This project is based on data derived from proton collisions at the Large Hadron Collider in CERN.
With each presenter examining the creative process from another vantage point, one gets a sense of the vast array of compositional approaches to EA, and the innovative and remarkable possibilities that will continue to evolve.
Primarily focussing on the development of tools that specifically addressed artists’ needs for the creation and performance of their work, this year’s symposium featured many presentations on software development. Demonstrating a new tool for laptop ensembles, Jascha Narveson presented “LANdini: A networking utility for wireless LAN-based laptop ensembles,” outlining the work that he and Dan Trueman have been undertaking to adapt technology to better support the performance of laptop orchestra works. Both Narveson and Trueman are active composers in the USA, collaborating in the Princeton Laptop Orchestra (PLOrk). Daniel Swilley, an Illinois-based composer of acoustic and electroacoustic music presented “MyPic: A Tool for computer-assisted algorithmic composition.” His primary aim with the software “is to provide the composer with an interface for describing and orchestrating musical events via envelopes and auxiliary data for the purpose of driving algorithmic processes.” He discussed the creation and application of new tools to suit his compositional purposes without adding yet another environment for the composer to learn. Maximilian Marcoll introduced his open source software for music editing in his presentation, “Quince: A Modular approach to music editing.” His discussion also addressed how artist’s tools can “not only carry out tasks and give us options and possibilities, but also determine the ways in which we use them.” All three presentations demonstrated exciting potential for software that will benefit many practitioners in the field of EA.
Valery Vermeulen, an electronic musician, music producer, mathematician and new media artist, presented on the new field of human emotional responses being used in music composition and performance. In “Affective Computing, Biofeedback and Psychophysiology as New Ways for Interactive Music Composition and Performance,” Vermeulen provides an overview of practices in music composition and performance that use “human emotional responses — captured by means of psychophysiology, biofeedback and affective computing.” He systematically covers this topic, from the concept of interactivity in the arts all the way to how a composer or performer might use and integrate human emotions quantitatively into their work. With this being a new field of concern in EA, I look forward to learning more as Vermeulen’s research continues to unfold.
jef chippewa wears many hats in the music community, as a composer, administrator for the CEC, and he also works as a copyist. His presentation on “Minature Form in Electroacoustic and (Instrumental) New Music” drew on his diverse experience and knowledge of the international music community. chippewa provided an introduction to miniature projects, competitions and other activities surrounding the form, followed by his proposal for categories of miniature form in both new music and EA. He concluded his presentation with audio examples illustrating each of the categories of miniatures that he proposed. As someone who has worked with miniatures in my own composition work, I found it fascinating to have such a detailed and thoughtful study of approaches to the miniature form.
To conclude, we have two papers analyzing the work of composers Stockhausen and Calon. Mark Nerenberg is a Canadian composer presently based in Poland, who studied Stockhausen’s work as part of his DMA research. Nerenberg offers his perspective on the task of analyzing EA music in “Structure Formation: An Analysis of electronic superimpositions in Stockhausen’s ‘Solo’.” Based not only on lengthy personal study of the composition but also on discussions with the composer, Bijan Zelli gave us a detailed “Analysis of Christian Calon’s ‘The Standing Man’.” Both presentations offered exhaustive information and new insight into these two important works, and proposed further perspectives on the theme of creative process.
I invite you to peruse the articles in this latest issue of eContact! and I hope that it provides you with a sense of the broad range of EA practices occurring in our community. I also anticipate that it will offer you insight into this annual event and perhaps encourage you to attend the presentations, concerts and special sessions at the next edition of this annual symposium. As we launch this issue, the planning for the 2015 edition is already well under way, and I am very excited to see what will unfold during next year’s symposium. My sincere appreciation goes to NAISA (Nadene, Darren, Hector and Ian) and to the CEC (the Board, jef, Yves and Kevin) for all their hard work. Events like this take a tremendous amount of work, time, energy, humour and collaborative effort, and I am truly blessed to work with such spirited, thoughtful and hard-working colleagues. I would also like to thank the members of the Review and Organizing Committees, as without their time and effort, none of this would be possible. Finally, I would also like to thank David Ogborn, who was instrumental in initiating the symposium eight years ago; he continues to offer his devoted support to both the EA community and this event.
Toronto, 29 November 2014