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CEC 25th Anniversary Tour in Vancouver

Simon Fraser University Department of Communications

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Simon Fraser University’s Department of Communications and W2 Media Café welcomed the CEC’s 25th Anniversary Tour to Vancouver for the fourth event on the three-week tour and the second date on the west coast.

Opening up the day’s events was Kevin Austin’s seminar, “Some Recent Trends and Practices in Electroacoustic Studies across Canada: The CEC at 25,” prepared especially for the Anniversary Tour. In the second half of the seminar, Giorgio Magnanensi presented recent projects involving recent circuit bending and sound visualization, and Leonard J. Paul spoke about his work on the sound design for the video game Vessel. The seminar was complemented with two afternoon presentations. Madrona Labs’ Randy Jones gave a demonstration of the Soundplane, a controller designed for computer music performance. Finally, the TiMax Audio Controller’s potential in multi-speaker spatialization was shown by Harmonic Functions’ Tim Bartoo.

A full evening of performances began with a concert curated by Barry Truax before the JTTP 2011 winning works were featured in the second concert. Finally, the 8th edition of Quiet City, a series of deep listening concerts, featured a number of local artists and performers in the nearby W2 Media Café. The public was also invited to come out and meet people from the CEC Board and Administration and JTTP in an informal Meet & Greet before the concerts got under way!

Event Programme

The Vancouver events for the tour were held at Simon Fraser University (Vancouver) Goldcorp Centre for the Arts / Woodwards complex (149 West Hastings, 2nd / 3rd floors) and the W2 Media Café (111 West Hastings). Concerts were held Studio T (Rm. 2210: JTTP, All in Time) and W2 Media Café (Quiet City), while the seminars and demonstrations will be held in SFU-Woodwards room 3420 (3rd floor).

11:00–12:15 Seminar: Kevin Austin — Recent Practices in EA: The CEC@25
12:30–13:30 Seminar guests: Giorgio Magnanensi, Leonard J. Paul
15:00–16:00 Presentation: Tim Bartoo — Spatialization with the TiMax
16:00–17:00 Presentation: Randy Jones — Soundplane Controller
18:00–19:00 CEC Meet & Greet
19:00–20:15 Concert 1: JTTP 2011 — Prize-Winning Works
20:30–22:00 Concert 2: “All in Time” curated by Barry Truax
22:00–00:00 Concert 3: Quiet City #8 — Deep Listening Concert

Biographies for individual participants, guests, associations and institutions can be found below.


Kevin Austin — Some Recent Trends and Practices in Electroacoustic Studies across Canada: The CEC at 25

Everything old is new again. Kevin Austin’s presentation (at ten venues in nine cities) considered historical precedents and provided a useable map of the background and context of recent trends within the larger discipline of electroacoustics. Among the trending topics in EA these days are “live EA” and “visual music”; as discussed in the first part of the seminar, current and exploding technologies have allowed these areas of EA to develop very rapidly and proliferate widely.

With more than 40 years of history in EA, Austin looked back at the historical path and presented detailed views of some of the newer manifestations of EA. Some of the historical perspective was provided by his own experiences with live EA, which started in 1971 (MetaMusic, later CECG/GEC), and his use of visual elements as of about 1975.

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Video 1 (1:14:11). Kevin Austin giving his seminar “Some Recent Trends and Practices in Electroacoustic Studies across Canada” during the Vancouver stop on the CEC’s 25th Anniversary Tour. At Simon Fraser University on 17 November 2011. [Click image to play video]

In the second part of the seminar, invited local artists — active in the 1970s through today — contributed their own perspectives on regional activities to help articulate the unique flavour of EA practice in the various distinct areas that together form the diverse electroacoustic community in Canada, from Victoria to St. John’s. At Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Giorgio Magnanensi offered a look at his work in circuit bending and sound visualization, and Leonard J. Paul presented his work on the interactive music system of the video game Vessel.

Giorgio Magnanensi — Circuit Bending and Visualization of Sound

“It all started” when composer, conductor and media artist Giorgio Magnanensi and a few friends cracked open a few toys to learn more about how they worked and get around the built-in engineering — the primary limiting factor in the design of a sound toy and their use as performance instruments. His desire to foster this creativity in an open environment has led to installations of circuit-bent toys that the visitor can play. Playfulness and curiosity have always been core tenets of his practice, whether for circuit bending or for his parallel work in the visualization of sound, using old oscilloscopes and other electronic instruments.

Video 2 (36:11). Giorgio Magnanensi presenting his talk “Circuit Bending and Visualization of Sound” during the Vancouver stop on the CEC’s 25th Anniversary Tour. At Simon Fraser University on 17 November 2011.

Leonard J. Paul — Electroacoustics and Video Games: The adaptive music of Vessel

Composer for the award-winning Canadian documentary The Corporation, Leonard J. Paul is also a sound designer for video games. One of his most recent projects was the sound design for the steampunk video game Vessel. Built around music provided by composer John Hopkins and complemented by recordings made by Paul, the video game sound design must constantly adapt itself to underscore actions and events in the puzzle environment of the video game. In this talk he showed how the various sound events and layers have been organized and structured in order to ensure the generative sound design remains “alive” yet unified in this constantly changing environment.

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Video 3 (30:58). Leonard J. Paul presenting his talk “Electroacoustics and Video Games: The adaptive music of Vessel” during the Vancouver stop on the CEC’s 25th Anniversary Tour. At Simon Fraser University on 17 November 2011. [Click image to play video]


Tim Bartoo — Spatialization with the TiMax Audio Controller

Developed by Harmonic Functions, an offshoot of Simon Fraser University from the 1990s, the TiMax Audio Controller is a delay-matrix, multi-channel playback system for theatrical productions, events and AV installations. Following an overview of the mechanics and psychoacoustics of sound, Tim Bartoo demonstrated the possibilities of the TiMax for sound localization and spatialization of electroacoustic sound. By using a much larger number of speakers than in traditional PA systems, the TiMax system allows for proper localization, which greatly enhances intelligibility and allows for the system to deliver sound in a transparent manner to every position in the venue.

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Video 4 (59:20). Tim Bartoo presenting his talk “Spatialization with the TiMax Audio Controller” during the Vancouver stop on the CEC’s 25th Anniversary Tour. At Simon Fraser University on 17 November 2011. [Click image to play video]

Randy Jones — Soundplane Controller

At the Victoria and Vancouver stops on the tour, Randy Jones (Madrona Labs) presented the Soundplane controller, an instrument designed, sourced and assembled in Seattle that has the sensitivity and feel of an acoustic instrument. The control surface can be user-configured as a 150-note keyboard with position and pressure sensing on each key, or as one continuous surface. This pressure-sensitive, multi-touch capable controller was designed for computer music performance and can be used with the user’s own sounds or the built-in Aalto Synthesizer. The background of its conception and other projects and instruments that informed the development of the Soundplane were also presented.

Video 5 (30:53). Randy Jones (Madrona Labs) giving a demonstration and presentation of the Soundplane Controller during the Vancouver stop on the CEC’s 25th Anniversary Tour. At Simon Fraser University on 17 November 2011.

CEC Meet & Greet

The tour also provided members of the CEC Board, CEC administrators and JTTP 2011 guests with some time to meet and chat with the local communities of composers, performers and friends of electroacoustic practices. It was a great opportunity to not only reconnect with old acquaintances, but also to meet and hang out with new acquaintances! CEC Admin and Board members and JTTP guests had the chance to experience first hand the incredible diversity of electroacoustic practice across the country, from Victoria to St. John’s.

Concert 1: JTTP 2011 — Prize-Winning Works

Maxime Corbeil-Perron and Guillaume Barrette
Maxime Corbeil-Perron and Guillaume Barrette at Simon Fraser University during the Vancouver stop on the CEC’s 25th Anniversary Tour, 17 November 2011. Photo © Jean Routhier 2011. [Click image to enlarge]

The CEC’s annual Jeu de temps / Times Play (JTTP) project is comprised of: a competition for young and emerging sound artists from (or living in) Canada, with cash and prizes awarded to the top five placing composers, as selected by an international jury; a focus issue of eContact! featuring all submissions to the project; a CD compilation (Cache) of the top works; and international radio and concert play of the top works.

Each stop on the tour featured a concert of the winning works from the 12th edition of Jeu de temps / Times Play. Those curious to know what the next generation of electroacoustic composers in Canada “sounds like” came out and joined us for performances of works by David Arango-Valencia, Guillaume Barrette, Guillaume Campion, Maxime Corbeil-Perron, Jullian Hoff and Marc-André Perron.

For each of the JTTP concerts at least one JTTP 2011 winning composer was present as an invited guest, and these guests diffused their own works as well as the works of their colleagues. Joining us in Victoria and Vancouver were Maxime Corbeil-Perron and Guillaume Barrette.

Programme (in alphabetical order):

Visit the JTTP 2011 page in this issue of eContact! for video montages of performances of each of the works, as well as biographies of the composers.

Concert 2: “All in Time” curated by Barry Truax

Vancouver-based composer Barry Truax, a founding member of the CEC and longtime creator, curator and educator of electroacoustic music, presented a concert of new fixed media works. Recently retired from SFU’s School of Contemporary Arts, where he taught for 35 years, Truax was a founding member of the World Soundscape Project and editor of the Handbook for Acoustic Ecology, which, together with his book Acoustic Communication, are required reading in the field of soundscape study. “All in Time” featured guest sound artist Sarah Boothroyd with her award-winning work All in Time, a new work by Martin Gotfrit and works by SFU students Sara Kinakin, Ben Sigston, Morgan Young and Rachel Minns.


Concert 3: Quiet City #8 — Deep Listening Concert

Quiet City is a series of deep-listening concerts in Vancouver, focused on live performances of experimental, electronic and improvised music in a comfortable and intimate setting. The 8th edition of this series, at the downtown community media arts centre W2, was a special after-party for the seminars and concerts held at SFU, in order to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the CEC. Quiet City #8 featured performances by Hmbkr (Emma Hendrix, Samuel Macklin, Ross Birdwise and Constantine Katsiris), Irma Boaz (Viviane Houle and Stefan Smulovitz), Magneticring (Joshua Stevenson) and Spell (Prophecy Sun and Kristen Roos). The concert was followed by a post-Quiet City party featuring Wakcutt, Deeps and Application Audio, presented by IGU.

School for Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University

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