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Article

Sean Hallowell

Originally, a poem in which the passing of an individual is announced and communities to which the departed belongs are called to mourn.

Pioneered by French poets in aristocratic service, the déploration qua literary genre enjoyed a modest lifespan, with eight known works surviving from the 16th century. Longstanding custom, however, recognizes a musical tradition by the same name, one numbering 30 known compositions spanning the late 14th to late 16th centuries. Among composers the déploration ramified from a French mainstream into Spanish, Netherlandish, German, Italian, and English tributaries. Accordingly, déplorations are variably designated in sources by such terms as apotheosis, epicedion, monodia, epitaphium, lamentation, complainte, naenia, madrigale, greghesca, and elegy.

Use of the term “déploration” to denote a musical work in which a composer is commemorated may be traced to Ockeghem (d 1497). This musician, who spent almost a half-century in service to the French royal court, was memorialized by literary counterpart Guillaume Crétin in a poem of 412 lines. A frame-narrative necrology featuring a syncretic cast of characters (among them Orpheus and King David), Crétin’s déploration charges all who held Ockeghem dear with the duty of honoring “celluy qui”—according to Lady Music (another ...

Article

Scott Gleason

Group of composer-theorists collected around Milton Babbitt at Princeton University starting in the mid-1950s. A principal source of high-modernist music and theory, the Princeton School’s approach was instrumental in establishing a rigorous style in the American academy by 1963, when Joseph Kerman coined the term.

The school’s formal programme included the analysis of Schoenbergian 12-note composition and the recasting of Schenkerian theory as an axiomatic system and compositional theory. Compositional techniques developed included combinatoriality, arrays, rhythmic serialization, structures modelled on Schenkerian layers, and invariance. The uniqueness of each composition was central, thus analysis was concerned less with style critique and historical context and more with understanding each composition’s methods and effects. Critique of musical structure followed Babbitt’s teacher and Princeton professor Roger Sessions’s lead by promising an empirical grounding in musical experience.

Some aspects of the school’s institutionalization were the establishment of the graduate programme in music composition (with the first PhD in music composition at Princeton awarded to Godfrey Winham in ...

Article

Ian Mikyska

(b Frýdek-Místek, 30 March 1980). Czech composer and guitarist. He studied singing and composition at the Ostrava Conservatory and composition at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Brno with Martin Smolka, with whom he completed the PhD in 2014. He also studied at the Royal Conservatory in the Hague (with Louis Andriessen and Clarence Barlow), the Matej Bel University in Bánská Bystrica, CalArts (with David Rosenboom), and the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna.

His work’s penchant for drama and rhythmic drive betrays influences of both rock music and American minimalism. His harmonies are mostly dissonant, which, together with the use of fractured, grating, or fragile sounds, creates an unusual aesthetic. His work with more indeterminate types of notation, however, has led to a looser, more environmental conception of rhythm (The Book of Sand, The Book of Earth).

He has led the Dunami Ensemble since its foundation in ...

Article

Ian Mikyska

Composers’ collective and ensemble founded in Prague in 2002. Over the years, the organizing team has included a number of composers and instrumentalists, with the remaining core today being Tomáš Pálka[1], Michaela Plachká, and Ondřej Štochl[2].

Their programming includes canonical composers of the 20th century as well as younger artists. They hold a call for scores each year, and have presented a number of works by Czech composers of older generations (kopelent, slavický, smolka). Despite a general tendency towards quiet and contemplative aesthetics, they have also performed music by composers of the so-called New Complexity and from more standard post-avant-garde traditions, always with a view to creating a dynamic and compact programme.

Konvergence often collaborates with other ensembles on combined programmes with an unusually well thought out dramaturgy. Over the years, they have worked with ensembles such as Platypus, Adapter, the Fama Quartet, le concert impromptu, the Isang Yun Trio, and the Quasars Ensemble....

Article

Ian Mikyska

A biannual festival of new and experimental music held in Ostrava, Czech Republic, since 2001, founded by petr kotík and Renata Spisarová.

The performers include guest ensembles and soloists, as well as a core of both international and Czech soloists specializing in contemporary music, who coalesce into the resident ensemble, Ostravská banda. Since its conception, the festival has established strong relations with other local arts organizations, including Bludný Kámen, the National Moravian-Silesian Theater, the Janáček Philharmonic, the Canticum Ostrava choir, and, more recently, the PLATO art gallery and the multi-arts space Provoz Hlubina. The festival also features dance and opera, as well as performance, multimedia, and installation work.

The 9-day festival at the end of August is the finale of a three-week-long ‘Institute’ for aspiring composers from around the world. Some ten established composers are invited as instructors for master classes, lectures, workshops, and one-to-one lessons at the Institute. The festival then features music by the invited composers, as well as one piece by each of the 35 composer-students....

Article

Ian Mikyska

International ensemble based in Ostrava, Czech Republic. Founded in 2005 by petr kotík, originally in order to serve as the resident chamber orchestra for the Ostrava Days festival. It is dedicated to performing contemporary music, both by classics of the European avant-garde (Stockhausen, Ligeti, Xenakis, Nono) and American experimentalism (Cage, Feldman, Lucier), and by contemporary composers from around the world (Lang, Murail, Mincek), including a focus on young Czech composers (srnka, Kadeřábek, Bakla, Cígler). It has served as the resident ensemble for New Opera Days Ostrava since the festival's foundation in 2012.

In addition, the ensemble has performed at major festivals in the Czech Republic (Prague Spring, Janáček's May, MusicOlomouc) and abroad (Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Beyond Cage), as well as on international tours and at concert venues including the Akademie der Künste (Berlin), Vredenburg (Utrecht), Lincoln Center (New York), and the WDR (Cologne).

Its core instrumentation of 24 players can adapt to the demands of each project, including combinations with other ensembles, most often the Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra, with whom the Banda has performed several concerts of music for three orchestras....

Article

Ian Mikyska

(b Boskovice, 19 Jan 1984).Czech composer and performer (voice, accordion, and tap dance). She studied the accordion (2004–10) and composition (2007–8) at the Brno Conservatory, and composition at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts (with martin smolka and Peter Graham[1]). She also studied as an exchange student at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, the California Institute of the Arts (with michael pisaro), the Universität der Künste Berlin (with Marc Sabat), and Columbia University (with george e. lewis).

While she often works with elements outside of music, there is almost always an intense engagement with direct listening, often arrived at through intense focus on very limited material. Sources for her work include Morse code, maps of garments which she turns into scores (Shirt for Harp, Oboe, and Accordion; Jacket for Ensemble), field recordings which she notates descriptively and then asks musicians to interpret the notation (...

Article

Ian Mikyska

(b Brno, 13 March 1966). Czech composer, pedagogue, and writer on music, son of zdeněk zouhar. He studied composition at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts (JAMU) in Brno (with Miloš Ištván and alois piňos) and musicology at the Masaryk University, followed by post-graduate studies at the Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst Graz (with Herman Markus Preßl and younghi pagh-paan) and JAMU. He remains an external pedagogue at both these institutions, as well as being active as a researcher at the Palacký University Olomouc (vice-dean starting in 2010), Ostrava University, and Masaryk University.

His brand of postmodernism is surprisingly respectful, using disparate materials in a serious manner, and generally staying with a few pieces of material for the duration of a piece or movement. Often composed in an additive, evolutionary structure, his works are sonically reminiscent of New York post-minimalism, but are very European in their approach to expressivity and emotional intensity. This approach includes both the intense rhythms of ...

Article

Brandon Smith

Creation of new connections inside sound-generating electronic devices to provide sounds unintended by their original designers. A wide range of effects can be achieved, and extra tactile controls such as potentiometers, switches, photocells, and body contacts can be added to control the new effects, the most frequent modification being for pitch control. Often various ‘bends’ are found accidentally by arbitrarily connecting two different points on the circuit board. Circuit bending has attracted considerable attention among persons interested in experimental electronic music and synthesizers, and it can be achieved with limited electronics knowledge and construction skills. Because circuit bending calls for unauthorised, sometimes radical changes to the circuitry’s original pathways, it risks damaging or destroying the device being modified. Toys are often exploited for circuit bending because of their ubiquity and low cost and the small risk of electrical shock from their low voltage. Battery-operated toys such as the Texas Instruments Speak n’ Spell and the Casio SK-1 have latent sonic potential and are prime targets for tinkerers seeking such sounds inexpensively or at no cost and because they tend to ‘glitch’ easily, spewing out fragmented bits of digital speech and strange sounds. Examples of circuit-bent creations include electronic keyboards, sound modules, drum machines, effects pedals, and karaoke machines. Video bending uses these same methods to modify video-game consoles to make abstract visual patterns in addition to novel sounds....

Article

Hugh Davies

revised by Anne Beetem Acker

[Elektronmusikstudion] (Swed.: ‘electronic music studio’)

The Swedish national centre for electronic music and sound art, in Stockholm. It was preceded by a smaller studio run by the Worker’s Society of Education from 1960. EMS was established by Swedish Radio in 1964 under music director and composer Karl Birger Blomdahl (1916–68), who hired the composer and performer Knut Wiggen (b 1927) to take charge of creating the studios. In 1965 an old radio theatre studio called the klangverstan (‘sound workshop’) opened for composers. Construction of a new facility was begun, but after Blomdahl’s death EMS became independent, funded only in small part by Swedish Radio, and otherwise by Fylkingen (a society for experimental music and arts) and the Swedish Royal Academy of Music.

Wiggen envisioned EMS as both a place to produce electro-acoustic music and a research institution that would give the composer ‘the possibility of describing sounds in psychological terms’. The studio was equipped accordingly. The sound sculpture ...