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Article

ANS  

Hugh Davies

revised by Andrei Smirnov

Photoelectric composition machine (named from the initials of Aleksandr Nikolayevich Skryabin) developed from about 1950 in Moscow by Evgeny Murzin (c1913–70). The idea for such a machine dated back to 1938, when Murzin visited the acoustician Boris Yankovsky, who had collaborated in experiments on graphic sound with Arseny Avraamov and soon afterwards worked with Evgeny Sholpo in Leningrad on his composition machine, the Variophon. The ANS was remarkably close to the concept of the Mechanical Orchestra, a sound synthesis machine proposed by Sholpo in 1917. The ANS was based on a set of optical sine wave oscillators, adjusted on fixed frequencies, forming a discrete scale, and covering the whole audible range with very small intervals between successive pitches.

World War II delayed Murzin’s work, so the first model of the ANS was not completed until 1957. It was installed in an improved form in 1959 at the Skryabin Museum in Moscow, where it became the basis of the Soviet Union’s first electronic music studio (in ...

Article

Christoph Wolff

Member of Bach family

(18) (b Erfurt, bap. Nov 25, 1676; d Eisenach, June 11, 1749). Composer and organist, son of Johann Aegidius Bach (8). He studied with his father and about 1695 took up his first post, as organist at the Kaufmannskirche in Erfurt; in 1699 he went to Magdeburg, and in 1703 he replaced his kinsman (2) Johann Christoph (13) as town organist and court harpsichordist in Eisenach, a post which Johann Christoph’s son Johann Nicolaus (27) had declined. Repeated rises in salary show the esteem in which he was held, particularly in the court Kapelle, which was directed by Telemann in 1708–12.

His only extant works are instrumental; some of the organ works are in copies made by his pupils in Erfurt, who included J.G. Walther (according to Walther himself). Johann Sebastian Bach evidently valued his orchestral suites, for he had five of them copied (he himself was involved in some of the copying) for his collegium musicum in Leipzig. J.S. Bach’s obituary notice of ...

Article

Christoph Wolff and Stephen Roe

Member of Bach family

(50) (b Leipzig, Sept 5, 1735; d London, Jan 1, 1782). Composer, youngest son of (7) Johann Sebastian Bach. As a composer he was the most versatile of J.S. Bach’s sons and the only one to write Italian operas. He was an important influence on Mozart and, with C.F. Abel, did much to establish regular public concerts in London.

It is likely that J.C. Bach’s early musical education was supervised by his father, though some instruction may have been given by Johann Elias Bach (39), who lived in the Leipzig household between 1738 and 1743 and acted as secretary to the elder Bach. Johann Christian himself assumed some secretarial duties in 1749–50, preparing music manuscripts and receipts on his father’s behalf. Christian, evidently a favourite child of Sebastian, inherited three of his father’s harpsichords. J.S. Bach’s keyboard music played an important role in his son’s development: the second book of ...

Article

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

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

[Compositron]

An electronic composition machine developed at the National Research Council of Canada in Ottawa from 1948 by Osmond (‘Ken’) Kendall (b Spain, 1909, of British parents), an electronics engineer at the National Film Board of Canada (NFBC). Basing his experiments on a simplified form of the optical film soundtrack and the idea of graphic sound, on which his colleague Norman McLaren was working, Kendall devised the Composertron, which employed a system for drawing sound-waveforms on a television screen with a grease pencil (probably the first use of this technique in a musical instrument); rhythm was ‘notated’ on a strip of film. The waveforms were scanned and this process controlled electronic oscillators; the resulting sounds were then recorded on magnetic tape. At the same time Kendall constructed a machine for speech synthesis using the same principle. Working models of both machines were assembled by the Canadian Marconi Co. in Montreal about ...

Article

Owen Jander

(Lat.: ‘against the tenor’)

The name given in the 14th and early 15th centuries to a polyphonic line composed in the same range as the Tenor. The practice of writing a part ‘against the tenor’ superseded the typical 13th-century process of adding parts above a tenor line. The first theoretical mention of the word ‘contratenor’ occurs in the treatise In arte motetorum (CS, iii, 88; 14th–15th century), and its earliest known appearance in a musical source is in a fragmentary motet manuscript of between 1315 and 1319 from the cloister of S Giorgio Maggiore, Venice (facs. in Quadrivium, ix (1968), table 1). The innovatory practice of adding a contratenor to a tenor is interestingly revealed in two motets (Vos quid admiramini/Gratissima/Gaude gloriosa and Impudenter circuivi/Virtutibus laudabilis) by Philippe de Vitry (1291–1361), which may be performed either with a conventional single-line tenor (‘tenor solus’) or with the same part ingeniously rewritten in the new manner as two lines, ‘tenor’ and ‘contratenor’....

Article

Owen Jander

(Lat.: ‘high [part] against the tenor’)

A line in polyphony lying just above the tenor. In the 15th century, as music came to be written in four rather than only three voices, composers approached the addition of the fourth voice by an extension of earlier compositional procedure. The most common arrangement of three voices had been superius (or cantus), tenor and Contratenor; in the new four-voice texture the composer used two contratenor parts, a contratenor bassus and a contratenor altus. The original method of writing these two voice parts is still evident in Pietro Aaron’s Il Thoscanello de la musica (1523), where ten rules set out ‘the method of composing the controbasso and the controalto, after the tenor and canto’ (bk 2, chap.21). In Italy ‘contratenorbassus’ was abbreviated to ‘bassus’, ‘controbasso’ or ‘basso’; ‘contratenor altus’ became ‘altus’, ‘controalto’, ‘contr’alto’, ‘contralto’ or ‘alto’. In France the term became Haute-contre. English usage was complicated because even in the late 16th century (by which time the word ‘contratenor’ had long been obsolete on the Continent) an alto part might also be called a meane, a contra, a counter or a ...

Article

Stephen E. Hefling

Rhythms in which long notes alternate with one or more short notes, so called because the long notes are usually written with the aid of the dot of addition (see Note values). Dotted rhythms are found in mensurally notated music of all periods; this article, however, deals mainly with music of the 17th and 18th centuries, in which it was customary to alter certain sorts of written rhythmic values in performance (see also Notes inégales; for notational meanings of the dot before 1600 see Notation, §III). The principal issue is the degree to which such rhythms sounded uneven, rather than the specific manner of their notation (e.g. the dot may be replaced by a rest or tie).

Dozens of contemporary theoretical and pedagogical sources indicate that the dot was ordinarily equal to one half the value of the note or rest preceding it, just as it is today. But the treatises also present various exceptions. The dot could stand for a tie (...