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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

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

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

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 ...

Article

GAME  

Hugh Davies, Annette Vande Gorne and Anne Beetem Acker

[Générateur automatique de musique électronique] (Fr.: ‘automatic electronic music generator’)

Composition machine developed by the Belgian composer Léo Küpper (b Nidrum, 16 April 1935) in Brussels between 1968 and 1978. Küpper had begun experimenting with electronic music in 1959 while a student at Liège University, using two Brüel & Kjaer oscillators and a tape recorder. In 1962 he began work in Brussels at APELAC, the first Belgian electronic music studio, and joined the musical sound-effects department of the RTBF. The GAME system formed the basis of Küpper’s electronic music studio in Brussels, the Studio de Recherches et de Structurations Electroniques Auditives, which he founded in 1967. The first version of the GAME, completed in 1971, was used in concerts and installations. It consisted of 60 separate modules, using a combination of analogue and digital techniques, which could be freely selected and combined. The modules were programmed in an upright console approximately 4 × 2 metres by making a large number of patchcord interconnections, so that the surface of the console was festooned with cables. Most of the controls operated during a performance were placed in front of the console....

Article

Claus Bockmaier

(Ger., from Lat. colorare: ‘to ornament’)

To introduce Coloration. A term used in German-speaking lands during the late Middle Ages and Renaissance to describe the use of commonplace melodic figures to generate musical textures. During the 15th century, standardized coloration formulae were the starting point for many compositions, especially those which elaborated upon a cantus firmus (see Tactus, (2)); during the 16th century, the term ‘kolorieren’ was applied especially to the art of ornamenting intabulations at the organ. Practitioners (‘Koloristen’) included Bernhard Schmid the elder, E.N. Ammerbach and Jakob Paix.

During the first decades of the 20th century, German musicologists controversially applied the term Kolorierung to several late-medieval vocal repertories, including early 15th-century mass settings and the repertory of English Ordinary tropes, in the belief that such works had been composed from a storehouse of pre-existing melodic formulae.

A. Schering: ‘Das kolorierte Orgelmadrigal des Trecento’, SIMG, 13 (1911–12), 172–204 R. Ficker: ‘Die Kolorierungstechnik der Trienter Messen’, ...

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

Hugh Davies

revised by Andrei Smirnov

(b Porhov, Pskov province, Russia, April 23, 1891; d Leningrad, USSR, Jan 5, 1951). Russian inventor of pioneering photoelectric composition machines. In 1908 he finished college in Pskov and entered the Institute of Civil Engineers in St Petersburg, which he left to pursue a career as a freelance musician. He was a founding member (with Arseny Avraamov and Sergei Dianin) in the summer of 1917 of the Leonardo da Vinci Society in Petrograd, whose aims were to investigate and improve music scientifically. At the same time Sholpo, inspired by the ideas of Avraamov, wrote a science fiction essay titled ‘The Enemy of Music’ in which he described a sound machine named the ‘Mechanical Orchestra’ capable of synthesizing any sound and producing music according to a special graphic score without a performer. It prefigured the ANS synthesizer, built 40 years later in Moscow by Evgeny Murzin.

From 1918 to 1922...

Article

Hugh Davies

Electronic composition machine (not a synthesizer in the current sense of the word), developed by Helmut Klein and W. Schaaf at Siemens & Halske in Munich between 1956 and 1959. It was designed for and was the chief component of the Studio für Elektronische Musik in Munich, which Siemens began planning in 1955, initially to produce the soundtrack for a one-hour publicity film; it was linked to all the other equipment in the studio. A second model was installed in 1964. The director of the studio and the composer most closely involved with the Siemens Synthesizer was Josef Anton Riedl; others who used the machine included the composers Mauricio Kagel, Bengt Hambraeus, Milko Kelemen, and Ernst Krenek, and the sound poet Ferdinand Kriwet. The studio was taken over by a foundation in 1963, and its equipment was moved to Ulm in 1967; it was later acquired by the Deutsches Museum in Munich....

Article

Anne Beetem Acker

Monophonic analogue synthesizer produced between 1982 and 1984 by Synton Electronics, a Dutch firm founded in 1973 by Felix Visser. The device was created by Visser along with the product specialist Marc Paping and product developer Bert Vermeulen. Synton originally built vocoders, but soon began importing and distributing Fairlight, E-mu, and Linn products in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg. The Syrinx 1, created about 1975, was never produced commercially. Only 300 Syrinx 2 synthesizers were built. First priced under £400, but prized by collectors, originals sold for more than £1200 in the early 2000s. The device is not MIDI-compatible and has no presets, but includes two voltage control oscillators, a voltage divider, a noise generator, two ADSRs (attack decay sustain release envelope generators), two low-frequency oscillators, a pulse-width modulator, a ring modulator, and three voltage control filters. It features a mixer and a touch pad that can control pitch-bending and other parameters. All but the last series (which were mounted in a flight case), had a 44-note keyboard. The Syrinx 2 was distributed in the USA by Robert Moog. Synton went bankrupt in ...

Article

Hugh Davies

revised by Andrei Smirnov

Photoelectric composition machine, four models of which were developed in Leningrad between 1930 and 1949 by Evgeny Aleksandrovich Sholpo, inspired by experiments in graphic sound which he made with Arseny Avraamov at the end of 1929 and later on his own.

In May 1930, while working at Alexander Shorin’s Central Laboratory of Wire Communication in Leningrad, Sholpo applied for a patent on a ‘method and device for the production of a periodic sound track on film’, later named the Variophon. Supplementary applications claimed improvements, and he obtained copyright on 31 August 1931. In October 1930 he applied for a patent on a method of additive synthesis of graphic soundtracks: ‘a mechanism for the transformation and addition of harmonious fluctuations with different amplitudes’.

A shaped vane, or ‘acoustical drafter’, rotating between a length of film and a beam of light, shaped the optical recording, producing different pitches related to the ratio of speed of rotation of a disk and the speed at which the film moved. The first version of the Variophon was built with assistance from the composer Georgy Rimsky-Korsakov in ...

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 ...