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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 ...


Bach, Johann Bernhard  

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 ...


Bach, Johann [John] Christian  

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 ...


Bass line  


Cover Berliner Messe+D25 Kyrie

Berliner Messe+D25 Kyrie  


Opening of the Berliner Messe Kyrie, version for organ and choir (2002), by Arvo Pärt

(© Universal Edition)


Chaloupka, František  

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 ...


Circuit bending  

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....



Hugh Davies


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 ...



Stephen Blum

The activity or process of creating music, and the product of such activity. The term belongs to a large class of English nouns derived from the participial stems of Latin verbs (here composit-, from componere: ‘put together’) followed by the suffix -io/-ionem. Etymologically, the primary senses of ‘composition’ are ‘the condition of being composed’ and ‘the action of composing’. Since the 16th century the English word and its cognates in other languages have been applied to pieces of music that remain recognizable in different performances as well as to the action of making new pieces. Both the creation and the Interpretation of compositions in this restrictive sense are commonly distinguished from Improvisation, in which decisive aspects of composition occur during performance. The distinction hinges on what musicians are expected to do in various situations and on how they prepare themselves to meet such expectations. For example, they may or may not make use of notations prior to or during performance. The appropriate courses of action, before and during a performance, vary greatly from one music culture to another, and musicians may begin to explore alternatives to the conceptions of compositional process in which they were initially socialized as they recognize and respond to consequences of earlier creative actions....



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’....


Contratenor altus  

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 ...


Darmstadt School  

Christopher Fox

A designation associated primarily with the serial music written in the 1950s by Nono, Maderna, Stockhausen, and Boulez and promoted by them in the 1950s at the Darmstadt summer courses. The term was coined by Nono in his 1957 Darmstadt lecture, ‘Die Entwicklung der Reihentechnik’ (‘the development of serial technique’). The lecture presented analyses of the serial practice in Schoenberg's Variations for Orchestra op.31 and Webern's Variations op.30, before going on to a briefer consideration of new developments in recent works by Boulez (the first movement of Structures I), Maderna (his 1955 string quartet), Stockhausen (Elektronische Studie II and Zeitmasse), and Nono himself (Incontri).

Nono explicitly located the new serial techniques within the historical development of musical modernism, claiming direct lineage from the Second Viennese School. He also drew parallels between the work of the Darmstadt School and that of the Weimar and Dessau Bauhaus in the 1920s and 30s. In the work of the new generation of composers, Nono argued, the series no longer has any thematic function; instead the series, together with its various permutations, had become the basis for the entire composition, determining not only pitch but also tempo, duration, register, dynamic, and articulation. These ideas find their most explicit, but also richest and most complex, articulation in the works of the years immediately before Nono’s ...


Déploration (Fr.)  

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 ...


Dotted rhythms  

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 (...


Doubling (iii)  


Du Bois, W(illiam) E(dward) B(urghardt)  

Lawrence Schenbeck

(b Great Barrington, MA, Feb 23, 1868; d Accra, Ghana, Aug 27, 1963). American writer and social activist. He attended Fisk University (BA 1888), Harvard University (BA 1890, PhD 1895), and the University of Berlin, cultivating music enthusiastically as a choral singer and concertgoer. Beginning with The Souls of Black Folk (1903) and continuing well into the century in essays published in The Crisis and other periodicals, Du Bois synthesized European artistic values with insightful affirmations of African American culture, including music; this approach both informed and typified the New Negro aesthetic of the early 20th century. His chapter in Souls on “The Sorrow Songs” reveals a profound understanding of the beauty and social significance of black music. Influenced here by the folk art theories of Johann Gottfried von Herder (1744–1803), Du Bois refashioned them to create a foundation for African American cultural consciousness. Elsewhere he referenced ...



Murray Campbell and Mary Térey-Smith

The repetition of sound after a short time interval. In addition to the applications discussed below the term is used for a signal-processing device (also known as a delay) that produces a slightly delayed playback of sounds either by a tape loop or by digital delay; see Electric guitar §2 .

See also Organ stop .

Natural echoes arise from the reflection of a sound wave by a solid surface, such as a wall or cliff. For the echo to be perceived as distinct from the original sound, the extra path length travelled by the reflected sound wave must have a minimum value of around 17 metres, corresponding to a minimum time interval of 50 milliseconds between direct and reflected sounds.

The reverberant sound field in a concert hall is created by multiple reflections of sound waves. In a well-designed hall, the direct sound reaching a member of the audience is followed by a series of reflections within a time interval of around 35 milliseconds. These ‘early delayed arrivals’ are not heard as separate echoes; because of the ‘precedence effect’ they are perceived as a reinforcement of the direct sound. Subsequent reflections blend smoothly into the reverberation. A concave surface, focussing sound waves into a particular part of the hall, can give rise to an audible echo; a ‘flutter echo’ can arise from successive reflections between parallel walls....


EMS (ii)  

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 ...


Erbe, Thomas  

Eliot Gattegno

(b Milwaukee, WI, June 27, 1960). American computer musician, sound engineer, and educator. Erbe has played an important role in American experimental and electronic music since the late 1980s. He wrote the pioneering and widely used program SoundHack, has taught computer music at key institutions, and has become one of the most highly respected sound engineers for contemporary music. Erbe studied computer science and music at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and got his start as an audio engineer by volunteering at WEFT, WPGU, and Faithful Sound Studios.

He was the technical director of the Center for Contemporary Music (CCM) at Mills College (1987–93). There he worked as a computer musician and recording engineer with composers Robert Ashley (Improvement, 1992), Larry Polansky (The Theory of Impossible Melody, 1993), James Tenney (Selected Works, 1993), and Alvin Curran (Schtyx, 1994). During this period he also developed a four-channel spatial audio processor for the NASA Ames Research Center. His research at CCM included the development of SoundHack (...


Cover Für Alina

Für Alina  


Manuscript of the opening of Für Alina (1976) by Arvo Pürt

from the Pärt Centre archives (© Universal Edition)