June 05, 2003

Electronic Experimentation Today - Fertile Territories Ahead?

After my post from yesterday, I've been thinking of areas that could be fertile for exploration.

1. Irrational tunings.
Jean-Claude Risset, in the notes to his piece, Inharmonique, called irrational tunings the 'future of music.' What is an irrational tuning? It's any tuning system that utilizes pratials that are inharmonic, i.e., not in the harmonic series. Typical musical usages involve close mappings between the tuning and the timbre. For example, recent (and not so recent) studies of Indonesian musics has found that the 'nodes' of tuning systems utilized by their metallic instruments closely map the resonating nodes of the timbres of the instruments. Many composers have written pieces attempting to use FM sounds with irrational tunings, my piece, Jardin des Merveilles, a tuning was found after the FM timbre was chosen. William Sethares has explored this musical technique and written a book about it, Tuning Timbre Spectrum Scale.

2. Very large grain 'granular' resynthesis
Popular software ReCycle and many samplers allow for the creation of very large grain size chopping sounds which can be reconsituted into the original sound. Many composers today in the popular genre IDM, utilize this technique, but I don't feel that the experimentation is complete. I wrote a few entries ago about SquarePusher's utilization of this technique within the popular song form framework and how the chopping created new textural expectations that were fulfilled within an entirely different chopped textural area. It's not just beats that can be chopped up in this manner, vocal passages, improvisations, etc. could be. To create musical expectations within this paradigm, and not just deconstruct and reconstruct arbitrarily as a gesture could be a worthy area of exploration.

Stay tuned...

Posted by jeff at June 5, 2003 08:49 AM

Re: the large grain granular synthesis - was just thinking that in a sense this is the working technique of Stravinsky for the Octet in which he claimed that he had written a fugue and then tore the score up into little pieces and pasted them together, sometimes quasi-randomly, sometimes with reason.

Posted by: jeff at June 12, 2003 04:02 PM