Computer Music Journal Volume 41 Number 3 Fall 2017
We begin this issue’s articles with an interview by a former interviewee. Edmund Campion, who was featured in our Winter 2004 issue, converses here with noted composer Kaija Saariaho and with her spouse, the multimedia artist and composer Jean-Baptiste Barrière. The interviewees start by discussing recent work, such as Saariaho’s 2015 opera Only the Sound Remains. She states that in earlier works the electronics were mostly an extension of the orchestration, but now the electronic part has assumed a more important role. When writing for electronics, Saariaho starts with her aural imagination, then with her technical collaborator she finds a means to realize that vision; she doesn’t write with a tool’s constraints in mind.
The interviewees discuss the early stages of their careers in the 1980s at the Institut de Recherche et Coordination (IRCAM) in Paris, where Saariaho studied computer music composition and where Barrière directed musical research, pedagogy, and production. Comparing the current music world with those early years, Barrière finds a paradox: Everyone now uses computers in music production, but comparatively few people are pursuing the original „utopias“ of computer-assisted composition and sound synthesis. In his own current work, Barrière explores the interaction between music and image, and he is intrigued by dynamic scores and „floating structure.“[Read More]
Dual Reflections: A Conversation with Kaija Saariaho and Jean-Baptiste Barrière on Music, Art, and Technology
During the fall of 2015, composer Kaija Saariaho took up residence as Bloch Professor in the Department of Music at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB). In addition to conducting master classes and private lessons with student composers, she participated in appearances at UCB’s Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT) and at the Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities. Her music was performed by the UCB Symphony Orchestra and the Eco Ensemble, both with David Milnes; the Berkeley Symphony, conducted by Joana Carneiro; the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players; and the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble. Saariaho gave public Bloch Lectures, featuring conversations with distinguished collaborators. Cellist, long-time collaborator, and concurrent Regent’s Lecturer Anssi Karttunen appeared as soloist in the Cal Performances Saariaho portrait concert. Camilla Hoitenga, Jennifer Koh, and Susanna Malkki appeared on stage with Saariaho for lectures and live performances.
One of the concerts and lectures presented during Saariaho’s residency was with long-time collaborator Jean-Baptiste Barrière, the Parisian composer and visual artist. Barrière worked from 1981 to 1997 at Institut de Recherche et de Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM), successively as director of Musical Research, Pedagogy, and Production. Barrière held the first David Wessel Residency in Music and Science at CNMAT in the fall of 2015. He performed a multimedia concert at UCB’s Hertz Hall on 28 October of that year, where his historical electronic piece Chréode was played. Also performed were Violance, for flutes and electronics, performed by Camilla Hoitenga, and Ekstasis, for soprano and electronics, based on two texts by Simone Weil and Louise Michel and sung by soprano Raphaële Kennedy.
On 1 December 2015 I interviewed Saariaho and Barrière (see Figure 1) at CNMAT in Berkeley. Saariaho had just completed her Bloch Residency and Barrière had just ended his David Wessel Music and Science Fellow Residency. The interview has been extensively edited by Danielle DeGruttola in close consultation with the interviewees.
Recent Saariaho Projects and Real-Time Processing
What’s going on recently in your lives, musically speaking?
Today I had a long meeting on Skype with Christophe Lebreton, who works at the studio of the GRAME center, in Lyon, and is collaborating with me on my latest opera, Only the Sound Remains, in which I am using real-time transformations of human voice, and live electronics in general, different from those used in my previous works with electronics. We are, in particular, developing two kinds of real-time treatments for one of the two soloists in the opera, who represent two supernatural characters: a ghost and an angel.
This is a commission from the Amsterdam National Opera with the Finnish National Opera, the Teatro Real opera house in Madrid, the Toronto Opera, and the Paris Opera. [Interviewer’s note: The premiere took place 15 March 2016.] It is based on two classic Noh plays, first translated into English by Ernest Fenollosa and then adapted by Ezra Pound, whose language I admire greatly. The [End Page 9] stage director is Peter Sellars. There are only seven instrumentalists, two vocal soloists, and a choir or vocal ensemble of four voices. It is not a large score, but the electronic part is important. I imagine it being performed in rather large spaces, allowing the processing to be spatialized widely around the audience.[Read More]
Electronic Scores for Music: The Possibilities of Animated Notation
This article argues that animated notations are the most exciting new direction for music notation since the conception of the real-time score. The real-time score revolutionized performance practices in new music, with the composer Gerhard E. Winkler calling it a „third way“ between improvisation and fixed scores. Developing upon the idea of dynamic notation epitomized by the real-time score, animated notation features movement as its foundation, and may be presented as an interactive program, video, or application environment generated in real time or preset. It extends the possibilities presented by graphic notations, engaging the processing power of computing toward new complexities of shape, color, movement dynamics, form, synchronicity, and the very performability of music scores. Beginning with a brief historic overview of trends and background that may have informed the development of animated notation, I then examine contemporary practices and their application to a range of music. I will argue that animated notation brings particular benefits for scoring music featuring electronics and aleatoric elements.
Pedagogy of Electronic Music
Sound, Electronics, and Music: A Radical and Hopeful Experiment in Early Music Education
A Beamformer to Play with Wall Reflections: The Icosahedral Loudspeaker
Franz Zotter, Markus Zaunschirm, Matthias Frank, Matthias Kronlachner
Products of Interest