MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index
 FAQ & Terms of UseFAQ & Terms Of Use   Wiggler RadioMW Radio   Muff Wiggler TwitterTwitter   Support the site @ PatreonPatreon 
 SearchSearch   RegisterSign up   Log inLog in 
WIGGLING 'LITE' IN GUEST MODE

The patch as an indeterminate music score
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Production Techniques  
Author The patch as an indeterminate music score
___tomk
Hey everyone, looking for some feedback on this idea.

Been studying music composition at a university in town here, and I'm doing a paper/talk for a musicology class that compares indeterminate musical scores (Tenney, Cage, Penderecki, Braxton, Applebaum, others?) to the modular synth patch.

I think it's pretty clear (obvious) that a patch is a visual representation of musical potential within the modular eco/system, and that the aural results of a patch are never 100% identical from session to session. To me, therefore, a patch is in a lot of ways as much of a "score" as Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima.

Hoping to generate some discussion to inform my paper. Anybody on board? Any critiques, analysis, opinions? Anybody hate the idea of integrating modular into the study of academic composition?


Cheers! w00t

P.S. Also very interested in any resources/links if this has been covered somewhere.


*edit* Updated thoughts:

- notation has historically been a way to document musical information as a means of communicating that information to other people, in order to perform the notated musical ideals in a way that accurately represents the ideas of the composer.

- traditional notation has limitations, and has evolved to suit the will of the music/composer in a multitude of ways, over generations. cage, zorn, braxton, applebaum, saariaho, tenney, ferneyhough are a handful of examples of this. happy to state specifically per composer if anyone has questions on that.

- at the most elemental level, notation is an agreed upon format of exchanging musical ideas using extra-musical objects, be it symbolic or physical object

- the patch is an extension of the circuitry of the modules themselves. tudor might argue the circuit is a score.

- while a patch doesn't explicitly instruct the performer how to act over time, it does explicitly instruct/dictate the flow of electricity through the system.

- notation is *not* music, rather a representation of musical potential which is to be realized. we might say that modular grid is a library of modular scores.

- a couple connections i like: the piano reel of tenney's spectral canon for conlon nancarrow is a lot like a patch, in that it is a form of notation, and physically instructs the player piano how to operate (bonus points that the traditionally-notated score becomes illegible); and Mark Applebaum's Metaphysics of Notation comes with no instructions by design: however you interpret the visual elements, whether it be in a linear or non-linear fashion, is an accurate interpretation of the score.

- some things i also like but may have nothing to do with score similarity: comparing voltage and module function to every acoustic sound parameter.
subbasshead
presume you have seen this epic thread of graphic scores?

http://llllllll.co/t/experimental-music-notation-resources/149


re your comparison, i am generalising but most graphic scores (even indeterminate ones) to me usually evoke a timeline of some kind
- a duration and a structure for what happens within that duration...
And in many ways that is its most important role or function - to provide direction to the performers to interpret the composers intentions

By comparison a patch may or may not provide any insight at all into duration,
or how a performer should interact with it, or what structure the piece of music is intended to take.
It could and it may at times, but it also may not at all...
___tomk
subbasshead wrote:
presume you have seen this epic thread of graphic scores?

http://llllllll.co/t/experimental-music-notation-resources/149


re your comparison, i am generalising but most graphic scores (even indeterminate ones) to me usually evoke a timeline of some kind
- a duration and a structure for what happens within that duration...
And in many ways that is its most important role or function - to provide direction to the performers to interpret the composers intentions

By comparison a patch may or may not provide any insight at all into duration,
or how a performer should interact with it, or what structure the piece of music is intended to take.
It could and it may at times, but it also may not at all...


Haven't seen that thread yet - thanks!

Good points all around. Scores do tend to suggest that musical events happen with a duration of time in mind. I have a feeling there are a fair amount of pieces which leave both duration and trajectory of lines up to the performer, which is why I'm really drawn to looking at a patch in my system in a similar way.

*edit* took a quick scroll through the thread and theres a bunch of good stuff in there. Thanks again!
bucketbrigade
When I think about this stuff I think less about scores and more specifically about Reich's process music... modular makes it very straightforward to develop processes and set them loose. Pretty much any process you could imagine is right there- chance, repetition, all very immediate and gratifying.

So I think it would be easier to compare works by Stockhausen and Steve Reich to a patch than some of the people you mentioned, but I'm not familiar with all of them, just dipping my toes into this stuff lately.

There's this quote from Reich: ""I am interested in perceptible processes. I want to be able to hear the process happening throughout the sounding music. ... What I'm interested in is a compositional process and a sounding music that are one and the same thing."

That sort of stuff is what modular is all about, to me.
GuyaGuy
Graphic scores aren't the only form of indeterminate music, of course. It can also be music that is structured but leaves room for interpretation or chance--Riley's In C, Reich's Pendulum, etc. I supposed the modular equivalent here is a predetermined patch that a performer improvises.

Or it can be completely structured but composed via chance elements--like Cage consulting the I Ching. The modular equivalent here could be using random sources, self-generative patching, etc.
GuyaGuy
bucketbrigade wrote:
When I think about this stuff I think less about scores and more specifically about Reich's process music... modular makes it very straightforward to develop processes and set them loose. Pretty much any process you could imagine is right there- chance, repetition, all very immediate and gratifying.

So I think it would be easier to compare works by Stockhausen and Steve Reich to a patch than some of the people you mentioned, but I'm not familiar with all of them, just dipping my toes into this stuff lately.

There's this quote from Reich: ""I am interested in perceptible processes. I want to be able to hear the process happening throughout the sounding music. ... What I'm interested in is a compositional process and a sounding music that are one and the same thing."

That sort of stuff is what modular is all about, to me.

Reichian process music is a different approach from indeterminacy altogether. Although there can be overlap like with Pendulum, for the most part Reich's process music is 100% organized, with little room for chance or variations in the composing or performance. There aren't that many modular artists who approach process the same way Reich did phase shifting or Sol LeWitt did wall drawings.
pianoscope
___tomk wrote:

I think it's pretty clear (obvious) that a patch is a visual representation of musical potential


Like a Violin.
felixer
pianoscope wrote:
___tomk wrote:

I think it's pretty clear (obvious) that a patch is a visual representation of musical potential


Like a Violin.

looking at a violin isn't going to give you a clue how it sounds. most modules don't allow that either ... controls are usually marked 1-10. of what?
i think the time of 'the score' is over. that was at a time there weren't any recordings. nowadays it is much easier to simply record what you are doing. and as an instruction to the player most scores leave so much in the dark ... only by knowing (how?) what the composer wanted can you recreate the sound he/she had in mind ...
Muzone
felixer wrote:
........only by knowing (how?) what the composer wanted can you recreate the sound he/she had in mind ...


I think the idea is to interpret a composition rather than reproduce it, and that's why a score (either traditional, graphic or more abstract in form) will always be a relevant manner of communicating ideas.

For me, appreciating the difference between reproducing a scored piece and actually playing it was a very important step in my musical journey grin
felixer
Muzone wrote:
felixer wrote:
........only by knowing (how?) what the composer wanted can you recreate the sound he/she had in mind ...


I think the idea is to interpret a composition rather than reproduce it.

in that case i wouldn't call it a composition, but rather an idea/proposal. and then comes the problem of credits: how much is that worth?
but then i never liked the idea of an indeterminate score: what's the point? there are some pieces (like stockhausen's 'zyklus' and 'sirius') where the player only can change the form (where to begin and end, what part to include and what to drop), but most of the stuff, say, morton feldman wrote sounds very much the same: i think that is because the first interpreters made a certain 'sound' that all the others imitated, thinking 'that's what it's supposed to sound'. so you kill all possibility for surprise and change. which i think is one of the objects of having an indeterminte score in the first place: get away from a piece sounding the same every time it is played. and the point comes where the player should receive composer credits/payment. but the real problem prob lies in the fact that in the classical world there are a lot of excellent players with wonderful technique and a lovely sound that don't know what to do with it. because they were never tought/stimulated to be creative ('none of our business, that's the job of the composer'). in jazz that would never happen. and in fully improvised music obviously there is the danger of 'getting stuck' (happened to me) but then you only have to change something (another player, another instrument/sound) to get some change ... and that makes sense ... just as comedy is a very serious business you have to work at to get any good. just a funny face/walk isn't going to cut it in the long run, change is something that doesn't happen automatically, although you might think so as change is all around us and nature never repeats itself exactly ...
Yeggman
___tomk wrote:


Haven't seen that thread yet - thanks!

Good points all around. Scores do tend to suggest that musical events happen with a duration of time in mind. I have a feeling there are a fair amount of pieces which leave both duration and trajectory of lines up to the performer, which is why I'm really drawn to looking at a patch in my system in a similar way.



There's certainly numerous graphic scores without directions for duration. Earle Brown did this a often:

4 Systems

December 1952

Can't get much more abstract than that!


If you draw that line and follow it, you'll get to Fluxus, and things like La Monte Young's Compositions 1960.

Cobra by John Zorn (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cobra_(Zorn) - the brackets in the url confused the forum hyperlink function) is another pretty famous example of a piece with explicitly indeterminate duration (and performers, and instrumentation, etc).

Jennifer Walshe's This Is Why People OD On Pills /And Jump From The Golden Gate Bridge is a more modern example of this kind of thing, too - it does specify a minimum duration, but beyond that duration is to be determined by the performers.


I can definitely see parallels between indeterminate / open form scores and a modular patch, although I tend to think a patch would actually be rather more concrete / defined / closed form than a lot of the deeply open form works that have been done - certainly there's more predetermined within a typical modular patch than in most of the pieces I linked above.

Another comparison that comes to mind are the "musical dice games", where pre-composed material was structured randomly using dice: Musikalisches Würfelspiel. This is somewhat similar to a patch in that a patch is basically a determined set of possibilities, and which/how/when those possibilities are enacted is determined through other means. (Of course, this is also just true of any instrument - the design and construction of an instrument, and the skill of the performer, define a set of possibilities, and then how the possibilities of that instrument are used is determined through other processes, ie "composition").

You might also say that a patch is similar to a process like preparing a piano - determining what possibilities are available on the instrument.
pianoscope
felixer wrote:
pianoscope wrote:
___tomk wrote:

I think it's pretty clear (obvious) that a patch is a visual representation of musical potential


Like a Violin.

looking at a violin isn't going to give you a clue how it sounds.


That was my point.

The patch is a factor of the composition, the score an instruction designed to realise the composers intent.

They are not the same.


the failure of electronic music to develop any kind of agreed scoring system is interesting.

Graphic scores irritate the F*** out of me, especially the nice looking ones
felixer
well, graphic scores can be extremely precise. check out some of the xenakis scores. not much left to chance there! and he had to go that way with all the glissandi and extremely complex rhythms.
but then there is the nam june paik symphony: it lasts a few centuries and is obviously a 'conceptual piece' ... nothing to do with reality or performance practise ...
___tomk
Happy to see varied opinions and insights on this. I'll be able to respond to specific points in the coming days. Certainly there is a blurred distinction between modular as strictly an instrument with inherent musical possibilities (like a violin), and modular as a group of instruments (modules) that are instructed to work together in specified ways, to indeterminate results. GuyaGuy's comment about random as a chance compositional device was particularly interesting.
pianoscope
felixer wrote:
well, graphic scores can be extremely precise. .


re Xenakis I wasn't aware he used graphic notation. I would be interested to see them.

Which compositions?
___tomk
bucketbrigade wrote:
When I think about this stuff I think less about scores and more specifically about Reich's process music... modular makes it very straightforward to develop processes and set them loose. Pretty much any process you could imagine is right there- chance, repetition, all very immediate and gratifying.

So I think it would be easier to compare works by Stockhausen and Steve Reich to a patch than some of the people you mentioned, but I'm not familiar with all of them, just dipping my toes into this stuff lately.

There's this quote from Reich: ""I am interested in perceptible processes. I want to be able to hear the process happening throughout the sounding music. ... What I'm interested in is a compositional process and a sounding music that are one and the same thing."

That sort of stuff is what modular is all about, to me.


Great insight. I think realistically, and again probably obviously (which is to an extent what I'm going for here - what are the obvious things that we are looking at, as well as the not-so-obvious, and where can we draw some distinct lines?), there is a some of column A and some of column B at play when we patch.
___tomk
pianoscope wrote:
___tomk wrote:

I think it's pretty clear (obvious) that a patch is a visual representation of musical potential


Like a Violin.


Yep. That's a big one staring this idea right in the face. Isn't a patched modular the same thing as a prepared piano? I definitely would not disagree with that statement, but I also have this gut feeling that there is something more there. So I suppose I have to ask the question to everyone:

In what ways is a patched modular synth more like a musical score than it is like a prepared piano?
___tomk
felixer wrote:
pianoscope wrote:
___tomk wrote:

I think it's pretty clear (obvious) that a patch is a visual representation of musical potential


Like a Violin.

looking at a violin isn't going to give you a clue how it sounds. most modules don't allow that either ... controls are usually marked 1-10. of what?
i think the time of 'the score' is over. that was at a time there weren't any recordings. nowadays it is much easier to simply record what you are doing. and as an instruction to the player most scores leave so much in the dark ... only by knowing (how?) what the composer wanted can you recreate the sound he/she had in mind ...


Had a conversation about this recently and it's a really interesting thought - is notation really necessary anymore? Ferneyhough comes to mind on this one, wherein the nature of the score's complexity demands the player interpret it, which effectively keeps humans engaged with the interface between score and performance of an idea expressed as score. I personally don't believe notation will ever become obsolete, if only because of the amount of potential information to document in any given piece. We could argue that the ability to rewind/replay sections of music in order to transcribe eliminates the need for score, but even that process has its shortcomings.
___tomk
Muzone wrote:
felixer wrote:
........only by knowing (how?) what the composer wanted can you recreate the sound he/she had in mind ...


I think the idea is to interpret a composition rather than reproduce it, and that's why a score (either traditional, graphic or more abstract in form) will always be a relevant manner of communicating ideas.

For me, appreciating the difference between reproducing a scored piece and actually playing it was a very important step in my musical journey grin


I agree. Especially when we consider that there really is no way to "reproduce" works which were never recorded (pre-recording technology), the role of the conductor, etc.
___tomk
Yeggman wrote:
___tomk wrote:


Haven't seen that thread yet - thanks!

Good points all around. Scores do tend to suggest that musical events happen with a duration of time in mind. I have a feeling there are a fair amount of pieces which leave both duration and trajectory of lines up to the performer, which is why I'm really drawn to looking at a patch in my system in a similar way.



There's certainly numerous graphic scores without directions for duration. Earle Brown did this a often:

4 Systems

December 1952

Can't get much more abstract than that!


If you draw that line and follow it, you'll get to Fluxus, and things like La Monte Young's Compositions 1960.

Cobra by John Zorn (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cobra_(Zorn) - the brackets in the url confused the forum hyperlink function) is another pretty famous example of a piece with explicitly indeterminate duration (and performers, and instrumentation, etc).

Jennifer Walshe's This Is Why People OD On Pills /And Jump From The Golden Gate Bridge is a more modern example of this kind of thing, too - it does specify a minimum duration, but beyond that duration is to be determined by the performers.


I can definitely see parallels between indeterminate / open form scores and a modular patch, although I tend to think a patch would actually be rather more concrete / defined / closed form than a lot of the deeply open form works that have been done - certainly there's more predetermined within a typical modular patch than in most of the pieces I linked above.

Another comparison that comes to mind are the "musical dice games", where pre-composed material was structured randomly using dice: Musikalisches Würfelspiel. This is somewhat similar to a patch in that a patch is basically a determined set of possibilities, and which/how/when those possibilities are enacted is determined through other means. (Of course, this is also just true of any instrument - the design and construction of an instrument, and the skill of the performer, define a set of possibilities, and then how the possibilities of that instrument are used is determined through other processes, ie "composition").

You might also say that a patch is similar to a process like preparing a piano - determining what possibilities are available on the instrument.


Gah, how could I forget to mention my favorite, Zorn? Thanks for the input here, and the Earle Brown/Fluxus/La Monte Young reminders, as well.

It's becoming clear that the big issue for me to look at is how is modular like an instrument, how is it like a score, and where is the distinction between those two things?
felixer
___tomk wrote:

In what ways is a patched modular synth more like a musical score than it is like a prepared piano?

i don't see any similarities. and 'a patched modular' could be anything ... apples and oranges and peaches ...
felixer
pianoscope wrote:
felixer wrote:
well, graphic scores can be extremely precise. .


re Xenakis I wasn't aware he used graphic notation. I would be interested to see them.

Which compositions?

https://graphicnotation.wordpress.com/tag/graphic-notation/
https://www.google.de/search?q=xenakis+graphic+score&client=firefox-b- ab&tbm=isch&imgil=L8QgF918ZkK17M%253A%253BWOClV3u72NFf3M%253Bhttps%252 53A%25252F%25252Fgraphicnotation.wordpress.com%25252Ftag%25252Fgraphic -notation%25252F&source=iu&pf=m&fir=L8QgF918ZkK17M%253A%252CWOClV3u72N Ff3M%252C_&usg=__C1ZijCbzOtdLfHNIjO2EYX_1GlQ%3D&biw=1410&bih=743&dpr=1 .25&ved=0ahUKEwiq6d7Oyo7TAhUDuRQKHc6OAyAQyjcILg&ei=8IzlWKqxOoPyUs6djoA C#imgrc=L8QgF918ZkK17M:
___tomk
felixer wrote:
___tomk wrote:

In what ways is a patched modular synth more like a musical score than it is like a prepared piano?

i don't see any similarities. and 'a patched modular' could be anything ... apples and oranges and peaches ...


Would you mind unpacking that one a bit? I think I know what you mean when you say 'could be anything' but for sake of clarity...
mckenic
Very interesting - I'm doing something similar for university at the moment but coming at it from the angle of improvisation, so my thinking is the process of patching (before even turning the modular on) is my method of composition.

That way (for me), there are areas of possibilities I can go or call on and more importantly change completely on the fly. JUST discovered Zorn and Cobra - where has my head been all these years!!! Bailey's Improvisation: Its Nature and Practice in Music was a wonderful read for me and Im currently in the middle of Sloboda's Generative Processes in Music.

Haven't 100% fully formed thoughts yet but very excited to learn more and possibly develop a reproducible system to allow me to musically chase rabbits down holes... best of luck with the paper, would love to hear your thoughts when your done!
___tomk
mckenic wrote:
Very interesting - I'm doing something similar for university at the moment but coming at it from the angle of improvisation, so my thinking is the process of patching (before even turning the modular on) is my method of composition.

That way (for me), there are areas of possibilities I can go or call on and more importantly change completely on the fly. JUST discovered Zorn and Cobra - where has my head been all these years!!! Bailey's Improvisation: Its Nature and Practice in Music was a wonderful read for me and Im currently in the middle of Sloboda's Generative Processes in Music.

Haven't 100% fully formed thoughts yet but very excited to learn more and possibly develop a reproducible system to allow me to musically chase rabbits down holes... best of luck with the paper, would love to hear your thoughts when your done!


Happy to read your post, and know that there are others out there who are exploring similar ideas. Zorn is a truly an iconic example of blurring lines between composition and improvisation, which in itself tells me that there is a blurred area to explore in the world of modular. I agree that there is a compositional process involved in the act of patching, and while it may be similar both philosophically and literally to preparing an instrument (like prepared piano) there is another aspect to that suggests the patch sets up conditions for processes within the system to play out.

Perhaps the element of electricity could be something interesting to think about.
___tomk
Haven't watched this whole video yet, but this video by controlvoltage is of a presentation that Tony gave on a shared system patch of Richard's. I find that watching demonstration videos--especially one like this--really highlights the type of dialog used when talking about a patch (score analysis?), and this particular type of dialog I feel is akin to how composers talk about elements of a composed piece of music.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eiKXON3ter0
felixer
___tomk wrote:
felixer wrote:
___tomk wrote:

In what ways is a patched modular synth more like a musical score than it is like a prepared piano?

i don't see any similarities. and 'a patched modular' could be anything ... apples and oranges and peaches ...


Would you mind unpacking that one a bit? I think I know what you mean when you say 'could be anything' but for sake of clarity...

well, the great thing about a modular is that you can make it do almost anything. it can even control your mixer or your lighting rig. and with over a thousend (!) modules for eurorack alone available no two rigs are the same ...
some use a keyboard, some make 'automatic' patches (no manual control involved eg with a sequencer or a random source) some use fancy custom controllers. as for the sound, you got your 'vintage freaks' set to make sounds like whatever hero from the past, up to the 'noise artists' who do really new things. and i'm sure there are 'vintage noise buffs' too cool
so ... how does a modular sound? is there such a thing as 'modular music'? dunno, it all depends on the user! and that is a good thing in my book. but even on conventional instruments there is a lot undiscovered and often it takes one man (like what harry sparnaay did for the bassclarinet) to open up the field ...
___tomk
Another interesting connection I've found between compositional processes in the modular and "composition" worlds is in this Modular Podcast episode on random

They get into Analog Shift Register territory and make the comparison to a canon in classical composition. Because the shift register process is based on clock pulses (which can run up to audio rate) it can be said that Analog Shift Register can resemble a "close" canon, ala James Tenney's Spectral Canon for Conlon Nancarrow. I would assert that while there is a traditionally notated document of this piece, that the piano roll here is also a score.

While it does not speak to the point of indeterminacy, it does show an example of a score which is able to both determine and physically enact the compositional parameters of which an instrument is to operate/perform. Like a patch.
thermionicjunky
Study David Tudor's scores if you haven't already. They are usually patch diagrams of complex feedback systems, sometimes with critical adjustment points highlighted. Gordon Mumma's Hornpipe is a great one. It's an analog computer design and a set of instructions for using the horn to map the acoustical resonance of a space, store resonance data in the computer, play back the resonance, and finally kill the resonance by playing sounds that don't fit the map.
___tomk
thermionicjunky wrote:
Study David Tudor's scores if you haven't already. They are usually patch diagrams of complex feedback systems, sometimes with critical adjustment points highlighted. Gordon Mumma's Hornpipe is a great one. It's an analog computer design and a set of instructions for using the horn to map the acoustical resonance of a space, store resonance data in the computer, play back the resonance, and finally kill the resonance by playing sounds that don't fit the map.


Great! Another thing I have coming up is accompanying a Merce Cunningham event at my school, using my system. I know the Cage/Tudor partnership was a big part of the Cage/Cunningham performance, but haven't dove into Tudor yet. Happy to see his name pop up on this.
pianoscope
felixer wrote:
pianoscope wrote:
felixer wrote:
well, graphic scores can be extremely precise. .


re Xenakis I wasn't aware he used graphic notation. I would be interested to see them.

Which compositions?

https://graphicnotation.wordpress.com/tag/graphic-notation/
https://www.google.de/search?q=xenakis+graphic+score&client=firefox-b- ab&tbm=isch&imgil=L8QgF918ZkK17M%253A%253BWOClV3u72NFf3M%253Bhttps%252 53A%25252F%25252Fgraphicnotation.wordpress.com%25252Ftag%25252Fgraphic -notation%25252F&source=iu&pf=m&fir=L8QgF918ZkK17M%253A%252CWOClV3u72N Ff3M%252C_&usg=__C1ZijCbzOtdLfHNIjO2EYX_1GlQ%3D&biw=1410&bih=743&dpr=1 .25&ved=0ahUKEwiq6d7Oyo7TAhUDuRQKHc6OAyAQyjcILg&ei=8IzlWKqxOoPyUs6djoA C#imgrc=L8QgF918ZkK17M:


thanks, but none of the above are scores, the graphic elements are drawings that were transcribed into traditional notation. The UPIC piece, Mycenae-Alpha is not a score, as no one plays it. Although thats an interesting point. The complex rhythms you mention in my experience of his music were always exactly notated, as were the gliss in pieces like Pithoprakta, Metastasis, Syrmos etc.

I have always been struck by how exact his notation is, even if sometimes infuriatingly physically impossible, (Eonta, Evryali, Synaphai...) I have come across a kind of free rhythmic notation, but the fast tempi allow a reasonably high degree of accuracy.
Yeggman
pianoscope wrote:
felixer wrote:
pianoscope wrote:
felixer wrote:
well, graphic scores can be extremely precise. .


re Xenakis I wasn't aware he used graphic notation. I would be interested to see them.

Which compositions?

https://graphicnotation.wordpress.com/tag/graphic-notation/
https://www.google.de/search?q=xenakis+graphic+score&client=firefox-b- ab&tbm=isch&imgil=L8QgF918ZkK17M%253A%253BWOClV3u72NFf3M%253Bhttps%252 53A%25252F%25252Fgraphicnotation.wordpress.com%25252Ftag%25252Fgraphic -notation%25252F&source=iu&pf=m&fir=L8QgF918ZkK17M%253A%252CWOClV3u72N Ff3M%252C_&usg=__C1ZijCbzOtdLfHNIjO2EYX_1GlQ%3D&biw=1410&bih=743&dpr=1 .25&ved=0ahUKEwiq6d7Oyo7TAhUDuRQKHc6OAyAQyjcILg&ei=8IzlWKqxOoPyUs6djoA C#imgrc=L8QgF918ZkK17M:


thanks, but none of the above are scores, the graphic elements are drawings that were transcribed into traditional notation.


Psappha actually is a graphic score:

http://www.iannis-xenakis.org/partitions/partition_58.jpg
felixer
[quote="pianoscope"]
felixer wrote:
pianoscope wrote:
felixer wrote:
well, graphic scores can be extremely precise. .


re Xenakis I wasn't aware he used graphic notation.


I have always been struck by how exact his notation is, even if sometimes infuriatingly physically impossible, (Eonta, Evryali, Synaphai...)

he always knew exactly what he wanted. the complexity is quite stunning. but his pieces are playable, if very difficult.
but that was a problem with paganini pieces too, at one time. nowadays many are playing them without any problems (but you need large hands). must mean the quality of musicians has gone up cool

unfortunatly xenakis seems to be unhip nowadays. but he had a good run in the 70ies. i remember a stunning performance of eonta in amsterdam. still one of my favourites ...there is this moment when all the hornplayer gather around the piano and blow an fff chord into the strings (with the sustainpedal down). i wonder how he notated that hihi
pianoscope
[quote="felixer"]
pianoscope wrote:
felixer wrote:
pianoscope wrote:
felixer wrote:
well, graphic scores can be extremely precise. .


re Xenakis I wasn't aware he used graphic notation.


I have always been struck by how exact his notation is, even if sometimes infuriatingly physically impossible, (Eonta, Evryali, Synaphai...)

he always knew exactly what he wanted. the complexity is quite stunning. but his pieces are playable, if very difficult.
but that was a problem with paganini pieces too, at one time. nowadays many are playing them without any problems (but you need large hands). must mean the quality of musicians has gone up cool

unfortunatly xenakis seems to be unhip nowadays. but he had a good run in the 70ies. i remember a stunning performance of eonta in amsterdam. still one of my favourites ...there is this moment when all the hornplayer gather around the piano and blow an fff chord into the strings (with the sustainpedal down). i wonder how he notated that hihi


they are playable, in a way, but many are physically impossible, and require strategies by the performer to overcome this. Eonta has a little diagram at the beginning showing the position of the horns, the section you mention is traditionally notated. There is no way a human can play the parts as written.

ill upload the picture if i can figure out how to
pianoscope
[quote="Yeggman"][quote="pianoscope"][quote="felixer"]
pianoscope wrote:
felixer wrote:
well, graphic scores can be extremely precise. .



Psappha actually is a graphic score:

http://www.iannis-xenakis.org/partitions/partition_58.jpg



yes, thanks.

Although Psappha is very close to traditional notation. Is it really graphical, or simply proportional, compared to a Bussotti score for example. It's certainly precise.
pianoscope
thermionicjunky wrote:
Study David Tudor's scores if you haven't already. They are usually patch diagrams of complex feedback systems, sometimes with critical adjustment points highlighted. Gordon Mumma's Hornpipe is a great one. It's an analog computer design and a set of instructions for using the horn to map the acoustical resonance of a space, store resonance data in the computer, play back the resonance, and finally kill the resonance by playing sounds that don't fit the map.


David Behrmans wave train is another example of feedback.

I have never seen the score, I'm guessing it's a diagram with written instructions. Anyone know?

Feedback is so unpredictable and venue specific, Hard to capture in notation.
felixer
thermionicjunky wrote:
Study David Tudor's scores

i did. and i have the feeling he doesn't really know himself what he is doing Mr. Green read many interviews and couldn't get any wiser from that either ...
it is clear that he is into feedback. usually thru some material that changes the sound. and that he has mainly amplifiers in his arsenal (that makes sense). but beyond that ...
felixer
[quote="pianoscope"]
felixer wrote:
pianoscope wrote:
felixer wrote:
pianoscope wrote:
felixer wrote:
well, graphic scores can be extremely precise. .


re Xenakis I wasn't aware he used graphic notation.


I have always been struck by how exact his notation is, even if sometimes infuriatingly physically impossible, (Eonta, Evryali, Synaphai...)

he always knew exactly what he wanted. the complexity is quite stunning. but his pieces are playable, if very difficult.
but that was a problem with paganini pieces too, at one time. nowadays many are playing them without any problems (but you need large hands). must mean the quality of musicians has gone up cool

unfortunatly xenakis seems to be unhip nowadays. but he had a good run in the 70ies. i remember a stunning performance of eonta in amsterdam. still one of my favourites ...there is this moment when all the hornplayer gather around the piano and blow an fff chord into the strings (with the sustainpedal down). i wonder how he notated that hihi


they are playable, in a way, but many are physically impossible, and require strategies by the performer to overcome this. Eonta has a little diagram at the beginning showing the position of the horns, the section you mention is traditionally notated. There is no way a human can play the parts as written.

ill upload the picture if i can figure out how to

i know brian ferneyhough (another composer of 'black pages') doesn't care much if his scores are played perfectly. what he wants to hear is the struggle of the performer with the material. the intensity ...
i know this from harry sparnaay who played some of his pieces and was always dissappointed that he couldn't get it right. until ferneyhough cleared it with him cool
this obviously presents a problem: are the mistakes part of the score? is it 'fair' to put a performer in a position where he can't possibly fulfull his task? and is it healthy to make a performer practise for months on one piece? at what point should you give up? some are masochists, no doubt, but really ... nevertheless i do like the endresult hihi there indeed is a great intensity to it ...
ps what i mean to suggest is that those scores (and basically all) are inderminate. in so far that you will never ever get the 'correct' endresult. simply because you don't know or can't get it: even with a bach score: the tempo is unnown (the metroneome hadn't been invented then) so it is all a guess ...
tronabetes
___tomk wrote:
Hey everyone, looking for some feedback on this idea.

Been studying music composition at a university in town here, and I'm doing a paper/talk for a musicology class that compares indeterminate musical scores (Tenney, Cage, Penderecki, Braxton, Applebaum, others?) to the modular synth patch.

I think it's pretty clear (obvious) that a patch is a visual representation of musical potential within the modular eco/system, and that the aural results of a patch are never 100% identical from session to session. To me, therefore, a patch is in a lot of ways as much of a "score" as Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima.

Hoping to generate some discussion to inform my paper. Anybody on board? Any critiques, analysis, opinions? Anybody hate the idea of integrating modular into the study of academic composition?


Cheers! w00t

P.S. Also very interested in any resources/links if this has been covered somewhere.


I've written on this a bit and researched it more than a bit... also in the area if discussion is of interest. Best of luck.
Dr. Sketch-n-Etch
Hey everyone, the Troll is back!!! It's peanut butter jelly time! It's peanut butter jelly time!

I haven't read this whole thread, because I'm too lazy. However, there is something someone said up towards the beginning of the thread that stuck in my craw a little bit: that most modular controls are "from 1 to 10" and that it's hard to know what that means.

This is true, and it holds modular back.

Here's a thought, something that I have been thinking about a little bit lately...

Analog synthesizers are "voltage controlled" and yet, we almost never know the voltage. Just about every parameter available in a modular synthesizer can be controlled with a linearized VCA, with some standard voltage range for 0 to 100% (say, 0 to 5V which is standard for linearized 2164 VCAs).

If we were just a little bit more standardized in the way we made these damn things, and if digital voltmeters were somehow made a standard part of the modular setup, then parameter settings could be specified quite precisely, and modular scores could be completely prescriptive (for example: set potentiometer so-and-so of Module X to 2.61V precisely). With the proper meters, such settings could even be made "on the fly" in a performance setting. With this kind of approach, synthesizers might even have had a more meaningful role in classical music.
felixer
Dr. Sketch-n-Etch wrote:
Hey everyone, the Troll is back!!!

oh dear, there we go again meh
Dr. Sketch-n-Etch wrote:
I haven't read this whole thread, because I'm too lazy.

that is a bad way to start. how dare you walk into a thread without knowing what we are talking about.
and i've recommended a dmm for years to everybody working with modular synths. very useful piece of gear. of course you could make an expensive module, but why bother? btw an analog voltage meter was always a part of the old ems synths. a great help to beginners in the field (and at that point in time pretty much everybody was a beginner).
btw this is the last time i'll respond to your mails. from now on you are on ignore.
i.murray.fraser
___tomk wrote:
In what ways is a patched modular synth more like a musical score than it is like a prepared piano?


This is an amazing question/thread. Very interesting. I'm totally out of my depth here, so take my view as that of a layperson.

The way I see it, a prepared piano is still as lifeless as an unprepared one until someone performs on it. In this sense, a prepared piano still requires a score (or some instructions) for the performer to play. A modular includes much of these "instructions" in the patch, and many modular patches will continue to play themselves until someone intervenes.

I guess I see a prepared piano somewhat like retuning a guitar. It changes the outcome of certain gestures, but doesn't embody the composition in the instrument. The modular patch limits what gestures are available to the performer, but also performs many of those and other gestures itself.
Dr. Sketch-n-Etch
Boo hoo, I'm on Felixer's ignore list. So, I guess he won't see it when I say to him, "Fuck you, Felixer." I'm glad I'm on his ignore list. I don't want him seeing my posts -- they're too good for him.

Carry on...
felixer
what did she say? peep, peep, i think i heard a mouse ... gotta fetch my riffle ...
Dr. Sketch-n-Etch
So, I guess he really hasn't "ignored" me.

Sorry, everyone. I should've just PMed this ass-hat.
felixer
bang, bang, think i got it ... this trolling is irritating and doesn't help the discussion. stop it or i'll call in a moderator.
Dr. Sketch-n-Etch
felixer wrote:
bang, bang, think i got it ... this trolling is irritating and doesn't help the discussion. stop it or i'll call in a moderator.


Who's the troll here? I made a perfectly benign and valid observation about voltage control, and have been inexplicably badgered ever since, for god knows what reason.

Felixer, I can only conclude that you are a world-class asshole. Please go fuck yourself.
LoFi Junglist
Dr. Sketch-n-Etch wrote:
synthesizers are "voltage controlled" and yet, we almost never know the voltage.


Have you seen those little circular LED ringed Pots before?

If every single pot in your system was retrofitted with one of these, you could display the value of every parameter. You could take a photo and know the instantaneous values across the entire system.

Sometimes i end up having to probe multiple points across a patch to get an idea of what the CV's are doing over time (especially in generative 'self patching' patches), seeing every value change in realtime across the patch would be great.

Plus it would attract 5U people to Euro, because there would be more space on the panels around knobs (for fat fingers).


mckenic
applause
Brilliant! Would love that!

On a side note, thats one of the reasons I got a scope - I wanted to see what was going on. Got addicted to watching Lissajous curves tho :-)
felixer
saw them first on the (then very expensive) ams mixers in the early 90ies ... now they are pretty much everywhere. all over my cheapish behringer mixer. people love some blinkenlights ... they are mainly useful in digital systems where the position of the knob doesn't need to have anything to do with the value of the parameter: multifunction pots ... not sure how useful they would be on an analog system where the pointer of the knob is always right: one knob per function.
the whole point in this discussion being that you would want values experessed in some real physical value: Hz or (m)s ... not as an arbitrary value of 1-10. of something unknown ... and often non-lineair ...
on a buchla eg the pitch knobs have a Hz value attached to it, but unfortunatly it isn't precise enough to do any good. you really can't tune with just that frontpanel graphic. it looks scientific but alas it isn't ...
and that patchcord-jungle can be solved with a matrix. just take a look at the arturia matrixbrute so see a very nice take on that.

LoFi Junglist wrote:
Dr. Sketch-n-Etch wrote:
synthesizers are "voltage controlled" and yet, we almost never know the voltage.


Have you seen those little circular LED ringed Pots before?

If every single pot in your system was retrofitted with one of these, you could display the value of every parameter. You could take a photo and know the instantaneous values across the entire system.

Sometimes i end up having to probe multiple points across a patch to get an idea of what the CV's are doing over time (especially in generative 'self patching' patches), seeing every value change in realtime across the patch would be great.

Plus it would attract 5U people to Euro, because there would be more space on the panels around knobs (for fat fingers).


Dr. Sketch-n-Etch
These surround-LED thingies are indeed very cool (but would be prohibitive to put everywhere, I think). However, I was thinking more or a little digital readout with, say, four digits, to express the voltages. This would also be prohibitive, but we haven't really thought through what a truly performance-based synthesizer would entail. When a composer writes a part for violin or piano, he knows exactly what he is going to get in terms of timbre, attack, sonority, etc. However, not so for a synthesizer. How does a "serious" composer score for a synthesizer in such a way that he can more or less guarantee that he will obtain what he envisages in performance? About the best one can hope for is that the actual model of synthesizer is specified in the score, and then the parameter adjustments can be more or less predictable and repeatable. Alternatively, the composer can record the sounds he wants and the performer can then endeavor to recreate these sounds in performance. This seems like a terrible situation to me, and probably explains why the synthesizer has never really played much of a role in serious composition.
felixer
methinks 'serious composers' just aren't interested in synths. it would ruin their reputation. just like no 'serious conductor' would ever go out in jeans and t-shirt. anyway, why bother to even consider those types? they are in a different world: the corporate lounge with cocktails and champagne.
and are folks like zorn really composers? i saw him once with a piece that entailed signs to the players: quite hilarius as it was pretty clear that nobody really understood what he meant hihi some of the players had that 'what am i doing here' look all over them ... some others went bravely thru the motions and kept their faces straight. later in the papers it was called a 'landmark performance' meh sorry, but i don't need that ... much rather have a freejazzband where it is clear from the beginning that there is no 'official coordination' and no 'boss' as everybody is doing what feels right at the time.
but then i have always been more into collectives the corperations.
i think in retrospect that it is all about money. there is more to be made with corporations, so it pays to present yourself as 'the boss'. easier to talk to those types as well, i guess: they like the 'leader type' even (or esp) if he is incompetent as they often are themselves ...
and easy to blame a failure on 'the help' ...
and why would you want to have anything reproduced exactly? this is what killed the so-called classical music. made it a dead artifact. unfortunatly jazz seems to be going the same way with these neo-bop guys ...
and don't underestimate the resistance in classical cirkles to electricity. do they live by candlelight and send messages off on horseback? no. they all have their digital toys, but if it comes to music it's a big nono ... they live in the past and only parttime ... whenever it suits their agenda ... it's all just another conservative lie ...
Dr. Sketch-n-Etch
I'm talking about guys like Boulez (who was so interested in electronic music that he founded IRCAM). He did score for synthesizers occasionally (at least, there is a synthesizer sitting next to the pianist in a performance of Repons on Youtube) but mostly came up with ways for computers to interact with people performing on conventional instruments (again, Repons).

I think that "serious composers" would have been very interested in synthesizers, and having just read a couple of books by Boulez where he talked (in a very long letter to his good friend John Cage) about how he was trying to serialize everything (including timbre), I believe that true Voltage Control would have played into his scheme brilliantly -- he could have used sequencers or even keyboards to control every parameter of sound, attack, and pitch -- the serialist's dream, I would have thought. He also could have realized his quarter-tone compositions quite precisely with voltages (presuming he could find a synthesizer that was stable enough and tracked well enough). He probably just wasn't really aware of the possibilities of analog synthesis, because it was languishing in the ghetto of rock and dance music (or perhaps he was all too aware of its shortcomings).

(As an aside: many "serious composers" and other "serious" musicians remain blissfully unaware of what happens in the world of rock and pop. I am reminded of the time that Bill Bruford (very famous rock drummer) made a record with jazz guitarist/composer Ralph Towner. Towner had no idea who he was and had never heard of Yes or King Crimson. For many of these guys operating on a higher musical plane, popular music is simply irrelevant. Hence, it would come as no surprise if Boulez was simply unaware of what a Moog synthesizer could do, even though he literally founded IRCAM.)

(As a second aside, I thought you were "ignoring" me...?)
notmiserlouagain
Dr. Sketch-n-Etch wrote:

(As a second aside, I thought you were "ignoring" me...?)


Stop it, doc! You weren´t thinking that! POW!
I need you both to continue this thread. For my personal pleasure...
Dr. Sketch-n-Etch
notmiserlouagain wrote:
Dr. Sketch-n-Etch wrote:

(As a second aside, I thought you were "ignoring" me...?)


Stop it, doc! You weren´t thinking that! POW!
I need you both to continue this thread. For my personal pleasure...


Why thanks, notmiserlouagain. Of course, he can ignore me if he likes, but I've made my position on the whole "Ignore button" issue quite clear in other threads. I think it is the most childish thing imaginable, like you can click a button and change reality. Like many others, I'd like to have an ignore button for the whole world right now, but it ain't gonna happen.
felixer
notmiserlouagain wrote:
Stop it, doc!

thanks for your support cool and now that that has been cleared i will continue:
how would a 'normal' audience react if they came to a performance of a standard symphony, just to see a dozen or so synth workstation on the stage?
even if it would sound great (and no doubt it could be done) there would be an outrage. it would be a very couragous thing to do ...
strangely 'orchestra with tape' is well known and accepted. maybe because it is almost invisible: no cables or knobs in sight. even theremins and ondes marteno's are met with suspicion and they have been around for decades. older then most of the audience ...
last year i did an electronic gig and afterwards an older couple came up to me to say how much they enjoyed it: music without violins or flutes or anything like that. they were maybe 60-70 years old. and i was thinking: where have you been? this is the music of your youth! missed the 60ies or what? probably ... possibly slept thru it while listening to mozart and chopin ...
suboptimal
LoFi Junglist wrote:
If every single pot in your system was retrofitted with one of these, you could display the value of every parameter. You could take a photo and know the instantaneous values across the entire system.


The challenge of this approach would always be the issue of phase and periodicity when a system is powered off and on. Ever shut down a system after building an interesting patch and come back to find that it has fallen apart? I suppose you could patch carefully enough to account for resets everywhere that needed them, but it would limit the creative options quite a bit.

I think a patch on a modular isn't a score, but a photo of a patch could be considered one. Without a sequencer, the duration component is left to the performer. The performance could begin at any point as well: with a totally unpatched system, or with the system faithfully patched to match the photo.

A sequencer might alter the duration question by offering a specific beginning and end point, at least provided that the settings of the sequencer are visible in the photo. (A Komplex would work nicely here.)

The difficulty, of course, is that the photo isn't the patch. Neither is a detailed annotation of it. They are a photo and an annotation. The patch itself isn't a representation of a patch: it is a patch.

Interesting thread.
Dr. Sketch-n-Etch
felixer wrote:
how would a 'normal' audience react if they came to a performance of a standard symphony, just to see a dozen or so synth workstation on the stage?
even if it would sound great (and no doubt it could be done) there would be an outrage. it would be a very couragous thing to do ...

I agree. I was thinking more about something like a "Concerto for Minimoog" or something like what Rick Wakeman did back in the day with "Journey to the Centre of the Earth" only with more serious music. I think that even more conservative audiences (such as symphony subscribers) would warm to that if the sounds were good and the performance had the requisite virtuosity. A ten-minute piece for synthesizer soloist and orchestra slipped in between more conventional fare shouldn't tax anyone's patience too much.

Quote:
strangely 'orchestra with tape' is well known and accepted. maybe because it is almost invisible: no cables or knobs in sight. even theremins and ondes marteno's are met with suspicion and they have been around for decades. older then most of the audience ...

I went to hear Messiaen's "Turangalila-Symphonie" a few years ago at the Seattle Symphony. It has a very prominent part for Ondes Martenot. The audience loved it -- it made a lot of people into Messiaen converts, I think. My only complaint was that the Ondes was not as loud as it should've been.

Really, all that's needed is for some noted composer to start incorporating synthesizer timbres into his or her work. Before long, it would be accepted as a standard orchestral instrument. The challenge would be for us makers to figure out how to make the damn things to a standard commensurate with orchestral performance. The Minimoog is the only one I could seriously see being used in that context right now.
Dr. Sketch-n-Etch
Actually, before I started posting tonight, I was just out in my garage playing with my latest creation, a homemade Rubicon, fixing a very elusive solder bridge and then making all sorts of really awesome undulating bell sounds. This got me to thinking again about Boulez and his fixation on serialization. It's one thing to serialize pitches and even the various parameters of timbre, but imagine how crazy he would have become had he started serializing the parameters of FM (or even through-zero FM). To have complete control over all of the parameters of that in a compositional context would be very interesting, I believe, and again it all just boils down to voltages.

Think about all the possibilities of how many different parameters and their interactions there are in FM. Codifying and classifying that would be a very large undertaking. I suppose that John Chowning must have done something similar when he came up with the basic structure of the DX7.
thermionicjunky
Dr. Sketch-n-Etch wrote:
These surround-LED thingies are indeed very cool (but would be prohibitive to put everywhere, I think). However, I was thinking more or a little digital readout with, say, four digits, to express the voltages. This would also be prohibitive, but we haven't really thought through what a truly performance-based synthesizer would entail. When a composer writes a part for violin or piano, he knows exactly what he is going to get in terms of timbre, attack, sonority, etc. However, not so for a synthesizer. How does a "serious" composer score for a synthesizer in such a way that he can more or less guarantee that he will obtain what he envisages in performance? About the best one can hope for is that the actual model of synthesizer is specified in the score, and then the parameter adjustments can be more or less predictable and repeatable. Alternatively, the composer can record the sounds he wants and the performer can then endeavor to recreate these sounds in performance. This seems like a terrible situation to me, and probably explains why the synthesizer has never really played much of a role in serious composition.


What I love most about analog systems is that they are capable of extremely complex states determined by a manageable number of parameters. Analog systems lend themselves to improvisatory situations, in which a block diagram, some graphic notation, and/or a bit of text can guide a skilled performer to an unrepeatable but coherent result. Though I certainly rely on linear, predictable functional blocks, I have reservations about any live electronic music based on the faithful reproduction of data. Either the data is so limited that we're recreating acoustic music with a synthesizer, or it requires so much automation that we may as well just play a file. What the human being brings to this situation is the ability to handle ambiguity and make intuitive adjustments to the system based on real-time analysis of the system's behavior.

But this is all from a person who got into electronics in order to escape the traditional European concept of the musical work. I consider every score to be an incomplete document that is closely related to (but distinct from) the composition.

Anyway, it's great to hear that you have a Rubicon PCB!
felixer
thermionicjunky wrote:
Analog systems lend themselves to improvisatory situations

that's right. so let's take advantage of that. a modular system is so much more flexible then any acoustic instrument and even with a fairly small setup you can do so much more then a 'classical performer' that it would be a waste to not use those capabilities!
and besides, who wants to dress up like a penguin and be a 'cute person' just to amuse some old farts hihi and money-wise the golden days are over, but there is still some decent cash to be made in the popular music world. the drawback being that only few can do that while over 50 ... so it is like sports: get it while you're young. but as the audiences are getting older too, i see older performers as well. maybe the two will grow old, hand in hand ...

re: messiaen. his turangalila-symphony is quite popular. not surprising since it is very sugary. should appeal to all those chopin fans out there. i've seen performances too and all were very favourably critisized. but i don't think it rates as 'electronic music'. now there are also some ondes quartets (like string quartets). check how many people come to that and what the reviewers are saying ... prob nothing since they weren't there meh
that's another thing: it goes under the radar. most music-mags don't even have a column dedicated to electronic music. let alone a concert-list. or dedicated reviewer who knows something about the subject ...
which is strange since electronic music is pretty much all i hear in the pop-charts ... thousends are doing it in their homes, but the exposure is minimal. as usual all the attention goes to the singers, their clothes and their little scandals ....
i.murray.fraser
suboptimal wrote:
The difficulty, of course, is that the photo isn't the patch. Neither is a detailed annotation of it. They are a photo and an annotation. The patch itself isn't a representation of a patch: it is a patch.


Ceci n'est pas un patch.
felixer
very drole ...
i remember when studiing music the teacher would say: 'now here is the music' and pass around some pieces of paper. i'd then put that to my ear and complain i couldn't hear it ... it wasn't appreciated hihi but then a lot of what i said wasn't ...
Yeggman
Dr. Sketch-n-Etch wrote:

...all that's needed is some noted composer...

do those even really exist any more? hmmm.....
hihi
waah


actually, depending on what you count as a "noted composer" and what your stance on film scores is, you could say Hans Zimmer is arguably already having this effect with his work. I'm not a fan really, but he's undeniably influential in the current film score world, and he regularly incorporates both synthesizers and strings into his scores, and his scores are frequently copied/emulated for other films.

Junkie XL's score for Fury Road has both orchestral and synthesized elements as well.

Pretty darn far from indeterminate scores and improvised modular pieces, but...
Yeggman
suboptimal wrote:


I think a patch on a modular isn't a score, but a photo of a patch could be considered one. Without a sequencer, the duration component is left to the performer. The performance could begin at any point as well: with a totally unpatched system, or with the system faithfully patched to match the photo.

A sequencer might alter the duration question by offering a specific beginning and end point, at least provided that the settings of the sequencer are visible in the photo. (A Komplex would work nicely here.)

The difficulty, of course, is that the photo isn't the patch. Neither is a detailed annotation of it. They are a photo and an annotation. The patch itself isn't a representation of a patch: it is a patch.

Interesting thread.



Really good points here... obvious even, in retrospect, now that you've mentioned it... and perhaps effectively gets at what the original post was after anyway, because if we're talking about ways for patches to be made communicable (as in a score), then we must be talking about a diagram or photo of a patch anyway.

Also a good point that certain modules / systems will lend themselves more or less to this than others. The design of the system / what modules are included is the "instrumentation", then.
Dr. Sketch-n-Etch
Yeggman wrote:
Dr. Sketch-n-Etch wrote:

...all that's needed is some noted composer...

do those even really exist any more? hmmm.....
hihi
waah


Sure. Here is a short, almost random, list of very influential composers working today:

Thomas Ades, Kaija Saariaho, Tristan Murail, Jennifer Higdon, John Corigliano, John Adams, Arvo Part, Eric Whitacre, Charles Wuorinen, Esa-Pekka Salonen, George Benjamin, Beat Furrer, Georg Friedrich Haas, ...

There are even a few composers experimenting with electronic music and synthesized sounds, but not very many (and, frankly, many of their efforts are less than inspiring).
notmiserlouagain
Regarding the voltage reading idea, isn´t that just a cumbersome method to achieve what a digital patch recall system does(Buchla has one but could probably be implemented very different)?
Of course you cannot retrofit all modules everybody has in his/her system, but I doubt most people would seriously need this recallability anyway. The voltage reading method with more than just a few modules will probably require hiring a a personal bookkeeper and who could afford that?

Quote:

Sure. Here is a short, almost random, list of very influential composers working today:

Thomas Ades, Kaija Saariaho, Tristan Murail, Jennifer Higdon, John Corigliano, John Adams, Arvo Part, Eric Whitacre, Charles Wuorinen, Esa-Pekka Salonen, George Benjamin, Beat Furrer, Georg Friedrich Haas, ...


Thanks. New food. Sorry to say I have only heard of four of them and am only familiar with the work of one, which I love (A.Pärt)!
And I wouldn´t say I´m ignorant about "new music" or what it´s called.
I think the sheer number of composers/musicians is so overwhelming, while the number of listeners to off-music(? or what) has not really grown that much, it´s much more different to stand out and make yourself a name.
Dr. Sketch-n-Etch
Yes, I agree that noting voltages of every control would be cumbersome, and probably a big waste of time. Patch memory is definitely the way to go. However, I think that there must be some way to pass on the intention of a patch without actually passing on the exact patch. Probably, with a recording (performer: please try to sound like "this" for measures 60-84). However, the real beauty of analog synths is the ability to alter and modulate them while playing them, and this would require some sort of notation.

Lastnight, I was playing with my homemade Rubicon. I was feeding a sine wave from a Dixie into the TZFM input, a sawtooth into the Index input, and a slow triangle LFO into the Symmetry CV input. The frequency and amplitude of these modulation signals could be easily noted. The TZFM and Symmetry pots are basically just voltage dividers between +5 and -5 volts, so their actual wiper voltages could be specified precisely. I was then listening to the sawtooth output of the Rubicon (which looked very interesting on the scope -- like a bunch of dancing parallel sinewaves). This was giving me a very complex and slowly evolving bell-like sound with a lot of harmonic complexity. If I were a composer, I might want to incorporate that sound into a composition. Of course, I could do it with tape or a digltal recording, or even by sampling. However, that to me is boring. I'd much rather have a performer get that sound live, with all the risk that entails.

Of course, this is all pretty stupid, but a guy can dream, can't he?
___tomk
Happy to see everybody weighing in here. I've been checked out for a bit tending to a myriad of to-do's on my last-two-weeks-of-school checklist. Lots of interesting stuff coming up through the discussion.

I want to respond to some things specifically:

First and foremost, while I'm a proponent of open discussion and some seriously awesome stuff is coming up esp. from the builders, my main focus is in exploring some boundaries, and think about what might be coming next. My goal from here on out is not to prove in a term paper that a patch is exactly a score, but rather how aspects of a patch function similarly (maybe in some cases identically) as a score, and also how it differs completely. If the discussion leads to places that might further design, that's awesome. That being said, onto some fun stuff:

thermionicjunky wrote:
Study David Tudor's scores if you haven't already. They are usually patch diagrams of complex feedback systems, sometimes with critical adjustment points highlighted. Gordon Mumma's Hornpipe is a great one. It's an analog computer design and a set of instructions for using the horn to map the acoustical resonance of a space, store resonance data in the computer, play back the resonance, and finally kill the resonance by playing sounds that don't fit the map.


Looking for a source for these, if you have one?


pianoscope wrote:

David Behrmans wave train is another example of feedback.

I have never seen the score, I'm guessing it's a diagram with written instructions. Anyone know?

Feedback is so unpredictable and venue specific, Hard to capture in notation.


Interested!


felixer wrote:
i know brian ferneyhough (another composer of 'black pages') doesn't care much if his scores are played perfectly. what he wants to hear is the struggle of the performer with the material. the intensity ...
i know this from harry sparnaay who played some of his pieces and was always dissappointed that he couldn't get it right. until ferneyhough cleared it with him cool
this obviously presents a problem: are the mistakes part of the score? is it 'fair' to put a performer in a position where he can't possibly fulfull his task? and is it healthy to make a performer practise for months on one piece? at what point should you give up? some are masochists, no doubt, but really ... nevertheless i do like the endresult hihi there indeed is a great intensity to it ...
ps what i mean to suggest is that those scores (and basically all) are inderminate. in so far that you will never ever get the 'correct' endresult. simply because you don't know or can't get it: even with a bach score: the tempo is unnown (the metroneome hadn't been invented then) so it is all a guess ...


Interesting take on Ferneyhough here...I would say that Ferneyhough is interested in the results that happen as a result of a performer attempting his score, and in this way Ferneyhough is actually protecting the idea of humans continuing to play music. When AI becomes capable enough to enact a "perfect" reading of a score, for me at that point it becomes more about the realization of data, and less about the human story.


i.murray.fraser wrote:
The way I see it, a prepared piano is still as lifeless as an unprepared one until someone performs on it. In this sense, a prepared piano still requires a score (or some instructions) for the performer to play. A modular includes much of these "instructions" in the patch, and many modular patches will continue to play themselves until someone intervenes.

I guess I see a prepared piano somewhat like retuning a guitar. It changes the outcome of certain gestures, but doesn't embody the composition in the instrument. The modular patch limits what gestures are available to the performer, but also performs many of those and other gestures itself.


Feelings on player piano reel v.s. patch?


felixer wrote:
methinks 'serious composers' just aren't interested in synths.


The world of composed music sure is rooted in tradition, isn't it. It's hard enough to program works by current composers in any major orchestral hall, much less any works which utilize any form of electronics. There is undoubtably a connection being made between electronics and toys, so there's that. All that being said (and I do understand your meaning when you say "serious"), Ligeti, Stockhausen, Boulez, Cage, are all about as "serious" as it gets, the first three having spent considerable time working with electronic music systems in Berlin in the 60's. Quoting a professor of mine, who is quoting someone else, "Science advances one death at a time" and given the modular Renaissance that is happening, maybe we'll see some composers take to the medium as technology advances and interest continues to grow.


Dr. Sketch-n-Etch wrote:
I think that "serious composers" would have been very interested in synthesizers, and having just read a couple of books by Boulez where he talked (in a very long letter to his good friend John Cage) about how he was trying to serialize everything (including timbre), I believe that true Voltage Control would have played into his scheme brilliantly -- he could have used sequencers or even keyboards to control every parameter of sound, attack, and pitch -- the serialist's dream, I would have thought. He also could have realized his quarter-tone compositions quite precisely with voltages (presuming he could find a synthesizer that was stable enough and tracked well enough). He probably just wasn't really aware of the possibilities of analog synthesis, because it was languishing in the ghetto of rock and dance music (or perhaps he was all too aware of its shortcomings).


I'm certain that you're right: Boulez would have had a serialist's wet dream had he come to the realization and had technology been up to snuff.


suboptimal wrote:
I think a patch on a modular isn't a score, but a photo of a patch could be considered one. Without a sequencer, the duration component is left to the performer. The performance could begin at any point as well: with a totally unpatched system, or with the system faithfully patched to match the photo.

A sequencer might alter the duration question by offering a specific beginning and end point, at least provided that the settings of the sequencer are visible in the photo. (A Komplex would work nicely here.)

The difficulty, of course, is that the photo isn't the patch. Neither is a detailed annotation of it. They are a photo and an annotation. The patch itself isn't a representation of a patch: it is a patch.

Interesting thread.


On board for the most part here (I agree that a photo/representation of a patch is probably more like a traditional music score, and could be transferred between people, which is a primary function of documenting music in score format in the first place )and happy you're interested. I posed the idea earlier that a patch might resemble a score in the same way a player piano reel does. I used James Tenney's Spectral Canon for Conlon Nancarrow as an example. Here is a video of the piano in action. What interests me are two things (aside from how awesome this piece is in general): 1) In the first link, you can see at the end of the score that the written score becomes incapable of clearly conveying musical information, and 2) The reel in the video of the piano in action is a physical manifestation of all of the parameters required to tell the piano exactly what to do, and the reel is a physical part of the piano as a system.


Dr. Sketch-n-Etch wrote:
Actually, before I started posting tonight, I was just out in my garage playing with my latest creation, a homemade Rubicon, fixing a very elusive solder bridge and then making all sorts of really awesome undulating bell sounds. This got me to thinking again about Boulez and his fixation on serialization. It's one thing to serialize pitches and even the various parameters of timbre, but imagine how crazy he would have become had he started serializing the parameters of FM (or even through-zero FM). To have complete control over all of the parameters of that in a compositional context would be very interesting, I believe, and again it all just boils down to voltages.

Think about all the possibilities of how many different parameters and their interactions there are in FM. Codifying and classifying that would be a very large undertaking. I suppose that John Chowning must have done something similar when he came up with the basic structure of the DX7.


Awesome thoughts here. There are composers who specifically work with difference tones (effectively sidebands) - the high piccolos on Ligeti's Atmospheres are an example. Here is a link to another piece that might mess with some people.


thermionicjunky wrote:

What I love most about analog systems is that they are capable of extremely complex states determined by a manageable number of parameters. Analog systems lend themselves to improvisatory situations, in which a block diagram, some graphic notation, and/or a bit of text can guide a skilled performer to an unrepeatable but coherent result. Though I certainly rely on linear, predictable functional blocks, I have reservations about any live electronic music based on the faithful reproduction of data. Either the data is so limited that we're recreating acoustic music with a synthesizer, or it requires so much automation that we may as well just play a file. What the human being brings to this situation is the ability to handle ambiguity and make intuitive adjustments to the system based on real-time analysis of the system's behavior.

But this is all from a person who got into electronics in order to escape the traditional European concept of the musical work. I consider every score to be an incomplete document that is closely related to (but distinct from) the composition.

Anyway, it's great to hear that you have a Rubicon PCB!


I'd be interested to know more about your relationship with both composed and electronic musical worlds. Currently existing somewhere in the overlap of the two.


Yeggman wrote:
suboptimal wrote:


I think a patch on a modular isn't a score, but a photo of a patch could be considered one. Without a sequencer, the duration component is left to the performer. The performance could begin at any point as well: with a totally unpatched system, or with the system faithfully patched to match the photo.

A sequencer might alter the duration question by offering a specific beginning and end point, at least provided that the settings of the sequencer are visible in the photo. (A Komplex would work nicely here.)

The difficulty, of course, is that the photo isn't the patch. Neither is a detailed annotation of it. They are a photo and an annotation. The patch itself isn't a representation of a patch: it is a patch.

Interesting thread.



Really good points here... obvious even, in retrospect, now that you've mentioned it... and perhaps effectively gets at what the original post was after anyway, because if we're talking about ways for patches to be made communicable (as in a score), then we must be talking about a diagram or photo of a patch anyway.

Also a good point that certain modules / systems will lend themselves more or less to this than others. The design of the system / what modules are included is the "instrumentation", then.


Yep. Modules are instruments with capabilities, patch cables are directions for electricity.


Dr. Sketch-n-Etch wrote:
Yes, I agree that noting voltages of every control would be cumbersome, and probably a big waste of time. Patch memory is definitely the way to go. However, I think that there must be some way to pass on the intention of a patch without actually passing on the exact patch. Probably, with a recording (performer: please try to sound like "this" for measures 60-84). However, the real beauty of analog synths is the ability to alter and modulate them while playing them, and this would require some sort of notation.

Lastnight, I was playing with my homemade Rubicon. I was feeding a sine wave from a Dixie into the TZFM input, a sawtooth into the Index input, and a slow triangle LFO into the Symmetry CV input. The frequency and amplitude of these modulation signals could be easily noted. The TZFM and Symmetry pots are basically just voltage dividers between +5 and -5 volts, so their actual wiper voltages could be specified precisely. I was then listening to the sawtooth output of the Rubicon (which looked very interesting on the scope -- like a bunch of dancing parallel sinewaves). This was giving me a very complex and slowly evolving bell-like sound with a lot of harmonic complexity. If I were a composer, I might want to incorporate that sound into a composition. Of course, I could do it with tape or a digltal recording, or even by sampling. However, that to me is boring. I'd much rather have a performer get that sound live, with all the risk that entails.

Of course, this is all pretty stupid, but a guy can dream, can't he?


There definitely are some things that a patch does not tell us about a modular performance, and performer interface with knob settings is one of those things. Also, your point about wanting to replicate a synthesized sound with a synthesizer made me remember that essentially the Spectralists were synthesizing electronic and/or recorded sounds based on spectral data. While not a spectralist, Ligeti's Atmospheres comes up again here as an example of synthesizing electronic sounds, using orchestra as the performance medium. That was a piece about filtering.
felixer
___tomk wrote:
Ligeti, Stockhausen, Boulez, Cage, are all about as "serious" as it gets, the first three having spent considerable time working with electronic music systems in Berlin in the 60's.


stockhausen (and ligeti) ware based in cologne. backed by the wdr. although that sounds more grand then it was: just a leftover cellar room with some old gear. it took awhile before they invested in an ems synthi100.
that whole 'berlin school' was more about klaus schulze, tangerine dream etc ... those were the 'pop guys' ...

and yeah, they did some stuff with electronics, but what about since then? obviously there are movie people interested, but that is more on an economic scale. orchestra's are expensive. and directors/producers want a clear picture of what they are going to get, so you must present a 'mock up'. then print the score from that and it is easy to line 'm up and have both the acoustic and the electronic. to fatten it up. make it bigger&more sensational. because that is what it's all about in hollywood ...
i don't hear many purely electronic scores in movies. the first terminator movie was nice cool
Dr. Sketch-n-Etch
felixer wrote:
i don't hear many purely electronic scores in movies. the first terminator movie was nice cool


I believe that Vangelis really set the bar for this, with Chariots of Fire and Blade Runner. Vangelis works with digital systems now, more or less exclusively. He has an amazing system which allows him to orchestrate on the fly by using his feet. Check out this crazy video:

___tomk
felixer wrote:
stockhausen (and ligeti) ware based in cologne. backed by the wdr. although that sounds more grand then it was: just a leftover cellar room with some old gear. it took awhile before they invested in an ems synthi100.
that whole 'berlin school' was more about klaus schulze, tangerine dream etc ... those were the 'pop guys' ...

and yeah, they did some stuff with electronics, but what about since then? obviously there are movie people interested, but that is more on an economic scale. orchestra's are expensive. and directors/producers want a clear picture of what they are going to get, so you must present a 'mock up'. then print the score from that and it is easy to line 'm up and have both the acoustic and the electronic. to fatten it up. make it bigger&more sensational. because that is what it's all about in hollywood ...
i don't hear many purely electronic scores in movies. the first terminator movie was nice cool


Finally able to log in and respond. Yep - Cologne is right. Clerical error on my part - next time I won't respond to so many posts all at once. As far as what is happening with electronics in composed music currently, contemporary new music is all over that one, albeit primarily in addition to acoustic instrumentation, using Max.
___tomk
i'd like to post some notes/thoughts about where i'm headed with this, and see how people take to it:

- notation has historically been a way to document musical information as a means of communicating that information to other people, in order to perform the notated musical ideals in a way that accurately represents the ideas of the composer.

- traditional notation has limitations, and has evolved to suit the will of the music/composer in a multitude of ways, over generations. cage, zorn, braxton, applebaum, saariaho, tenney, ferneyhough are a handful of examples of this. happy to state specifically per composer if anyone has questions on that.

- at the most elemental level, notation is an agreed upon format of exchanging musical ideas using extra-musical objects, be it symbolic or physical object

- the patch is an extension of the circuitry of the modules themselves. tudor might argue the circuit is a score.

- while a patch doesn't explicitly instruct the performer how to act over time, it does explicitly instruct/dictate the flow of electricity through the system.

- notation is *not* music, rather a representation of musical potential which is to be realized. we might say that modular grid is a library of modular scores.

- a couple connections i like: the piano reel of tenney's spectral canon for conlon nancarrow is a lot like a patch, in that it is a form of notation, and physically instructs the player piano how to operate (bonus points that the traditionally-notated score becomes illegible); and Mark Applebaum's Metaphysics of Notation comes with no instructions by design: however you interpret the visual elements, whether it be in a linear or non-linear fashion, is an accurate interpretation of the score.

- some things i also like but may have nothing to do with score similarity: comparing voltage and module function to every acoustic sound parameter.
___tomk
Dr. Sketch-n-Etch wrote:
I'm talking about guys like Boulez (who was so interested in electronic music that he founded IRCAM). He did score for synthesizers occasionally (at least, there is a synthesizer sitting next to the pianist in a performance of Repons on Youtube) but mostly came up with ways for computers to interact with people performing on conventional instruments (again, Repons).


Your mention of Repons reminded me I have the score - low and behold a DX7:

felixer
i saw reponse live. and was shocked by the amount of very expensive gear. seems they like to do things the hard way, down at ircam. obviously that was some years ago so maybe it was impossible to do that with standard gear but still it seemed the team was not at all looking for practicle solutions ....
i wonder how much of all that research has gone back to the industry?
are the guys from arturia using that? other then max i see no major offsprings ....
Neo
Keith Fullerton Whitman
I'd say his patches are compositions, especially Generators
http://www.keithfullertonwhitman.com/generators/
___tomk
Neo wrote:
Keith Fullerton Whitman
I'd say his patches are compositions, especially Generators
http://www.keithfullertonwhitman.com/generators/


Ahh yes - thanks for the reminder on him! The thread has largely resulted in discussion on "composers" and "composed music for concert stage". Can't forget the other elements to the equation.
felixer
___tomk wrote:
saariaho

yeah, she did some great stuff with electronics, but seems to move towards purely acoustic stuff.
___tomk
Haven't posted in awhile but wanted to say I have a wip essay at this point.

Also - this is from newmusicbox from the other day: http://www.newmusicbox.org/articles/is-the-printed-circuit-board-a-for m-of-musical-notation/
rec.Koner
felixer wrote:

and are folks like zorn really composers? i saw him once with a piece that entailed signs to the players: quite hilarius as it was pretty clear that nobody really understood what he meant hihi some of the players had that 'what am i doing here' look all over them ... some others went bravely thru the motions and kept their faces straight. later in the papers it was called a 'landmark performance' meh sorry, but i don't need that ... much rather have a freejazzband where it is clear from the beginning that there is no 'official coordination' and no 'boss' as everybody is doing what feels right at the time.


John does everything he can do. So yes he actually composes too - like with Masada Books project where he sends compositions to different musicians and bands to arrange.

And what you described; if it's Cobra "game piece" you saw - think of it as tabletop game for musicians. It doesnt relate to composing at all, though it's fun. I should make a thread about it... No one is "boss" in game piece. It's all about interaction and reaction between players.

p.s. and yeah he loves Boulez too...
felixer
rec.Koner wrote:
felixer wrote:

and are folks like zorn really composers?


if it's Cobra "game piece" you saw - think of it as tabletop game for musicians. It doesnt relate to composing at all

that's what i mean. i don't get it. why not just have all the performers improvise? even the textcompositions by stockhausen (aus den sieben tagen etc) offer more clues ... it interesting that several performances were quite alike. you wouldn't have guessed that, based on just a 'poem' type piece of text ... and he wasn't even on stage conducting ...
___tomk
Re: Cobra, Zorn is instructing which players he wants to hear interact with each other. I would assume his decisions are based on his knowledge and familiarity of the materials of the composition, which in this case is the vocabulary of the players in the game...I'd say he is putting materials together like any other composer, it's just that the combination of those materials introduces the element of chance as experienced from his perspective.
felixer
how can you be on stage with another player and NOT interact? like i said: methinks it's silly. just some overintellectual game. but then again, maybe he is after that.
i don't consider music 'a game'. that smells too much of stockexchange.
3pand
Interesting post! sorry for the revive!

I was thinking along similar lines this week (experimental music in the Cage tradition is one of my two main areas of musical focus and it's really cool to see people talking about it here)

While it's true that a given patch is subject to all kinds of variance (I think you mentioned something like this sorry it won't let me go back and read while I write), I don't think that the parallel between a patch and an indeterminate score makes sense. I prefer to think of the entire modular world as similar to an experimental score. For instance, people are making modules with one function in mind, but since the system is so open, when those modules get out into the wild they find uses that the original maker never could have imagined.

Open scores allow for the same sort of idea. The player has the freedom (and the responsibility!) to do what the moment, situation, limitations, demand. Sounds/interactions/results can occur that the composer never could have imagined. To me this feels parallel to the idea of a module being used in ways or for things that the maker never could have imagined.

An interesting historical parallel would be continuo parts and improv/ornamentation in the early baroque, kind of the same idea.

So I guess I'd say that a given modular patch is one realization of the open score that is all modular. Or maybe the individual module is the score haha? They all definitely "point you in a direction", and certain modules are more open than others to being used in completely different ways.

It's fun to think about, thanks for posting. Did you do the talk already?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Production Techniques  
Page 1 of 4
Powered by phpBB © phpBB Group