The Sound of Numbers is a piece by Jakub Pokorski where he shows us that each number has its own sound. The sound of the number is not determined by its value as some might suspect. Instead Krojc draws from the shape of each number for his rhythms and melodies. He claims that every sound can be written as numbers. On my third time watching this and realized the relationship of parallel and/or perpendicular lines in the shape of the number reflected in the music. The way certain numbers are shaped, 5 for example, if one were to draw an imaginary line up and down through 5, they would see there are certain points in which one can see a parallel relationship on the X axis (up and down) of the 5. I noticed that this was reflected in the harmonies as the pitch moved across the number. The number 5 is shaped in such a way that if drawn perfectly one would be able to draw a vertical rectangle around it that would create right angles at each of the 4 corners of the number 5. I think this sort of approach might be how Krojc developed his themes, or maybe that is just my way of understanding it. Regardless, this is an intriguing and well produced piece.
Stockhausen was an extremely influential composer of the 20th century. I have so much respect for the man but from reading this article it seems like maybe all the attention he received was not the best for his musical advancement. When I say this I mean that his recognition and fame made him less open to critique and therefore less apt to advance in his art form. Reading his words reminds me of the nonconformists that conform to not conforming…like all the emo kids that dress the same haha. I mean to say that Stockhausen became so enthralled in the idea of being different the it became his main focus. He said himself “one should not serve any existing demands or in particular not commercial values. That would be terrible: that is selling out the music.” I think that he contradicts himself in the sense that he made music that tried very hard to be different while I believe people should make music to make music. You cannot try be Avant-Garde and if you are you’re missing the point. Anytime an artist is tries so to fulfill a specific quality they are missing their own unique expression. I write the best music when if flows through me, not when I sit down and say to myself “I’m going to write some of the best music anyone had ever written right now.” I believe people should create music for the value of their own unique expression. I look at my own music in this sense: The better I become at producing the soundscapes I can hear in my head, the more accurately I will be able to express who I am, as a person. Individual creation is the journey to finding yourself. I want to know what drives my existence down to the last atom. I view music as a vessel to get there. That reminds me that Stockhausen even referenced indirectly Pythagorean concept of “The Music of The Spheres” aka the numerical proportions (harmonies) that control the movement of the stars. These concepts have reverberated throughout the centuries since Ancient Greece. I think the concept that music on some level can be paralleled to the way our solar system works is quite interesting, and I wish some modern scientists would devote some of their time to this. We might actual move forward if our greatest minds were studying the movements of nature and the stars instead of VX nerve gas..
I can really appreciate Globokar’s view on musicianship. I think that in a lot of ways, western music theory has degraded music. I believe the tasks western music theory has set forth for musicians, as well as the typical composer to orchestra relationship, takes away from the musical aspect for the performing musicians. The performers have no chance to be musical themselves because it is their job to rehearse another idea. I also don’t think it makes much sense to have theory based around aural concepts presented and taught in a visual form. It’s like using your eyes to learn about your ears. Why would you not just listen? I know that all of the components of music theory are related aurally but I do not think written notes on bar lines are the best way of representing this.
It’s honestly easier for me to learn a piece on piano by ear than by reading sheet music. The experience of reading a few notes, messing up, and starting over because you messed up the rhythm does not feel musical to me at all. It actually frustrates me. I bet a lot of peoples’ relationships with music are hurt because they become so frustrated trying to learn music theory and associate that frustration with musicianship itself because today the theory has become the standard and accepted among most musicians. I think the concepts are great for understanding the ways music can move rhythmically and melodically; but I also think the notation we’re using is far outdated.
When modern notation can communicate the difference between two timbres of sound that have the same melodic quality, then we’ll be moving somewhere.
A producer is, to me, an organizer of sound; a worker in rhythms, frequencies, and intensities. I have a lot of respect for Mala, and what he has done for the sound of dubstep. I think that compositions like this one demonstrate a musical quality that some people might consider antonymous with the sound commonly perceived as dubstep. Setting production quality aside for a moment, ‘Change’ by Mala is a great piece of music because of how well it was written. The arrangement takes time to unfold..there is no ‘drop’ really, but the way Mala builds his composition to a final melodic movement that happens around three minutes is so fulfilling. This piece has momentum, it is powerful. Not powerful in the way most people suspect when they think of dubstep but powerful due to its melodic movements and overall arrangement. Hearing well written music expressed through finely tuned production send chills down my spine. When more producers start to think of themselves as composers, meaning they put as much time into their compositions as their snares and basses, we are going to hear some astonishing music.
Let’s start here with Mala 😉
Alvin Lucier made this piece by recording his voice and then playing it back out of loudspeaker and then recording it over and over again. He repeated this process several times. What this process does is bring out the resonating frequencies within the space the piece was recorded in. Each time Lucier re-records his voice through the loudspeaker the ambient room sound from the initial recording is added onto the room tone when the recording is played out over the loudspeaker. The addition of reverberance continues until we can no longer make out Alvin’s voice at all. What we are hearing is a lot of phasing caused by additive nature of the process. But also, the frequencies that make it through all the phasing to our ears, are those frequencies most pronounced by the room itself. I believe that the further one took this process, the more true the sound would be of the room that it was recording in. In the infinite sense of the experiment its makes me think of it as for of a fractal of sound. I think of the sound at the end of the full version of Lucier’s piece is very close to the actually breath of that room. It sounds beautifully resonant to me. I really want to conduct this experiment myself now. I wonder if the larger the room the deeper the resonating frequencies would be. . Imagine a resonating wave at 50hz that takes a few hours to reach its full potential. . .
I really enjoyed reading both Russolo’s manifest on the art of noises as well as Varese’s essay, “The Liberation of Sound.” They both spoke of the exploration of timbres in music using new forms of sound creation. I believe this concept has yet to be fully explored. Electronic music definitely has developed a stereotypical sound; especially the sound that a lot of people call “EDM”. Producers of this music are not trying to break the mold at all. I want to hear electronic music that does not sound “electronic” in timbre at all. I want to hear produced music that has completely stepped away from the stereotypical form and sound of electronic music. You know – those saw waves and shallow video-game synths that pop into your head when you hear the term “electronic music” This cultural perception of electronic music needs to be broken and it is the the artist’s job to shatter the boxes people try put everything in. hmmmm but what will it be. . .maybe some for of organic electronic music. Music that you would not believe was produced electronically. I would like to hear or attempt to create something like that.
Besides all that, I really like how Russolo noticed back in 1913 all the new sounds that were being perceived by man due to the industrial revolution. I think it was genius of him to make the connection that the tools being used at the time to compose music were behind in comparison to the new sounds these machines were creating. It’s sad to be that he never got to experience the powerful synthesizers we have to day. I would love to hear what any of these futurists would have made if you sat them down and showed them how to use Reason.
This is another piece from Francisco López who I just found has been making Sound Art for thirty years! This is one of most recent works which I pulled off his sound cloud, heres a link:
All of his work is based off of profound listening, the idea of hearing pure sound without knowing the source. Lopez also also works as an ecologist (you can totally hear the influence in this one). In his time spent working in the rainforest he noticed a connection between the rainforest soundscape and this idea of profound sound. Because of this a lot of his Sound Art is based off the aesthetic of bio-acoustic principles. I think the idea of applying the nature of sound to musical composition needs to be explored much more. I have recently begun to write my music with the golden ratio in mind. This is the ratio that governs principles of harmony as well as the nature of growth. It is also the basis for Phi. If composers could build their compositions, the same way atoms build molecules, now that would be something to listen too. At around 1.26 in the composition it sound like he hit a switch and all of a sudden i went from being in the rainforest to on a spaceship. The contrast is really amazing and it makes me realize how specifics sounds give us certain feels.
I found this piece in the Sound Art Archive. It is a sound installation that was recorded in Spain in 1998. The artist was trying to make a point about sound matter perception. To try and achieve this the acousmatic rooms were pitch black so that the experience was purely sonic. I personally enjoy the piece because of the high frequency buzzing throughout reminds me of the sound of vinyl. I also think the way the artist drew out one phrase through pitch bend and stuttering, and then finally let the phrase play out at the end of the piece, is creative in the sense of resolving an arrangement by completing a phrase rather than a melodic resolution. I did something similar in one of my works, “The Addams Riddim”, where I tried to demonstrate progression through changes in timbre. You can hear the tune if you head to the ‘About’ section of my blog. I also gave a much more detailed explanation of it’s experimental nature in the description on Soundcloud.
John Cage was a truly interesting and forward-thinking individual. He was right about so many things and it astounds me that this was written before WWII. When he says “the special function of electrical instruments will be to provide complete control of the overtone structure of tones and to make these tones available in any frequency, amplitude and duration” I think of the envelope generator, and the pitch controls in any modern day synthesizer; digital or analog. I really like his idea of referring to the composer as an “organizer of sound” because I kind of view music production in that way. When you’re producing music in a program like Logic, the grid-like format allows you to arrange music in a very organized way. When I look at an entire arrangement, I get the idea in my head that I am looking at a big rectangle with the longer horizontal, and each element I add is like drawing a line down the rectangle vertically cutting the rectangle by some ratio. I think a lot music producers today think about sound like Cage did. I think the use of silence in music is equally as important as any melody that could be written or sound designed. Even in the space between drums hits you decide to fill with percussion; those have as great of an affect on the rhythm of your beat as the drum hits themselves. Difference is definition, and without one there would not be the other. I believe the concept should be carried from composition all the way to mastering. This was a concept Cage spoke of over 75 years ago that is more essential to music than I think most people understand today. This man was truly ahead of his time.