SOUNDS ELECTRIC '05 was a 3-day Festival of Electro-Acoustic Music, at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, 2–4 December 2005. The festival was billed as a celebration of innovation and originality, and it brought to Ireland leading international composers and performers in electronic and computer music for an intense weekend of world-class seminars and concerts.
The festival included three main evening concerts, as well as two lunchtime concerts of music selected from two special calls for works: one for pieces composed using the Csound language, and a second call for ‘tape' music pieces. Eighty-six composers, from Ireland, the UK, Europe, and North and South America answered the calls for compositions.
A major part of the festival was a focus on the Csound language. In addition to the lunchtime concert of Csound works, special seminars on the musical application and development of Csound were given by figures from the computer music world, including: Richard Boulanger (Berklee College, USA) Victor Lazzarini (Ireland), Simon Schampijer (Germany), Alan O Cinneide (Ireland), Rajmil Fischman (Keele University, UK), Steven Yi (USA), Rory Walsh (Ireland), Adalberto Vidal (Argentina) and John ffitch (UK). An unexpected visitor, Barry Vercoe, composer and author of the Csound language, made an impromptu appearance and gave a special talk on the current ground breaking research he is carrying out with Extended Csound.
The opening concert on Friday evening (2/12/05) the EAR Ensemble returned for their first major concert this year with five new works specially written for the group, including works for ensemble and live electronics by Fergal Dowling, David Stalling and Rory Walsh. The concert also included a special invitation performance by Linda Buckley ( Do you remember the planets? ) and a new work specially written for EAR by Brazilian composer Elaine Thomazi Freitas, Azul Profundamente Espaço (Deeply Space Blue) for guitar & electronics. In addition, this concert featured Csound5's concert debut in Victor Lazzarini's And Through the Rhythm of Moving Slowly for ensemble and computer.
On Saturday (3/12/05) a lunchtime concert entitled CSOUNDBITES, presented music selected from submissions in response to the call for works using the Csound language. The programme included a special quadraphonic rendering of Jan Jacob Hofmann's ambisonic piece Horizontal and Vertical Lines . The other selected composers and works were:
Hector Centeno-Garcia (Mexico) Bell
Marcelo Carneiro de Lima (Brazil ) Fo.D.A. -Fotos De Amor
Giuseppe Torre (Italy/Ireland) Air in Slow Motion
Richard Bowers (UK ) Reichmann Berlin
Massimo Fragalà (Italy) Movimenti
Giuseppe Rapisarda (Italy) Ex tubae corpore
The second evening concert on Saturday (3/12/05) was TYMPANUM, a dance and multimedia improvisation. This concert was a collaboration between members of the EAR New Music Collective, David Stalling, Rory Walsh and Anthony Kelly, German artists, Christiane Conradt (cello) Michaela Fünfhausen (dance) and Uwe Storch (trumpet), and Czech sound artist Slavek Kwi . The performance was an exciting encounter between different art forms in response to the use of technology in a performance environment, and brought together international artists working with various media to improvise, in an adventurous crossover between disciplines creating a unique and stimulating audio-visual experience.
The fourth concert on Sunday afternoon, ‘Electric Landscapes,' featured works in response to a general call for ‘tape' music. The programme included:
Jonathan Nangle (Ireland) my mind hovers on hummingbird wings
Frank Niehusmann (Germany) Maschinenpark
Edgar Barroso (Argentina) TAU
Damian O'Riain (Ireland) Nostos Algos
Georgina Lewis (USA) Sardine Princess
Mathew Adkins (UK) Symbiont
Ricardo Climent (Italy/UK) The last castrati
Annette Vande Gorne (Belgium ) Ce qu'a vu le vent d'Est
Neal Smith-Amies (UK) Trails in the Sky
The final concert on Sunday evening marked the music of Richard Boulanger and Rajmil Fischman The programme featured interactive music and live diffusions by these two important figures in the international computer music scene. Electro-acoustic composer, writer, programmer and teacher Richard Boulanger presented both recent and early works, including a revised version of the seminal Trapped in Convert , and live interactive performances using Max Matthews 'Radio Baton'. The renowned international electro-acoustic composer, Rajmil Fischman , performed live multi-channel diffusions of his own works, Kol HaTorr and And I Think to Myself , on a 10.1 loudspeaker array.This year's incarnation of SOUNDS ELECTRIC brought the most ambitious programme in the festival's short history. This, and the attendance of some of so many leading figures in computer music, especially from the Csound community ( Richard Boulanger , Victor Lazzarini, Rajmil Fischman , Steven Yi, John ffitch and Barry Vercoe), made SOUNDS ELECTRIC ‘05 one of the most significant events in the Irish new music calendar this yea, and shows that this festival has acquired a considerable international reach.
The programme of talks for the Festival was launched by an inspirational keynote speech by Dr Richard Boulanger. He explored the ways in which technology is opening doors and bridging the gap between so-called Art Music and the professional world of film and commercial music. He presented examples of his own music, which falls mostly in the category of concert and chamber music, as well as from his students and ex-students. During the talk, he also cited examples of how Csound is being used in soundtrack composition and sound design, citing some recent work that he did in collaboration with Hollywood-based composer BT. Sometime towards the end of his keynote Dr.B. surprised the audience by introducing Prof. Barry Vercoe, who noone knew was coming to the Festival. Prof. Vercoe had flown in from Italy, at Dr.B's invitation, to attend Sounds Electric 5, which was a real honour for the event.
Csound Seminars I
The first of two sessions dedicated to Csound featured three projects dedicated to Csound 5. The first, presented by Victor Lazzarini, dealt with the recently developed TclTk frontends for Csound 5. This was followed by Simon Schampijer's talk on his graphic signal display opcodes, based on the FLTK library, featuring time- and frequency-domain plotting of signals. The session was concluded by Alan OCinneide, discussing some ideas on pitch-tracking and his implementation of a PVS-based pitch tracker. This issue of the Csound Journal features the three articles presented in these talks.
Prof. Rajmil Fischman focussed on electroacoustic music in his talk entitled “Real and Virtual landscapes in Electroacoustic music”. He discussed the way different types of sound landscapes can be created in music, from the mimicking of real-world sounds to completely artifical , "impossible", sound universes. Prof. Fischman showed examples of such creations in his own music and in the music of composers from Beethoven to Trevor Wishart. In a very interesting talk, he demonstrated how Electroacoustic Music is a powerful medium, capable of the most impressive sound constructions. Some of the works discussed in the talk were featured in Sunday evening's concert.
Csound Seminars II
The second session of seminars dedicated to Csound was kicked off by a very interesting talk on the blue composition environment, by Steven Yi. He explored the most important aspects of the software, demonstrating some of its main features. The blue program is definitely an impressive piece of software and it will certainly continue to develop in the wake of the release of Csound5. This was followed by Rory Walsh's discussion of a work-in-progress Csound Integrated Development Environment, ICE, for MS Windows. The most important features of that work are its use of the Csound API and the possibility of the development of stand-alone processing software based on Csound. Rory is currently porting the software to use the Csound 5 API and to the Linux platform, so we will probably be hearing more from him in due course. The session was concluded by Adalberto Vidal's paper on Strings Formulas and their use in Csound score generation.. The talk discussed some very interesting algorithmic composition methods, with some nice music examples. This issue of the Csound Journal also includes Adalberto's full paper on the technique.
Due to the presence of Prof. Vercoe, the programme of invited talks was changed to accommodate a treat for the SE 05 audience: in addition to Prof. John ffitch's talk on the development of Csound5, we would also have Prof. Vercoe's discussion of his work on Extended Csound. Prof ffitch's talk focussed on the experience of moving from Csound 4 to Csound 5 and the long and arduous task of modernising the software. It dicussed the need for a new parser, work on which is underway but not completed, and for the re-structuring of the software. With the release of Csound 5, it is possible to see the fruit of such mamooth task, in the form of a very complete and powerful software. The programme of talks for SE 05 was concluded with a wonderful talk by Prof. Vercoe on his experience developing Csound for dedicated DSP hardware.