Category Archives: Sound

Some of The Harmony of Maine – John Cage’s organ music

I’m planning to use this in the Final show

Good overview from Rob Haskins below

It’s a pity, though, that Cage hadn’t been asked for new organ works sooner. The King of Instruments seems to me an instrument ideally suited to Cage’s aesthetic. With all its various stops (found in countless dispositions on as many organs), one can think of it as the ultimate prepared instrument. Also, the very fact that sound emanates from a number of pipes all placed at discrete locations in space nicely accords with Cage’s idea that the separation of sounds in space proved desirable for new music. It surely represented a vast multiplicity of possibilities that could be released into sound through the use of chance operations. For this reason, I believe that Cage’s organ music occupies a small but quite important place within his output.

Some of “The Harmony of Maine” forms part of a family of pieces that Cage made beginning with Apartment House 1776 (1976). In the earlier work, one element consisted of a series of pieces Cage dubbed “harmonies”; he selected eighteenth-century hymns by William Billings, Andrew Law, and Supply Belcher and altered them by extending certain tones and removing others through chance operations so as to attenuate the functional harmony underlying them. The process fixes a listener’s attention on the individual pitches so that they become self-sufficient, each—as in Buddhist thought—the most honored of all, and likewise the heightened presence of silence in the music reaffirms the important role of ambience in Cage’s work: not so much a lack of sound that articulates or makes more dramatic the sounds around it, but rather (again, borrowing from Buddhism) a nosound that forms, alongside sound, an eternal unity: perceiving the Śūnyatā (emptiness) in the world facilitates the awareness of the world’s Tathatā (suchness). Here and there, melodic fragments from the original hymns remain; these further underscore the fact that, in Cage, the sounding music continues to present the unpredictable, no matter how it is made.

Each of the thirteen separate pieces in Cage’s organ work draws exclusively from the 1794 collection The Harmony of Maine by the American composer Supply Belcher (1751–1836). The titles in the original, which Cage retains, include in most instances an abbreviation that refers to the metrical structure of the words (useful when one wants to use the musical setting of one hymn for the text of another): thus, C.M. (common meter) refers to a quatrain with a syllable count of 8–6–8–6; L.M. (long meter), to one of 8–8–8–8; S.M. (short meter), to one of 6–6–8–6; and the especially Cagean P.M. (peculiar meter), to one that is irregular. An awareness of meter (interpreted as phrase length) is helpful in this work since Cage tended to respect the phrase boundaries of his source material in his compositional process and probably does so in the organ work as well.

In order to capitalize on the organ’s innate ability to create an extraordinary variety of timbres, Cage also employed chance operations in Some of “The Harmony of Maine” to make a complex series of registration changes, which must be effected by no fewer than six registrants. (However, Gary Verkade recalls that he performed as one of only three registrants in the first German performance, noting that the number of registrants depends on such factors as the size of instrument and the amount of space found in the organ loft.) Stops are referred to only by number, allowing the work to be performed on a great number of instruments. This aspect is very much in keeping with Cage’s approach to composition: to learn all the possibilities of an instrument (or device, in the case of, say, the film One11) and then use chance to select new and previously unimagined combinations of those possibilities.

Tsunami – triggered multichannel audio

Tsunami Super WAV Trigger

The Tsunami Super WAV Trigger is the next evolutionary step beyond the original WAV Trigger.

Based on a new generation ARM Cortex m7, the Tsunami extends polyphony to 32 mono or 18 stereo simultaneous uncompressed 44.1kHz, 16-bit tracks. Each track can start, pause, resume, loop and stop independently, and can have it’s own volume setting, allowing you to create the perfect interactive mix of music, dialog and sound effects. The Tsunami also supports true seamless looping over an arbitrary track length.

The Tsunami has 8 audio output channels, arranged as either 8 mono or 4 stereo pairs. Alternate versions of firmware support either mono and stereo architecture  you choose. The mono version adds a new Synced Set trigger function that can start up to 8 mono tracks on adjacent outputs. These tracks will start and stay in sample-sync for playing stereo or even 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound content with a single trigger. Any track can be dynamically routed to any output. And each output provides independent real-time volume and sample-rate conversion (pitch bend.)

Each Tsunami Super WAV Trigger has a dedicated MIDI port with an integrated opto-isolator, making it easy to connect to any MIDI controller. Tsunami’s MIDI implementation includes control of volume, pitch bend, attack and release times, and the ability to route any MIDI key to any of the output channels, as well as specifying single-shot or looping playback per key.

Else Marie Pade obituary

FRom Pitchfork
Else Marie Pade was the first person in Denmark to make music using electronics. A radio producer, she began composing with tape and oscillators in the 1950s, and yet she was barely acknowledged at the time, Anne Hilde Neset noted in The Wire in 2013, comparing the composer to pioneering female electronic composers in the UK, like Delia Derbyshire and Daphne Oram, who went largely unappreciated while alive.

It’s a touching profile, not least because Neset visits the then 89-year-old composer in her nursing home, where a piano and a gigantic tape recorder both occupy a room where nurses pad around in rubber clogs. Pade’s work could be forbiddingly austere, but Neset’s article paints a picture of a humble, soft-spoken artist, unusually attentive to the world around her. In part, Neset suggests, that’s because Pade was often bedridden as a child. It was her convalescence, in fact, that introduced her to sound’s unlimited imaginative potential—laying the foundations for works like her 1955 composition En Dag på Dyrehavsbakken (A Day at the Fair), a sound portrait of the local zoo, and 1958’s Symphonie Magnetophonique, a 19-minute composition made of everyday sounds—traffic, office noises, children playing—meant to represent a 24-hour snapshot of Copenhagen’s daily rhythms.

Pade, who was both a musical pioneer and, during WWII, a prisoner of the Gestapo, died this week at the age of 91, reports Denmark’s Politiken. Her death closely follows that of Pierre Boulez, the towering French composer who played a major role in introducing electronics to contemporary composition. Pade studied with Boulez, in fact, along with Pierre Schaeffer, whom she traveled to Paris to meet in the early ’50s, and Karlheinz Stockhausen, whose courses at Darmstad she attended.

“She was a unique pioneer, one of the earliest in Denmark, and as such, for a long time very alone in the work she did,” says Mats Almegård, the producer of Swedish National Radio’s Elektroniskt i P2. “There was no attention from other composers, the audience, etc.—she was too ‘out there.'”

Pade was among the last living members of a founding generation of women in electronic music who are only now just beginning to get their due. The BBC Radiophonic Workshop composer Delia Derbyshire, best known for her theme for “Doctor Who,” died in 2001 at the age of 64. Daphne Oram, a cofounder of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and the inventor of a visionary electronic technique known as Oramics, died in 2003 at the age of 77. Both musicians have been the subject of considerable posthumous attention: Derbyshire’s tape archive has been digitized by a group at Manchester University, and is awaiting eventual release; Oram’s life and work have been the subject of anthologies, museum exhibitions, and BBC television programming.

Pade, at least, enjoyed a burst of recognition in recent years. In 2013, she collaborated with the Danish sound artist Jacob Kirkegaard, an artist 52 years her junior, on Svaevninger, a patient study for pulsing drones and acousmatic effects that would appeal to fans of Pauline Oliveros, Kevin Drumm, and Folke Rabe’s What?!, and in 2014, Important Records issued Electronic Works 1958-1995, a collection of the composer’s major pieces, including Syv Cirkler, a serialist composition regarded as Denmark’s first purely electronic composition. Inspired by a visit to Brussels’ world’s fair in 1958, where she both hears Edgard Varèse’s Poème Electronique and encounters a multimedia planetarium, Syv Cirkler (Seven Circles)represents the movements of the stars in an elegant array of pulses and drones; it sounds both reassuringly intuitive and deeply inscrutable, and, more than half a century after it was made, it’s still hard to believe that it has not been beamed back to us from centuries in the future.

“She’s a pioneer of electronic music, of course, but her work also has a depth and sensitivity which I find unmatched in many of her peers,” says Important Records’ John Brien.

Given Syv Cirkler‘s cyclical structure, it seems fitting that the eerie composition played a key role in the preservation of her legacy. In 2001, a handful of contemporary Danish techno producers, including the Morr Music and Raster-Noton-affiliated Opiate, remixed Syv Cirkler for the Danish label; one remix, by Bjørn Svin, was even played on MTV—”a fact that Pade was very proud of,” says Almegård.

The electronic music community’s sudden embrace of a forgotten septuagenarian’s work might have seemed improbable, but then, Pade’s life was exceptional in just about every way. A member of the Danish resistance during WWII, she was imprisoned by the Gestapo when she and her friends were discovered spying on German troop movements; she was just 20 years old. Nearly driven mad by the lack of stimulus in the Frøslev prison camp, she devised her own notational system and carved musical scores into the prison walls using the metal buckle of her garters.

Electronic music is often treated as a boys’ club, but the truth is, from the very beginning, women have invented devices, techniques, and tropes that would define the shape of music for years to come; they just went unrecognized for their efforts. Reading Neset’s profile of Pade, however, you don’t detect any resentment on the composer’s part, just an abiding fascination with the world of sound. In fact, at 89, living in an assisted living community, she was still planning new compositions based on birdsong.