The Game changers #3
Electronic Frequencies: 25-05-2016 - 23.00 C.E.T.
A portrait of Curtis Roads; 'microtones and pulsars'.
In the 1940s, the Nobel prize winning physicist Dennis Gabor proposed that any sound could be decomposed into acoustical quanta bounded by discrete units of time and frequency. This quantum representation formed the famous Gabor matrix. Like a sonogram, the vertical dimension of the Gabor matrix indicated the location of the frequency energy, while the horizontal dimension indicated the time region in which this energy occurred. In a related project, Gabor built a machine to granulate sound into particles. This machine could
alter the duration of a sound without shifting its pitch.
In these two projects, the matrix and the granulator, Gabor accounted for both important domains of sound representation. The matrix was the original windowed frequency-domain representation. "Windowed'' means segmented in time, and "frequency-domain'' refers to spectrum. The granulation machine, on the other hand, operated on a time-domain representation, which is familiar to anyone who has seen waveforms in a sound editor.
Curtis Roads is the first person to implement granular sound processing in the digital domain.
Curtis Roads creates, teaches, and pursues research in the interdisciplinary territory spanning music and sound technology. He studied electronic music and computer music composition at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) and the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and received a Doctorate from the Université Paris 8.
He was Editor and Associate Editor of Computer Music Journal (The MIT Press) from 1978 to 2000, and co-founded the International Computer Music Association (ICMA) in 1979.
A researcher in computer music at MIT (1980-1986), he also worked in the software industry for a decade. He taught electronic music composition at Harvard University and sound synthesis techniques at the University of Naples. He was appointed Director of Pedagogy at Les Ateliers UPIC (later CCMIX) and Lecturer in the Music Department of the Université Paris 8.
A pioneer in the development of granular synthesis (1974), he also developed (with Alberto de Campo) the program PulsarGenerator (2001), distributed by the Center for Research in Electronic Art Technology (CREATE) at UCSB. Another invention is the Creatovox, an expressive instrument for virtuoso performance that is based on the synthesis of sound grains and other sound particles. The Creatovox, developed in collaboration with Alberto de Campo, was first demonstrated to the public in March 2000. In 2008, CREATE released Emission Control, a new program for sound granulation written by David Thall in consultation with Curtis Roads.
“Beneath the level of the note lies the realm of microsound, of sound particles.
Microsonic particles remained invisible for centuries. Recent technological advances let us probe and explore the beauties of this formerly unseen world.
Microsonic techniques dissolve the rigid bricks of music architecture the notes into a more fluid and supple medium. Sounds may coalesce, evaporate, or mutate into other sounds.
The sensations of point, pulse (regular series of points), line (tone), and surface (texture) appear as the density of particles increases. Sparse emissions leave rhythmic traces. When the particles line up in rapid succession, they induce the illusion of tone continuity that we call pitch. As the particles meander, they row into streams and rivulets. Dense agglomerations of particles form swirling sound clouds whose shapes evolve over time.”
(Curtis Roads “Microsounds” 2001)
Xenakis applied the first microsounds in composition electronic music.
Not realtime but by use of tape splicing, tape speeds, numerous transitions and overdubs, these -cut into one-second fragments of burning charcoal- sounds getting a granular character.
01/ Xenakis: Concrete PH (1958). *
Barry Truax managed to create granular synthesis in real time using the PODX system, at the Simon Fraser University.
02/ Barry Truax: The blind man(1979). excerpt **
Curtis Roads ***:
03/ Now (2003). 6:14.
04/ Eleventh Vortex (2001). 4:06.
05/ Half-life, Part I: Sonal Atoms (1999). 3:34. 06/ Half-life, Part II: Granules (1999). 2:44.
07/ Sculptor (2001). 3:13.
08/ Volt Air, Part I (2003). 3:16.
09/ Volt Air, Part II (2003). 2:35.
10/ Volt Air, Part III (2003). 2:15.
11/ Volt Air, Part IV (2003). 2:07.
12/ Fluxon (2003). 3:05.
13/ Pictor Alpha (2003). 3:23.
14/ Nanomorphosis (2003). 3:16.
* REGRM 007 / Iannis Xenakis
GRM Works 1957-1962.
Barry Truax– Digital Soundscapes
Cambridge Street Records – CSR-CD 8701.
CD13 Tenth Vortex (2000). 3:01.
DVD01 Sculptor (2001). 3:12.
DVD02 Half-life (1999) Parts I And II. 7:36.
DVD03 Volt Air, Part I (2003). 3:14.
DVD04 Volt Air, Part II (2003). 2:34.
DVD05 Volt Air, Part III (2003). 3:19.
DVD06 Volt Air, Part IV (2003). 2:01.
DVD07 Fluxon (2003). 3:09.
DVD08 Pictor Alpha (2003). 3:25.
DVD09 Nanomorphosis (2003). 3:15.
DVD10 Sonal Atoms Visualization By Woon Seung Yeo. 3:36.
DVD11 Pictor Alpha Visualization By Garry Kling. 3:26.
DVD12 Audio Lecture By Curtis Roads At Stanford University June 2004. 20:57.
DVD13 Historical Example Of Granular Synthesis: Prototype (1975). 6:42.
Curtis Roads – Point Line Cloud.
Label: Asphodel – ASP 3000
Produced by: Roland Kuit
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