Mystical Automata: A Diachronic View of Human Speech Synthesizers
The presented paper traces main developments in artificial human speech production viewing it as an important part of the history of automatisation and self-acting devices used for the purpose of art creation. The main focus will be placed on pre-computer-based hardware appearing since the second half of the 18th century – the so called “golden age of automatons” – that imitated the natural resonance phenomenon within the human vocal tract during speech articulation, such as Christian Kratzenstein’s resonators, Wolfgang von Kempelen’s acoustic-mechanical speech machine and the fabulous, though not much known, Euphonia by Joseph Faber (1846). Based on thorough language analysis and meticulously assembled they were all successful and curious attempts to mechanically reconstruct men’s (or women’s!) voiced sounds or even sung sounds that presage modern speech synthesis software, from Vocoder to a number of current programs and applications such as e.g. NeoSpeech. As alternative communication devices they have their roots in European ancient myths and alchemic practices of the Middle Ages which along with the enhancements in computation technology and the advent of electricity paved the way for the 21st century techgnosis and posthumanist philosophy.
Extended vacuums and silences resonating nowhere
Sound vacuum created by applying a layer of silence and high variable częstostliwości on the border of hearing of the human ear . There are spaces where the sound wave propagation in a manner that is quite different from the natural human sonosfery (including deep in the ocean , anechoic chamber ) . The penetration of these areas is a necessity and a natural need not only scientists , but also a contemporary artist , designed to not only tools , but also the conditions under which realizes its artistic activities . Shift in frequency vibrations of matter into and ponadakustycznych in areas accessible to our senses creates new forms of perception of the environment. Urban space has a huge potential in this area. The resonance of the electromagnetic field can be experienced aurally using a specially constructed device ( Kubisch , Noise Laptop Ensemble ) . Dispersion , and then the complete absorption of the sound wave creates silence that resonates anywhere that can decay sound creates a vacuum effect , still, suppress and stop …
Jan Piotr Cieślak
W 1650 roku Athanasius Kircher opisał “najwspanialszą ze wszystkich akustycznych maszyn”, pozwalającą przesyłać dźwięk na odległość, wypełniać jedną przestrzeń dźwiękami drugiej oraz podsłuchiwać każdego ku uciesze zaproszonych gości. Na Weneckim Biennale artystka jednocześnie będzie podsłuchiwać i nagłaśniać polski pawilon przy pomocy wyszukanych systemów akustycznych starając się zmienić sposób w jaki percypujemy przestrzeń. Tekst bada trwanie pryncypiów pitagorejskiej harmonii i matematycznych struktur we współczesnych instalacjach dźwiękowych między innymi Katarzyny Krakowiak, Ryoji Ikedy, Carstena Nicolai i Zimouna starając jednocześnie się wykazać jak technologia staje się tematem dla instalacji dźwiękowej.
Music and Technology – Endless Race?
In the past music had always a very close relation to technology. Musical instrument was a product of current technology, as grand piano, pipe organ and others. Certainly, the industrial age had a great influence on art – artists wanted to use modern tools and, on the other hand, they also tried to reflect that time. Perhaps the very first new direction of such kind was futurism. And the XX century could be easily named the age of electricity, or even the age of electronics. And since then mutual relation between composers, musicians and engineers has been much closer than before. Analyzing the interwar period we may observe rapidly increasing interest in new, electronic musical instruments.
Technology – one step ahead of music
But lots of such instruments came from non-musical labs and workshops. For example – audion piano, perhaps the very first fully functional electronic instrument (not to mention earlier electromechanical instruments, like telharmonium), was invented in 1915 by Lee De Forest.
What is especially interesting, some inventions were side effects, accidental outtakes from something completely different. The first remarkable and truly successful electronic instrument – the Theremin – was invented by Leon Theremin during research in other fields, like measurement the dielectric constant of gases. To gain expected precision, he designed an oscillator and shortly after that worked on other applications – at first simple motion detector, then (in October 1920) a new and almost revolutionary musical instrument, based on heterodyne oscillator. Leon Theremin used to play a violin and cello as as a child, so he had at least basic background for such experiments. Obviously, his life and output is well known – being mostly an engineer and inventor, he established his musical career, especially in United States (until he mysteriously disappeared in 1938, forced to go back to Soviet Union). Today, Leon Theremin is considered to be the first true star of prehistoric electronic music, even if he’s quite often claimed to be a Soviet spy…
Public reception of the Theremin was in most cases positive – however mainly because it was a novelty, something unique and exotic. Not only electronic – the first one You play without touching. But as a tool for new music it was too limited. Anyway, by interwar standards gained a huge success. RCA turned an electronic device into commercial product – initially demand was pretty big, albeit the price was high (175 USD, without lamps and speaker). And many composers tried to write pieces for Theremin, mostly with other instruments, or even orchestra. Unfortunately, with few exceptions, today these works barely may be classified as masterpieces. Of course there are some fine (but rather rare) examples of electronic textures, which predicted future, postwar music. Like Ecuatorial by Edgard Varèse, or Imaginary Landscape No. 1 by John Cage.
More advanced, however still based on heterodyne and inspired by Theremin, was Maurice Martenot invention, known as ondes Martenot (in 1937 awarded Grand Prix de l’Exposition Mondiale). Shortly before the war several composers wrote successful works for this instrument – like Olivier Messiaen, Arthur Honegger and Darius Milhaud to name a few.
Obviously, there were much more electronic inventions of the interwar period, some also successful, like Trautonium, and frequently used in a series of ambitious works. Lots of other inventions played rather insignificant role in modern music, however numerous were much ahead of its time and also technically advanced (by interwar standards). We should mention especially a series of Jörg Mager instruments : Elektrophon, Kurbelsphäraphon, or Partiturophon. Mager – with huge support of the community of Darmstadt – in 1929 set his own laboratory, Studiengesellschaft für Elektro Akustische Musik, which could be considered the world first electroacoustic music studio of such kind.
In the early 1930s there was also an electroacoustic lab at the Heinrich-Hertz-Institut in Berlin and even a special ensemble for new music, with Oskar Sala and Bruno Helberger. Numerous prominent pioneers of electronic instruments worked for the Heinrich-Hertz-Institut, like Harald Bode and Oskar Vierling to name a few. Prewar Germany was a very important center of new directions in music, including electroacoustic. Unfortunately, after 1933 – for political reasons – situation of avant-garde music (and art in general) in this country went worse than anyone expected.
In January 1930 local newspaper from Pittsburgh published an article about the short concert at the labs of the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company. Charles Heinroth of Carnegie Hall played electronic organ prototype, invented by R. C. Hitchcock. Apart from rather conventional repertoire, it’s worthy of mention how journalist described the sound of these organs, which : “converts squeals of oscillating tubes into sweet music”. Music called (maybe the very first time) synthetic. Again – back then not the music itself, but new tools were interesting for the audience and potential readers.
The term electroacoustic music is also much older than it seems to be. For example used by above mentioned Mager. The premiere performance of 7 Triostücke (in English : 7 Trio Pieces) for Trautonium by Paul Hindemith (on 20th of June, 1930) was given at the Berlin Music University under the flag of “elektro-akustische musik”.
Was it the real beginning of the new genre ? I’m afraid not. Most of interwar period works composed exclusively for electronic equipment (like numerous Hindemith pieces or Olivier Messiaen works for ondes Martenot), same as more popular pieces for acoustic instruments and electronics were rather conventional – in terms of structure and harmony. Electronic tools just replaced instruments – for example Theremin parts sounded like a violin (check out Clara Rockmore transcriptions), Trautonium like some brass or winds and so on. It was difficult not only for the interwar audience to accept completely new forms, but also for composers and musicians to abandon traditional approach. They wrote parts for electronic devices in the same way as for acoustic instruments. Only the timbre was new (but still with audible relation to something heard before), not the music. Obviously, sonic potential of most early electronic machines was very limited (like Theremin for example) and they were – in most cases – invented and built to play traditional, tonal parts. Even such tube monsters like truly fascinating Hammond Novachord.
At this point we should put our attention on other aspect – not only interwar audience, but also critics and musicians were somehow confused, unable to describe early electronic sounds properly. Even if these tonalities were rather simple, with limited (if any) overtones, had also something not common for traditional instruments. Were different. So – back then, when people listened to such sounds for the first time – they subconsciously searched for acoustic, instrumental associations. Reading archive articles and reviews we may find numerous examples, which may justify above mentioned thesis. For example Theremin sound (and sound of many other units based on heterodyne oscillators) was often described as resembling cello at the lower end, violin at the middle and woman voice at the higher end.
Why true electroacoustic music was set as a new, distinct genre after the war ? There were lots of electronic instruments (prototypes and serial products) on one side and creative artists on the other one. Public reception of novelties was also rather positive. Audience was able to accept some atonal, noisy textures and formal experiments. However there was still a very sharp borderline. A tolerance level rapidly raised after the war, so it was possible to compose music like nothing else before. Music of the interwar period was all played in real time, written for instruments, no matter if acoustic, or electronic. Non-real time process of making music – not performed, but rather assembled in a studio – was beyond most composers and listeners imagination. And that’s perhaps the most revolutionary idea of classical electroacoustic music and Pierre Schaeffer – composition without performance, musicians, instruments.
Definitely it’s justified to name the interwar period – era of electronic instruments. Novelties were welcomed and desired – not only in music, also in other arts. But it’s a matter of fact, that electronic experiments played rather marginal role these days and mainstream contemporary music was still acoustic (vocal, instrumental). Only few composers, like Varèse (who many times tried to found a special studio), was able to predict future directions. We should mention Carlos Chávez also, who wrote Toward a New Music : Music and Electricity, a very interesting book, published in 1937. He described new perspectives in music and audio media, like electric instruments, sound photography and electric photography. The book had a good reception, however Chávez own musical output was more conventional, he did not maintain this interest and never composed for electronics. Another important figure of postwar music – young John Cage also foresaw new era of electronic arts.
Music – way ahead of time
It is a matter of fact, that concrete music was invented by Pierre Schaefer (later developed in collaboration with Pierre Henry) and premiered in 1948, same as couple years later electronic music was developed at the studio of Westdeutscher Rundfunk in Cologne. But we may find some rough and noisy examples of even earlier works of such kind – no doubt, so much ahead of its time, that nobody had enough courage to call them music. The first one worthy of mention is Wochenende (in English : Weekend) by Walther Ruttmann, premiered in May 1930 at the radio show Berliner Funkstunde. Initially described by the author as “motion picture without picture”, today should be named perhaps the very first piece of it’s kind – cinema for the ears. This abstract work was mixed from various documentary recordings and sound effect – like train whistles, traffic noises, footsteps and so on. These audio snapshots were even slightly altered to gain specific results, for example reversed or slowed down. Ruttmann intuitively used similar process and techniques, as Schaeffer 18 years later – obviously his tools were simple and limited and so was the final result, which today barely may be considered as a masterpiece.
How it was possible to gain such result ? Proper musical technology did not exist in 1930 and Ruttmann was a filmmaker (however with musical background), so he adopted film equipment, especially Tri-ergon system, then brand new invention of German engineers. And – of course – optical sound track printed onto film as recording medium.
A year before Weekend, Ruttmann wrote a manifesto with a phrase : “everything audible in the world becomes material”. For us it sounds like a credo of concrete music, formally almost two decades younger than above mentioned work. We don’t know that much about public reception of this work. Ruttmann presented his collage at the film festival in Brussels, then went back to motion pictures. After the war Weekend was lost and rediscovered in 1978.
Anyway, interwar abstract film established a good environment for musical experiments, especially in the field of electronic tones. Curiously, rather film makers, than composers were interested in such forms and research, however it’s a matter of fact, that some of them had musical background – like above mentioned Walther Ruttmann or John Whitney, to name a few. For better understanding this phenomenon, we should know that optical sound track was the most flexible recording medium of that time (interwar period). Wire recorders gained very limited popularity and were used mainly as Dictaphones or broadcast equipment. Tape recorder was premiered in 1935 by AEG and initially used mainly in military applications. Until late forties this revolutionary and influential tool remained out of most musicians reach. The only real competitor of optical sound track was recording gramophone, not so flexible. Optical film could be cut into pieces, mixed, assembled in a different order, reversed and so on. Above mentioned techniques (and more) were commonly used by filmmakers, especially in the field of avant-garde cinema. One of the most important and influential invention of that time (late twenties) was the idea, that what could be done with a motion picture, had also another application – today we may called it musical. For the first time artists practically treated sounds as pictures, working on graphical representation of sound – today it’s a very popular, common technique, implemented in any Digital Audio Workstation software.
We may note two main directions – the first one utilized prerecorded natural sounds as source material for effects and collages. Perhaps the first know example of such application was radio play Hallo! Hier Welle Erdball ! by Fritz Walter Bishoff, premiered in February 1928 at Schesischen Funkstunde. The finest one is obviously Ruttmann’s Weekend.
Another direction was even more revolutionary, based on sounds synthesized directly onto optical sound track. The idea is very simple – if it’s possible to record a sound and such recording essentially is a picture, it should be possible to paint or draw sounds from a scratch, to gain completely new tones. In the thirties optical synthesis was especially popular in Germany and Soviet Union. Rudolf Pfenninger first presented his invention (Tönende Handschrift, sounding handwriting) in a press demonstration in spring 1931. He based his optical synthesis technique on hand drawn templates of certain sounds, then printed onto optical track of the film. A year later he premiered three animated shorts Barcarole, Pitsch und Patsch and Serenade – all with synthesized soundtracks. Critical reception was mixed – some were impressed by the technical level, others questioned artistic, musical value, calling these tracks too cold and mechanical. Note these words – early electronic music was quite frequently criticized that way and in most cases critics were wrong…
Oskar Fischinger, another prominent figure, developed the whole system of optical synthesis – Klangornamente (sounding ornaments). His approach was even more methodical than Pfenninger. However Fischinger produced numerous sound samples, he never composed any complete musical work (being rather a filmmaker), his output is especially worthy of mention. In his article, first published in the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung in 8th of July 1932, he described potential directions in new music, based on advanced optical synthesis. He also anticipated multitrack recording, writing the following phrases : “The soundtrack on present-day films is only 3 millimeters wide, but the artist of the future will naturally require the full width of the film-strip just for his musical composition. It would be essential for a complex and distinct composition, with the abstract, diverse effect of an orchestra, to utilize several 3mm soundtracks running parallel to each other. Each track would produce a different, well-defined sound, and planning them together, the composer could design and organize overlapping and intersecting wave patterns, on the minutest level”.
Meanwhile, numerous Soviet inventors, like Arseny Avraamov, Evgeny Sholopo and others, designed and built working prototypes of various machines for optical synthesis. Most of them also used hand drawn or printed templates. They also composed numerous soundtracks for films and made synthetic transcriptions of classical works (List, Chopin) – some of them still exists and are widely known. However, it’s a matter of fact, that none of these experiments constituted a new genre. Optical synthesis produced rather conventional (in terms of texture, harmony etc.) music – only the tone color was quite unusual.
The same should be told about perhaps the best know filmmaker, who used optical synthesis up to 1971 – a Scottish born Canadian animator, Norman McLaren. Beginig such experiments in the late 1930s, he developed different techniques – making synthetic music either by drawing directly onto optical sound track, scrapping on a black film, or photographing various sound patterns from his vast library. As his films were pretty often very abstract (many of his early works were also hand drawn or painted directly onto film, without camera), the music was rather conservative. And, what is lesser known, McLaren also tried some non film compositions. More, in his soundtracks he tried to mix instrumental layer with synthesized textures – the finest example is Blinkity Blank (made in 1955) with ensemble piece by Maurice Blackburn. What is especially interesting, McLaren used a standard film equipment, like Moviola, an editing machine – an never updated his tools.
As mentioned before, optical synthesis was technically new, but the music rather conservative – maybe that’s why it was never critically acclaimed and today considered to be a vintage curiosity. With one exception. Two prominent, American animators, brothers John and James Whitney invented in the early 1940s a series of mechanical units based on pendulum. They photographed motion of these machines onto the soundtrack area of motion picture film, then processed (changing the speed, brightness, contrast) and finally mixed several patterns together. Using above mentioned technique, they created the soundtrack for their famous Five Film Exercises (finished between 1943 and 1944). Sonic palette and texture of this musical experiment has something in common with early German electronic music from WDR studio, apart from completely different technology. But Five Film Exercises was made almost a decade before premiere performance of these etudes.
After the war classical optical synthesis was rather obsolete and used by very limited number of artists, like Daphne Oram, or Soviet composers who tried out the ANS, designed and built by Evgeny Murzin. But the idea of graphic presentation of the sound is still alive – thanks to modern audio software (because it’s much easier to edit visible waveforms). Also optical synthesis has got a new life with numerous software applications – standalone or plugins able to convert any picture into sound and vice-versa. Most of them use gray tones to vary amplitude of noise, divided into many frequency bands. More bands produces better resolution.
Due to lack of appropriate musical technology, interwar artists were forced to use other tools – in above mentioned case taken from film. Many years later, in the age of advanced musical tools, some of these techniques are back in a new form.
Music and technology – symbiosis
When Pierre Schaeffer began his experiments at the Studio d’Essai (later known as Club d’Essai), he had lots of new, groundbreaking ideas and interests in music, radio, as well in visual arts. His ideas were new, but not the equipment. Schaeffer had no tape recorder and was forced to work with recording gramophones (turntables), rather not flexible medium (its overall sound quality was also poor). This technique was known long before first Schaeffer works and widely used in a radio (for sound effects, documentaries, audio libraries etc.). Recording gramophones gained popularity in the interwar period and there were even several portable models for consumer market. In fact, it was the only way to capture live sound, obviously with the exception of optical sound track and wire recorders – later early tape recorders also. The question is why Schaeffer used a bit obsolete technology and somehow uncomfortable processes ? As experienced and skilled radio engineer, he knew various techniques, but probably had no choice and was forced to use what he had in the studio. Overall, gramophone offered one, but very handy option (possibly discovered by accident) – looping certain sound patterns, which was and still is extremely popular and important technique. Later made with magnetic tape loops, now with digitally sampled clips. Obviously, vinyl loops are back as a basic weapon of modern DJ and gramophone recordings are frequently used as source material.
But let’s go back in time, again to interwar period, when composers sometimes used turntables as a playback device (Ottorino Respighi in his Pini di Roma) or musical instrument (Stefan Wolpe, John Cage). In the early twenties Darius Milhaud and later László Moholy-Nagy began experiments with prerecorded vocal and instrumental sounds – utilizing mostly speed change – but with no significant output. In 1930 at the Musikfest Neue Musik (at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Berlin) Paul Hindemith premiered his three gramophone studies, titled Grammophonplatten-eigene Stücke, and Ernst Toch presented a montage of his Fuge aus der Geographie. Around the same time Edgard Varèse (and also Percy Grainger) experimented with turntables. After the war Pierre Schaeffer, Werner Meyer-Eppler, Herbert Eimert and others utilized many techniques known for years, but in a completely new context. And with splendid results.
In conclusion we may take note, that however Pierre Schaeffer assembled his first concrete etudes in the right place at the right time, his music was way ahead of technology. In 1948 (year of premiere performance) it was necessary to invent and build specific tools for this new genre. Music not played live (in a real time), but assembled in a special studio, with the use of electronic tools. Such kind of music forced audience, musicians, other composers and critics to ask some questions : what is music, what does it mean to be a musician, composer, what does it mean to play an instrument ?
Couple years later a group of German inventors (composers and engineers) premiered so called electronic music – at first based exclusively on synthesized sounds – later both kinds were mixed together to form what we know today as electroacoustic music. Again, they were forced to use widely available test oscillators, laboratory tools and other machines – in most cases of non musical origin – to produce and assembly a series of revolutionary works. Music was still a step ahead of technology.
At this point we may ask a question why electronic tools were behind an art ? As we know, during interwar period lots of true electronic instruments were invented and built, some of them even commercially produced. But in fact only three designs could be called successful – above mentioned Theremin, ondes Martenot and Trautonium. The first one was too limited as a serious tool for electronic experiments, however is still popular and frequently used today. Perhaps the most advanced and promising was Trautonium, unfortunately permanently used by the only one virtuoso – Oskar Sala. Today we may find some technical ideas of Trautonium in advanced modular synthesizers (like subharmonic oscillators). Many other, lesser known designs were lost during the war, same as archive recordings and documents – nowadays we have only few black and white photos.
As postwar electroacoustic music was completely new, in terms of tone color, structure and techniques, it was necessary to invent and use new tools. In most cases ideas were ahead of technical solutions. To compose and produce such kind of music an access to special studios were required. Initially, rather limited number of studios. Private were rare as the unicorn. Today, most (if not almost all) electroacoustic composers work in their own home studios, thanks to the homerecording boom, launched in the 1990s.
Three decades earlier two groundbreaking designs by Don Buchla and Bob Moog opened the era of synthesizers, still the most flexible and important tools for electronic musicians. Soon after these inventions musical electronics became a vast industry, with rapidly increasing gross income.
With development of various domains, electroacoustic music adopted new tools – in many cases initially invented not necessary for musical application. An obvious example is computer technology. Another – application of different control systems – based on infrared detectors or brain waves. It’s worthy of mention a very fine example of such experiments by Pierre Henry (titled Cortical Art). In the early 1970 he used his own brain waves and special system designed by Roger Lafosse to control and modulate various synthesizer parameters during live performances. One of these eventually went beyond music, when Henry played live in Marseille during the opening of the 8th International Conference of Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology in September 1973.
Modern electroacoustic music is the interdisciplinary art and science, with direct links to film (especially abstract animation), video art, multimedia performance, radio plays and many others. Such kind of music is frequently used for audio installations, sculptures, soundtracks, or education. Thanks to research work of electroacoustic music centers all over the world, modern acoustics was developed in the second half of the XX century – with modern tools for advanced analysis. This opened doors for many other applications, expanding far beyond music and art. Today, almost any musical production uses tools and techniques developed initially for electroacoustic music. Like artificial acoustic environment creation, layering sounds, filtering, copy and paste type operations and more. Also a scientific aspect of electroacoustic research should be acknowledged – today we know much more about the nature of sound and all related phenomenons.
Probably most of us have no idea how deep is the influence of above mentioned electroacoustic research. Lots of other domains frequently use electroacoustic tools, to list a few of them :
Medicine – an acoustical energy is used for imaging and curing a variety of ailments which includes cancer, stroke, and Parkinson’s disease. Sound waves can be focused deep inside the body to manage internal blood clothing, monitor chronic liver disease, or deliver drugs to particular locations within the body. Acoustics is also blending with other disciplines such as psychology and neuroscience to help improve communication for people with speech disorders and hearing problems.
Geology – for example application of acoustics to marine geology, like continuous reflection seismic profiling.
Criminology and legal medicine (especially – phonoscopy) – application of electroacoustic tools in forensics evidence analysis (voice and environment recognition etc). It’s worthy of mention, that in many cases similar or even the same tools are used for that purpose and musical production (for example restoration).
Speech synthesis – in medical, commercial applications etc.
Advanced security systems.
Military applications – electroacoustic detection and guidance systems, electroacoustic intelligence services.
Electroacoustic music has a great educational potential and also allows various barriers to be removed for people with a wide range of disabilities. And there is still a great space for further development, even if we think, that today almost everything is possible. Again, electroacoustic music should adopt latest inventions and techniques from other domains, especially advanced graphics and video. Here are some examples of new perspectives :
Application of 3D graphics in sound editing and real time modulation.
Holography – use of a laser technology to create 3D graphic presentation of certain sound textures and dynamic modulation (with optical equipment : interference, diffraction etc.) of these images for parallel audio processing. Also holographic images of virtual controllers that may replace expensive hardware as ultimate live instruments.
Application of various control systems (including remote) in sound creation, or modulation in a real time.
Biofeedback systems as multimedia controllers – including application of quasi-random modulation sources (for example audience emotional reception).
Advanced physical modeling – for creation of imaginary virtual instruments, hybrids of acoustic and electronic units, or environment.
Collins Maynard, Norman McLaren, Canadian Film Institute, Ottawa 1976
Fischinger Oskar, Klangornamente, article published in the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, 8th of July 1932
Glinsky Albert, Theremin : ether music and espionage, University of Illinois Press, Chicago 2000
Goergen Jean Paul, Walter Ruttmann. Eine Dokumentation, Freunde der Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin 1989
Iturbide Manuel Rocha, The First Retrospective of Mexican Electroacoustic Music, National School of Music, UNAM
Kotoński Włodzimierz, Muzyka Elektroniczna, Polskie Wydawnictwo Muzyczne, Kraków 1989
Mazurowski Dariusz, Prapoczątki muzyki elektronicznej, published as series of monthly articles in the Muzyka21, 2010 – 2011
Mazurowski Dariusz, Samouczek Thereminatora, article published in the Estrada i Studio, May 1999
Mazurowski Dariusz, Walther Ruttmann i jego Weekend – zapomniany rozdział nowej muzyki, article published in the Estrada i Studio, September 2004
McLaren Norman, The Masters Edition (7 DVD compilation with booklet), Home Vision Entertainment, 2006
Sala Oskar, Elektronische Impressionen (CD booklet), Erdenklang, Eslohe 1998
Sala Oskar, My Fascinating Instrument (CD booklet), Erdenklang, Hamburg 1990
Sala Oskar, Subharmonische elektrische Klangsynthesen (taken from Klangstruktur der Musik, compiled by Fritz Winckel), Verlag Radio-Fono-Kinotechnik, Berlin 1955
Sala Oskar, Subharmonische Mixturen (CD booklet), Erdenklang, Eslohe 1997
Other sources of information :
papers from Acoustics ’08 Paris conference, which took place Monday June 30 through Friday July 4, 2008 at the Palais des Congrès in Paris, France.
Vast collection of press notes, or unpublished materials from author’s library, Theremin Center (Moscow) collection and other sources.
Feedback: different ideas and uses. Selected works of Anthony Conrad and their context
mgr Antoni Michnik, Kolegium MISH UW
The lecture will focus on the works of neo-avant-garde composer/filmmaker/artist Tony Conrad, whose various uses of feedback can be seen as a key to the understanding of a broader artistic tendency in the 60s and 70s. Starting with a conceptual piece Work which is its title I’ll examine his use of sonic feedback (Three Loops for Performers and Tape Recorders) as well as different forms of visual feedback in his film experiments (The Flicker, Film Feedback) putting them in broader perspective of the artistic practices of their time. Using the theories of Gilles Deleuze and Umberto Eco I’ll concentrate on the particular type of repetition that is set in motion by the strategy of feedback to trace the different parallels to Conrad’s experiments in various fields of the avant-garde practices of the 60s and 70s. I’ll focus especially on the work of Henry Flynt, Dan Graham, Nam June Paik and the future members of Raindance Corporation. Basing on the works of P. Adams Sitney, Pamela M. Lee and David Joselit I’ll examine the broader cultural roots of the frequent application of the concept of feedback as an artistic strategy in the 60s and 70s in different medias and fields of cultural/artistic practice.
Body electric – body as a device in music
The development of technology and science became one of the strongest influence on the composers in 20th century. Not only it provided a new instrumentarium but also changed the perspective of sound perception and the role of a listener, who in physiological perspective doesn’t listen with his or hers ears alone but using the whole body. The way the frequencies affect our body can be described using affect theory. The recognition of stimulus that is perceived through body can be unrecognized by a person. In the perspective of Affective Theory an organism can be understood as a membrane that vibrates: receive the stimuli, resonates with it and produces their own vibration being connected with all around that is called sensorium. The recognition and usage of the cognitive apparatus becomes a new device for a composer and new focus point as Maryanne Amarcher shows: “The Our ears act as instruments in responding to music, sounding their own tones in addition to the music in the room, like another instrument joining the orchestra. […] In music as we know it, such tone responses have been repressed. They have a subliminal existence, suppressed within the complex timbres of music. We’re not aware that they exist, or that we’re actually creating them as listeners. The experience of our own processing isn’t available to us. I want to release this music, bring it out of subliminal existence. I want to make a music that is directed past the processing and control of acoustic information, and foes into the network of the nervous system to what we do with this information perceptually.”
My presentation will focus on the process of using the way we perceive music and a body as an instrument that becomes amplified with usage of technology. Showing how in medical practice listening to the body, which developed around 1800, and lead to the invention of stethoscope, in comparison with work of Fuyuki Yamakawa, I will present the consequences of the focus on body as a resonator. The presentation aims to show the end of dichotomy of passive/active receiver and the way a body can be amplified only by using technology and therefore becomes a hybrid, an android to be able to sound out.