Hypersounds Event IV
online events of music, media and sound art
Event IV - What is the Word
Music and Videos
by Marlon Schumacher,
and Marco Bidin
January 8 2021, 10.00pm (UTC+1)
I. Marlon Schumacher
What is the Word
for computer-generated stereo sounds
II. Tiange Zhou
Tiange Zhou, Composition and Sound-Design
Marco Bidin, Binaural Spatialisation and Mastering
III. Tiange Zhou
Tiange Zhou, Composition and Sound-Design
Marco Bidin, Binaural Spatialisation and Mastering
IV. Marlon Schumacher
6 Fragments on One Act of Cleaning a Piano
for two Pianists, Tape and Clicktrack ad libitum
Marlon Schumacher, Composition, Sound-Design and Video
Graham Boyes, Digital Signal-Processing
V. Marco Bidin
for Electronics and Video
Marco Bidin, Composition and Sound Design
Tiange Zhou, Video Art
Artistic Direction: Marco Bidin
Marlon Schumacher - What is the Word
“What is the Word” for computer-generated stereo sounds (Marlon Schumacher, 2008) … was created in 2008 during my program in music theory/computer music as a study for total deterministic, rule-based algorithmic composition. Driven by a fascination of dialectic processes this acousmatic work is characterized by an extreme reduction of sound materials, being composed exclusively from synthesized pure tones and algorithmically-transformed recorded speech noises.
The piece is inspired by S. Beckett’s poem “what is the word” (see last page of this document), which for me somehow reflects two contrasting philosophical concepts of identity, namely abstract thought (“cogito ergo sum”), vs. sensory perception (“esse est percipit”). These concepts do not only transfer to, but indeed describe fundamental notions of music, such as in “musique abstraite” vs. “musique concrète”. Another manifestation of this contrast can be seen in music representations: on the one end, as symbolic score: an abstract description of ideas, relationships, proportions, syntax, actions, etc. (without providing an accurate description of the resulting sounds themselves). On the other, as digital recordings (or synthesis) of sound: a phenomenological representation of a signal in arbitrary detail (however, with little information about its musical meaning).
In this piece two complementary approaches are explored, from which most aspects of the piece (sonority, material, structural organisation, etc.) are developed.
- The first one, referred to as “symbolic”, is based on the extraction/generation of abstract structure (i.e., proportions, sequences, syntactical units, etc.) derived from the written text, which is used for controlling parameters of the synthesis (pure tones) and transformation of sound (speech).
- The second one, referred to as “concrete”, is based on extraction of sound (timbral) material and information from a concrete audio recording of the recited text.
Accordingly, the sound material of the piece consists of concrete speech noises contrasted with synthetic sound spectra of pure tones, both composed from information derived from the (written or spoken) text.
Tiange Zhou – Sprinkles, Air
Sprinkles is one of the works of my dream series. A set of unstable sound flow and scatter a wild space, which tries to create a milieu with mild unpredictabilities from all sonic directions.
Air is another work of my dream series. It is transparent but dense at the same time. In this work, I was trying to pursuing the augmentation of sound action force and reaction force, but meanwhile diminishing the experience of the gravities.
The listening experience tends to have our perception to float in a container with viscous air and lost its direction.
These works are composed with heterogeneous sound synthesis and processing techniques. All the sound phenomena have been then spatialised with algorithmic procedures by Marco Bidin, using the OpenMusic library OM-Prisma created by Marlon Schumacher.
Marlon Schumacher - 6 Fragments on One Act of Cleaning a Piano
“6 Fragments on One Act of Cleaning a Piano” (Marlon Schumacher, 2013/2017/2021) deals with the nature of human consciousness to conceptualize the world through meanings and relations for making sense of our perceptual experiences.
This piece was composed in spring 2013 at Ircam (Paris) as part of a larger scale art project. Source material is an acoustic recording of fine artist Franziska Koch, in which cleaning actions on an upright piano, akin to a piece of furniture, become performance. What can be heard is a gestural language of sonorities ranging from the lightest touches, to frictions and wiping gestures, to percussive knocking sounds and hits against the resonance body of the instrument, resulting in a characteristic rhythmical texture which connects the sounds forming an abstract structure.
Using the digital-signal-processing technique for atomic sound modelling via the library OM-Pursuit (described e.g., in this article ) the recording was virtually deconstructed into timbral layers consisting of sounds from databases of sounds collected from the “inner life” of the piano, such as noises of the mechanics, resonances, knocks, prepared piano sounds, etc. (carefully recorded and selected using the library OM-SoX ). Following a formal strategy (combinatory matrix) these layers were then recombined into 6 individual fragments, each with their respective timbral and structural characteristics.
Complementary to the electronic orchestrations, following a recursive decomposition algorithm (i.e. modelling a recording of piano sounds via atomic decomposition with piano sounds), a symbolic piano part was created, consisting of individual layers of extreme dynamic contrast. Due to analysis/synthesis parameter combinations, fragment-like, miniature piano pieces are created – each typified by characteristic sonorities and structures (horizontal/vertical relationships, polyphony, ostinati, etc.) which to the open-minded listener seem to allude to various musical styles and genres (such as dances or jazz-improvisations). Certainly, the gestural qualities of the original recording are perceivable.
These algorithmic “orchestrations” form the electronic (tape) counterpart to the live-interpretation: the “score” consists of a video file, which instructs a performer/s on the grand piano –guided by a moving cursor— to interpret a custom symbolic notation (developed in the OpenMusic environment for computer-aided composition).
Due to its abstract character, the piece has been adapted and performed in various versions, such as in 2017 for a single pianist and gesture-controlled real-time spatial diffusion in higher-order ambisonics. In the presented version for computer-controlled piano (Disklavier) solo, the electronic orchestrations are “stripped off”. What remains is a kind of “relief” of the compositional process; a recursive skeleton of sounds, which points back to the sonorities of the original recordings and therefore inevitably enters into a dialectic with itself.
The original recording of Koch’s performance, as well as electronic materials and related works are available through the Swiss publisher “Edition Fink”1. The software used for the composition of this piece is free and open source, and is available through the following URLs:
Original text in German
“6 Fragments on One Act of Cleaning a Piano” (Marlon Schumacher, 2013/2017/2021) beschäftigt sich mit dem Bedürfnis des menschlichen Bewusstseins, die Welt durch Sinnzusammenhänge zu konzeptualisieren und begreifen - dies mag vielleicht einer der Gründe sein, weshalb wir Klänge als Musik wahrnehmen.
Dieses Stück wurde im Frühjahr 2013 am Ircam als Teil eines größeren Kunstprojektes komponiert. Ausgangsmaterial ist eine akustische Aufnahme der Künstlerin Franziska Koch, die Putzaktionen am Hausklavier, gleich einem Möbelstück, zur Performance macht. Zu hören ist eine gestische Klangsprache von leichten Berührungen, über Reibungen und Wischbewegungen, bis hin zu Klopfgeräuschen und Stößen am Resonanzkörper des Instruments, die dem Stück einen charakteristischen Rhythmus verleihen und die Klänge zu einer abstrakten Struktur verbinden.
Diese Tonaufnahme wurde mithilfe digitaler Analyseverfahren in klangfarbliche Schichten dekonstruiert und aus speziell angelegten Klangdatenbanken von Geräuschen der Klaviermechanik, Resonanzen, präparierten Klängen, etc. nach einem formalen Schema zu sechs Fragmenten komponiert. Als “Zuspiel” bilden diese algorithmischen Orchestrierungen einen Gegenpart zur Live-Interpretation: Die Partitur esteht aus einem Videofile, nach welchem 2 Interpret:innen am Flügel, von einer Cursorbewegung geleitet, zur Geräuschebene eine eigens entwickelte Klaviernotation umsetzen.
Dem iterativen Dekonstruktions-Algorithmus folgend, entsteht komplementär zu den elektronischen “Orchestrierungen” eine Klavierpartitur, die sich aus extremen dynamischen Schichten zusammensetzt. Den Analyse/Synthese Parametern zufolge werden kurze, fragment-artige Klavierstücke unterschiedlicher Satztechnik (homophon, polyphon, repetitiv, etc.) geschaffen, welche sich dem aufmerksamen Hörer oftmals als Stil-Emanationen (Tänze, Jazz-Improvisationen, u.ä.) zu offenbaren scheinen; gewiß jedoch, schimmern die gestischen Qualitäten der Originalaufnahme hindurch.
Das Stück wurde zu verschiedenen Versionen ausgearbeitet und aufgeführt; so wurde es 2017 für einen Pianisten und Echtzeit-Diffusion in Higher-order Ambisonics überarbeitet. In der aufgeführten Version für computergesteuertes Klavier (solo) werden die elektronischen Orchestrierungen entzogen, somit verbleibt die Klavierpartitur quasi als “Relief” des Kompositionsprozesses, als ein rekursives Skelett der Klänge, welches so zur ursprünglichen Klanglichkeit der Originalaufnahme zurückgeführt und unweigerlich in eine Dialektik mit ihr tritt.
Die Originalaufnahme der Performance Koch’s, sowie elektronische Materialien und andere Bearbeitungen sind beim Schweizer Verlag “Edition Fink” erhältlich.
Marco Bidin - 無心 («mushin»)
Mushin in Japanese and Wuxin in Chinese (無心 "no mind") is a mental state. Zen and Daoist meditators attempt to reach this state, as well as artists and trained martial artists.They also practice this mental state during everyday activities.
The term contains the character for negation, "not" or "without" (無), along with the character for heart-mind (心). The term is shortened from mushin no shin (無心の心), a Zen expression meaning the mind without mind and is also referred to as the state of "no-mindness". That is, a mind not fixed or occupied by thought or emotion and thus open to everything. It is translated by D.T. Suzuki as "being free from mind-attachment".
Mushin is achieved when a person's mind is free from thoughts of anger, fear, or ego during combat or everyday life. There is an absence of discursive thought and judgment, so the person is totally free to act and react towards an opponent without hesitation and without disturbance from such thoughts. At this point, a person relies not on what they think should be the next move, but what is their trained natural reaction (or instinct) or what is felt intuitively. It is not a state of relaxed, near-sleepfulness, however. The mind could be said to be working at a very high speed, but with no intention, plan or direction.
Some masters believe that mushin is the state where a person finally understands the uselessness of techniques and becomes truly free to move. In fact, those people will no longer even consider themselves as "fighters" but merely living beings moving through space.
"Mushin (mental state)", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, last edited on 27 October 2020, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mushin_(mental_state)
The video has been created by Tiange Zhou by coupling sound dimensions to visual parameters, using the software Madmapper.
Marlon Schumacher (*78 in Reutlingen, Germany) gained his first musical training through classical instrumental performance (piano, violin), computer programming and digital media. The desire for a deeper understanding of music as a cultural phenomenon led him to studies in philosophy and musicology at the Eberhard-Karls Universities in Tübingen. After artistic activities as a programmer, turntablist and experimental improviser, he moved on to deepen his knowledge with pedagogical (music theory, new media) and artistic programs (composition/computer music with Marco Stroppa) at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Stuttgart, Germany, graduating cum laude in 2008. He further refined his research and technological skills within the PhD program in Music Technology from McGill University, where he graduated in 2016 with a thesis supervised by an interdisciplinary committee formed by a computer scientist, engineer and composer.
Schumacher’s research areas include spatial sound synthesis, computer-aided composition and musical interaction. His contributions to these topics are various, including scientific publications, conferences/workshops, open-source software and interdisciplinary projects. He serves as a permanent organizing member of the International Conference for Music and Sonic Arts (MUSA, Karlsruhe, Germany) and regularly for review panels for research grants, scientific journals and conferences for music and technologies (e.g., NIME, ICMC). As a software developer for CIRMMT (McGill University, Montreal), he contributed to various academic projects and initiated collaborations, most notably on symbolic sound synthesis and spatialization with the Music-Representations Team of IRCAM (Centre Pompidou, Paris) ...
As a composer and artist Schumacher’s work is typified by its intricate treatment of timbre and space, manifesting in a broad spectrum of formats, ranging from instrumental works to intermedia pieces, crowd-performances and installations, which have been performed throughout Europe and Canada. Since 2017 he works as a full-time professor for music informatics at the Institute for Music Informatics and Musicology of the University of Music in Karlsruhe, Germany; in 2017/2018 as director of the ComputerStudio. In 2018 he was laureate of the IRCAM/ZKM joint research residency program for an interdisciplinary project together with composer N. Gimenez-Comas.
Born in China in 1990, Tiange Zhou is a composer, photographer, designer, and improvisational dancer. She is interested in interactive audio-visual art and other integrated art forms. Her acoustic compositions, electronic works, and installation art pieces has been performed and exhibit through Asia, Europe and North America. She is also invited as a speaker to present her research on audiovisuality at Ircam Forum Shanghai 2019.
Tiange is pursuing her Ph.D. in composition at the University of California, San Diego, where she studies with Prof. Roger Reynolds for composition. She completed her master's degree at Yale University and a Bachelor's degree at Manhattan School of Music. She also completed an exchange program at Staatliche Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst, Stuttgart.
Besides independent projects, Tiange participates in numerous collaborative projects with artists and scientist in different genres. She has done several projects about contemporary social psychological dilemmas, which she concerns.
Marco Bidin is a composer, organist and harpsichord player.
He completed the Composition and Computer Music studies at the HMDK Stuttgart. He also studied Organ, Early Music Performance, and Contemporary Music Performance.
He has been invited to hold masterclasses and conferences at institutions such as IRCAM (Paris), Lisboa INCOMUM (Portugal), Pai Chai University (South Korea), Silpakorn University (Thailand), Shanghai Conservatory (China) among others.
Marco Bidin is the Artistic Director of the cultural association ALEA. He performed as a soloist in major international festivals, and his compositions have been premiered in Europe, Asia and Canada.