Thursday, October 12, 2006

sound generations and transformations via audio technologies

“Be aware that a new concept of music has started in the middle of this century.

It is now possible to speed up and slow down musical material and use other methods of transformation that were not possible before. So, we can pass from one realm of percep-tion, melody-figure-formula, into another realm, which is timbre-color.

[Forty] years ago I said that if I were to compress a Beethoven symphony into two seconds the resulting sound would have a special character, which is determined by the form of the whole symphony. The inner details and the color, or timbre, have been composed by Beethoven. In this way timbre can be a result of composition.

A composer composes the timbre by building a musical structure and speeding it up. The timbre will always be re-lated to the form because every now and then the composer could stretch the sound and you would hear the form.

So I could record any sound in the world and slow it down to last one hour and it would be a form. Any sound can be a form, depending on how slow it is played. Once we understand that figure and timbre are dependent upon speed, we can switch from one realm of perception to another.”

--Karlheinz Stockhausen
"From Tape Loops to MIDI --Stockhausen's 40 Years of Electronic Music"

Electronic music began with noise machines made by Futurist composers in the early 1930s, roughly speaking, and blossomed with the arrival of magnetic tape and reel-to-reel tape recorders.

Prior to tape recording, the only sounds a composer or musicians could work with were whatever sounds they could make with acoustic instruments, such as violin, drum, flute, harp, guitar, harmonica, bagpipe, sitar, accordian.

With the development of musique concrete, any sound produced by man or nature could be captured and manipulated. It could be stretched, truncated, warped, deformed, reorganized, slowed down, speeded up, repeated, and reversed.

The Sound Revolution of Noise-Enabled Music was launched by tape and electric music, was expanded by electronic music synthesis from raw sine waves, and is carried forward by computers using sampling and audio editing technologies.

Few realize that music itself has made a quantum leap from the dusty moldy bins of classical tradition and pop trivialities--to the verge of a transformation of the minutae of the universe into an evolving empire of recorded sound events. Every sound is now the material of music, not just the sounds of musical instruments and living creatures. We have finally moved beyond howls, splashings, thuds, chirps, barks, gurgles, whistles, creaks, clangs, clicks, clacks, and other naturally occuring sounds.

We have also moved beyond human, man-made sounds, beyond yodeling, crooning, plucking, stroking, beating, and blowing into tubes. Singing and "playing" "musical" "instruments" is now the definition of pre-machine music. To open ones mouth to sing, or to pick up an instrument to play, is fast fading into the realm of antiquated curiosities.

We can design computer programs to create any combination of tones and intervals, according to any sequence, amplitude, pattern, speed, direction, duration, tempo, and frequency.

We can use an audio editor to generate the atomic unit of music: a sine wave or white noise. By filtering and reformulating the effects parameters, we can swiftly compile an aggregate of waves and patterns. We can then reverse engineer a sound event, split it into variegated clones, de-tune it with bass boost, smash it with compression, bounce it with delay, disperse it with reverb, or twinkle it with noise removal.

To operate on sound events and sound paths via a visual user interface, with copy and paste and highlight techniques, is a new type of music composing made available by today's digital audio editors. We can now perform many types of surgery and tranformation on any sound element or cluster, with precision and finesse.

Now, a gifted music composer can cast aside the shackles of past musical values and mandates, while enjoying unprecedented liberty and prolixity in possible musical constructions. A vast new cosmos of sound has opened up and it's like gazing steadfastly straight to the very edge of the universe itself, freeing the trapped sounds and giving them new life, in ways never before imagined.

You can plot out a soundpath, minimize or maximize any patterns or isolates that strike your fancy, and end up with a conglomerate that must be heard to be believed. Old musical theory has no way of coping with all these trans-tonal and micro-analytical attributes of structure propagation in a sound event.

Tradition-bound practitioners will be repulsed by the massive change in music as a complete reality embracing vibrations wherever they may be found or fancied. To enable the purely inconceivable into music theory will upset the old school diehards. They will mumble something about real music versus just noise, but will sound like cavemen arguing against pizza and chocolate malts.

In the Universal Content Utopia the world is whirling like a dervish to, the music we hear in the future may not resemble today's music in any respect. It may easily be full of sounds we can barely hear now, but will be able to hear and understand then.

Computer composers may use all the technological tools available to build a sonic platform to train the ears to today to function aesthetically in the sound environment and musical airscape of tomorrow.

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