Ars Electronica 1993
Festival-Program 1993
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Festival 1979-2007



'Achim Wollscheid Achim Wollscheid / 'Dietmar Wiesner Dietmar Wiesner

The relations between composers and composition, playing directives and interpretation, sound production and sound and/or place of listening event formerly allocated to one consistent concept have, to a great extent, become the most important subjects in the discussion about "composition" or to be more liberal, musical production.

The scope of action expands to the extent in which these relations no longer obey rigid rules, opening its increased relevance. Similarly, parallel to this, the need increases to look for such artistic manifestations in these areas that could be used to serve these relations as "data".

"Scores" shows three approaches for processing different relational areas by means of different artistic concepts. Common to the three concepts, is making the relationship between "presentation" and "realization" problematic.

"Scores" puts the accent on the reciprocal relationship between mutual interpretations of optical and acoustical information.

"Broken Light" uses a technically changed musical matrix as the basis for an interactive parallel musical action.

"What Happened II" sets the theme about the permutative relationship between generated musical information and gesticular and vocal action.
Scores deals with the representation of two different levels of information: original scores and transformation scores.

An interpreter reacts to the stipulations of graphic scores with different acoustic actions. The sound happenings which result are transformed by means of a computer program and transferred into changed graphic representations. The new scores which result are confronted with the original scores, influencing them according to the interpreter who reacts to the transformation.

The computer as an interface between scores and interpreter calls, on the one hand, for the explicit representation of the relations between composition, representation, interpretations and reception. On the other hand, it creates the structural conditions in which revised definitions must result from the graphic arrangement of playing copies and the reasons for musical action.

Such an occasion for analysis questions all parameters that concern its utilization and its output, in the form of an interface in a feedback loop.

Where scores and the gesticular realizations of a musical conductor had more of an assisting function for the reproduction of acquired sound patterns right up to the second half of this century, an emancipation of the optical representation of the sound happening can be observed in serial music which reaches its climax in aleatory, non-metricized music.

In the case of "Scores", the objectivizing function of the computer feedback loop, the associative sound happenings, cannot be predicted exactly on the basis of conventionally acquired experiences, but must be explored in a language which has to be newly acquired both in the preparation as well as in the after treatment.

Achim Wollscheid, composition, conception
Dietmar Wiesner, composition, intepretation
Joachim Pense, composition, programming

for string quartet and modified CD player
February 1991, revised April 1992, final score June 1992

Broken Light is the first in a series of pieces that employ customized consumer electronics in conjunction with traditional instruments to rework tonal material from earlier music, in this case the string music of Corelli, Locatelli and Torelli. Under the control of the performers, the CD player "scratches" across the disk, isolating and freezing short loops of recorded music. As it slowly steps from one "skipping groove" to the next, the lush contrapuntal texture of the concerto grosso is suspended in harmonic blocks, with the insistent rhythmic feel of the loop superimposed. The performer's parts, both written and improvised, mesh and clash with the CD, with a respectful nod to Terry Rilley's "In C". Broken Light was commissioned by the Soldier String Quartet, and premiered in May 1991 at the Musique Action Festival in Vanduvre-les-Nancy, France.


Section 01: c.5 minutes
Begins with sequence of alternation of CD Skitters and players mimicking the skitters (Heavy Metal speed guitar). Last group skitter overlaps with beginning of pause loop ostinato. Group crescendo into rhythmic detaché to match loop tempo and harmony; can change pitch once or twice per loop harmony but keep simple. 4 repeats/4 nudges; 1 "bar" = 8–15 seconds. Then c.3 minutes group variation as described above. Finish with 1 strong detaché bar, CD Skitter, group Skitter.
Section 2: c.4 minutes
Slow movement. Sustained bowing with passing dissonances resolved. Begin with Violin 1 taking pitch from harmony, passed on to Violin 2 at loop harmony change; Violin 2 changes to new pitch for new harmony mid-way through "bar", then passes this new note on to Cello at next harmony change, then viola. Octave change permitted on any pass, then repeat sequence but add up instruments rather than replacing 1 for 1; each new player can select any previous player's pitch on entry. Once full quartet is in, continue form of sustained bowing, carrying pitch over loop harmony change and then "resolving". Variations as indicated on score. Listen carefully for resolution to F at end; fade out on last breathy CD loop.
Section 3: c.5 minutes
Begins with 4 changes of CD pause loop only faster "bar" tempo, c.5 seconds. Players enter with glisses up or down to G drone with sustained bowing, starting with Cello through to Violin 1. On next loop harmony change, swell to detach 6 bowing on G as in section 1, and resume 1 "bar" = 8–15 seconds; at next loop harmony can shift to any pitch of harmony. Then a "4 bar" solo for each player ("global" feel, but no campy stylism) with remainder of group "vamping" underneath, using variation techniques of section 1 but keeping a feeling of accompaniment. After last solo, 1 loop harmony of full group energetic detaché, then stop on a dime as CD zips out.
with a text by Melody Sumner

Once I completed the glove-controller, I thought it would be interesting to adapt an older composition "What Happened", which was based on analog devices I had built, to this new technology. The story lent itself to the idea that someone's story disintegrates as the hand starts moving, a shift from the talking person to the mute (it always seems that so much can be heard in the silence of the movements of the hand of a mute person). But then it became obvious that this transposition of technology was futile, each had its characteristics that were not dissociable from the composition. So I did keep the story of the woman written by Melody Sumner, and I kept the ideas mentioned, but changed much of the way the composition evolves and the sounds associated to it. It is somewhat as if there was a camera pointing at the story, and as it slowly changes focus, the story gets blurred and other images are revealed. It is not that the story has stopped but it is not heard anymore. Now, as the focus keeps changing, the individual characteristics of the person smooth out, they become broader and evolve into cultural characteristics which themselves disappear, to the point where the experience is more common to all, before reemerging to the individual character.

On a technical note, the glove has sensors imbedded in it, these react when I bend my fingers, bring my thumb closer to the tip of the fingers, bend the wrist, and move the wrist away from the waist. This data is fed to the computer via the SonsorLab, built by STEIM, and the software MAX (Opcode) deals with it, so that for instance one finger controls the output of the voice and sounds associated with it, the others the density of events, the bending of the notes, or triggering of individual events … The computer then sends out the data to the synthesizer (Yamaha TG77) and sampler (Peavey SO). The voice is also fed into the computer and allows for the general triggering of events.

Laetitia Sonami