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COMPOSITIONAL ACTIVITIES at CCRMA

Since the late 60's most of the work in composition at CCRMA has been done in a software environment which evolved from the Music V program originally developed at Bell Labs by Max Mathews and his research group. The hardware and software has improved over the decades following, and the names of things have changed.

Ported to a PDP10, Music V became the Mus10 music compiler system and played scores composed in Leland Smith's SCORE language.

The compiler was replaced in 1977 with dedicated synthesis hardware in the form of the Systems Concepts Digital Synthesizer (built by Peter Samson and known as the "Samson Box''). The Samson Box was capable of utilizing many types of synthesis techniques such as additive synthesis, frequency modulation, digital filtering and some analysis-based synthesis methods.

The PLA language, written by Bill Schottstaedt, allowed composers to specify parametric data for the Samson Box as well as for other sound processing procedures on the PDP10 mainframe (and on its eventual replacement, a Foonly F4). On April 3, 1992, the Foonly and Samson Box were officially retired.

CCRMA has transitioned to a network of workstations (NeXTs and Intel based PCs) running the NEXTSTEP operating system and the functionality of PLA exists now in the form of Common Music (CM) and STELLA (written in Common Lisp by Rick Taube), a software package that can write scores by listing parameters and their values, or by creating algorithms which then automatically determine any number of the parameters' values.

Common Music (CM) can write scores in several different syntaxes (currently CLM, CMN, Music Kit, MIDI, CSound and Paul Lansky's real-time mixing program, RT). The scores can then be rendered on workstations using any of the target synthesis programs. For example, CLM (Common Lisp Music, written by Bill Schottstaedt) is a widely used and fast software synthesis and signal processing package that can make use of multiple Motorola 56001 DSPs.

CCRMA has also become the maintainer and distributor of NeXT's Music Kit, a real-time toolkit for computers running NEXTSTEP that merges the MIDI and real-time synthesis paradigms and can also be the target of Common Music generated scores.

Continuity has been maintained over the entire era. For example, scores created on the PDP10 or Samson Box have been recomputed in the NEXTSTEP computing environment, taking advantage of its increased audio precision.

To summarize all these names for CCRMA's composing environment, the synthesis instrument languages have been, in chronological order, MUS10, SAMBOX, CLM/MusicKit; and the composing language succession has been SCORE, PLA, Common Music/Stella. Other computers and software are also used for composition. Several composers have realized pieces which make extensive use of MIDI equipment, especially Yamaha synthesizers controlled via Macintosh computers.

The acquisition of a Dyaxis II Digital Audio Processor and several Macintosh II computers has brought renewed interest in real-time control and computer-based "musique concrete.'' The programming environments being used for composition and developmental research for all these systems include MAX, LeLisp, Smalltalk, Common Lisp, DMIX (a flexible compositional environment, written by Dan Oppenheim), Objective C and C.

Since its beginning, works composed at CCRMA have been highlighted at music festivals, concerts and competitions around the world. Recently, compositions realized at CCRMA were performed at the International Computer Music Conference in Tokyo; at the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music (SEAMUS) in the U.S.; at the Bourges Festival of Electroacoustic Music in France; at ISCM World Music Days; at The Warsaw Autumn Festival in Poland; at the Computers and Music Conference in Mexico City; at the Primera Muestra Internacional de Musica Electroacustica in Puerto Rico; and in concerts in Cuba, Greece, Russia, Argentina, Brazil, Spain, West Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia.

Compositions from CCRMA have also won major electroacoustic music prizes over the past few years, including the NEWCOMP contest in Massachusetts, the Irino Prize for Chamber Music in Japan, the Ars Electronica in Austria, and the Noroit Prize in France.

Recordings of works composed at CCRMA have been recorded on compact disks by Mobile Fidelity, Wergo, Harmonia Mundi, Centaur, and Allegro. CCRMA is publishing with Wergo/Schott "Computer Music Currents,'' a series of 14 volumes CD's containing computer music by international composers.

Recent compositional works realized at CCRMA include the following:

Ludger Br_mmer - Visiting composer from Essen, Germany. La cloche sans vallees, and The Gates of H. These compositions use sampled sound, sound synthesis, and algorithmic procedures with CLM, CM and RT and a NeXT computer. The Gates of H. received first prize for Electroacoustic Composition in the Ars Electronica Competition, Austria, for 1994.

Joanne Carey - Visiting composer from the U.S. La Soledad and Aqui. Based on the poetry of Pablo Neruda for coloratura and Radio Baton. Composed using DMIX running on a MacIntosh IIfx computer, and an SY77 for sound synthesis.

Chris Chafe - Assoc. Prof. of Music. Remote Control for MIDI trio. An interactive live performance piece using MIDI instruments and synthesizers; El Zorro for brass solo with live electronics. Using NeXT computer, Music Kit, Lightening (Don Buchla's controller), and EMU Proteus; and El Zorro II for sea shells and live electronics using the same resources as El Zorro.

Kui Dong - DMA Graduate Student. Flying Apples for tape using DMIX running on a MacIntosh IIfx computer; and Eclipse I for tape using CLM on a NeXT computer.

Michael Edwards - DMA Graduate Student. Redislocations for tape using saxophone samples processed in CLM and Common Music and mixed with RT on a NeXT computer; and flung me, f_ot tr_d for alto saxophone and tape using the same resources as above.

RJ Fleck - Ph.D. Graduate Student. Soundscapes for documentary film and for live performance. Using linear system spectral manipulation of sampled natural sound sources, spoken text and melodic fragments. Resources include real-time signal processing on the Motorola 56000 using software written by Jean Laroche and modified by the composer on a NeXT.

Nicky Hind - DMA Graduate Student. The Well for 3 female voices and harp. Part of a series of three pieces for female voices plus instrument. Based on ideas from the I Ching using algorithmic compositional methods.

Nicholas Hopkins - DMA Graduate. Double on Joyce Transcription I (1994/#6) for piano and computer processed sounds on tape, using piano samples processed in CLM and Common Music and mixed with a real-time mixing application (RT) on a NeXT computer. The work is based on Chapter 10 of Finnegans Wake, subtitled "Night Lessons.''

David Jaffe - Visiting Composer from the U.S. Wildlife for Zeta Violin, Mathews/Boie Radio Drum, NeXT Computer and MacIntosh Computer, using the Music Kit, Ensemble (written by the composer) and MAX. A real-time interactive improvisational piece co-composed with Andrew Schloss; Terra Non Firma for four cellos and the Radio Baton, using the Mathews Conductor program; and The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, a concerto for Radio Drum-driven Disklavier Grand and an ensemble of guitar, mandolin, harp, harpsichord, 2 percussionists, harmonium and bass using MAX.

Peer Landa - Visiting Computer from Norway. Stroll All Over for computer (direct from disk) and eight strobelights; Low Motions for tape and tap-dancer; Downcast for tape; and Irate Sway for tape and small ensemble. All compositions, except for Stroll All Over, were created using signal-processing applications developed by the composer using C on the NeXT computer.

Fernando Lopez-Lezcano - CCRMA Scientific Research Programmer and Composer. Three Dreams - Paper Castles, Invisible Clouds, Electric Eyes for tape. Composed with sampled sounds and additive synthesis using CLM running on a NeXT computer and a special four channel spacialization unit generator programmed by the composer; and Espresso Machine for Radio Drum, NeXT computer and live cello. This composition uses a new improvisational environment built around the Radio Drum. The Radio Drum is used to trigger and control isolated events and event sequences in real-time and communicates through MIDI with the Radio Drum and synthesizers.

Dan Oppenheim - DMA Graduate. Lamentations for Jerusalem for solo saxophone and DMIX; and Concerto in D for violin and DMIX. DMIX was written by the composer specifically for use in composing these pieces and runs on a Mac IIfx computer. (See description of DMIX in next section.)

Steph_ne Roy - Visiting Composer from Montreal. Crystal Music for tape. The composition explores the micro-fluctuations of sound, especially those located in the medium and high frequency range and was composed using sampled sounds processed using CLM and edited and mixed by traditional studio methods using the Yamaha DMR8 digital mixer. Crystal Music won first prize in the Noroit competition in France for 1993.

Atau Tanaka - Ph.D. Graduate Student. Kagami, a real-time interactive piece for performer using a BioMuse controller, MAX, and MIDI synthesizers; Ets Phon, a virtual guitar piece; and OverBow using feedback and FM synthesis control and using the same resources. Ets Phone and OverBow have been composed at IRCAM where the composer is in residence on a grant from the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University.

Marco Trevisani - Visiting Composer from Italy. Cosi' e' (from a play by Pirandello). A collaborative piece with the drama department which integrates music, the intermezzo comico, and commedia dell'arte by generating music and processing the voices of the actors using the computer in real time. Using SY99, MAX for MacIntosh, CLM and SynthBuilder (see paper on SynthBuilder in following section) for NeXT.

Jan Vandenheede - DMA Graduate Student. Wendung for flute, oboe and clarinet in B flat and 4 Bagatelles for piano. Two purely instrumental compositions. The first one uses microintervals that have been tested out in CCRMA's MIDI studio. The piece was premiered by soloists from the Ensemble InterContemporain on May 15th, 1994 in Paris.

Li Zeng - DMA Graduate Student. Prelude-song for computer generated tape. Composed using sound sources generated by various techniques. Resources include SY77, MAX, synthesis instruments in CLM, and the Dyaxis-MACMIX package; and Violin Concerto for violin and computer tape, using three sources of sound - CLM, an SY99 controlled by MAX, and sampling.


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