We had a guest professor at school: Prof. Karlheinz Essl, who gave us presentations about his use of Max MSP in a live electronic context. His abstractions proved to be very helpful and interesting tools to introduce chance in a workflow and I’ve slowly started including them in my own patching for live electronics that is something I’m in the process of rediscovering.
His stay ended up with a concert where I presented my first piece in Ambisonics. The piece is called Scie Luminosissime and is inspired by a poem written by the Italian contemporary poet Mariangela Gualtieri. It is also a personal homage to Mike Cooper and it has proven to be a very lucky piece.
My workflow for developing an Ambisonic version of that piece was basically to treat sounds sharing common sources as parts of the same soundfield and then overlapping those soundfields to create the overall background image of the piece. This is what I call “painting the surface of the sphere”, creating the setting.
For materials that were more muscular I mimicked proximity and distance effects with the use of gain and filtering so that the gestures wouldn’t appear only as they were projected on the speaker dome but I could create an illusion of the movement beyond the xyz planes.
I was quite satisfied with the piece but that was the opportunity for me to actually find out ways to improve it and to make it sound more solid.
On the 13th of October I had the opportunity to meet Annette Vande Gorne. She was invited at Notam to give a presentation about practical editing with tape and more old-school compositional techniques from the early GRM era. The technical aspects of the workshop were only relatively interesting as I have never established any personal relation with working with tape and the what people call “a warm analog sound” has never been part of my aesthetic either.
But the stories and the anecdotes she told us felt like a precious journey into the past, meeting those people who invented acousmatic music and whose lives and discoveries I felt legendary.
Due to the time that divides us, as people that are just approaching to this subject from those early pioneers, being long enough to actually make their stories appear as something historical but also not being long enough to afford proper philological studies, the perception I have of the early GRM days is extremely fragmented and filling the gaps that would make the timeline clearer and more defined has proven to be a very hard task. In this sense the encounter with Annette was extremely valuable and added some pieces to the puzzle, making the whole picture a bit more complete
October was also a very important milestone for a duo project I’ve been having with my friend and colleague Davide Palmentiero, as we finished mixing our first album: Samenreis.
This album that was composed in Napoli and whose materials were recorded in the Netherlands during our Erasmus exchange, represents our first attempt to approach contemporary music from a commercial standpoint and our try to conceive a product that can be conveyed as a complex and experimental piece of music that is yet detached from the academy and could hit different environments.
October started off with a bang. From the whole first week I attended a very intensive workshop about First Order Ambisonics with Prof. Joseph Anderson, from the University of Washington – Seattle.
This was the occasion for me to confront myself with other artists who are also working in the field of spatial audio, mixing engineers and composers with different backgrounds that I got to know better over that week and who also represent the basic ground of what my network is becoming.
Especially there I got to know Craig Wells, a former PhD in Philosophy and an Artistic Researcher based in Bergen and Mads Kjeldgaard a young composer and intern at NOTAM.
Technically speaking it was very interesting to be introduced to Joseph Anderson’s workflow that was so radically different from the one we just tasted at school. Different in methodology and flavour, Joseph Andersons examples of his use of FOA helped showing many simple aesthetic solution that I wouldn’t have thought of back then and that were helpful to move quicker steps forward.
From a personal perspective I must say that I wasn’t very fond of his sound examples, in particular he often tried to demonstrate how little is the perceptual difference between a well-crafted FOA soundfield and the same audio file rendered in 3rd Order Ambisonics.
The differences were actually pretty massive and made me ever more convinced that going higher in order is actually the solution for most cases, especially because of concerts: if the difference was so noticeable in the small studio at Notam, I can only imagine how greater would they be in a concert situation with bigger arrays and a larger audience!
What I have enjoyed a lot about the classes, instead, was that he offered us different ways to think about the ambisonic format and helped establishing a conception of it. The introduction to Heyser’s analysis and the concept of the Ambisonic field as a collection of beams where two ideas that I’ve thought about a lot and that resulted being very useful.