UNI School of Music faculty Sandy Nordahl and Jeffrey Funderburk will be performing their latest electronic music compositions at 7:30 pm on September 16, 2013 in Russell Hall/Bengston Auditorium. The performance, entitled ELECTRINIC NIRVANA, will feature eight original works that uniquely blend electronic music and digital media. All .ids students interested in digital music should take advantage of this unique opportunity to hear what composers and musicians are doing with digital technology and music.
The performance will consist of the following pieces:
1. “The doors are closing, Furnace Creek” (by Sandy Nordahl) is a piece that came about from trying to capture the sounds of Death Valley, Mammoth Lake, San Francisco and Berkeley, California via audio recording. These recordings were edited and manipulated to create a concrete/sound art piece that could be a stand alone work. Nordahl then decided to create a computer program that would playback the concrete piece in various random fashions, which is then again manipulated in real time. He performs in reaction to the chance operation of the sound art on a bamboo flute, which he purchased in a flea market near Yosemite Park. All sounds are in some way loosely connected to one another. Melodic gestures improvised on the flute are in reaction to the electronic gestures in the concrete sound art recording.
2. “If a number sequence falls in the forest, does it make a sound?” (by Sandy Nordahl) is for Wacom tablet. This piece, which has a long, tongue-in-cheek title, is the most interdisciplinary of all of his works presented. Combining sound, music, digital visual art, computer programming, and mathematical number sequences (to derive pitch content), Nordahl uses a graphical programming language called Max/Msp/Jitter to create a 3D world in which spheres exist. These spheres are directly connected to a number within a larger known mathematical integer sequence such as; A210570 from the OEIS Foundation website. Each number acts as a multiplier from a predetermined fundamental pitch, thus acting as harmonics to the fundamental. There are 32 spheres that live within this 3D world and each of them triggers a pure sine wave. The resultant outcome is a harmonic cloud of sound. The spheres move within the “world” independently of each other and can be “played” by Nordahl via the Wacom tablet. He can also adjust parameters of the spheres and of the world such as; gravity and friction to alter how the spheres react to each other. His job in making this a live performance piece of sound art is to try and create gestures, that are a type of abstract narrative to move the work from a recognizable beginning to an end. Here is a screen shot of the computer program he created for this work;
3. “Pitched Pixel Polemic” (by Sandy Nordahl) is a work for image-generated musical gestures and guitar. Utilizing the graphical programming language Max/Msp, Nordahl takes the numerical data of an image that he created as a digital photo and then scans through the image one pixel at a time to generate a sequence of numbers based on the RGB value of each pixel. These numbers are then scaled to become the pitch of the gesture. A similar process is used to generate rates at which these pitches sound at, creating a rhythmic structure and also to control dynamics. What Nordahl gets as an output is a fairly random set of pitches that can reappear in various fashions based on the image and how he scans it. These pitches then play various sampled sounds, some with distinctive pitch and some that are non-pitched. He has control over the speed and area of the scanning of the image and can then react to what it “plays” with what he plays on the guitar—the result is somewhat conversational.
4. “Daguerreotype” (by Sandy Nordahl) combines video and music. Nordahl first created the music that incorporates tunings not common to Western music; these sounds both fit and stray from our Western system. Then he drew upon the Library of Congress for images created by the Daguerreotype technique. Through editing and animating these static images, Nordahl tries to create visual gestures that reflect the musical ones. His goal is to align the feeling of melancholy (that the daguerreotypes seem to mistakenly express because of their inherent deterioration) with the choice of the tuning systems used to create the music.
5. “Clarada” (by Jeffrey Funderburk) is for clarinet and electronics composed for faculty clarinetist Amanda McCandless. Funderburk has a great interest in works that combine acoustic instruments with electronic music and that offer ‘traditional’ instrumentalists an opportunity to explore the electronic music realm while working with the instrument of their choice. He had two inspirations for this work: the use of cicada sounds, which has been with him since experiencing a brass ensemble performance in South Korea that finally had to be halted because the cicadas had become so loud that no one could hear the music; and the use of a musical quote closely associated with the clarinet. Initially he sampled McCandless’ clarinet performance while she played a number of short passages. He then used these recordings as source material that he manipulated to create the electronic sounds. The final result is a combination of live acoustic clarinet, samples of a variety of cicada sounds, electronic sounds generated by manipulating sampled clarinet, and electronic manipulation of the live clarinet performance. The work is essentially an ABA form in which the B section is further divided into 2 sections (a clear use of minimalist technics can be heard in the B section). The composition was accomplished using Adobe Audition and Ableton Live. Part of the effects and manipulations of sounds were accomplished using Max/MSP based patches that work within Max for Live. The graphic score was produced in Adobe Photoshop CS6.
6. “Concrete Summer” (by Jeffrey Funderburk) is Funderburk’s answer to the question we all get at the beginning of the school year: “How was your summer?” Funderburks’ summer was dominated by construction work: An old garage was removed and a new one built. Trees were pulled up to reveal a large cistern at the back of the house that caused additional work resulting in a new patio and walkways. While this was going on, Funderburk received a new electronic instrument that had been on backorder for months. Often while construction sounds were going on outside, he was inside exploring the possibilities presented with the PUSH. Designed to work with Ableton Live 9, PUSH is essentially a combination controller, step sequencer and keyboard replacement. This composition involves multiple video sources including video of the construction work, time lapse photography and photo manipulation—all of which were accomplished using elements of the Adobe CS6 suite, including Premiere Pro, After Effects and Photoshop. Two Canon DSLR cameras were used to produce the video, and many days of time lapse photographic diaries. Some of the electronic sounds combine instrument and drum racks Funderburk created by recording sound at the construction site and then using it as the source for samples that he could use to create instruments. The composition also involve synthesizer-based sounds. All audio is created using the PUSH running through Ableton Live 9.
7. “Exotix: a DJ’s nightmare” (by Jeffrey Funderburk) is another Ableton Live composition. Using a demonstration he prepared for class two years ago, the piece relies on a number of rather clichéd loops and drum patterns arranged in a manner that is inconsistent with most commercial music applications of these loops. The composition is meant to be a parody as much as a fresh exploration of possibilities. It is arranged in a very loose rondo form.
8. “On the Merrygoround” (by Jeffrey Funderburk) is a work for phonograph, electronics and video, and represents one of Funderburk’s more experimental works. For many years he has collected and rebuilt vintage Victrolas, and has a corresponding collection of Victrola recordings. He also has an interest in film music—particularly the early history of film music. Driving through a parking lot one day, Funderburk encountered a parked amusement ride that got his attention and became his inspiration. “On the Merrygoround” thus combines a phonograph playing a vintage recording with a piezo microphone attached. The signal from the mic is processed through a series of Max for Live patches and other effects in Ableton Live. The video is of the same period as the recording, harvested from the Library of Congress archives, and also manipulated through a series of effects. The parked amusement ride was source for a simple handheld video that Funderburk produced.