Sounds Heard: Computer-Assisted

The three discs featured here all contain music in which computer interaction plays a prominent role alongside human performers.

Written By

Alexandra Gardner

Claire Chase: DENSITY
New Focus
Claire Chase: DENSITY
The newest album by flutist and leader of ICE, Claire Chase, uses the concept of density as an overarching theme. Varése’s 1936 work Density 21.3 serves as the springboard, and from there she explores many definitions of density in music. The various sized flutes snowball upon themselves in all of the other works on the disc: the multiple linearities we know from Steve Reich and Philip Glass; fragile, gauzy layers of texture from Marcos Balter; laser-focused swimming with sine waves from Alvin Lucier; and they even transform into a noisy heavy metal guitar in Mario Diaz de León’s Luciform for flute and electronics. As pristinely produced as this recording is, don’t miss a chance to hear Chase perform these works live—her performances are riveting, and just as tight as those on the album.

Chris Arrell: Diptych
Beauport Classical
Performed by: Boston Musica Viva, Clayton State Chorale, Sonic Generator, Jacob Greenberg, Lisa Leong, and Amy Williams.
Chris Arrell: Diptych
Chris Arrell’s bustling echo electric, performed by Sonic Generator, is one of five absorbing works on a portrait CD of the composer’s music. Scored for clarinet, violin, cello, vibraphone, and computer, Arrell uses the story of Narcissus as a creative stepping-stone. The electronic part is derived from modeling the spectral content of the acoustic instruments, creating transformed electroacoustic “images” of the instruments, a bit like the distortions that happen in funhouse mirrors. The restless instrumental textures emit long metallic sonic tails that ripple and swirl throughout the open spaces of the music, wrapping a diaphanous film of electronic counterpoint around the soundscape.

Richard Teitelbaum: Piano Plus
New World
Performed by: Richard Teitelbaum, Ursula Oppens, Aki Takahashi, Frederic Rzewski
Richard Teitelbaum: Piano Plus
Piano music is the focus of this album from interactive electronic and computer music pioneer Richard Teitelbaum. Specifically, technology is used to extend the range of the acoustic piano and to introduce textural complexities that exceed the ability of normal human performance. The six pieces were written between 1963 and 1998, and feature the composer himself playing three of the works, while the others are performed by contemporary music pianist superheroes Frederic Rzewski, Aki Takahashi, and Ursula Oppens. The piece presented below, SEQ TRANSIT PARAMMERS, was conceived with the intention of the player collaborating creatively by performing compositional tasks to determine the direction of the music, à la Cage, Brown, and Tudor—”a kind of toolkit for real-time interactive composition,” writes the composer in the liner notes.

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