Commentaries from a computer about a misunderstood concert (2002)

Work for computer solo, circa 15′, Commissioned by the Festival Inventionen, Berlin.
Dedicated to Ingrid Beirer, Folkmar Heim and Thomas Seelig.

1. Prasentation:

(Program note of the Festival Inventionen 2002)

Is it possible compose a mini-composer ? SOLILOQUE about [X, X, X et X] (the X’s are to be replaced by the first names of the composers of the other works which are used as samples, for example Soliloque about Pierre, Wolfgang and Williams) is not an actual work, but more a meta-score that the computer generates in real-time from the analysis and extracts of other pieces played during the concert. This means that the generated work is different for every concert, not only because the materials constituting this mosaic originate from the sonorities retained from other pieces, but also because the organization of the mosaic is itself transformed according to the analysis of the samples.

The goal here is not for the listener to recognize extracts replicated from other works of the concert (the extracts, which are no longer than twenty seconds, are generated from a chord here, a signal there, etc..). It is rather to keep the spirit and the color of those extracts in order to generate a “score”, and then to use them as “instruments” to interpret this score. The goal of this project is also to generate a slightly different piece for each performance (or more precisely, a different interpretation of the same piece). Indeed, the style of the composition remains the same, my own, without any randomness. In other words, it is not the computer that interprets the concert, but the concert that interprets the work, Soliloque.

This project of a meta-work depending on the context has allowed me to further develop and abstract some compositional techniques that I was using in my instrumental music. These techniques are however transposed here upon the sonorous phenomenon. Indeed, those techniques operate more on acoustical and psycho-acoustical parameters of sound than on traditional parameters like rhythm, tone, or dynamics. Here, the techniques are elaborated not on tones but on sound objects, not on rhythm but on position of reading and on duration, not on intervals but on the speed of reading, not on nuances but on intensity, filtering and spaces.

I wrote this contextual meta-score entirely with the software SuperCollider, within the possibilities and constraints that this “instrument” proposes, and with the precious help of Thomas Seelig, musical assistant, Frederic Roskam for the complex porting on OSX, and of Thomas Noll for the mathematical calculation of the ‘Vuza canons’.