Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Lecture6: Music and Digital Cultures _ Mandy

Summary of Andrew’s lecture

The basic concepts of Musical Modernism

• Music had developed much like literature
• Music is organized sound (from a definition of Anton Webern)
• A key aspect of Modernism is the use of sparse notes but a lot still packed in

History of music
• 14-15th centuries music marked by maj/minor triads
• western music marked by dividing octaves into 12 equal steps
• This allows ‘transpositioning’, you can transpose, cycle around w same note dispersion to get

Webern (1943, concerto for 9 instruments) – “pantoneality” – all the keys at once

Atonal – music without any sense of key

Webern used complex mathematics to devise a score that didn’t repeat, going through al 48 possible variants of all 12 notes. This began musical modernism

Why? “pureism” essay 1934 by Busia (spelling?) example of the sphere as a universal symbol everyone understands regardless of culture. This is along the same lines as what music modernism tries to do.

Harmony – a relative concept… vertical (stacked base, chords, tune) and horozontal (jazz a good example, can hear each instrament)

Pitch, duration, tambre, volume, articulation – all aspects of music

Musical modernism ends up with “total serialism” - first played 1949
Pierre Boules “History is Dead”
Messiaen (taught Boules)

Then came John Cage, American who used chance (termed Aleatoric by Boulez) vs compex mathematics to achieve same things as Webern. He’s known for his piece called “scielence” – proving there is no such thing. In this piece no music was played. Forces audience to hear other sounds around them.

Boules and Cage clashed – modernism against post modernism. Cage believed in the equality of ALL sounds

Then comes Varese (1957) – born ahead of his time… tried to make music with machines making sounds… he simply didn’t have the instruments to play his compositions. He was a leading pioneer of electronic music and “Music concrete” – use of sounds from real world

Tambre becomes a major quantifying tool. Varese progress was very slow and hard, hard to produce at the time.

Pierre Schaeffere – first DJ 1945 (used turn tables to create sound)
Delia Derbyshire – came up with the futuristic sound of the Dr Who theme
Beatles – experimented with tape loops (looping) to produce interesting sounds

Analog vs Digital sound

Analog is physical; magnetic tape, record groove, a physical substance read by a machine.

Digital uses a computer, converting 1’s and 0’s into anaolog, ie physical sound so we can hear it;

“Glitch”, microsounds, sine waves… these elements underpin digital music. → connects to Musical Minimalism, repetition of sound, droning. But, no such thing as repetition, either the sound changes or we change.

Richard Chartier – makes ‘bat music’ or sounds that are our of our hearing range, but you can still feel the vibes

Steve Reich – “come out” a piece that starts simply then ends up with a wall of sound. Wrote music for 18 musicians, harmony pulse

Terry Rielly – westcoast minimalist

Bauhaus – artists/designers/engineers/ product design / interior design… Phillipe Dause (the lemon squeezer guy)

Fluxux, Dada, Marcel Duchamp, Percy Granger

We covered a lot in 2 hours!!

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