Modernising musical works involving Yamaha DX-based synthesis: a case study
This article written in collaboration with Jamie Bullock has been published on Organised Sound, issue no. 5 2006.
We describe a new approach to performing musical works that use Yamaha DX7-based synthesis. We also present an implementation of this approach in a performance system for Madonna of Winter and Spring by Jonathan Harvey. The Integra Project, “A European Composition and Performance Environment for Sharing Live Music Technologies” (a three year co-operation agreement part financed by the European Commission, ref. 2005-849), is introduced as framework for reducing the difficulties with modernising and preserving works that use live electronics.
Download the Organised Sound article
Modernising live electronics technology in the works of Jonathan Harvey
This paper was written together with Jamie Bullock and presented at the 2005 International Computer Music Conference in Barcelona. Here follows the abstract:
Many twentieth century works composed for instruments and live electronics are seldom performed due to their use of near obsolete technology. Some performing bodies avoid such works because the necessary technology is either unavailable or too expensive to hire. This paper describes the current status of a project to modernise the technical aspects of Jonathan Harvey’s works in order to increase the likelihood of performance and improve longevity. The technical and ideological implications of the project are discussed in the context of a broader need for the preservation of contemporary works involving technology. The use of open source software and standard protocols is proposed as a way of reducing technological obsolescence. New solutions for two of Harvey’s works are proposed, and discussed in relation to the problems encountered with the project so far. Conclusions are then drawn about the current status of the project and its implications for further work.
Download the ICMC paper.
Just finished reading this fascinating book. It has a very ambitious goal: to reveal, or at least to shed some light on, the inner workings of the creative process behind the composition of a musical work. Although at times a bit scholastic, it gives us a hint of a vast, uncharted world, and how creativity can be triggered by unrelated, disparate and often unpredictable sources of inspiration.
Together with Jamie Bullock we have started this ambitious project in 2004. Collaborating with Jonathan Harvey, we are modernising live electronics in his works that make use of obsolete technologies, to ensure their long-term preservation and allow for future performances. The modernisation usually involves moving from a hardware-dependent electronics set-up to a software based one, using as much as possible standard, open source tools.
The aims of this project are very close to those of the Integra project. Indeed, we are porting to the Integra environment two of Harvey’s works – Madonna of Winter and Spring and Wheel of Emptiness as part of the repertoire migration activities of the project. We intend to carry out the porting of the electronics of other works by Jonathan outside the Integra project, as part of the Conservatoire’s research activities. Although the modernisation is not advancing as fast as we would like to – due to time constraints and the need to harmonise this project with other research efforts at the Conservatoire – we have been able to achieve some very interesting results.