IRCAM OM composers' book 3: process for matching notated composition to acoustic profiles.

2017 | Book Chapter

Book Chapter: Field, A: Composing for the resonance: finding new relationships between architecture and musical composition

This chapter documents research which led to the creation of the Architexture Series of vocal works. The article describes a set of techniques to show, on a stave, the effect of reverberation of the venue. A composition can be planned out to take account of the acoustic.

The information displayed is not a visualisation of a single reverb time: it is spectrally dependent as regards time, making it possible to write for bass or soprano and know the exact effect, rather than a generic approximation, that texture might have.

Doing this in audio would be no problem today. Although it is possible to apply the reverb trace of a real-world venue to audio signals recorded elsewhere using convolution techniques, there currently is no method for understanding how notated music will be affected by reverberation. A method for demonstrating the blurring that occurs within performance is proposed, which enabled me to design new acoustic music with the venue in mind in an informed way.

Publisher information

How to cite this article:

Field, A, (2016). Composing for the resonance: finding new relationships between architecture and musical composition In: Bresson, J., Agon, C. and Assayag, G. (Eds.), The OM Composer’s Book. (pp. 155-171). France: Editions Delatour/Ircam-Centre Pompidou. ISBN 978-2-7521-0283-6

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This chapter documents my search for a new compositional method that could be informed by the acoustic response of the venue in which a piece is to be performed. Although composers have written pieces for particular spaces for centuries, this is traditionally a process informed by aural memory. I had two main aims: I wanted my work to have a tight bond between score and acoustic result, and I wanted to be able to design pieces where the acoustic contribution of a venue would be a known entity at composition time - rather than an after-effect of a performance. Both of these factors create new musical possibilities as they permit the space itself to become an integrated part of the composition. This body of work would not have been possible without OM, and the role of the system is explained with example patches demonstrating sound analysis, harmonic selection, rhythmic generation and texture manipulation.

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