Perhaps the peak of the initial phase of electronic music was reached with Stockhausen's monumental "Hymnen" a long work whose main source material was the national anthems of every country on the planet. Sometime in the early-ish '70s of last century electronic music ceased to be given the public attention it had and composers tended to go underground, though much of the innovations especially via synthesizers entered into pop, rock, r&b, rap and other mainstream musics where it remains today.
The millenium and the rise of digital production has given Electronic Music a new life, and we can hear new composers and new compositions more readily and more abundantly these days if we look for it.
A good example is an anthology of new electronic music in two volumes. Today we tackle Electronic Masters, Vol. 1 (ablaze 00011). On it we are treated to six works by six new music electronic composers: Sangbong Nam, Charles Nichols, Daniel Blinkhorn, Arthur Gottschalk, George Kouvaras and Paul Oehlers.
The compositions make much use of musical instruments, voice and natural sound as their source materials and something less of "pure" electronic sound. There is a tendency to work with particular sound types in any given work, less of the kitchen sink, everything together sort of collages or the bleep-and-bloop scatter sounds of the high modern era.
The music tends to use the natural sounds in varying degrees of electronic processing, so that often enough one recognizes the source sounds for what they are along with their processed variants. There can be ambiance, orchestral densities or chamber intimacies.
The anthology does not introduce much in the way of the noise-oriented composers. The works represented here tend to have pitch as a constant, with unpitched, noisier elements present at times but never thoroughgoingly out-front in the extreme way of some of the more ascerbic, astringent-oriented practitioners out there these days. Daniel Blinkhorn perhaps is the exception, but his "Anthozoa" has lots of pitched implications and does not jar us with the more noisy sorts of noise of the fringe.
For all that these are not representing the extreme avant electronic composers so much as those who work in the new music middle-ground. Of course that is fine. The resultant mix of works segues well. It all gives you a vivid and rewarding listen to some accomplished sound poets who show us part of the state-of-the-art in Electronic Music today.
What else that is not covered here is the increasing growth of live electronic music. No matter, since that is something that has over time formed an almost a separate substyle and a single volume of an anthology cannot properly cover all that as well. So perhaps it is best to leave that aside for another anthology in future. As it is there is a wealth of musical sounds here to digest, all representing an evolution of the "classic" electronic studio work.
It is an adventure in new sounds, varied, contemporary and well-wrought regardless of the composer and work represented. Recommended!
Hi Grego, I haven't quite disappeared from the listening-to-new-stuff scene, and wanted to share with you a couple of discoveries of my own. The first is that Spotify actually lists a third Electronic Masters volume, should you wish to investigate that. And, if you still have an appetite for electronic sounds after that, the works in that vein of Simon Cummings, who writes the 5:4 blog, are well worth investigating, and (mostly) free to download from Bandcamp. Cummings himself is also a big fan of Kenneth Kirschner, another composer fond of the free-download distribution method. I'd start with Cummings's recommendation of "July 7, 2010" (all Kirschner's compositions are simply posted on his site with the completion date as the "title") and see where you get to from there...!ReplyDelete
Thanks for the valuable info Chris! I will check all that out! I BTW have a volume of electroacoustic works just out--"Aurora Dreaming" Volume 1 with volume 2 due out soon. It is available on Amazon under "Grego Applegate Edwards." Meanwhile I will have to investigate these leads. Glad you are still exploring new ground.ReplyDelete
Is there somewhere where I can listen to, say, 30-second clips of your music? Then, if I like what I hear, perhaps that can be my "leaving present" before my 12-month new-music "sabbatical"...!Delete
Well sure, Chris. I do have two excerpts that are relevant, posted on SoundCloud. One is from the forthcoming Vol. 2 of "Aurora Dreaming": https://soundcloud.com/grego-12/auroradeepnight-finaleexcerpt The other is an excerpt from Volume 1, which is out on Amazon: https://soundcloud.com/grego-12/05-aurorasbeadsi-excerpt "Travels in Tyme" is mostly conventionally instrumented but nothing online excerpt-wise at the moment. Let me know what you think! Thanks.ReplyDelete
Interesting stuff! Like Cummings's music, which I'm more convinced than ever you'd get on well with, it's the kind of thing that I can see myself returning to again and again. Go on, then, you've sold "Aurora Dreaming" to me...! ;-)Delete
(I had to repost my comment as it had a typo in the original.) Terrific, Chris! This series of interrelated movements I thought of as a kind of built environment that could serve as a musical dwelling to return to and live in (I hope) frequently. So glad you take to it all. I will have to check out the Cummings! Thanks again.Delete
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