Monday, May 3, 2010

- UK electric -

Music under the influence of Computers continues:

6pm May 3rd

Blackbox Auditorium, Atkinson Hall - on the campus of UCSD

- UK electric -

This program is curated by Adam Stansbie and features a collection of award winning compositions by UK composers.


Diana Simpson – Papyrus (2008) – 8’25”
Erik Nyström – Elemental Chemistry (2009) - 13’38”
Lee Fraser – Narrows (2009) – 5’12”
Nikos Stavropoulos – Nyctinasty (2009) – 10’09”


Adam Stansbie – Escapade (2010) – 9’44”
Graeme Truslove - Divergent Dialogues (2006) – 8’31”
Ambrose Seddon – The Nowness of Everything (2009) – 13’32”
Aki Pasoulas – Arborescences (2008) – 11’24”

Notes about the composers and pieces:

Much of the material for Papyrus was recorded for the creation of a soundtrack for a theatre production of The Yellow Wallpaper, based on the novel by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. A site- specific production of the theatre adaptation was directed by Rob Drummer and performed at the Manchester Museum in May 2008. The source recordings are almost exclusively of paper, from notepaper to large sheets of wallpaper. While composing this theatre soundtrack I was attracted to the intricate sonic details present in the closely recorded paper and was keen to explore their potential further in a standalone acousmatic concert work.

Papyrus explores the wide variety of spatial motions, trajectories and perspectives which can be created through the manipulation of this seemingly simple and lifeless material. The piece is an abstract exploration of these behaviours. There are four sections within the work, each one in turn metaphorically ‘torn’ to reveal a new section or layer.

Papyrus was awarded the Prix Destellos 2009.

Diana Simpson initially studied composition at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama with Alistair MacDonald, where she was awarded a BA, PGDipMus, and MMus with distinction. She recently completed a PhD in composition at the University of Manchester (UK), where she was supervised by David Berezan and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and a Dewar Arts Award. She is currently a lecturer in music technology at Kingston University, London.

Her works have been performed throughout the UK and internationally, in Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Brazil, Costa Rica and the USA. Work has also been broadcast on Swedish National Radio, Radio France, and BBC Radio 3.

She has been a prizewinner in a number of international competitions including Insulae Electronicae International Competition of Electroacoustic Music (2nd prize, 2004), CIMESP (International Electroacoustic Contest of São Paulo, Public Prize 2005, Honourable Mention 2007), the Bourges Competition of Electroacoustic Music (Residence Prize 2006), SCRIME (Prix SCRIME 2007), L’Espace du Son Diffusion Competition (2nd Prize, 2008), the Pauline Oliveros Prize (Honourable Mention, 2009), Música Viva (Prizewinner, 2009) and Prix Destellos (2009). Residencies include CEMI (Center for Experimental Music and Intermedia) at the University of North Texas, Atlantic Center for the Arts in Florida, the Institute for Electroacoustic Music in Sweden and Orford Center for the Arts, Montreal.


One of the curiosities that guided the creation of Elemental Chemistry was a concern with sound environments. Recognising the textural similarities between acoustic and synthesised environments, I was intrigued to explore the aesthetic possibilities of going beyond a dualistic attitude, towards an integral sound universe which is more than a combination of contrasting source materials.

The piece is developed from nature recordings, which are obscured and suffused with synthesized morphologies, in the pursuit of a plasmic amalgamation of spaces, united by elemental structures. In a coalescence of the elements of sound and the elements of nature, a more abstract sound world is created, where a higher logic of behaviours, textures and gestures almost refutes the duality between real and imaginary. Here, the whole and the parts are simultaneously present; elemental sonorities and abstract forms coincide with a continuously warping nature of complex textures and spaces. As in nature, one process ignites another and equilibrium is only relative and momentary; as a new environment has emerged, another is always in the making.

Erik Nyström is an electroacoustic composer born in Sweden and based in London. His educational background includes a BA (Hons.) in Audio Engineering from SAE in London and courses in Computer Music at CCMIX in Paris, with Gerard Pape and others. In 2008 he completed an MA in electroacoustic composition at City University, supervised by Denis Smalley and awarded with distinction. Currently, Erik Nyström is undertaking a PhD research concerning spatial texture in electroacoustic music at City University, also supervised by Smalley. Further preoccupations include acousmatic music in the context of choreography, which has led him to write works for contemporary dance performances and video. His works have been performed and broadcast in Brazil, France, Germany, Hungary, Argentina and the UK.


The chief component of Narrows consists in a steadily shifting spectral form, which absorbs and recasts a range of less prominent but none less significant articles, rather like some transparent adhesive substance coursing through the debris of a recent devastation, churning up once intact, now nebulous materials and forging unique configurations from their bounty in its train. At once neutral and tenacious, this fluid form plays host to a series of molecular interventions, such as the volatile iterations which interrupt its deep molten flow, or the glacial drape that hangs off, or spills from under its accumulative mass.

Narrows, refers to the streams of nebular activity, whose composite fibres describe serpentine routes and trace irregular trajectories through and around the transparent primordial substance, decorating and animating its otherwise featureless façade. In isolation, this fundamental property becomes an unconsummated body of potential, comparable to the sculpture's stone before it is distinguished. As such, it relies of the influence of its environment, and the memory of its encounters, to develop some kind of identity.

Lee Fraser (UK, 1981) began his formative musical education studying composition with Frank Denyer and David Prior at Dartington College of Arts, Devon. In 2006 he received a Bachelor’s degree in Sonic Arts from Middlesex University and, in 2009, completed an MA in electroacoustic composition under the supervision of Denis Smalley at City University, London.
Lee is also member of the London-based improvisation group Uteffekt and has reworked material for the sound artist and composer Mikhail Karikis, released on the Sub Rosa imprint in 2009. His music have been presented in concert and broadcast throughout Europe and North America.


Nyctinasty is concerned with organic movement, growth or reduction, as reaction to stimulus. Stimuli are either present in the sonic world of the work or implied. The title, borrowed from botany, refers to nastic (non-directional responses to stimuli) movement in the dark. The events portrayed in this piece are fictitious, and any resemblance to real events, past, present, or future, is entirely coincidental but highly probable. The work was realised at the composer’s home studio in the summer of 2009. Nyctinasty was awarded the first prize at the Punto de Encuentro Canarias International Electroacoustic Composition Competition 2009.

Nikos Stavropoulos was born in Athens in 1975. He studied Piano, harmony and counterpoint at the National School of Music and Nakas conservatoire in Greece. In 2000 he graduated from the Music Department of the University of Wales, Bangor where the next year he was awarded an MMus in electroacoustic composition studying with Dr. Andrew Lewis. He is currently working towards a PhD at the University of Sheffield Sound Studios with Dr. Adrian Moore. His works range from instrumental to tape and mixed media. He has composed music for video and dance and his works have been awarded mentions and prizes at international competitions (Bourges, 2000,2002, Metamorphose, Brussels 2002, 2008, SCRIME, Bordeaux 2003, Musica Miso, Potrugal2004).


Escapade was composed using tiny fragments of sound. At the start of the piece, the individual fragments are not perceived. Instead, they are so densely packed that they (perceptually) fuse into much larger structures; one hears the source recordings, which are largely, but not entirely, orchestral. As the piece progresses, the individual fragments become increasingly prominent; they no longer fuse into larger structures and are subsequently perceived as discrete units or entities. In this respect, Escapade was inspired by pointillistic painting – a technique in which small, distinct points of colour are used to form a larger image.

Escapade was composed in the studios at Musique & Recherchés, Belgium. I am extremely grateful to Annette Vande Gorne for her hospitality and support.

Adam Stansbie (1981) is a sound artist involved in the creation and performance of electroacoustic music. He has presented works at festivals and concerts throughout Europe, Asia, North and South America and Australasia and has won awards at the Bourges International Competition, France (2006) and the International Acousmatic Competition ‘Metamorphosis’, Belgium (2006). Adam has worked in various prestigious European studios (including the IMEB, France (2007, 2008), Musique et Recherché, Belgium (2009) and VICC, Sweden (2010)), has taught at several HE institutions and is currently Lecturer in Music, Sound and Performance at Leeds Metropolitan University.


Divergent Dialogues exploits the fact that, in the studio under close microphone conditions, no two articulations of the same source sound are identical - there are always minute variations in timbre. This piece attempts to use these subtle differences as a vehicle for musical expression. The source recordings used to create the work were: two stones colliding, a rubber string being plucked, a piece of cardboard being creased and a sheet of plastic being twisted. An instrument was designed using MAX/MSP to create gestures from these recorded impulses, allowing them to be intuitively distributed throughout virtual space.

Graeme Truslove is a composer and performer based in Glasgow, Scotland. His output includes: Electroacoustic and Instrumental Composition, Live Sound Design for Theatre, Sound-Art Installations, Audio-Visual Art, and Improvisation - performing on guitar and laptop in a variety of small ensembles. His work is largely concerned with conflicts between intuitive performance and the fixed-medium, often exploring how fixed-medium expressive and structural possibilities can be integrated into improvised performance and vice versa. His approach integrates multiple strata of musical time, ranging from macrostructure down to the formation of timbre itself, conceived in terms of the sonic grain.

He has held a compositional residency at L'Institut Universitari de l'Audiovisual, Barcelona. His music has won awards from: The Dewar Arts Awards, The Scottish Arts Council, The Performing Rights Society Foundation, The Phonos Foundation, Sociedad General de Autores y Editores (S.G.A.E), The Prince’s Trust and others. His work has been performed both in the UK and internationally. Recent performances include the International Computer Music Conference (ICMC) in Montreal 2009, and the Zeppelin sound art festival Barcelona 2009. Graeme has a PhD in composition from the University of Glasgow, where he studied with Nick Fells.


The Nowness of Everything
“As much as we would like to call back yesterday and indeed yearn to, and ache to sometimes, we can’t, it’s in us but we can’t actually, it’s not there in front of us…The only thing you know for sure is the present tense, and that nowness becomes so vivid to me that, almost in a perverse sort of way, I’m almost serene. You know, I can celebrate life.

Below my window in Ross, when I’m working in Ross, for example, there at this season, the blossom is out in full now…it’s a plum tree, it looks like apple blossom but it’s white, and looking at it, instead of saying ‘Oh that’s nice blossom’…last week looking at it through the window when I’m writing, I see it is the whitest, frothiest, blossomest blossom that there ever could be, and I can see it. Things are both more trivial than they ever could be, and more important than they ever were, and the difference between the trivial and the important doesn’t seem to matter. But the nowness of everything is absolutely wondrous.”

Acclaimed television dramatist Dennis Potter speaking in an interview in March 1994, knowing that he has a few weeks to live.

This music celebrates the details and qualities of the ‘everyday’: in this case, everyday sounds, generated by everyday objects and events. By expanding those moments, captured when making the source recordings, this piece is made of new ‘present tenses’ that are inspired by both the obvious and more hidden qualities of those everyday experiences.

It was made in 2009.

Ambrose Seddon has a background in rock and electronic pop music. After graduating with a degree in music from Goldsmiths College, University of London, he spent a number of years teaching, while writing, producing and performing in various bands, with releases through a number of independent record labels. He completed a Masters degree in electroacoustic composition at City University in 2004, and now continues his studies at City University as a PhD student, supervised by Denis Smalley. His acousmatic works have been performed internationally in concert and on radio. The piece Fouram (2005) received 1st prize in the 2006 Visiones Sonoras Electroacoustic Music Compostion Competition, Mexico, and was awarded the European Composition Prize at the International Computer Music Conference, Copenhagen, 2007.


Arborescences is a stereo acousmatic composition. The sound material derives from particular resonances and timbres produced by striking, rubbing and scraping an assortment of gamelan instruments. Most of the sonic images in the piece are not recognisable as instrumental sounds because of the extended processing, which focuses on developing particular gestures and textures based on micro elements and groups of partials extracted from the recorded events. The composition explores temporal syntax based on my research on timescales. Timescales at various points in the piece move at different paces, so that arborescent structures move apart and then meet again. Periodicities turn into erratic behaviour and the opposite, undergoing a number of processes of change at the same time. Arborescences received a special mention in the Métamorphoses 2008 international acousmatic composition competition, and was selected for the ICMC 2009 in Montreal, Canada, the SMC 2009 in Porto, Portugal, the Sonoimágenes 2009 international acousmatic and multimedia festival in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the 2010 ISCM World New Music Days festival in Sydney, Australia.

Aki Pasoulas teaches at the Universities of City London, Middlesex, and the Arts London, and he finalises his PhD under the supervision of Denis Smalley. His research project, funded by the AHRC, investigates the listener’s experience and interpretation of time passing, and the interrelationships among timescales in electroacoustic music. Further research interests include psychoacoustics, microsound and spatialisation. Aki has composed for various combinations of instruments, found objects, voice, recorded and electronic sound. He is a SPNM shortlisted composer, took part in many concerts worldwide, composed music for the theatre and for short films, and organised and performed with various ensembles.

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