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Sir John Cass Department of Art, Media and Design


Music, Technology and Culture Seminar
London Metropolitan University

Summer 2010 Programme

11 May
Giles Askham and Luke Hastilow: ‘Cubed’: a networked physical gaming platform

18 May
Allan Seago: A new search strategy for timbre space

25 May
Debra Pring: With almost scientific precision? 

1 June
Benjamin Hebbert: Andrea Amati and the vingt-quatre violons du Roi

3 June (Thursday)
Claudia Robles: The use of Bio-interfaces in my interactive Multi-Media performances

8 June
Victor Gama: Pangeia Instrumentos and the Golian Modes: another perspective on new twenty-first-century musical instruments

16 June
Christina Paine: Voice, image and agency on the early nineteenth-century London stage: the case of Angelica Catalani

11 May: Giles Askham and Luke Hastilow (London Metropolitan University)
‘Cubed’: a networked physical gaming platform

Cubed provides a unique re-programmable system of networked computational objects and an innovative tactile interface, with which to play technologically-enabled games in a variety of social settings.  Cubed develops critical and technical ideas first advanced in John Von Neumann’s theories of Cellular Automata, in order to actualise computational devices in embedded contexts.  A meshed networked system without a central controller, it consists of a set of gaming objects that communicate remotely with one and other in order to determine gaming protocols.  Once these protocols are established, the network responds to user interaction in particular ways, enabling a variety of game-play scenarios.  Cubed was commissioned by Folly, the media arts agency, as part of the Portable Pixel Playground (PPP) project, whose remit is to provide interactive and hands-on experiences of art and technology for children and young people throughout the UK.

18 May: Allan Seago (London Metropolitan University)
A new search strategy for timbre space

Modern synthesizers offer a wide range of techniques for the creation an editing of new and interesting musical timbres. However, for the most part, these techniques require in-depth knowledge of digital audio, acoustics, and the parameters of the synthesis engine; without such knowledge, users are effectively confined to available presets.  A new interactive method for the specification of timbre is introduced, based on an iterated user-system dialog in which the user engages with the sound itself, rather than with a technical description of it.  The system will be described, results of user testing will be reported, and possible implementations and directions for further research will be proposed.

25 May: Debra Pring (Goldsmiths, University of London)
With almost scientific precision? 

The depiction of instruments in Dutch Golden Age art from object to symbol and beyond Dutch Golden Age paintings have been used for decades by organologists seeking evidence of seventeenth-century instrument design; and the way in which some artists represent instruments with apparent scientific precision would seem to justify this confidence.  However, concerns with form as well as symbolic content might mean that we should examine such almost photographically-perfect depictions more closely, to attempt to negotiate a role (or multiple roles?) for any object in such a painting, particularly a musical object.

1 June: Benjamin Hebbert (University of Oxford)
Andrea Amati and the vingt-quatre violons du Roi

Although in the last few years, as the five-hundredth anniversary of his birth has passed, much attention has been given to Andrea Amati as the father of Cremonese violin making, little has been paid in this connection to the environment at the court of Charles IX, or to why the it patronised a violin maker in Italy rather than developing its own school of making in France.  The objective of this presentation is to explore the broader cultural ideologies in the French court in order to understand why Amati’s work was special to them, what it was intended to represent in terms of cultural capital, and how this led to the dissemination of Franco-Italian ideas about violin music throughout Europe.

3 June (Thursday): Claudia Robles (Essen)
The use of Bio-interfaces in my interactive Multi-Media performances at 5.15pm in the Parker Gallery (ground floor), 41-71 Commercial Road, London E1.

I am particularly interested the interaction between media (audio and
visual) and bio-data from performers or from an audience. This is done by using Biofeedback – the process of measuring physiological data from a subject, analyzing the data, and feeding it back to the subject.  This presentation is about two interactive performances which I created using bio-interfaces: an EMG (electromyogram) and an EEG (electroencephalogram).

Both were programmed in real time media with the software MaxMsp/Jitter. Seed/Tree (2005) Installation:  Butoh performance created during an artist in residence at the ZKM (Center for Art and Media) Karlsruhe (Germany). In this installation there are two types of interactivity. The first is the interaction between dance and sound in which the performers have microphones and EMG electrodes attached to their bodies; the breathing and heartbeat of two of the performers produce sounds that are continuously modified by the muscular tension of the third dancer.  The second type of interactivity is that between the installation space and the visitors: during the performance, visitors can walk freely around the virtual forest and their presence interacts with the video projections.

INsideOUT (2009). This project was created during an artist in residence program at the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne (Germany).  The performer, who is surrounded by sound and images, interacts with them using an EEG (electroencephalogram) interface, which measures the performer’s brain activity.  The sounds and images - already stored in the computer - are continuously modified, via MAX/MSP-Jitter, by the values from two electrode combinations.

8 June: Victor Gama (Lisbon and Luanda)
Pangeia Instrumentos and the Golian Modes: another perspective on new twenty-first-century musical instruments

Present-day digital technologies allow a dematerialization of the musical instrument and, consequently, the composition of music without object. Pangeia Instrumentos reconsiders the object and its symbolic content, while using those same technologies to re-materialize the object and promote a way of writing where its form is an additional variable in music making.  The Golian Modes, which will be introduced, are four musical modes derived from the ancient Kongo/Angolan graphic writing system known as ‘Bidimbu’.

16 June: Christina Paine (Royal Holloway, University of London)
Voice, image and agency on the early nineteenth-century London stage: the case of Angelica Catalani

This paper examines the voice and performance style of Angelica Catalani (1780-1849), as represented in the press, in music written for her, in sources recording her own ornaments, and in accounts which liken her sound to that of various instruments.  Between 1797 and 1830 – the span of Catalani’s career – Italian opera privileged the female singer, valuing her above the ‘artwork’.  Singers of Catalani’s generation were co-authors and collaborators who realised works in performance in an individual way.

They had high agency, both on and off stage: composers wrote works for their distinctive strengths and singers added ornamentation and used other expressive devices as they saw fit.  Later in Catalani’s career, composers took more control of the creative process and this, to some extent, has led to her achievement being ignored.  Building on recent performer-centred research, I present a performance profile of Catalani, comparing her with singers of her own and the immediately surrounding generations.  I examine her acting, vocal expression and ornamentation, and assess the materiality and quality of her voice, including range, intonation, loudness, and tone quality.  I consider how far voices of the era before recording are recoverable, what can be learned by analogy with the sounds of instruments, and how of the voice production and performance style of these singers could inform modern-day performance.

Time and place

Unless otherwise indicated, the seminar meets on Tuesdays, from 5.15 to 6.45, in The ILRC Seminar Room (CR310), London Metropolitan University, 41-71 Commercial Road, London E1 1LA (5 minutes walk from Aldgate East underground station).

Each presentation lasts about an hour and is followed by questions and discussion.

Open to all.  Please bring these events to the attention of those who might be interested.

The seminar exists for the study of all aspects of the technologies of music, and of the relationship of music, technology and culture.

Further information from the Convenor: Lewis Jones

E: l.jones@londonmet.ac.uk
T: 020 7320 1841

London Metropolitan University