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Envisioning Abstraction: the Duality of FluiD


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Spectral Music 2.0

In a previous post I detailed my increasing interest in "spectral music" and the use of FFT analysis for producing very unique sounds and compositions. The "sounds" could be described as being similar to those produced by granular synthesis. The possibilities that FFT analysis offers for live performance is incredible.

Below is a brief definition of Spectral Music -

"Spectral music (or spectralism) is a musical composition practice where compositional decisions are often informed by the analysis of sound spectra. Computer based sound spectrum analysis using a Fast Fourier transform is one of the more common methods used in generating descriptive data. Using FFT analysis, features of a particular sound spectrum can be visualized using a spectrogram. Spectral composition focuses, then, on bringing out these features, interconnecting them, and transforming them. This analytical approach to spectral composition originated in France in the early 1970s and the techniques were primarily developed, and later refined, at the Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique, Paris, and with the Ensemble l'Itinéraire, by composers such as Gerard Grisey and Tristan Murail. However, Murail has described Spectral music as an aesthetic rather than a style, an attitude towards composition rather than a set of techniques - the attitude being that "music is ultimately sound evolving in time" . It has been suggested, however, that a number of major practitioners of this compositional method consider the term inappropriate, misleading, and reductive. More recently (2003) the Istanbul Spectral Music Conference redefined 'spectral music' to encompass any music that foregrounds timbre as an important element of structure or musical language".

There is also an upcoming performance of Spectral Music in October:

Spectrum XXI: international festival of Spectral Music

12, 13, 15 October at 7pm, The Warehouse, 13 Theed Street, London SE1

17 October at 7pm, LSO St. Luke's, 161 Old Street, London ECIV

Compostions by Iancu Dumitrescu, Ana-Marie Avram, Giacinto Scelsi, Iannis Xenakis, Tim Hodgkinson, Costin Cazaban, Horatiu Rodulescu and Mario Diaz De Leon

You can listen live on Resonance 104.4 FM (UK)

There is also a lengthy interview with Iancu Dumitrescu in the October 2009 issue of The Wire -

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