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Music from Computer

by Jean-Claude Risset

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Sud 23:43
Mutations 10:28



Sud, 1985 (23’43)

This work was commissioned by the French Ministry of Culture, from a project initiated by the GRM, where it was produced circa 1984-1985. The piece mainly uses sounds recorded in the Massif des Calanques, south of Marseille, as well as sounds synthesized via a computer (again in Marseille). These sounds were then treated via another computer at the GRM. The natural and synthetic sounds are first presented separately. Along the piece, they increasingly merge, through mixing and processing. Thus real bird songs, as well as synthetic bird-like or insect-like sounds, have been spatialised. In the third movement, the filtering of birds' caws first appears as a colored echo, later as a genuine bird's "raga" using the defective scale. The origin of the many sounds deduced from the germinal material can be ascribed to a "family tree" displaying the sonic proliferation and resembling a rhizome. (J-C. R.)

Mutations, 1977 (10’25)

Piece for a two-tracks tape, computer-synthesized in 1968 at the Bell Laboratories. Commissioned by the GRM and premiered at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm in 1970. This work attempts to explore (particularly within the harmonic order) some of the possibilities offered by the computer to compose at the very level of sound - to compose sound itself, so to speak. The title refers to the gradual changes that occur throughout the piece, including the shift from a range of discontinuous heights to continuous frequency variations. (J-C. R.)

Computer Suite From Little Boy, 1968 (12’24)
- Flight & Countdown  
- Fall
- Contra-Apotheosis

This piece, composed in 1968, is one of the first significant works entirely produced via a computer: all sounds were synthesized using the MUSIC V program. The piece features several experiments on sounds synthesis I produced between 1964 and 1968, whilst working with Max Mathews at the Bell Laboratories. (J-C. R.)


released December 1, 2014


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