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3 CD Box Set: L'Oeuvre Musicale The complete works of Pierre Schaeffer, re-digitised and re-issued with newly discovered tracks.
Book and 3 x CDs: Solfege de l'Objet Sonore This book, accompanied by 285 tracks on 3 CDs of examples is a unique and indispensable resource work for all those interested in electroacoustic music. Examples by Parmegiani, Henry, Bayle, Xenakis, Luc Ferrari etc. illustrate Pierre Schaeffer's text.
Book: Audible Design by Trevor Wishart
5 CD Box Set: GRM Archive 5 CD Boxed Set containing music spanning half a century of GRM inspired compositions
12 CD Box Set: Parmegiani: l'Oeuvre Musicale The complete works of Bernard Parmegiani on 12 CDs
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Trevor Wishart - Globalalia/Imago

Trevor wishart - Globalalia/ImagoA re-issue of Globalalia which explores human speech and the syllables common to all, and Imago, which is constructed entirely out of the sound of 2 whiskey glasses being clinked together. Classic Wishart at his best!

Wishart writes: "In Globalalia, I wanted to use human speech, but focus on what we hold in common as human beings. Although the world’s languages contain many millions of words, these are constructed from a much smaller set of sounds, the syllables. I wrote to several friends asking them to collect voices from their local radio stations, and also recorded voices from TV stations via satellite dish, assembling sounds from 134 voices in 26 different languages. I then edited these into their syllables, ending with more than 8300 sources."

Francis Dhomont - Etudes Pour Kafka

Francis Dhomont - Etudes Pour KafkaA new release from Francis Dhomont, who in the opinion of many is the greatest living composer of electroacoustic music. This CD contains 3 studies which were the seeds from which many of his other works grew. Behind major works of the scope of … mourir un peu, Sous le regard d’un soleil noir, and Forêt profonde, in these studies Dhomont experiments with the themes, tries out sound materials, and unveils glimpses of the final work. Dhomont at his best!

Denis Smalley - Sources - Scénes

Denis Smalley - Sources - ScénesrOne of our most popular titles is back in stock. Denis Smalley is one of the UK's best known composers of electroacoustic music, and this CD is a personal favourite of ours - definitely a desert island disc. The music is simply stunningly beautiful, the production and sound quality are as good as it gets. If you don't already have this CD, don't put it off any longer.
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Parmegiani: l'Oeuvre MusicaleWe are fans of Bernard Parmegiani and so we now have all of his CDs in stock, including the newly released l'Oeuvre Musicale. If you don't know his music, we recommend that you make an acqaintence with it by listening to some clips and reading the comprehensive notes which we have on the site. Click here for links to his biography and all his CDs.
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Pierre Hanry: Labyrinthe We now stock a selection of the best electroacoustic CDs from the GRM Catalog, both historic and new - Electroacoustic Classics from Pierre SchaefferPierre Henry Luc Ferrari and  Jean-Claude Risset are just some of the new offerings.

One of our most popular GRM titles is Pierre Henry's Labyrinthe - Pierre Henry says of Labyrinthe - "For the first time during my journey and ventures into the world of creation, I dreamt of a breath of fresh air deriving from the electronic realm." This CD is a real retrospective of this pioneer of electronic music.
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New from Digital Music Archives - Download a continually expanding catalogue of electroacoustic music tracks!

You can now download a selection of single tracks of music from our website. All the tracks are encoded as top quality MP3s at 320k. All you have to do is go to our tracks page, add the ones you want to your shopping cart, and you will be presented with a webpage with links to the tracks as soon as your credit card payment has been authorised. You will also be sent an email with the links and a seven day period to download the tracks.
Our UK Event Listings service is now online....

We now have a listings page for concerts, festivals, conferences and workshops of electroacoustic music in the UK. We hope it will soon be the place to check up on whats happening and where. Its already up and running - click here! to check it out.
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Looking for a course in electroacoustic composition? - Try our links page for some of the best places in the UK. You'll also find links to organisations and institutes all over the world.

Think we've missed out on something? Email us at links@digital-music-archives.com and let us know.
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CD Details for Trevor Wishart: Red Bird

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Red Bird Trevor Wishart
A seminal work from 1977 created on analogue equipment - a stunning piece of music which demonstrates the art of transformation. Now re-issued on CD - scroll down to read and hear how this work was put together.
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About the Music

RED BIRD (1977)


"The irrational escapes calculation and calculation must reign in the empire. To ensure man's control of the world it is necessary to suppress in the world and in man, everything that escapes the empire, everything that does not come under the reign of quantity. In this new Jerusalem echoing with the roar of miraculous machinery, who will still remember the cry of the victims. The real passion of the twentieth century is servitude". Albert Camus: The Rebel

Red Bird is not only a piece of music, but also a journey into an alternative world. When we listen to a piece of pure sonic art such as Red Bird, we bypass the theatre of the concert hall, and are cast adrift in an entirely aural universe. The whole environment is defined by the dynamic process of sound events. Sounds may again take on some of the 'magical' power they must have had for pre-literate peoples - a significance and resonance muted by the dominance of written language in our culture. If we allow ourselves, we can enter that state of perception where the environment is vibrant with significant sounds and symbols and in which myths have their power.

Red Bird is both a piece of music and a mythic retelling of the world. The underlying structural idea, as far as it can be put into words, is the conflict between 'open' and 'closed' conceptions of reality. This conflict may be expressed in a number of different ways (political, philosophical, technological…). I don't wish to explain this further, as I prefer the music to speak for itself. I will only add that such interpretations of reality are complementary, rather than conflicting - all reflect a 'deep structure' represented by the myth. What is straightforward in one interpretation may be metaphorical in another.

The sound world of Red Bird Red Bird. as a myth, deals with complex ideas, but aims to distil the essence of these ideas and articulate them in an archetypal form To do this it uses only a limited set of recognisable sounds, in particular ....

Birds: real calls selected for their musical properties
Animal/Body: including breath, fluids and inarticulate vocals
Words: especially 'listen to reason, and 'reasonable' and their syllables
Machines: sonic constructions made from words or animal/body sounds

Each sound-symbol may have several meanings e.g:

Factory ---> Industrial Society --> Machine
Mechanism ---> Mechanistic Worldview

Subsidiary sound-symbols include the clock, the hook, the fly and the door.

The sound-symbols are connected by being placed in context with one another, and by transformations, where one sound changes into another. These connections allow complex nets of meaning and allusion to be developed, for example...

Hounds of Reason
'rea'
'reazzzzzzz'  
'reazzonabl'
   
 
 
 
   
' creaking door'
 
fly
'zzz' in word-machine   fluids(body/animal)
   
           
   
'slammed door'
book
book pages
flock of birds

In addition, entire landscapes (such as the garden and the universal factory) act as dynamic symbols, realities in conflict with one another.

Making Red Bird

Red Bird was made in a 'classical' analogue studio using only tape recorders. razor blades and a mixing desk. It took 4 years to produce ( 1973 - 77), working in the studio of the University of York Music Dept between the hours of 4am and 10am, when students and staff were not using it. A document, describing in more detail how the piece was made, can be obtained from the University of York Music Press.

One evening, during the period when ideas were just forming for a piece of this kind. I was motorcycling through the countryside close to York, when I happened to pass a small nature reserve. I stopped and went in. The light was fading. and beneath the tall trees it was quite dark. I was able to make my way along the narrow pathways between bushes without making my presence known. However, sometimes when I approached too close to a bird hidden in the bushes, it would burst from its cover with a sudden loud and startling rustle of leaves and wings disappearing into the semi-darkness This experience was repeated over and over again in the deepening darkness until I emerged from the wood.

I was struck by the aural connection between this mysterious and frightening rustling of leaves and the commonplace rustling of the pages of books. This became the basis for a particular (and not very successful) transformation in Red Bird. It was one of the most important experiences that led to the emerging garden imagery in the piece.

Collecting together the sound sources for Red Bird was a major task . As I started partly from abstract ideas about sound transformations. I needed as many source sounds as possible in order to discover if such transformations could be achieved in practice. In the analogue studio, before the advent of computer manipulation of sound, sound transformation was a difficult and highly pragmatic business.

This also meant developing ways to classify sounds (especially birdsong) in such a way that I could find the correct bit of tape on the correct reel when I needed it (there were 14 reels of birdsong fragments alone).

One story from this period: For the fly what I needed was a sound which would appear to be a buzzing fly, but which would change into the 'zzz' of the word Rea(zzz)on. What seemed to be a simple problem turned out to be almost insurmountable, The most obvious approach was to produce the sound vocally and then filter it and vary its loudness to give it the characteristics of a moving fly. Then, by removing the filters and restoring the natural loudness the original voice would 'reappear'.

Unfortunately this didn't work, partly due to the limited filters available to me, but mainly because of the problem of context, The ear refused to be fooled into believing that a vocal source was a fly especially when I attempted to transform a voice into a fly, because the voice landscape adhered to the vocal sound, no matter what.

My next approach was to attempt an electronic synthesis, but with the equipment available this too proved impossible; again the ear would not be fooled.

Finally, what had seemed the least likely solution turned out to be the only feasible one: record a fly. I was lucky enough to find a biologist researching the behaviour of flies. All the sense-receptors of flies. apart from their eyes. are located on their feet, This means that they can be stuck on the end of a rod without knowing about it, and that if you touch their feet and then let go they receive the message 'start flying' and begin to do so, creating the characteristic buzzing sound, So I was able to place a microphone very close to a buzzing fly without it actually moving. When the recording session was over, the fly was removed from the end of the rod and it flew off, none the wiser.

This was not, however, the whole solution, First of all, the movement and loudness changes (caused by varying distances from the hearer) of the fly's normal sound had to be created artificially at the mixing desk, More significantly, such a quiet sound had to be recorded at such a high level that other background sounds were noticeable on the tape. So even the recorded sound of the fly had to be filtered and slightly speeded up to create a convincing aural illusion.

I spent many months systematically exploring the possible ways in which my sound-symbols might be combined and inter-related, I assessed these both in terms of the overall structure of the music and in terms of how easily they could be achieved using the sounds I had collected and the equipment I had available.

The musical form of the piece, the unfolding of the myth, can be divided into a number of sections. In each section some particular type of sound-symbol is dominant. For example the universal factory sequence which ends the piece, where many other sounds and sound events from earlier in the piece are heard again, but they are bound into the dominant machine landscape.

More important than the division into sections, however, is the musical dynamic - the timing and pacing of events. the way in which a sound transformation happens (suddenly, very slowly) - something which in a more conventional context we would relate to rhythm and harmony.

Transformation


The most musically interesting and technically difficult process used in the piece is that of transforming one sound into another, In these days of computer sound analysis and signal processing algorithms, it's hard no imagine the difficulties involved in achieving sound transformations in the analogue studio.

I used two distinct types of transformation sequential transformation, where the sound is continually repeated, with slight changes on each repetition, and continuous transformation where one continuous sound begins its life as recognisably one thing but changes seamlessly into recognisably something else.

Book to door (23: 14 to 24:40) (click for Real Audio excerpt)

Here the transition is from the sound of a book slamming on a table to that of a slamming door. Neither sound is easily recognised out of context, especially when the sounds have to be stripped to their bare essentials (a percussive bang) to make the transition from one to the other. Hence the book is established by the context of pages being turned and the attempt to swat a fly, The slam is then gradually lowered in pinch to better match the door slam, As the door slam is repeated, the sound of the handle is gradually introduced (door context), and it finally merges into a stereo texture of many different doors. Where the sounds meet in the middle, the sequences of sounds are wrapped into each other i.e. the (pitch-raised) door occurs in the sequence before the (pitch-lowering) book has concluded. (i.e. where the ear expects book) and the two semi-alternate until the book is eventually left behind,

Screamed 'rea' to clock

This transformation takes place over a much longer time span and also goes through a number of intermediate recognisable gestalts. The initial screamed 'rea' (at 4: 30) is quite strongly filtered, This is soon followed by a texture of three screamed 'rea's (at 4 36) layered over each other, but not exactly coinciding, and soon after by a much thicker texture. It also occurs at this stage extended into a much denser, longer and highly filtered sound emerging out of a sound like a metal hammer ( from 6 05 to 6: 27). When this sound texture occurs again later (27: 15 to 29: 10) it has been extended both in length and in range of pitches. It now occurs with a specific 'envelope' i.e. a sudden attack and slowly fading away, On successive entries, the attack becomes more and more pronounced and is followed by' an increasingly steep initial decay. The attack level is gradually increased, producing extra harmonic content from resonances in the reverberation plate, and increasing amounts of reverberation are added, so that as the initial sound becomes shorter. its reverberated decay becomes longer. In this way the sound approaches the gestalt metallic hammer, and no longer sounds vocal, Finally (from 29: 10 to 33: 00) the sound of the clock is superimposed on this repeating sound (the attack of both sounds coinciding), initially extremely quietly. so that it is entirely masked by the hammer sound, The relative levels of the two are then very slowly reversed, and there is a shift in context (the breath-wind sounds fade away) until the pure clock sound emerges. To underline this, the ensuing alarm provides a context clue. Yet this sound is in fact strongly filtered, highly extended and slowed down birdsong, which rapidly defilters, speeds up and becomes a flock of birds. Since completing Red Bird, the transformations described here have become much easier to produce. I developed some of the first sound-morphing software, which I used to achieve the transformations heard in Vox 5 (1986), and have since greatly expanded those techniques, as heard in the more recent Tongues of Fire (1995).

Voices


Hugh Bemays, Poppy Holden, Pippa Pierce, Graham Treacher, Trevor Wishart
Thanks are also due to Rob Fletcher for the bluebottle, Martin Mayes -for help with the 'well' recordings, Richard Orton (Director, York Studio) and members of the studio composer's group and to my wife, Jackie, for advice and support.

ANTICREDOS (1980)


Performed by Singcircle director Gregory Rose, with the voices of: Nicole Tibbels, Penelope Walmsley-Clark, Alan Belk, Riebturd Wistreich, Steven Jackson, Paul Hillier, (Recording Copyright: Gregory Rose).

Written in 1980, the six amplified vocalists use a wide range of unusual vocal sounds. which I had researched over the previous four years. The results of these researches are brought together in the chapter 'The Human Repertoire' in my book On Sonic Art, The piece sonically takes apart the word 'Credos' and through processes of sound transformation, develops towards a completely new and seamlessly evolving sound world, the dissolution of all fixed points of reference, Unlike Red Bird these transformations are achieved in live performance and without the use of any electronics. This is possible because the voice is the most flexible sound producer we know - capable of many more types of sound production and articulation than any other individual musical instrument. The piece also occasionally uses percussion instruments to underline attacks, while in a live performance the vocal sounds are projected from four loudspeakers surrounding the audience, and inside to move around the auditorium in a patterns specified in the score, In this recording the spatial movement has been reconceived to work in stereo.

Anticredos was commissioned by Elms Concerts for SingCircle with financial assistance from the Arts Council of Great Britain, and first performed at St John's. Smith Square, London in 1980. A performance score of the piece can be o btained from the University of York Music Press.

 

 

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