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Icsa 2017
Sep 7th to 10th, 2017
Graz, Austria

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ICSA 2017 4th International Conferenceon Spatial Audio | September 7th to 10th, 2017, Graz, Austria #vdticsa

Towards the Tone / Finalist in Category 1: Contemporary Music, Computer Music

Towards the Tone is a contribution by Goda Marija Gužauskaitė (Lithuania, Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theater).

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Original Documentation:

About the composition

The piece is composed of recorded sounds of wind and brass instruments. The final result is arranged for a sphere of surround sound. The duration of the piece is 3 minutes.

The piece is based on two ideas. The first of them is a move from silence to tone. The second one is the “breathing“ form, which I invented myself.

All players had only one and the same bar and several instructions on how to play it. They could choose 1) the duration of the bar and 2) the dynamic and performance technique which is used.

To discuss a composition, it is necessary to comprehend the philosophical view of the composer that influences the final result. While creating the piece I thought that like all things in nature a piece of music is also a process. More precisely music is an organized process in time. Thinking that way, I was searching for a musical form, which would define the process in terms of other processes.

The crescendo and diminuendo shape is used in each bar, which is the smallest closed process (phase) of the piece. The bar (or cell) is filled with blue color in Example No. 2. Moreover, if we think that music is organized sounds in time, it is the smallest musical form which could be created. The musical form of this piece is composed of these processual cells.

Cells have different durations and constitute their processual lines. Every line is constructed of cells which last the same duration. Consequently, at the same time we hear 14 lines which are constructed of different processual durations. Because of the structure explained above, the piece obtains a breathing musical form.

The musical form of the piece is divided into 14 lines because it was necessary to divide the duration of the piece into equal parts. The shortest phase lasts 3 seconds and the longest phase lasts 60 seconds because of the musician’s possibilities to perform it. The number of phases is inversely correlated to their durations (Example No. 3).

Another important thing is that every line has the same musical form as a cell (crescendo - diminuendo). (the process of each line is visible in Example No. 4). Firstly, a line consists of less intensive musical material. Then it develops into more intensive cells and after that it returns to less intensive musical material. Because of the different durations of the processual lines, the culminations of all lines do not coincide. Thus, the micro form of crescendo and diminuendo is used in all inner structures of the music. The same model is used as the form of a cell, as a form of a processual line and as a form of the entire piece.

The piece “Towards the Tone” consists of three different layers: 1) breathing, blowing into the instrument, 2) unpitched sounds of the instrument’s body and 3) marginal sounds of instrument (very high, very low) (Example No. 5). Each of them is composed by using this “breathing” form which is finite.

In the final form of the piece ~ 300 different sample recordings were used which consists of 30 tracks: 8 tracks of “breathing, blowing” musical material, 12 tracks of “sounds of instruments body” and 10 tracks of “marginal sounds of the instrument’s range”. 3 layers of 14 tracks should be 42 tracks. However, the result of 30 tracks are enough to reveal the musical form and make it workable.

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Track arrangement in the sphere of spatial sound

The arrangement in the sphere of spatial sound is also structured. All tracks are placed into 7 levels of the sphere: 0o, 10o, 20o, 30o, 45o, 60o, 90o. There are three main (bolded) and several additional levels which mark altitude. The distance between the first (0o) and the second (30o) main levels is divided into 3 equal levels, adding 10o, 20o levels. The distance between the second and the third level is divided into 2 equal levels. And the distance between the third (60 o) level and the top loudspeaker is not divided. It was decided to do this because of the form of the sphere which naturally makes the distances between these levels shorter. As a result, the piece sounds like all distances between the levels are equal.

For the arrangement of the music, the MISC sphere was used, which is located at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, Vilnius, Lithuania.

Every layer of musical material (breathing, blowing; sounds of instruments body and marginal sounds) is evenly arranged into the sphere. The layers overlap and mix to make a unified whole. The examples below show all three layers arrangement in the sphere.

  1. The arrangement of the first musical layer (sounds of blowing, breathing into the instrument).
  2. The arrangement of the second musical layer (sounds of instrument’s body).
  3. The arrangement of the third musical layer (the marginal sounds of instrument’s range).

In the third layer, the marginal sounds are spread evenly between the points on the sphere. Thus, the music material in the third layer forms a pentagram (Example No. 10).

All three layers of musical material interweave with each other and are evenly spread around the sphere, so it is imperceptible where one layer ends and where another begins. That way the arrangement in the sphere is closely related with the musical form of the piece.

The piece „Towards the Tone“ lasts 3 minutes. All sounds were recorded by the performers: Ramūnas Rėčkus (flute), Vytautas Žemaitis (clarinet in B), Eglė Čeponaitė (oboe), Vaiva Putriūtė (trumpet), Rokas Potelis (trombone), Aiva Nefaitė (tuba). All recordings were made at the MISC recording studio at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theater.