May 21, 2011

Life as an Academic


So I started my MA in Electro-Acoustic Composition last September and the University of Manchester and have just handed in my course work for this term. This officially completes my first year (doing it part-time) of the degree.

During this year I’ve really tried to embrace the academic thing, and put my all into everything I was doing.

In the first term I wrote two long (4k words each) papers, one on “Electronic Virtuosity in the Context of Electro-Acoustic Improvisation” and the other one being an analysis of friend and collaborator, Pierre Alexandre Tremblay’s epic drum+electronics piece “La Rage”. Both came out well, which was a great relief as my academic writing is pretty shitty with the last paper I wrote previous to these papers was a 600 word essay that I got a “C” on…

During that term it was announced that the ICMC (International Computer Music Conference) would be held in Huddersfield this year. I decided to write and submit a paper, and some music, which was painful to take on as the deadline fell a couple of days before my academic paper deadline.

I wrote a paper on my evolving drum+electronics setup entitled “Towards the Beat of a Different Drummer : A Journey into the Loss of Fidelity in Drums and Electronics”. It was accepted in the end, but as a poster length paper, meaning that I had to cut the eight page paper down to four pages. There were lots of pictures/diagrams so after removing that and trimming some footnotes, I only needed to cut out a paragraph or two to make it fit.

Here is the full length paper version of the paper:


The published version, as mentioned, is a bit shorter and will be available as part of the ICMC2011 published proceedings.

So that was last term. This term, in addition to going to STEIM, I wrote two ‘fixed media’ pieces. Both etudes with themes of “Time” and “Space”. I am very proud of the of both of the pieces and will use them in future releases (with real titles). Going into it I didn’t want to make “throw away” music for the etudes, I wanted to make music that I could stand by, that explored the criteria given.

I began working on my time etude, now called “Where The Skin Meets The Bone”, last term, but in an unfortunate turn of events, lost all of my work (on paper at the time). It wasn’t too big a deal as I had scanned some of the notes, but it did suck the wind out of my motivation. Luckily it wasn’t due until this term. The approach I took regarding the time etude, was to form an observable disjunction in time between two sets of drums with electronics. The two exist in the same space, so they function as a duo, but time starts and stops independently for each. This is achieved by “freezing” time by means of acoustic and electronic extensions.

“Where The Skin Meets The Bone”

The space etude, now called “Six Motherfucking Pitches”, is a piece I’ve been wanting to work on for a long time. The premise is that the piece begins with a massive cluster that slowly dissipates over time. In preparation for the piece I recorded, edited, and catalogued 481 different pitches on dozens of different instruments totaling over 48 hours of audio. The piece is divided into six different sections, accented by a reorchestration of the remaining pitches. The structure is such that the first four sections grow increasingly shorter with the fifth section being as long as the first and sharing the same timing in terms of frequency decay and space generation. The final section explores the space and timbre of the remaining six pitches.

“Six Motherfucking Pitches”

Special thanks to all the performers who chipped in pitches for this one:
Alex Farha
Anton Hunter
Richard Knight
Abigail Sanders
Rod Skipp
Mauricio Pauly
Ramsey Janini
Hervé Perez
Keith Jafrate
James Adolpho
Jack Adler-Mckean
Nikki Hicks
Paul Strachan
Angela Guyton
Ben Cottrell
Graham South
Robin Eggers
Sonia Paço-Rocchia
Laurence Boot
Tom Owen
Rodrigo Constanzo


1 Comment

  • It’s great to see how your drum set up has really come a long way. Awesome stuff man!

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Rodrigo Constanzo
-makes music and art
-lives in Porto/Manchester
-is a crazy person

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