Electronic Composition – Two Pieces of Controlled Noise

Electronic Composition – Two Pieces of Controlled Noise

This small set of pieces embodies the “composition as improvisation” aesthetic. This mentality allows the composer to have full control over an electronic composition, synchronicities and other seemingly random line-up tend to occur. Certainly some control is maintained, as would be in any improvisation; but the tight, controlled works of Stockhausen or Xenakis are far from this more haphazard style of composition.

These two works are written similarly – starting from some sort of written score or plan and moving from there directly to recording. In the case of the shorter work, “Boris (rough mix),” the graphic score provided the foreground, while an improvised backing track on guitar gave more depth to the piece. The longer track, “Beautiful/Horrible,” was more involved, starting as a thread to “crowdsource” my composition and get random pitches.

From those pitches, durations in milliseconds were derived, providing a rhythm. These durations were mapped over meters from Latin poetry, shown in the score. Finally, tones were generated from the first 8 Google image results of “the most beautiful thing” and “the most horrible thing.” These can be seen in random order on the first page of the score. Finally, a “track and a half” of white noise and a track of improvised guitar was added. These both followed the same accompaniment rhythms found in the working sketches.

Using improvisation in electronic composition creates a more intimate feel, one that bends the rigidity surrounding performance and recording. Combining these elements, especially with more structured elements like scores and pre-composition, creates an interested palette to work from.

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