UFPR Arts Department 
Electronic Musicological Review
Vol. 4/June 1999
Portuguese version

Second Brazilian Symposium on Computer Music: the CD


Computer Music Journal 21 (1): 76, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1997


Words on music tend to fall under the weakest grammatical category: the adjective. Conrado Silva's Pericón is amusing. Robert Willey's Saudades de Ouro Preto is sentimental and eclectic. Victor Lazzarini's cybernetic Noite manipulates the vocoder in an unsubtle manner. Roland Barthes proposes a parlour game: to speak of music without adjectives. Carlos Cerana's and Diego Losa's Electrocañas moves from monody to polyphony and morphology. /Cartas/rs95.car is a computer-generated thread of four minutes which Aluízio Arcela poses as an object of the natural world. We lose ourselves contemplating its pattern.

Piece of Mind is overly eventful. An opening bell-like sound of distinct allure prepares the ear to maintenance criteria: allure and grain should knit the sonic objects together. A variety of physical phenomena gives rise to the perceptions of allure and grain though: heterogeneous sound-producing bodies, diverse excitation processes, ostensible manipulations. Instead of rendering causality unrecognizable ('denaturalization', as preached by early musique concrète) Celso Aguiar renders it unreal ('derealization', as practised by early musique concrète). The altercation between music and plot is inevitable. On the contrary, Pyrócua verges on minimalism. Ralf Ollertz transfigures and profiles magnificently the sonic matters of an unexpected ensemble: piano, flute, violin and water heater.

Olivine Trees questions its own possibility. The subject is the art-music/pop-music dichotomy. Fiat sonus and, with it, a finely crafted interplay of shapes and matters which a swingy bass-cell punctuates and underpins. Unveiling this cell, Olivine Trees bursts forth into pop. Fiat sonus again and.... the whole thing bubbles over into pop before vanishing in a crash. Starring Chaosynth and the darker overtones of Eduardo Miranda's sense of humour.

Working with virtual performer and virtual instrument, Steven Pope creates a dialogue between the factual harmonic grain of bell resonances and the virtual discontinuous grain of their successive attacks. As tempo increases and decreases with mechanical feeling, attacks are bound to cross the grain threshold. But this impending two-part counterpoint remains a perpetual possibility: the virtual performer of Pope's 168 virtual bells imposes his human limits upon speed. These limits are shared &emdash; on a factual basis upon the stage &emdash; by the CD's virtual dancers: Bat out of Hell is ballet music.

Mario Verandi picks up flamenco figures out of which he evolves electroacoustic fioriture that hypertrophy and retire into the flamenco from where they came. Reproduction and creation &emdash; the primordial dichotomy of the medium &emdash; are ruled over by the emphatic flamenco gesture which Verandi performs. Figuras flamencas inflates and deflates. In this movement, music and drama meet, reproduction and creation blend, reality and vagary get mixed up.

With powerful tools, economy of means, and unusual sensibility, Ollertz, Miranda, Verandi, and Pope forge the Western musical tradition from where they speak. On the pretext of pitch, Pope works with perceptually more complex phenomena. On the pretext of timbre, Miranda ponders the fate of his own craft. Ollertz carries the ideal of an abstract musique concrète to impeccable fruition. Verandi makes theatre for the ear.

We live in a world flattened by an abolishment of all distances which has not brought about any closeness (closeness is not the same as lack of distance). We have lost contact with things and ourselves. We lay the blame on 'technology'. In desperation, we turn to the objects and 'let them speak', but their objectness is tainted with our subjectlessness. The electroacoustic apparatus furnishes powerful means of inquire into the universe of things. Positing sonic things as sonic objects for us to play, it fosters a humanness which, over millennia, we have been losing. The tape-recorder, the synthesizer and the synthesis system are something poietic. They deserve to be heard. 

This version copyright©1999 Electronic Musicological Review, vol. 4/June 1999