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University of Arizona - EMS

University of Arizona Fred Fox School of Music Electronic Music Studio presents multimedia works by UA composition faculty Dr. Yuanyuan (Kay) He and her students. For the past years they have been working on various audio editing techniques and also developing and exploring the use of visual art with electronic music. This concert is a showcase of the result of their hard work at the UA Electronic Music Studio.

L'appel du Vide - Zachary White

“L’appel du vide” (“the call of the void”) is a work for drum kit and tape that illustrates the “untraditional” influences that one may possess behind a drum kit in a “traditional” jazz setting. Throughout the piece, the player finds themselves in a quasi-improvisatory setting that both dictates precisely what the player must perform and allows for free improvisation (the void). In these moments of free improvisation, the player must decide whether to succumb to their personal influences as drum kit players or to be informed by the [quasi] “traditional” jazz accompaniment presented throughout the piece (the call).

Although there is no “correct” choice to be made in the improvisatory moments throughout the piece, the colorfully dictated narration of the player’s “instructor” (as represented by a sampled speech given by Buddy Rich that was directed at his band) is present to inform the performer in their improvisatory choice making.

Throughout the piece, “l’appel” (the call) that the performer is faced with is further represented by the electronic manipulation of the “traditional” jazz accompaniment. In the context of this piece, the “traditional jazz” aspects of this accompaniment reside in its stylistic and harmonic language as well as the timbre of the grand piano. As much as the notation suggests that the performer makes personally informed/ improvisatory decisions, the accompanying track employs the player to evolve as the grand piano evolves throughout the piece via timbral synthesis (with synthesizers), spatial manipulation (via dynamic, delay, and reverb processing) and frequency equalization.

dream – Tess Wagner
for audiovisual

dream is my first audiovisual composition, completed under the guidance of Dr. He during my pursuit of a Masters degree in Landscape Architecture at the University of Arizona. In this piece, I explored simple animation by manipulating and distorting over 30 layers of a digitally painted ocean scene I created in Photoshop. The piece was created during the Coronavirus pandemic and explores the properties of water and fire in a nebulous and saturated dreamscape. Working in this invented digital dream-space became a necessary escape for me during the chaotic isolation of life during the pandemic.

On the Arch of a Monochrome Rainbow - Yuanyuan (Kay) He
for clarinet and electronics

Clarinetist: Jackie Glazier
*Location Courtesy of the Pima Air & Space Museum, Tucson, AZ

On the Arch of a Monochrome Rainbow for clarinet and cello was inspired by Nancy Rubins' sculpture "Monochrome," which is displayed on the UT Austin campus. "Monochrome" stands nearly 50 feet high and stretches across 24th Street. It comprises around 75 Kayaks, canoes, and small boats, arranged together to form a giant silver tree, and has become a significant landmark in Austin, TX.

"Monochrome" develops a sense of mass and scale that is accompanied with true grace. Balance becomes the main theme of the sculpture.

There are many extended techniques I use for clarinet solo, such as large scale glissando, bending tone, multiphonic techniques, etc. These create a very interesting sound palette, which become the source of the electronic sound. Sometimes it’s gentle and beautiful, sometimes it’s odd and harsh, sometimes it’s aggressive and overwhelming, sometimes it’s colorful and joyful, just like nature. How do we keep the balance in the world to continue to live along with nature? How do we enjoy the different shades of nature, and be part of it? It is just like dancing on the arch of a monochrome rainbow. It’s overwhelming and also joyful.

Baba Yaga – Jacob Ransom

for fixed media and video

Baba Yaga is an exploration of live processing, sample-based music, and processed electroacoustic drumset performance. The character Baba Yaga (often referred to as “Bony-Legged") is a witch and common antagonist in Slavic folklore. The piece features a recitation of a Baba Yaga folk tale, from Politicizing Magic: an Anthology of Russian and Soviet Fairy Tales, in both the English and Russian languages. The tale intertwines and juxtaposes language and rhythm. The electronics of Baba Yaga contain many short samples played on a drum sampler pad, a series of fixed-media sections, and live audio processing for the drumset. The sampled material is constructed from both audio and MIDI instruments.

The instrumentation of Baba Yaga includes a bass drum, snare drum, hi-hat, two cymbals, and a Roland SPD-SX (or similar) sampling pad. The piece uses a symbolic notation where each written note corresponds to a rhythmic drumset cell. The cell is notated in standard drumset notation in the instructions for the piece, while the melody for the SPD-SX sampler instrument uses a treble staff where each note corresponds to a pad on the sampler.

Many electroacoustic pieces use triggers to advance large sections of a composition. In contrast, Baba Yagasounds like the performer is playing a sampler musically, as if it is part of the drumset, with melodies and rhythms unfolding organically. The music and the words fold together seamlessly and at times incoherently, many languages in music and speech all happening at the same time. The sound samples are short one-shot samples; the music sounds stylistically like someone using an old AKAI sampler, pressing buttons to arrange beats. There is a chord that corresponds to each MIDI-mapped pad that in turn corresponds to a rhythmic pattern on the drumset.

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