4 Ways to describe a computer
There would certainly have been 16 other ways to describe a computer, not a computer itself, a simple grey box, but how you can play music with a computer, music that would be impossible to play without its help. We decided on 4 composers, differing and contrasting in style and the way they make use of the computer.
Josef Anton Riedl is a pioneer of computer-assisted composition. From 1959 till 1966 he was head of the Siemens Studio for Electronic Music, where an abundance of analogue sound generators could be programmed with a (early digital) punched tape reader. A precursor of the computer, if you will. Riedl demonstrates its use in the fully operational remains of this studio, which have been integrated into the German Museum.
Hans Tutschku is more than one generation younger than Riedl and uses the computer for the synthesis of sounds (in this case the so-called physical modelling) by imitating the vibration patterns of large copper plates and then adapting the size of the plate or morphing it into a piano string while it is still sounding. These sounds are picked up by 8 virtual microphones that crawl like a caravan over its surface. Eight (real) loudspeakers convey the acoustic experience, as if sitting in the middle of the copper plate or on a piano string, to the listener.
Hans Tutschku also uses his computer as a live instrument, it reacts in a predetermined way to impulses (volume, pitch, etc. - there are many possibilities) to the live improvisation of (real) musicians. An interaction of man with technology, which Tutschku already practised with the Ensemble for Intuitive Music Weimar back in 1982 in communist East Germany, and still practises today. In the film excerpts from two improvisations represented the ensemble, one for two and one for four musicians.
Luigi Ceccarelli attaches importance to the visual component of listening to music, and often includes live musicians (with a button in their ear) in his compositions for tape and (at least) eight loudspeakers. For this film, the horn player Michele Fait plays "Respiri" -- a piece based on the respiratory sounds of the horn, electronically transformed and extended by Ceccarelli in the music conservatory’s studio in Perugia. He himself calls it "sound microscopy". He gives the results of his research and meditative exploration back to the (live) musician who then plays a duet with the loudspeakers. Both musicians, Tutschku and Ceccarelli, utilize the acoustics in the room to produce a completely different aural impression to that of a classical symphony concert.
Hanspeter Kyburz -- fourth member of the group -- composes for real musicians, but is also not keen on traditional face-to-face concert hall seating, the audience facing the orchestra. He distributes his ensembles (in this case the Klangforum Vienna) all over the hall and between the listeners, thus cutting down the barrier formed by the distance from which the audience normally observes the musicians. He uses the computer to help produce his scores, calculating algorithms for the musical shape of the entire piece or for individual sound objects. The rows of numbers emerging from the computer are converted into synthesiser sounds like into simulated violins. Corrected and changed again and again by the composer until he is satisfied. Such passages are then copied by hand to the score with a pencil and paper. What Kyburz’s work has to do with the "Voynich Cipher Manuscipt" (we feature excerpts from the composition of the same name for instrumental and vocal ensemble), an alchemistic text, presumably baroque, encoded in secret writing and never deciphered, can best be explained by Kyburz himself.