AA. VV. – Computer Music


cover-computer-music-nonesuch-recordsTitle: Computer Music
Authors: Vari
Label: Nonesuch
Year: 1969
Duration: 00:36.01

This LP edition of the Nonesuch Records can be considered one of the first collection of works realized with a computer, following few years after the historic collection signed Decca and titled Music From Mathematics firmata Decca. If the latter brought together some works, historical, realized at Bell Labs, the collection of the Nonesuch collects other five works realized between Princeton and the Columbia University through the DAC of the Bell Labs, the only ones to have these devices.

The first piece in the collection is a short sequence created by James Randall in 1964: Quartets in Paris which is characterized by the simultaneous use of two melodic lines structured through the imposition of two different tempo (7:6 and 5:9 ), in a tone that expresses a certain date.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xe8JXyhk1-4

The second track of this LP is Quartersines (1969), which has the appearance of a study based on a short sequence monophonic obtained through the use of sine waves.

Much more elaborate is the next song, Mudgett, Monologues For a Mass Murderer (1965), structured in two parts called Electronic Prelude, lasting about three minutes, and Toronto, which sees the presence of the soprano voice of Melinda Kessler. It is a work commissioned by the Fromm Foundation in August 1965, and based on the horrible story of Herman Webster Mudgett, also known with the name of Dr. Holmes, unfortunately become famous as a serial murderess in the United States in the late nineteenth century, then who was hanged to death sentence in 1896. Both parties mentioned above are put together quite clearly, without any mediation of sound. The textual part narrates four episodes of the life of this bloodthirsty crowds. The title of Toronto is linked to the name of the city where Mudgett murdered two children.

The first track on the B side is Synthesism (1969) by Barry Vercoe, well known in the computing environment for work performed as a software developer and systems for computer music, among which we mention the Synthetic Performer, the Music 360, the Music 11 and, in particular, Csound. Presented by the author as a study of the sounds generated by the computer, Synthesism was realized with Music 360 and has very interesting timbral solutions for 1969; Music 360 in fact was considered a very powerful tool for the times.

The collection closes with what is probably the most interesting piece of this publication: Changes (1970) by the American composer Charles Dodge, particularly active in the field of digital music. This work is made ​​up of three basic elements: chords, melody lines and percussive elements. Chords is realized with serial segments of 3 or 6 notes derived from a general series; at the end of the whole song you can listen to 48 different segments. These segments form the base material to which draw both the percussive elements, which duplicate the frequency content of the serial segments, both the melodic lines, which also perform segments of six notes.

Though there are not many tracks in this collection – so much so that the total length is just over half an hour – the album produced by Nonesuch seems very interesting, both from an aesthetic point of view for the timbre solutions of the three latter songs; both for the historical value of the two first works by James Randall appearing evidently confined within the studio.

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