Monday, 9 December 2013

Music Machine Radio Show on BasicFM

I have recently recorded a radio show for BasicFM all about the Music Machine project, follow the link to see when its on next. You can view more information about it here. I will be adding the text of the programme to this blog in the future.

The background to Music Machines

The Music Machines grew from my interest in generative music systems. Initially they were all stand alone computer programmes but I have recently developed some for live performance or specific events. For example, I adapted Music Machine 10 to be played at the Hilltown New Music Festival 2012 and Music Machine 5 for the Audiograft Festival Jukebox 2013.

The first 20 machines are computer programmes that can be downloaded from here, all are available for Mac and Windows. Each Music Machine explores a single idea. Some are simple, some more complex. All are generated by the computer within established parameters, all run continuously until stopped by the listener and all are different each time they are played.

Some involve interaction by the listener either to make choices from a number of parameters (for example Music Machines 6 and 9) or to press a button to “play’ along with a backing track (Music Machine 3), most require only to be listened to.

The term Music Machine is a reference to John White’s Machine Music:

The Machines, which date from the period 1967-1972 represent a departure from the more
traditionally "narrative" nature of the rest of my pieces. I use the word Machine to define a
consistent process governing a series of musical actions within a particular sound world and,
by extension, the listener's perception thereof. One might thus regard the Welsh Rarebit as a
Machine in which a process is applied to the conditioning and perception of the world of
bread and cheese.

My Music Machines share many similarities with the work of the English Experimental composers of the 1960s and 1970s. There is a connection with the American minimalists through the use of a steady pulse, repetition and tonality. Music Machine 2 for example could be entitled In C and Music Machine 4 will invariably involve glimpses of phasing. These Music Machines use a variety of sound sources, some use the quicktime player that is built into the Mac operating system, some use midi files and others use prerecorded audio files such as the sounds of coins dropping (Music Machine 5) and Neil Armstrong's speech as he stepped onto the surface of the moon (Music Machine 8). Music Machine 15 is based on both Satie's Vexations and Cage's Cheap Imitation.

Most recently Music Machines have been developed for live performance. This began with a workshop and subsequent live performance of Music Machine 1 at Exeter NonClassical in March 2013. This work has since been performed at the York Spring Festival 2013 and can be performed by any group of players by following the instructions here.

I have developed two machines 27 and 28 which were be performed at Exeter NonClassical on 30th June 2013. Both these pieces are for the Casio Digital Horn (a midi wind controller) and an Arduino Uno (machine 27) or Raspberry Pi (machine 28). Part of the aesthetics of this live work is the combination of new and old technology. I use midi and combine the Casio Digital Horn
with a Roland MT300s (sound module) and a Roland CP-40 (pitch to midi convertor). All are played through the mixer section of a Tascam Portastudio 414 mkII. All of the products (except the Arduino and Raspberry Pi)were bought secondhand from ebay or (mainly) from car boot sales.

Click here to read the introduction to my PhD thesis for more background information.