Day 3, Stream 5


Nigel Helyer: Sonic Objects, Australia


Arne Eigenfeldt: Simon Fraser University, Canada

Douglas Kahn: College of Fine Arts, University of NSW, Australia

Noel Burgess: University of Western Sydney, Australia

Ben Byrne: RMIT University, Australia

Frank Ekeberg: artist, Norway

Bert Bongers: Interactivation Studio, University of Technology, Australia



Arne Eigenfeldt Generating Electronic Dance Music without Mirrors: Corpus-based Modelling without Quotation

On the surface, generative music has been successful in styles that provide clear rules for creators: tonal music [Cope 2005], jazz [Lewis 2000], Electronic Dance Music [Eigenfeldt and Pasquier 2011]. While such rule-based systems offer initial success, difficulties arise through the need of expressing finer gradations of rules. A more flexible approach is by learning through analysis of a given corpus. Machine learning, as demonstrated within Music Information Retrieval (MIR), is a hot topic of research, although still very much in its infancy. Collins, for example, stated his automated EDM analysis system “cannot be claimed to be on a par with the musicologist’s ear” [Collins 2012].

The Generative Electronica Research Project has undertaken a long-term investigation into creating EDM through generative methods, using a corpus of 100 human-transcribed tracks as models. As the music generation is autonomous, no interaction with humans occurs during generation, and no artistic decisions are made in real-time: in other words, all creative decisions are coded. Decisions such as how beats are constructed and varied are all derived from the corpus through analysis, without quotation, and without resorting to personal algorithms, however successful those may have been in the past.

This paper will describe our methods, and present examples of autonomous generation by the system.

Cope, D. (2005) Computer Models of Musical Creativity. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Collins, N. (2012) Influence In Early Electronic Dance Music: An Audio Content Analysis Investigation. Proceedings of the ISMIR Conference, Porto, Portugal
Eigenfeldt, A., Pasquier, P. (2011) Towards a Generative Electronica: Human-Informed Machine Transcription and Analysis in MaxMSP. Proceedings of SMC Conference, Padua, Italy
Lewis, G. (2000) Too Many Notes: Computers, Complexity and Culture in Voyager. Leonardo Music Journal 10: 33-9.


Douglas Kahn For More New Signals 

The idea of a natural and anthropic plenitude of sound in the arts arose in European avant-garde music during the early twentieth century and became codified in John Cage’s call “for more new sounds.” Concurrently, engineering visions promising to generate any and all sounds, including musical ones, and to create batteries of new sound, took on a new reality with digital signal processing in the 1950s. These two strains merged in the American experimental music of the 1960s at the edges of the largesse of Cold War science, in what composer Gordon Mumma called the astro-bio-geo-physical application in live-electronic music, and what composer James Tenney called a generalised signal and possibility for a total transducer of any and all signals. Sounds seemed exhaustible when compared with opening vistas of energetic environments. Sonic plenitude was being superseded by signal plenitude, more new sounds by more new signals.


Noel Burgess The Sound of Memory | An audience derived audio visual experience

The ubiquitous and portable nature of recording devices has changed the way society remembers and communicates. The prosthetic nature of device-located memories in the form of text, and still and moving image, media constructs a digital self, and not exclusively a clone of the organic self. The digital memory of this digital life is the entity which is under musical examination with The Sound of Memory. A sonification of the digital life of the audience.

This paper discusses the interdisciplinary space being investigated by The Sound of Memory project, which aims to develop an interpretive compositional framework to generate music from the digital memory of, that is the digital media carried by, the audience. The project deals with music, issues of memory in the contemporary technological ecology, and democratisation of creativity; it also questions creative authorship, and explores the notion of a digital life. The paper focuses on a project that pursues Negroponte’s (1995) prediction of a personalised digital life, and exploits Reading’s (2009) notion of a prosthetic digital memory through non-linear music composition techniques, based on similar principles to those used in Riley’s In C (1964) to develop audience derived works drawing on the paradigm shift presented by Levin’s Dialtones: A Telesymphony (2001), where the creative executive role is shared with the audience.

Noel Burgess completed his Bachelor of Music at QCM in 1992 and has since practised as a composer, performer, and producer of electronic music. His work has predominantly aligned with visual mediums both on stage and screen. This DCA project explores creative potential within new media spaces.


Ben Byrne Static as a Trope in Electronic Art: David Hall’s 1001 TV Sets (End Piece) and Other Works

Static, the white noise seen and heard on analogue television sets, does not just signal a lack of signal; it is often used in electronic art to symbolise a metaphysical outside that is only perceivable with technology. Popular culture examples of this include the HBO interstitial and the films Poltergeist, White Noise, and Static. A more recent example is David Hall’s 1001 TV Sets (End Piece), which was presented at Ambika P3 gallery in London in March-April 2012.

Timed to coincide with the shut-off of analogue television signals in London, the work featured, as the title suggests, one thousand and one TV sets tuned to a variety of stations. Gradually, as the various stations were switched off, each of the sets flicked to static, until all of the televisions were left playing and showing nothing but white noise. Digital televisions are now gradually replacing their analogue predecessors, and are presented as superior not only because of their high definition pictures and sound, but because they eliminate the threat of static, supposedly ensuring audiences see and hear broadcasts free of interference. Hall’s work, however, can be thought of as a mournful tribute to static, calling into question the assumption that it is desirable to eliminate noise wherever possible.

In this paper I will explore the static as outside trope, using examples such as those listed above, with a focus on Hall’s work. In particular, I will draw on Michel Serres’ metaphysics of noise to explain the way the trope presents noise. Moreover, based on this I will show that the trope demonstrates how static can be meaningful.


Frank Ekeberg Manipulating Spaces, Changing Realities – sound as primary carrier of meaning in art

Space is an essential dimension of human experience. In our daily lives we move about in a multi-dimensional sound field and constantly process spatial cues in our encounters with our surroundings. The interpretation of spatial information is largely determined by deep cultural knowledge and experience of spatial communication from everyday life, such as patterns of interpersonal communication, experience of rural and urban life, the architectural environment in which we live as well as how space is represented in language.

In my research on spatial properties of sound, I show that sound cannot be experienced independent of space. Awareness of space as a fundamental element of sound is nevertheless limited, even among art practitioners. Using digital technologies, spatial aspects of sound can be manipulated and controlled to an extent where auditory space becomes a primary carrier of meaning in sound works, and an enormously powerful tool for artistic expression, both in highly controlled gallery spaces as well as integrated into natural or cultural environments.

I present a framework I call spatio-structural morphology based on a model of auditory space comprising three basic levels: 1) spatial properties of individual sounds in terms of intrinsic space, extrinsic space and spectral space (sound as space), 2) the spatial arrangement of individual sounds and events into a composed space which is played in, and becomes affected by, the listening space (sound in space), and 3) the perceived space, which constitutes the listening experience of the combination of composed space and listening space. Spatio-structural morphology is a framework that can be used as an aid in creating sound-based works by increasing awareness, and ultimately opening up possibilities for exploration and exploitation of spatial aspects of sound as essential carriers of meaning and communication.


Bert Bongers Traces – Reading the Environment

This paper looks particularly at informal and implicit sources of information in our environment, how we can read this kind of information, and how the information has come about. A theoretical framework is presented, drawing on multiple disciplines, such as HCI, Interaction Design, cognitive psychology, semiotics, developmental psychology and communication theory. The paper focuses on implicit information and ‘reading the environment’, with examples from practice, and presenting an art project that investigates this notion through an interactive video installation. This installation, called Traces, presented interactive videos and photographs of two types of human-made traces, revealing past behaviours and/or intentions. It took the skidmarks of cars on roads as input for a process of video manipulation and a recorded sonification. It is a sinister form of expression in the process, but when isolated afterwards it results in fascinating images, creating patterns in space and time that would have pleased Klee and Kandinsky. In the spirit of Paul Klee’s notion of ‘taking a line for a walk’, La Monte Young’s famous Fluxus piece with the single instruction ‘draw a straight line and follow it’, and graphical scores such as John Cage’s Ryoanji, I have been following, complementing, contrasting and translating the shapes into music. Using feedback guitar with extended playing techniques (slide, e-bow and digital pitch change pedal), the skidmark curves were interpreted in continuous glissandi (‘skid screams’), recorded without overdubs. These sonifications were performed live at the opening night of the gallery by the author. The objective is ultimately to make designers more aware of all the subtle and often important cues and information in their natural and artificial environments, in order to contribute to the design of better human-computer interfaces.