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Early Pieces

by VicmodGraemeGerrard

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Proportions 03:47
Discourse 06:49
Birdbrain 05:51
Variations 04:27
Compost 06:34
Slang 07:49
Displaced 13:30


Proportions (1979)

This is a “tape piece”. It uses 11 lengths of audio tape that are in the proportion of 1.059463:1 (or ) which is the proportion used in Equal Temperament tuning of adjacent semitones.
I cut lengths of tape that were recordings of white noise, and rearranged them into an order or “set” that had interesting mathematical and musical properties, and interleaved these with recordings of silence, (blank tape), that were a kind of “inverse” of that duration set. This scheme was used to create the formal design of this short work.
The other sound used is a cluster of chromatic sine tones transposed to different frequency ranges. I made a loop of the noise tape, which is one of the main sounds in the piece. The piece begins with this loop, which is played at faster and faster speeds to form the first section.
I made a number of tracks of these sounds, using effects such as flanging, chorusing and reverberation, and mixed them while preserving the temporal structure outlined above.

Discourse (1981)

This piece contrasts sounds generated by an analogue synthesiser (Serge Tcherepnin modular synth) with a digital percussion algorithm.

Passing Bright Mirror (1991)

Using various programs I had written, I generated seven scores of MIDI data which I synthesised using a mixture of pitched and percussion sounds. I mixed these sections in different combinations and hand edited the result. Originally this piece was about 45 minutes long. I have cut it down and re-edited it several times for different events, including to accompany live performance painting in Bologna, Italy.

Birdbrain (extract from Think Out Loud) (1990)

This piece is made from samples of birdcalls I recorded at my home in Healesville, Victoria. It focused on spatial manipulation of the sounds. In live performance, as Think Out Loud, it used an additional 4 loudspeakers swung overhead by people using ropes about 2m in length.

Anistropy (Lumps in the Gravity)

This piece was largely made using a program that generated fractal melodies as MIDI data. It uses a synthesised digital jazz ensemble. The main idea was to bring random elements into orderly clusters, then allow them to drift apart into sparser, apparently random gestures. The title was a mistake – it should be Anisotropy, but at the time it appealed to me to leave it stand.

Streams/Groups (1981)

This piece was realised on the Serge Tcherepnin modular synthesiser. I was experimenting with how sequences of notes formed perceptual groups, and melodic streams, based on octave placement and emphasis.

Variations (1982)

This piece is a digital realisation of a technique used in bell ringing called Plain Bob Minor. It is a way of changing the order in which bells are rung, by exchanging the order of pairs of bells, until the order completes a cycle and returns to the original. I developed a kind of pitched percussive algorithm to synthesise the sounds.

COMPOST (1983)

This was the first piece that was generated by a composing program I wrote in 1983-5, called COMPOST. It began as a program that distributed notes in a stochastic manner, generating a score for digital synthesis, in this case using frequency modulation techniques to achieve complex spectra. This version was quite primitive and I had to run the program several times to create sections of the score.

Slang (1980)

I made this piece on the Serge synthesiser around the same time as Streams/Groups. It was performed live at the Adelaide Fringe Festival in 1980 with trumpet and tenor saxophone.

Strings of Token Strings (1984)

This piece was generated by a later version of the COMPOST program. By this time COMPOST was more oriented towards manipulating structural elements in a composition, using transformational grammar techniques. The sounds themselves were synthesised using a digital string algorithm that incorporated many elements of real string playing.


released December 15, 2012


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VicmodGraemeGerrard Melbourne, Australia

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