Performer and electronic-activated acoustics: three new works for solo percussion and live e lectronics
Technological advancements in computers and audio software and hardware devices in the twenty-first century have led to the expansion of possibilities for music composition, including works for acoustic instruments and live electronics. Electroacoustic composition is rapidly and continually evolving, and much that has been written about compositional techniques for percussion and live electronics is becoming outdated. Live electronics include performer-triggered events, audio processing, electronic responses to various inputs, and electronic decision-making during live performances. These techniques can be employed in a variety of ways. This project sheds light on how modern composers of different musical and cultural backgrounds reimagine the use of percussion through the lens of new technologies.
Through the commission, examination, and recording of three new works for solo percussion and live electronics, the author seeks to further explore and highlight electroacoustic compositional techniques for solo percussion. A specific compositional element to be included in these commissioned works is the activation or manipulation of the acoustic properties of percussion instruments by electronic components. The three artists who contributed works are percussionist-composer Jeremy Muller, composer and multimedia artist Jordan Munson, and composer, sound artist, and performer Garth Paine. The creativity demonstrated in their previous works made them desirable candidates for this project. Each of them approached their composition in different ways. In Hysteresis, Muller utilizes a loudspeaker underneath a vibraphone to expand the sound palette of the instrument with microtonal electronic sounds that match the instrument’s timbre. In Where Light Escapes You, Jordan Munson layers various electronic sounds with the vibraphone to create a slowly evolving texture that also incorporates a bass drum and the buzzing of snare drums. In Resonant Textures, Paine spatializes vibraphone, cymbal, and electronic sounds to create a meditative and immersive listening experience. Ultimately, each of the three composers implemented distinctive compositional and performance tools to create new works that provide a glimpse into the future of percussion music.