NanoBalad (2012)

NB_CessionPlatreCloud 2

NanoBalad 

Roland Cahen (2012)

Commissioned by and composed in the INA/GRM studios in 2012

Creation multiphonies INA/GRM Friday 25 January 2013 19:30
Auditorium Saint Germain (MPAA4 rue Félibien Paris 6ème, métro Mabillon

 

 

Did you know that Music has its own body?

Music is an immaterial invisible, untouchable, furtive body.

The promise of spatialization is not only to immerse the listener in moving sounds; it is the embodiment of music. It is to sense the body of music resonating with ours.

As the music is composed of relations of continuities and differences between sounds, kinetic music consists of relationships between spatial sound figures, identity, contrasts and variations. In other words, we are witnessing the birth of a musical language of space. Similar to choreography, kinetic music has an open-ended, plural and fluid body. Its structure is made up of varying masses, rhythmic topophony and temporal space.

 

Nano is a ride, a walk in the clouds, une balade. Not far from a ballad; epic or gently balancing music, but at the time of nanos – the grammar already zapped one L.

Nan (= Not a number, computer invalid operation). If numbers soon become material and in real time, what will happen when there is a bug?

 

As an exercise for our imagination/sonagination, let’s figure the music of NBIC (Nanotechnology , Biotechnology, artificial Intelligence and Cognitive science). Should it be some kind of entertainment: with angelic clouds and miniaturized robotic precision, the old clamour of machines in empty factories, the lament of the lost industry?

NanoBalad explores the fine-grained sound material, the sounds of granules, powder, fluids. Forms that emerge are clouds, swarms waves or traces.

I use spatialization techniques but also simple filtered white noise. My use of spatial positioning and distribution processes are never univocal, I use different methods to orchestrate the soundscape.

NanoBalad is therefore an orchestral piece; each material is produced directly in octophony with its own kinetic. The components are then assembled and modified in the composition environment.

Since the ‘80s I have been working on these subjects, with the group Espace Musical, the Studio Delta P of La Rochelle and in my other musical projects. My preferred format is octophony, 8 channels, which does not forbid to use more speakers for diffusion or more tracks in the composition (here 96). The good point about octophony is that it becomes difficult to hear the difference between a spatial polyphony of 8 or 9, it proposes a sufficient number of tracks to produce kinetic work. In addition octophony is a standard number of tracks for most multitrack inexpensive devices and therefore easily accessible.

 

I really started to create kinetic music in 2003 with Rotations II (commissioned by and composed in the INA/GRM studios in 2005), followed by COUNTBASIS (commissioned by the IMEB in 2009) and NanoBalad. Each of these works attempts to explore some particular spatial sound figures: Rotations II concentrates on temporal and spatial circular movements; COUNTBASIS on sending sound events to outputs using count in variable basis and NanoBalad on sound matter on a very small scale.

 

NanoBalad music is a venomous and monumental music, a non-judgmental vision, a poignant questioning about the present and the future.

 

                  NanoBalad:

 

                                    I Nan                                                       3’30

                                    II Nuées 1, 2 et 3                   7’00

                                    III Nano in-dust                   4’40

                                    IV Ballade                                     5’50

 

Thanks to Jean-Philippe Lambert for his help with granular spatialization, Christian Zanesi and Ruth Sefton-Green for their advise and support, and to Antoine Schmitt for the inspiration given by its nano-ensembles.

To achieve the sound elements of these works, I especially used libraries created by the Ircam real time interaction team: FTM, Gabor, Mnm, CataRT for MaxMSP. I had the chance to contribute to their development and thank Norbert Schnell and Diemo Schwarz for their support and confidence in my research.

 

(Français)

 

NanoBalad 

Roland Cahen (2012)

Commande par et compose dans les studios de l’INA/GRM en 2012

 

La musique a un corps, le saviez vous ?

Un corps immatériel, invisible, impalpable, furtif

Et si la promesse de la spatialisation n’était pas d’immerger l’auditeur ou de promener les sons, mais de rendre corps à la musique, un corps musical qui entre en résonance avec le notre ?

Comme la musique est composée de relations de continuités et de différences entre les sons, une véritable musique cinétique compose les relations entre les figures spatiales sonores  ; identité, contrastes, variations. Autrement dit nous assistons à la naissance d’un langage musical de l’espace. Un peu comme la chorégraphie, mais avec un corps beaucoup moins circonscrit que le corps humain ; corps pluriel, fluide, aux matières et aux masses variables, rythmé, topophonie ou espace temporel.

 

Nano est une Balade, c’est à dire une promenade dans les nuées. Bien sûr on n’est pas loin de la ballade, chanson de geste et musique douce, balancée. Mais au temps des nanos – la grammaire à déjà zappé un l. Nan (Not a number = opération invalide en informatique)  ; si le nombre se fait matière en temps réel, que se passe t’il en cas de bug  ?

Comment imaginer la musique des NBIC (nanotechnologies (N), des biotechnologies (B), l’intelligence artificielle (I) et des sciences cognitives (C))

Divertissement  : entre angélisme des nuées et précision robotique miniaturisée, remontent les clameurs d’anciennes machines dans des usines vides, la complainte de l’industrie perdue.

NanoBalad explore la matière à grain très fin, sons de granules, poudre, fluides. Les formes qui en ressortent sont des nuées, des nuages, vagues ou traces.

J’ai utilisé des techniques de spatialisation granulaire mais également du simple bruit blanc filtré. Mais mon utilisation des procédés de spatialisation n’est jamais univoque, je préfère utiliser en contrepoint différentes méthodes vers une orchestration de l’espace sonore.

C’est donc une pièce orchestrale, dont chaque matériau est directement produit en octophonie, avec sa cinétique propre. Ces éléments sont ensuite assemblés et modifié dans l’environnement de composition.

 

Depuis les années 80 j’ai travaillé sur ces questions, tout d’abord avec le collectif Espace Musical puis au Studio Delta P et dans mes projets musicaux. Mon format préféré est l’Octophonie. C’est à dire 8 voies, ce qui n’empêche aucunement de diffuser sur des dispositifs plus importants, techniquement accessible car la plupart des appareils sont calés sur ce nombre de piste

Rotations II (commande du GRM en 2006) est pour moi une pièce manifeste. Elle a été suivie par d’autres comme COUNTBASIS (commande de l’IMEB 2009) et aujourd’hui NanoBalad. Chacune de ces œuvres tente d’explorer une figure particulière de l’espace  : Rotation, les mouvements circulaires, temporels et spatiaux. COUNTBASIS, le comptage à base variable d’envois d’évènements dans les voies…

 

NanoBalad est une musique vénéneuse et monumentale, une vision sans jugement, une interrogation poignante sur le présent et l’avenir.

 

                  NanoBalad:

                                    I Nan 3’30

                                    II Nuées 1, 2 et 3 7’00

                                    III Nano in-dust 4’40

                                    IV Ballade 5’50

 

Remerciements : Jean-Philippe Lambert pour l’aide sur la spatialisation granulaire, Christian Zanesi et Ruth Sefton-Green pour leurs conseils et soutien ainsi qu’à Antoine Schmitt pour l’inspiration donnée par ses nano-ensembles.

Pour réaliser les éléments sonores de ces œuvres, j’ai notamment utilisé les librairies crées par l’équipe temps réel de l’ircam : FTM, Gabor, Mnm, CataRT pour MaxMsp. J’ai eu la chance de contribuer à leur développement et remercie Norbert Schnell et Diemo Schwarz pour le soutien qu’ils ont apporté à ma recherche et leur confiance.

 

Technical and interpretation guidelines:

 

NanoBalad master is a 8 tracks (octophony). That is 8 separate 48Khz 24 bits .aiff mono audiofiles (named in 7.1SDDS format)

Starting at number 1 front left speaker and turning clockwise.

 F I L E S I N S E S S I O N

1) NanoBalad_Mix_nn.L.aif
2) NanoBalad_Mix_nn.Lc.aif
3) NanoBalad_Mix_nn.C.aif
4) NanoBalad_Mix_nn.Rc.aif
5) NanoBalad_Mix_nn.R.aif
6) NanoBalad_Mix_nn.Ls.aif
7) NanoBalad_Mix_nn.Rs.aif
8) NanoBalad_Mix_nn.LFE.aif

There is also a soundcheck file that should be used to check the routing order of the tracks and the balance level of all speaker groups. The files extensions of the TESTOCTO and NanoBalad_Mix_nn must correspond in order to do the check with the right tracks. (nn is the versioning number)

TESTOCTO.2.L.aif
TESTOCTO.2.Lc.aif
TESTOCTO.2.C.aif
TESTOCTO.2.Rc.aif
TESTOCTO.2.R.aif
TESTOCTO.2.Ls.aif
TESTOCTO.2.Rs.aif
TESTOCTO.2.LFE.aif

 

It should be performed on a minimum of 8 identical speakers, each one playing a different track though a 8 track sound card and a mixing table where each track output or speaker is controlled by a separate fader.

A more complex diffusion system can give a better rendering (see further on)

The music is player from a player software on a computer connected with the soundcard.

 

In addition to the 8 mono tracks, two kinds of player files can be provided: a max/MSP player for mac OS X / Windows (on demand) and a Digidesign Pro Tools session.

 

The main octophonic diffusion system should be a circle around or suspended over the audience. It should be of the finest possible quality, large and linear band pass and sufficiently powerful.

A second line, or more, 8 speakers systems (octophonies) can be added, in order to give more expression possibilities.

In addition, some mix group speakers can be used, for example for subwoofers, near field trebles, solo speakers, distant effects. For these effects, the 8 tracks can be downmixed into mono (1track), stereo (two tracks : the Left one downmixing tracks 1+8+7+6 and the Right one downmixing tracks 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 ) or quadro (four tracks : track one downmixing tracks 1+8, track two downmixing track 2+3, track three downmixing track 7+6 and track four downmixing track 4+5).

 

It is very important that the track number 1 is always at the back-left and increases turning clockwise as shown on the following diagram. The piece should not be heard turning in any other direction, as it will not function properly. The order of speakers and the orientation of the numbers must be perfectly respected; otherwise the piece will not function, because our side and back listening do not work like our frontal one and the movements are meant to happen in their expected axis. If the public is not in the centre of the octophony circles it will not function either.

Interpretation

The first aim of the interpretation is to give the best possible rendering of the piece in a particular place and occasion.

The most important point to achieve this is to drive the global volume and the expression energy of the piece very precisely in order to conduct emotion to its extreme.

This is made more complicated when changing the sound distribution dynamically, so the diffusion must not affect the energy continuity but articulate and give expressivity to the musical events and spatial patterns.

 

Once the 8 tracks are set to the right level, the interpreter can play on groups of stereo sums of the 8 tracks, which he or she can add or remove freely for density and space balance variations. Some effects can be added at some moments to reinforce infra bass sounds, distant effects, solo motives in the very near field. The octophony circles faders are always open. From one section to another, octophony circles can be swapped and the piece can balance from one to another. They can occasionally be lowered to allow the effects to be heard.

 

Each group of eight is set by default from left to right preferably in a circle, a semi circle or eventually in a line, but any intermediary set is also possible since the distance between the speakers and the public is more or less the same. It is nevertheless important that the order of the voices in the space of the venue is respected. The level of the 8 voices should be mostly modified globally according to a general level interpretation or eventually with smooth movements within different areas of the set.

 

The maximum level of the piece is at the climax: between 15min 15sec and 15:20. The beginning is loud too and should be so. The piece starts as if there is a technical incident or bug. After 1’30 and 7’30 I use differential noise or psycho sounds. They are special sounds that you can feel physically on your tympani, they are not agreeable and not meant to be. Some people may think they are too loud but they are not. The effect they produce is part of the piece.

 

Roland Cahen

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