Hi-Tech Electronic Music Festival


It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment when we realized that there was no point in trying to turn the crowd on to any of our newer material. We had been surfing a wave of rave reviews and growing popularity at festivals around Europe and North America, with our brand of hi-tech electronic music (no guitars, no drums) and an onstage visual show that could best be described as “chaotic”.

But at this particular event, the atmosphere was less than ideal. The rain had been coming down for hours, and the only shelter was a large roofed piazza with a huge opening on one side.

There was a big crowd already in place when we took the stage, but as soon as we started playing our first song (“Scape”, from our latest album), people began drifting away. Not just a few — it seemed like half the audience went off to explore other parts of the fairgrounds.

After about half an hour, it became obvious that we were facing a nearly empty tent. We were near the end of our setlist anyway, so we chose to do two or three more songs and call it quits.

It had been a long day for all of us: seven hours on the road from Rome, setting up equipment in pouring

One of the most important events in the history of electronic music–the Electronic Music Festival at the Philharmonic Hall, Lincoln Center–took place in New York more than thirty years ago. It was one of the first all-electronic music concerts ever given in this country, and it consisted entirely of new works written specifically for that occasion, using equipment that had become available during the preceding five or six years. This was a time when many composers were just beginning to learn about electronics and to acquire the necessary equipment to work with, and they were eager to try out their new toys. The concert was a historic event because it brought together almost all of these pioneers, not only from New York but also from other parts of the country.

The music itself is difficult to characterize by comparison with later electronic music. It is not as “advanced” as some electronic music has become since then, but it is nevertheless a very good cross section of what was being done in those days. The performance techniques and notational devices used are primitive by present standards; for example, there is even a piece for piano and tape by Otto Luening, called Fantasy in Space (1952), which employs some special notation for interpolations between recorded sounds and live piano sounds. But

A few days after the festival, in my hotel room, I listened to a copy of a tape of a recent performance by Morton Subotnick. It included a work called “Silver Apples of the Moon,” which was made in 1967 on a computer at Stanford University by manipulating punched paper tapes.

Subotnick is an electronic musician who has been working with computers for more than thirty years. He has also written works for conventional instruments that call for the use of slide projectors or magnetic tape. In his music he is interested in what he calls “time structuring.” By that he means the creation of musical forms that are based on the manipulation of time rather than on traditional Western notions of what an instrument should sound like.

“What we’re into is not really sound,” Subotnick said in an interview at the festival. “We’re into what it can do and how it can affect you. We want to make you feel things, but we don’t care about beautiful sounds.”

“Silver Apples of the Moon” begins with a high-pitched whine that rises slightly and then falls off; this pattern repeats itself again and again, and each repetition is identical to each other repetition and slightly different from the next one. This goes on for five

I would like to propose that we hold a festival of contemporary electronic and chance music at the new concert hall in the fall. The acoustics of the place are superb, and the facilities are state-of-the-art; the hall was designed specifically for this kind of music.

I have already talked to Terry Riley, who has agreed to come and perform, as well as Steve Reich, who will be in town at that time. I am also working on other people. The idea would be to have a series of concerts and talks over a several week period.

The focus of the festival will be on Electronic and Chance Music and will include concerts, lectures, demonstrations, a multimedia art exhibition, and panel discussions. The program will also include special events sponsored by individual laboratoires, studios and institutions. Featured performers from around the world will include: Martine Altenburger (cello), Bruno Amadio (piano), Bernard Baschet (sculpture instruments), Pierre Bastien (self-made instruments), Barry Schrader and David Rosenboom (electronic music).

The festival is open to all members of the university community as well as to the general public. All concerts will take place in Ojai Hall on the North Campus. Admission is free to all students with a current student identification card. Tickets may be purchased at the door one half hour prior to each performance. Admission for the general public is $2 per concert or $5 for an evening pass (three concerts). A limited number of tickets may be purchased in advance at these locations:

The Department of Music, North Campus

The Ticket Center, University Activities Center, North Campus

Ann Arbor T-Shirt Company, 619 East Liberty

Schoolkids Records and Tapes, 516 East William

PJ’s Used Records & T

Electronic music is created using computers and special software. Chance music utilizes some sort of random generator. In the past, composers have used dice and other instruments of chance to determine aspects of their pieces. In the digital age, computer software can generate random material for composers to use as a basis for their work.

The Electronic Music Festival at The University of North Texas features concerts of electronic and chance music. This festival showcases new works for live electronics and multimedia by UNT faculty, students, and visiting artists from around the world. The festival includes several concerts of electronic and chance music, talks by the composers, demonstrations, and an exhibition of art that relates to electronic music.

Digital music is finding its place in the world. The following facts and figures illustrate how much has happened in just a few years.

• CDs account for more than 90% of all recorded music sales, and are growing at an annual rate of 25%.

• The size of the “consumer” audio market (including hi-fi) has doubled since 1992.

• The global value of CD sales is about US$18 billion annually.

• In Germany CD sales are now higher than those of vinyl records for the first time ever.

• The international recording industry invests around US$7 billion each year in research and development, and more than US$2 billion in marketing, promotion and advertising (not including artist development).


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