My PhD was on plastic continuity in Microtonal music. Influenced by the work and philosophy of abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko and painter Bridget Riley, I took Rothko's ideas about the experience of movement in terms of colour, form, texture and space via methods of abstraction, and applied them to my compositional framework. Similarly Riley's ideas about 'distorting the senses' influenced various compositions and new pieces to come.

The portfolio contains seven compositions with varying instrumentation, ranging from string quartet to computer processed voice ensemble to purely electronic forces. Fata Morgana is the largest work in the portfolio and written for female voice ensemble, percussion and live computer processing or tape. Its main concern is that of extending the human voice via the auditory illusion of the Shepard’s tone. String Quartet No 1 contains excessive glissade to expose microtonal qualities. Haute Rorschach, When all memory is gone, Drift, Gala and Mutation 2 all explore complex and unique microtonal tuning systems and are written with instrumentation left relatively open ended: given certain conditions, both acoustic and electronic forces are able to perform it.

The most prominent compositional aspect that features in the portfolio is an approach towards the experience of movement in terms of colour, form, texture and space. Material consists of lines and curves such as glissandi or the Shepard’s tone auditory illusion, pitch fields, waves, pulses, flickering morphologies, distorted glows, morphs and slow transformations. This material originates from focusing on the internal properties of sounds, for example, the use of microtonal intervals that are clustered to produce beating patterns, third tones and unique colors. Macro forms are determined by this material and range from drone to simplistic, repetitive gestures. The final approach is a focus on the experience of sound in and as space: most pieces feature artificial acoustics as prominent part of the material and overall texture.

Read the full thesis

#Music #Microtonal


Ringing through connected disconnected spaces which is a new continuity..

Rooms, each with microphone and loudspeaker, are daisy-chained in a directional live audio tunnel: each individual space, is a node and is able to receive audio from another node through the internet and play it into the space through a loudspeaker, record the reverberations and other ambient sounds of the environment and send it back over the internet to the next similar device with super subtle latency...

Conceptually, this work challenges ideas of territory, control, transmission, tranception and how we listen to the world. The tunnel is live and interactive: the participant becomes the transmitter and is transmitted/ displaced (in sound) in many actual places in fractions of milliseconds. A recursive eavesdropping becomes possible in this unseen territory. Live sound travels from location to location, reverberating in each space. A kind of anonymity reverberates through the piece. It is a borderless territory designed for listening. Acoustically the reverberations and other characteristics of each space add up, thus creating a new recombinant space that is the distorted and warped sum of its parts. The directional audio tunnel - loudspeaker to microphone to network device to loudspeaker to microphone to network device and so on … traveling around the world through sound.

Rooms, each with microphone and loudspeaker, are daisy-chained in a directional live audio tunnel - each individual space, is a node and is able to receive audio from another node through the internet and play it into the space through a loudspeaker, record the reverberations and other ambient sounds of the environment and send it back over the internet to the next similar device with no noticeble latency...

It was developed as part of the Wunderflater MFA show.

#SoundArchitecture #SoundInstallation #NetworkedSound


Ideas around fractal geometry and recursiveness applied to composition.

Fundamental ideas surrounding fractals in relation to music and prominent composers/theorists in the field are explored. A creative synthesis of fractals and music composition is presented by me in the form of a strategy towards composing with fractal geometry.

It can be argued that fractal approaches to music composition have failed when one listens to the often disappointingly sounding musical outcomes that are either unimaginative or seemingly random, baring little resemblance of the equivalent visualised fractal image. Similarly data sonification is becoming more prominent in various disciplines, yet often the sound results are lacking and often do not represent the same richness of complexity that a parallel visual representation does. The problems are manifold, immense amounts ­­­of numbers are usually mapped to too simplistic parameters (for example pitch and time). These parameters are limited in their perceptible ranges and thus in a one-to-one mapping, not able to express the magnitude of fractal complexity. Or in deterministic music, parameters are manipulated in ways that splits the musical image into so many parts that it feels random. At the same time, analysis of some of the greatest music created clearly show fractal properties. By redefining how music is structurally organised, aesthetically important contributions can be made.

In an attempt to avoid the creation of an idealised form (that is isolated, cut-off) but rather nourish an understanding of the creation of a system as a whole: structures (that are able to morph or sustain growth), a non-linear and multi-dimensional compositional approach is considered. This implies the necessity of a deeper understanding of the inner workings and relationships that exist between musical elements across time-scales. The biggest question is that of defining what the musical dimensions of a work are. There are multitudes of parameters that vary from composition to composition. Musical parameters need to be grouped together in ways that make perceptual sense. When analysing these relationships, one typically searches for similarities and differences. The fact that fractals are by definition self-similar (exact or statistically) across scales, make them potentially useful functions to consider for the above-mentioned compositional approach.

Essay here.

#Music #Microtonal #Algorithmic #Fractal

© VAN TONDER