UPIC Work

Maya 

This UPIC composition and algorithm was developed in 1997, at Les Ateliers UPIC (now CIX, Centre Iannis Xenakis), during a three-year residency.  Maya is a work created for live performance.  Details can be found here.  This is a short excerpt (complete work duration is 13:47).

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UPIC Etudes, 1996/2017

These etudes were presented at National Sawdust as part of the NYCEMF 2017 festival, on July 16, 2017.

The UPIC Etudes, 1996/2017 are studies of Frequency Modulation (FM) algorithms realized with the UPIC system. UPIC is “Unité polyagogique informatique du CEMAMu”, CEMAMu’s multi-agogic computer unit, where “agogic” (“leading” in the old Greek sense of the word) broadly applies to the conscious design of time and space in musical composition.  CEMAMu, in turn, is “Centre de mathématique et automatique musicales.”  UPIC had been conceived of by Iannis Xenakis and developed by a team of hardware and software engineers from 1972. It allows (and demands) creating musical compositions by drawing lines on a canvas: waveforms, envelopes, pitch (i.e. frequency) curves, and more. Each one of UPIC’s 64 hardware oscillators can be made to modulate the frequency of any other oscillator. 

While systematically exploring the UPIC’s FM synthesis capabilities in 1995-96 at Les Ateliers UPIC, I discovered that when constructing the intermodulation of UPIC oscillators in a complex recursive manner, I was able to define a music-generating dynamic system, capable of synthesizing rich textures of changing and moving sound, with surprising turns (chaotic oscillation).  This kind of music is endless per se, it could go on forever.  As a consequence, the UPIC studies end abruptly, marking the deliberate, arbitrary ending of recording.  The stereo effects are not achieved by panning or post-processing but are inherent to the FM synthesis process within UPIC, which is multi-channel (up to four).

In addition to free-drawing the various component waveforms that make up an UPIC composition, it is possible to record external audio signals and incorporate them as samples within the system.  These UPIC etudes all use digital samples of a recording of a fellow UPIC composer, Markus Bongartz, as he conveys the salutation "Guten Abend” (“good evening”), during an UPIC session. 

A video component was added to these etudes in 2017, and presented during the NYCEMF 2017 festival at the National Sawdust performance space.