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Works » By Title » S » Solar Ellipse (10:50 / 1985)

Barry D. Truax

“Solar Ellipse” is a synthesized soundscape in the manner of my earlier ‘spatial environments’, “Sonic Landscape #3” (1975) and “Androginy” (1978). Like its mate, “Wave Edge” (1983), it is based on a particular type of spatial trajectory and related image. In “Solar Ellipse”, the trajectory is that of the epicycle, where a spinning sound image (revolving four times per second) travels around an elliptical “orbit” similar to planetary motion. The larger cycles of the eight component stereo tracks (four created with vocal formant-like timbres and four with noise band components) are in the proportions of 6, 8 and 9 which come together and repeat at the mid-point of the piece. However, the tracks are heard in all combinations of 2, 4, 6 and 8 at a time. All are present at the mid-point and only at the highest and lowest pitch at the beginning and end. The image is that of fire whose energy is simultaneously being dissipated yet, like the sun, appears to remain constant. “Solar Ellipse” is based on the hexagram, number 49, Revolution, comprised of the trigrams for fire and lake, the inverse of that of “Wave Edge”. “Solar Ellipse” was realized with the composer's PODX system for computer sound synthesis and composition in the Center for the Arts at Simon Fraser University using the DMX1000 Digital Signal Processor. The synthesis technique used is that of frequency modulation (FM) of arbitrary waveforms. A spatial trajectory program developed by the composer was used to map specific paths for the various layers in binaural stereo. “Solar Ellipse” is available on the Cambridge Street Records album “Sequence of Earlier Heaven”. BT

  • Studio: Sonic Research Studio, Simon Fraser University (Burnaby, British Columbia). [1984-85].
  • Premiere: 15e Festival international de Bourges (Bourges, France), 21-vi-1985
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