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Communauté électroacoustique canadienne
Canadian Electroacoustic Community
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Works » By Title » N » Night-flowering… not even sand — I (12:00 / 1989)

James Harley

for bassoon and tape

Night-flowering… not even sand — I was composed in 1989 in the Computer Music Studio of the Faculty of Music, McGill University, in Montreal. The piece was composed for bassoonist Johnny Reinhard, of New York. The title is taken from fragments of poetry by Thomas Merton. Images of the desert, gained from a trip to the Middle East the previous year, served as inspiration for the creation of the music. NF — II is closely related to Night-flowering… not even sand — I, for bassoon and tape, completed in 1989. This piece utilizes the 31-tone equal-temperament system. It was premiered in Pollack Hall on December 8, 1990, during the Electronic Music Festival celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Electronic Music Studio of McGill University. The tape part for NF — I was realized using the Csound synthesis software. Four synthesis algorithms (orchestra instruments) were used, the predominant one being a harp-like sound which at times approaches the density (75 notes per second) of granular synthesis. This texture is based on the 31-tone temperament, and is intended to create an aural environment coloured by this special tuning system. The other instruments comprise a bell-like sound based on an additive synthesis generator, a bass sound built from a combination of FM synthesis and waveshape synthesis, and a buzzy, noise sound generated from a subtractive, filter instrument. The score files used to create NF — I were generated as output from compositional algorithms based on functions adapted from chaos theory, called Chaotics. This software was developed by the composer as part of a research project undertaken at McGill under the supervision of Prof. Bruce Pennycook. All of the compositional variables, including the numerous synthesis parameters, were generated by means of the Chaotics programs.

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