Audio Examples Complementary Listening List SYNTHESIS — REAL-TIME
The general democratization of digital equipment combined with important improvements in processing power throughout the 1990s contributed to wider access to and interest in real-time synthesis. Some fundamental similarities to live electronics exist, with the important difference that now the results are exclusively generated by a computer system. Today the terms “laptop musician” and “laptop performer” are general currency in the milieu, a reflection of the fact that pretty much anyone who has access to a portable computer with a minimum amount of processing power can get involved. The programmes that allow the user to create electronic sounds are innumerable; to electroacoustic artists, Max/MSP is among the best-known.

The works found in this collection, however, in general represent a period in which these processes were somewhat more laborious. In the 1980s, computers were bulky, had little power and typically could only be used for coordination and transfer of data. Several other pieces of sound equipment — synthesizers, rhythm boxes, sequencers, samplers, etc. — were connected to and controlled by the computer using the MIDI protocol. This allowed for the exchange of information related to sounds, durations, pitches, etc. between the various units. Once set up, this system could be used to generate the sounds live, and the result itself might be recorded during the performance. In this manner, a “fixed” music could be created that had (accordingly) a composed (as in written out) or improvised character but that was executed in real-time. Music created using such systems often exposes technological limits of the period: insufficient power and equipment, not to mention brand incompatibilities, were serious obstacles not only to creative spontaneity but also to the richness and density of the resulting sound world. This explains, in part, the inflexibility of the musical gestures as well as the essentially monodic character of works from this period.
Audio Examples
Complementary Listening List

Produced with the financial participation of the Department of Canadian Heritage

Patrimoine canadien      Gouvernement du Canada


All rights reserved © 2008

Projet d’archivage Concordia (PAC) Communauté électroacoustique canadienne / Canadian Electroacoustic Community