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Oliveros, Pauline

Oliveros, Pauline

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Acoustic and Virtual Space as a Dynamic Element of MusicAuthor(s): Pauline OliverosSource:
Leonardo Music Journal,
Vol. 5 (1995), pp. 19-22Published by:
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ARTIST'S NOTE
Acoustic
and
Virtual
Space
as
a
Dynamic
Element
of
Music
Pauline Oliveros
As amusician,I am interested in the sensualnature ofsound,itspowerofrelease andchange.Inmy perfor-mancesthroughouttheworld,Itryto transmit to the audiencethewayIexperiencesound both whenIhear it and whenIplayit.Icall thiswayofexperiencingsound"deep listening."Deep listeningislisteningineverypossiblewaytoeverythingpossible-thismeansonehearsallsounds,no matterwhatoneisdoing.Such intenselisteningincludeshearingthe soundsofdailylife,of nature and of one's ownthoughts,as well as musi-cal sounds.Deep listeningismylifepractice.Inthisarticle,Iattemptto relatemy experiencesas aper-former andcomposerto thedevelopmentofmyinterestinacoustics andtechnology.Ihave been involved with the use oftechnologyfor liveperformancesince the late 1950s.Iwillreview several ofmypiecesastheyrelate to thedevelopmentoftheExpandedInstrumentSystem(EIS),describedbelow,whichIuseincomposingbothmysolo and ensembleperfor-mances with theDeepListeningBand.Iwill discussmyinter-estinacoustic andvirtualspace.Virtualacoustics-apercep-tualphenomenon-iscreated with electronicprocessingwithin an actualphysical space.Simulated wallsorreflectivesurfacesmaycause a listener toperceivedifferencesinroomsize and the tonequalityof a musical instrument.
DISCOVERINGACOUSTIC SPACE
Earlyinmystudent career as aperformer,Inoticed thatIlikedplayinginsome roomsor concert hallsmuchbetter thaninothers. WhenIplayed myFrench horninadryhall(aroom with little or noreverberation)the sound feltstuffy,andit seemed harder toplay.Iwould wonderwhy mytonequalityseemedtosoundpoororverythininsuch rooms. More rever-berant roomsalwaysfeltbetter-especiallyrooms withwooden floors and walls as the reflective surfaces.Mytone wasfuller,richer androunder,and it was easier toplayintheserooms. I learnedaboutresonance, reflections,reverberationandhowtoplayin a roomthroughtheseexperiences.Thissituation was similar toone Iwas toexperiencelater as a com-poserwhenIworked with electronic sound. WhenIuseddrysounds(soundsrecordeddirectlyfrom the source without asense of roomspace),reverberation of some kind was neededto make the sounds seem more musical.Inmyfirstattemptsatcomposing tapemusicinthelate1950s,Iused the resonanceandreflective surfacesofmybathtub as anapproachtohelp
PaulineOliveros(composer, performer,musician),156 HunterStreet,Kingston,NY10012,U.S.A. E-mail:<paulineo@tmn.com>.Received 31August1994.Manuscriptsolicitedby Judy Malloy.
solve thisproblem.Irecordedsmall acoustic sound sourceswiththemicrophoneinthe(empty)bathtub.Music,asIunderstandit,isplayedinacousticspaces.Concerthalls, theaters, cathedrals,etc. allact as mechanicalamplifiers,which,bytheirarchitecturalde-sign, capturethe sounds of voicesandinstruments,andimposeresonances,reflections and ab-sorptionthat color the sounds.In-strumental andvocalsounds are
ABSTRACT
The authorrovidesnover-view f herbackgrounds aper-formerndomposernterestedinacoustics ndechnology.erdiscussionangesromdescrip-tion f herpracticef"deepis-tening"o herworkevelopingtheExpandednstrumentys-tem-which llowsheperformergreaterontrolver cousticspace-toher ollaborationsithotheromposersnd nstrumentbuilders.enhancedordistortedbythese mechanicalamplifiers,de-pendingon thenature of thesoundand thepurposeof thedesign.Resonance,reflection andabsorptionare determinedbytherelationshipsand materials of the enclosure as well asenvironmental factorssuch asairtemperatureandhumidity.Particularstylesof music are often associated withpre-ferred architecturaldesigns.Music that is intended for rever-berantcathedrals,such as theGregorianchant,maynotsound wellindryhalls,whereascontrapuntalmusic needs a
Fig.1.Pauline Oliveros and DavidGamper performingwithPCM42s,Austin,TX,1994.(Photo:GiselaGamper)
LEONARDO MUSICJOURNAL,Vol.5,pp.19-22,1995191995 ISAST
 
dryerand smaller hallforclarityofallthecontrapuntallines.Goodmusiciansadjusttheirperformancesto thenatureofthe hall as besttheycan.Seasonedaudience members seekout theseatswhere thebalance of directsound andreflectedsoundisthemostpleasing.Generallyspeaking,thearchitecturalacousticspace(concerthall)isassumedto befixed,withrelativelyunchangeablecharacteristics.Harmonies, melodies,rhythmsand timbreschangeinmoreorlessintricaterelationships,while theacousticspacedoes notchange;it isthecontainerofthe music. Asmyexperi-ence ofnumerousperformancespacesaccumulated,Ibeganto wishfor thepossibilityofchangingtheacousticspacewhileperforming.IalsowishedthatIcould hear as if Iwereintheaudi-ence while Iwasperformingforit.With theadvent ofsignalprocessorsandsophisticatedsoundsystems,itispossibletotamperwith thecontainer ofmusic inimaginative ways.Thewallsofanelectronicallycreated virtualacousticspacecanexpandorcontract andas-sumenewanglesorvirtualsurfaces.Theresultingresonancesandreflec-tions,whichchangecontinuouslydur-ingthe course ofaperformance,can beusedto createspatialprogressions,muchasonecreateschordprogressionsortimbretransformationsbychangingthetonequalityofaninstrumentwhileperformingasinglepitch.The audi-enceandperformerscanexperiencesensations ofmovinginspaceas wellasperceivingsoundsmovingthroughspace. Theycanalsoexperiencethere-lationshipofmovinginspaceinrela-tionto soundsmovinginthesamespacewhile thespaceitselfischanging.Suchaudioillusions orvirtualacousticscanfunction as anewparameterofmu-sic,muchastimbrebecame new withtheadvent ofKlangfarbenMelodie(tonecolormelody),inwhichthenotes ofamelodyaredistributedtodifferent in-strumentssuccessively(asinthe musicofbothArnoldSchoenberg,whocoinedtheterm,andAntonWebern)[1].As Igraduallybecamemoreandmoresensitizedtoacousticphenomenaanditseffects onmysoundas aper-formerandcomposer,Ibeganto listencarefullytoeachspaceIencountered.Inotedthatchangesintheposition,heightorthedirection ofaninstru-mentcouldaffectthetonequalitybyenhancingit ordetractingfromit. Iworkedbackandforthbetweenacous-ticandelectronicsound.
-
MIC
mic(s)-PreampPCM42
Reson8
LINEPCM7o
/ue1
IFNICHE-b
CJPCM70
FVCOedal
I
om(--f----- r(romMA,fromother)
infromother statns
MultifunctionedalsMacintoshtoReson8)SignaltypePADSInterfaceQuadra700cto
audioserial
I
MIDI--
6666
MicLevelControlPedals
Fig.2.ExpandedInstrumentSystem:samplestation,1995. TheLexiconPCM42is anana-log-controlleddigitaldelay.The LexiconPCM70 is aMIDI-controlleddigitaleffectspro-cessor.TheReson8DSPcomputerisprogrammedandcontrolledthrougha NubuscardinaMacintoshcomputer.Studio 5is amultilineMIDIinterfaceandpatcher.TheMicandLinemixers aresections ofa Mackie1604 withOTTOMIDIcontrol.Niche is aset of8MIDIcontrolledresisters.PADSisa customresistorandswitch to serialconverter.
TAPEDELAY
Beginningin theearly1960s,Istrungtapefromthesupplyreel ofonema-chinetothetake-upreel ofanothersothatthetape passedthe headsof twotothreetapemachines.Thistape-delayprocessallowed me toreturnthesignalfromtheplaybackheadto therecordheadin avarietyofconfigurationstocreatevariousaccumulationsoflayer-ing,echoesandrhythms.Iusedthesetechniquestoenhanceelectronicsoundsandprocesssoundsmadewithacousticinstruments[2].AseedideaappearedinmyearlyworkThe Bath(1966)forDancer'sWorkshopin SanFrancisco(AnnaHalprin,direc-tor).Iwanted tocreate themusicforthisdance out oftheintentional andunin-tentionalsoundsmadebythedancersduringthecourse oftheperformance.Iwantedtochangetheacousticcharac-teristics oftheperformancespaceaswell. Inordertoaccomplishthis,Iusedseveraltaperecorderstocollectthesoundsthedancers madeduringthe firstpartofthepiecewithoutintroducinganyothersonicelements.Therewas noaccompanimentotherthanthedancers'ownsoundsandrandomroomsounds.Forthe secondpartofthepiece,Iusedfeedbackfrom theplaybackheadto therecordheadofthetaperecordertocre-ate avirtualreverberantspacethatseemed togrowgraduallyin sizeas I in-creased theamplitudeof thefeedback.Atthesametime,Icontinuedtorecordthesounds ofthedancers.Forthe thirdpartof thepiece,Iplayedbackearlierpartsof thepiecewhileselectivelyover-lapping segmentsof theearlierpartsofthepieceontothis newversion ofthespace.Repeatedmaterialwastrans-formedbythevirtualspaceandthelay-ering.Thedensityandtexturesgrewin-creasinglycomplexasthereverberationscoloredthematerials.Iworkedextensivelywithtapedelayandbecamequiteinvolvedwithtimbraltransformationinrealtime withdelayandmixingtechniques.Idiscoveredthatrepeatedlayeringof asingletonecontributed toatransformationofitsquality."I ofIV"(1966)and"ByeButter-fly"(1965)arerecordedexamplesofreal-timeelectronicpiecesfromthe1960sthatcameoutofthisinvolvement.
THEEXPANDEDINSTRUMENTSYSTEM
Afterusingtape-delaysystemsforsomeyearsfor liveacousticinstrumentperfor-mance,in1983Iacquiredapairofpre-MIDILexiconPCM42digital-delaypro-cessors.Theseinstrumentsgavemethe
20
Oliveros,AcousticandVirtualSpace

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