Vol. 35 Issue 2 Reviews

XVIII Colloquio di Informatica Musicale: Prossime distanze

Laboratorio G. Quazza, Università de Torino, Turin, Italy/Conservatorio de Cuneo, Cuneo, Italy, 5-8 October 2010.

Reviewed by James Harley
Guelph, Ontario, Canada

During 5-8 October 2010, the Associazione di Informatica Musicale Italiana (AIMI) held the 18th Colloquio di Informatica Musicale (CIM), a national/international gathering of computer music researchers and practitioners held every other year in a different location in Italy. While most events take place in Italian, the majority of presentations at least provide English-language summaries and slides, making the colloquium informative for non-native participants. This year, the event was hosted by Andrea Valle, of the Centro Interdipartimentale di Ricerca su Multimedia e Audiovisivo (CIRMA) at the Università delgi Studi de Torino, and Stefano Bassanese, of the Departimento Nuove Tecnologie e Linguaggi Musicali of the Conservatorio di Musica “Giorgio Federico Ghedini” di Cuneo. Turin and Cuneo are located in the Piedmont region of Italy. Turin was the primary location for the colloquium, but a week-long workshop was held in Cuneo on “Phantom Rooms—Networked Spaces,” led by Mark Trayle (California Institute of the Arts, USA). This intensive activity culminated in a networked performance on the last day of the colloquium that linked the two cities.

Another event that took place ahead of the colloquium proper was a day-long workshop on the SuperCollider music programming environment, given by Joshua Parmenter (University of Washington, USA). This session was followed by the opening concert featuring Michele Marelli, Italian clarinetist specializing in the music of Karlheinz Stockhausen. The concert featured music by the late composer from different periods of his output: Solo (1965/1966) in a version for bassett horn and live electronics (provided by  Stefano Bassanese and Nicola Biagioni); Der kleine Harlekin (1975) for clarinet; and Uversa (2007), one of the works from Stockhausen’s late, unfinished cycle, Klang, for bassett horn and electronics.

The colloquium got going the next morning with opening formalities and the first of three keynote presentations, this one on “Iannis Xenakis: Electroacoustic Music and Polytopes,” given by James Harley (University of Guelph, Canada). The first session, “Technology, Memory, and Interpretation,” included five presentations: “A music bar for active listeners: an example of virtual electronic lutherie for a history 50 years long” presented by Sergio Canazza, with Federico Avanzini, Maddalnea Novati, and Antonio Rodà (Università Degli Studi di Padova); “Interpreting old electronics: the reinterpretation of technology and concert techniques for electronic instruments in chamber music performance” by Cat Hope (Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts); “Anthèmes 2: un approccio monodirezionale al live electronics” by Marco Marinoni; “Audio documents restoration of ethnic music based on Non-negative Matrix Factorization and perceptual suppression rule” by Sergio Canazza, with Giuseppe Cabras, Pier Luca Montessoro, and Roberto Rinaldo (Università Degli Studi di Padova); and “Presentazione delle attivatà del gruppo di ricerca World of AudioVision,” by Giacomo Albert, with Gianmario Borio, Elena Mosconi, Nicola Bizzarro, Alessandro Bratus, Alessandro Ceechi, Marco Monzio Compagnoni, Maurizio Corbella, Matteo Giuggioli, Marida Ruzzuti, Federica Rovelli, Stefano Lombardi Vallauri, and Gaia Varon (Università de Pavia).

After lunch, Session 2, “Gesture, Interface, and Control,” included four presentations: “EJP—Electro Jamming Project” by Stefano Fumagalli and Saverio Monti (Conservatorio di Musica “G. Verdi,” Como); “e-Zampognë—A Southern-Italian Bagpipe Controller,” by Carlo Massarelli with Andrea Valle (Università delgi Studi de Torino); “Per una rappresentazione audiovisiva del gesto,” by Maurizio Goina and Pietro Polotti (Conservatorio “G. Tartini,” Trieste); and “Experiencing Sonic Interaction Design: Product Design Activities at the SID Summer School 2010,” by Stefano Delle Monache with Davide Rocchesso (Università de Venezia). The sessions concluded with a presentation by the organizers of the upcoming Sound and Music Computing Conference 2011, being held in Padua, 6-9 July 2011. This is an international event, held in a different location around Europe each year (smcnetwork.org/). 

Colloquium participants were then guided back across town to the Teatro Vittoria, venue of the previous night’s concert (and the following night’s as well), for a concert of computer music. This event again featured a solo performer, this time Michele Lomuto, on trombone. He performed a series of challenging works with amplification and electroacoustic elements, either for fixed media or live interactive electronics, assisted by Stefano Bassanese, Benjamin Thigpen, and Nicola Biagioni. The sound system in the hall consisted of a high-quality eight-channel system that surrounded the audience (and pushed the performer quite far back on the stage, to keep outside of the diffusion area). The compositions presented were: Popup (2002) by Giorgio Tedde; Susòn (2008) by Christopher Jette; ironicOnirico (2009) by Gianluca Verlingieri; Ouest Profond (2009) by Lorenzo Bianchi; Os, oris (2002) by Agostino Di Scipio; and Animus I (a brainstorm) (2001) by Luca Francesconi.

The next morning, Session 3, “Psychoacoustic modeling and spatial sonority,” included four presentations: “Physical modeling of the glottis and acoustic-to-articulatory inversion,” by Enrico Marchetto and Federico Avanzini (Università Degli Studi di Padova); “Structural modeling of pinna-related transfer functions for 3-D sound rendering,” by Simone Spagnol, with Michele Geronazzo and Federico Avanzini (Università Degli Studi di Padova); “A microphone array approach for browsable soundscapes,” by Sergio Canazza, with Antonio Rodà and Daniele Salvati (Università Degli Studi di Padova); and “A system for soundscape generation, composition, and streaming,” by Mattia Schirosa (Universitat Pompeu Fabra), with Jordi Janer, Stephan Kersten, Gerard Roma, and Iain McGregor.

Session 4, “Distribution between proximity and distance,” included just two presentations: “Fondamenti teorici per una laptop orchestra,” by Marco Gasperini; and “Meccanica/Azione/Sonora: emergenze linguistiche nella communicazione di audio via rete,” by Federico Costanza, Marco Gasperini, and Alessio Rossato (Associazione Meccanica Azione Sonora).

After lunch, the second keynote presentation was given by Mark Trayle, on “Remote Utopias—Illusions of Space and Community in Networked and Telematic Art.” This talk provided historical background on Mr. Trayle’s work, citing The Hub and David Tudor as influences on his approach to the work he had been carrying out for the past week with a group of students in Cuneo. His talk was followed by Session 5, “Learning and Technology.” The three presentations included: “A technological augmented learning environment,” by Antonio Camurri, Sergio Canazza, Corrado Canepa, Antonio Rodà, Gualtiero Volpe, and Serena Zanolla (Università Degli Studi di Padova); “Un videogioco per il training ritmico,” by Tiziano Bole; and “Visual and aural tools for music education based on Audio to Score,” by Nicola Montecchio and Nicola Orio (Università Degli Studi di Padova).

After the day’s sessions, participants were back to the Teatro Vittoria for a third concert, this one featuring the Fiarì Ensemble, a new music group based in the area who, along with this program, were scheduled to present a whole series of concerts at the Teatro Vittoria over the autumn. With Joshua Parmenter running sound from his iPad, four members of the ensemble performed a selection of works with electronics from an international call for works. The program included: Tagli mobili d’ombra (2007) for cello and live electronics, by Stefano Trevisi; Light, inside (2010) for violin and live electronics, by Andrea Vigani; Corpi sonori (2009) for flute, clarinet, cello, and live electronics, by Joshua Parmenter; IV Frammento da heterodyne (2004) for clarinet and electronic sounds, by Massimiliano Viel; Interplayflute (2009) for flute and live electronics, by Luca Richelli; and Dissieme (2004, revised 2006) for flute/alto flute, clarinet/bass clarinet, violin, cello, and live electronics, by Harald Muenz. The performers, as in the other concerts, were first-rate. The pre-concert talks, held prior to each concert at the Teatro Vittorio, were likely aimed at non-colloquium attendees, but useful for that outreach, and there were people present from the community. The pre-concert receptions, with a glass of nice Piedmont wine and good finger food, were convivial for all, and helped to keep the energy going through the long days and evenings with no dinner break until late at night.

The final day began with Session 6, “Assisted Composition.” The five presentations included: “Composizione assistita e processi di trasferimento di dati musicali da PWGL a Csound” by Massimo Avantaggiato (Conservatorio “G. Verdi,” Milano); “Un sistema integrato di progettazione, composizione ed esecuzione dedicato a un brano per pianoforte e sintesi per modelli fisici real time” by Giorgio Klauer (Conservatorio “G. Verdi,” Como); “La libreria Open Music OM4Csound—un approccio didattico a strutture de controllo in Csound” by Mauro Lanza, with Gianluca Verlingieri and Nicola Biagioni (Conservatorio “G. F. Ghedini,” Cuneo); “Composizione elettroacustica e tecnica waveset, un approccio creativo de ricostruzione algoritmica” by Giorgio Bianchi and Pier Daniel Cornacchia (Conservatorio “G. Verdi,” Como); and “Score-independent ensemble methods for description of musical expressive intention” by Sergio Canazza, Antonio Rodà, Lauro Snidaro, and Ingrid Visentini (Università Degli Studi di Padova).

The third keynote presentation was given by Joshua Parmenter, who spoke about tools he has been developing for SuperCollider, “Composer’s Toolkit: A synthesis of musical language.” After lunch, the final session of the colloquium was devoted to poster presentations, primarily by graduate students. Rather than have them all set up in a hall competing for attention, they essentially made compressed presentations in the lecture hall used for all the other sessions, one after another. This worked well, although anyone with questions would have had to follow up with individual presenters after the session.

The final evening was filled with no less than three events, in three different locations. The first was the performance of Phantom Rooms, the networked computer music ensemble that had been working with Mark Trayle in Cuneo. Half of the students were with Mr. Trayle in the Aula Magna in Turin and the other half were at the Conservatorio in Cuneo, linked by audio and video. There were some internet difficulties, but the performance came off well in the end. It was evident that the musicians in each location were listening to the ongoing sonic textures as they evolved, adding and shaping the music in often quite sensitive and creative ways. After the conclusion of this short concert, a bus shuttled everyone out to the Virtual Reality & MultiMedia Park. This impressive facility on the outskirts of Turin supports a variety of research and production, including the virtual reconstruction of the Poème électronique from 1958 by Le Corbusier and Edgard Varèse. For audiences larger than one, the team has produced a version of the work that is projected on a screen with audio routed through an eight-channel sound system. The soundpaths of the music, originally routed through c. 450 loudspeakers in the original Philips Pavilion, are fixed for this presentation, but an operator may use a joystick-type controller to navigate visually through the projection of the imagery from within the pavilion. A call for works using this system was put out to composers, and several Phililps Pavilion-based VR renderings of electroacoustic compositions were presented along with the original music by Varèse and Concret PH by Iannis Xenakis. The composers were provided with the programming parameters to determine the spatial routing of their audio through the loudspeaker configuration of the original, mapped onto the provisional eight-channel system in the hall. They were also able to navigate through the pavilion as projected onto the screen, and, in some cases, to add other visual elements onto the virtual pavilion. The works presented were: Semakode (2010) by Domenico Sciajno; Studio sull’intonazione della carne (2006) by Francesco Abbrescia; Rotazione (2009) by Alessandro Cipriani; High Pockets (2010) by Gianluca Delfino; Sovra-posizione (RSM) (2010) by Meccanica Azione Sonora; Opera Omnia (2008-2010) by Luca Richelli; Maebelawi Bahri/Sea of Illusion (2010) by Dario Sanfilippo and Alfredo D’Amato; Studio per O (2010) by Antonio Santini; A un tempo (2009) by Antonio Scarcia; and Je Dois M’en Aller (2009) by Giuliano Scarola. While the spatial routing would have no doubt been better perceived with headphones, the intended placement and motion did come across, although I think that programmed visual travel through the virtual pavilion would have been more successful than the improvised joystick explorations that were presented. In any case, the system as implemented opens up other possibilities for creating multimedia work in immersive audiovisual environments and will no doubt be developed further through research and creative activity.

The final event of the colloquium took place at the Hiroshima Mon Amour nightclub on the south side of the Turin downtown, where different configurations of colloquium participants jammed together. The Laptop Mini Orchestra consisted of Domenico Sciajno (who provided the conduction and graphic score to guide the peformance), with Andrea Arcella, Andrea Valle, Dario Sanfilippo, Franz Rosati, Federico Placidi, Matteo Milani, and Cat Hope. The Electroacoustic PlayGround group consisted of Cat Hope, Franz Rosati, Ramon Moro, Andrea Valle, Dario Sanfilippo, and Gandolfo Pagano. Finally, the floor was turned over to electronica artist Frank Bretschneide, one of the founders of the influential record label Raster-Noton. Anyone still standing was then free to dance the night away.

There are plans to publish the papers from the colloquium. Further information on CIM 2010 can be found on the event Web site (modisti.com/n10/?p=6773).