Integra Contemporary & Electroacoustics

Integra Contemporary & Electroacoustics is a student ensemble that focuses on the interpretation of contemporary art music with and without electronic music components. In Integra, we build on traditional performance and compositional practices, as well as experiment with new instrumentalities, creating new performance paradigms and exploring a potential for increased musical expressivity through technology.  The integration of new instrumentalities with acoustic instruments (saxophones, guitars, didgeridoo, accordions, voices, percussion instruments, digital turntable, MOOG Voyager,  wii remotes, microphones, etc.) is an exciting aspect of the ensemble formation and leads to a very wide range of diverse and often unexpected sound combinations.

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unnamed soundsculpture by Daniel Franke & Cedric Kiefer (film)

In April, 2017, Integra Contemporary & Electroacoustics presented their final event of the academic year, entitled Film, Sound & Space. Our concert showcased the hard work of the members of the ensemble: Digital Audio Arts students from the University of Lethbridge. In addition, we featured video, a 360° film, and a web browser-based graphic novel, among other pieces and improvisations.

I want to thank Daniel Franke and Cedric Kiefer for letting reinterpret the musical accompaniment to their original work, entitled unnamed soundsculpture: embodiment of sound (2012), and I want to acknowledge onformative.com for facilitating this collaboration.

For more information about the production of the film, go to:
onformative.com/work/unnamed-soundsculpture

Other Electroacoustic Ensemble videos at https://vimeo.com/album/2201064

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CrawlSpace by Bryn Hewko (360° film)

In April, 2017, Integra Contemporary & Electroacoustics presented their final event of the academic year, entitled Film, Sound & Space. Our concert showcased the hard work of the members of the ensemble: Digital Audio Arts students from the University of Lethbridge. In addition, we featured video, a 360° film, and a web browser-based graphic novel, among other pieces and improvisations.

I want to thank Bryn Hewko for permitting us to work with his 360° film, entitled CrawlSpace (2016), and I want to acknowledge the assistance of the New Media Department and “AGILITY” at uLethbridge. New Media supplied us with an Oculus Rift and AGILITY donated several uLethbridge-branded Google Cardboard for the participating audience.

The performance begins after a one-minute introduction.

Other Electroacoustic Ensemble videos at https://vimeo.com/album/2201064

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Seldom Somber by David Schlatter (film)

In April, 2017, Integra Contemporary & Electroacoustics presented their final event of the academic year, entitled Film, Sound & Space. Our concert showcased the hard work of the members of the ensemble: Digital Audio Arts students from the University of Lethbridge. In addition, we featured video, a 360° film, and a web browser-based graphic novel, among other pieces and improvisations.

I want to thank David Schlatter for permitting us to work with his film, entitled Seldom Somber (2016), and I want to acknowledge the musicians of “Inside the Baxter Building” for facilitating this collaboration and inspiring me with their own musical setting of Seldom Somber.

Other Electroacoustic Ensemble videos at https://vimeo.com/album/2201064

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Integra Contemporary and Electroacoustics (ICE) in rehearsal for 360° Film, Sound & Space

ICE “in rehearsal” – making music to film, Seldom Somber, by David Schlatter. Come to the concert on 8 April, Lethbridge [Canada]

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ICE EVENT on 8 April, 2017

Integra Contemporary & Electroacoustics (ICE) presents:

360° Film, Sound & Space

Featuring…

Improvisations by the members of ICE
Electroacoustic world premiere by Jon Martin
Films by Bryn Hewko, David Schlatter, as well as Daniel Franke & Cedric Kiefer
Browser-based graphic novel by Autumn Read
Artwork by Jamie-Lee Girodat
Special participation from the students of W. H. Croxford High

…bring you 360-degree headsets and phones!

7:30pm
Saturday, April 8
uLethbridge Recital Hall
Free admission

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Creating Sounds in ES P (Logic Pro X)

By Jon Martin

Overview

In this post, you will learn about how the parameters in the ES P virtual instrument in Logic Pro X can be used to shape a synthesized sound.

Before beginning, confirm that your speakers or headphones are functioning and that the system volume level is set to a moderate level.

Launch program and create new document

 

  1. Launch the Logic Pro application, located in the Applications folder.

>/Applications/Logic Pro

  1. Create a new Logic document by navigating to:

>File>New

Loading ES P

We will now load the ES P plugin.

  1. Create a new track with the ES P virtual instrument loaded. You can load the instrument by creating a new virtual instrument track, selecting the “Instrument” plug in section, and choosing ES P (Polyphonic synth) from the menu.

 

 

  1. Press Cmd+K (Logic Pro X) or Caps Lock (Logic Pro 9) to make the keyboard appear.
  1. Take a few minutes and switch through the ten provided sound presets and make some sound with each using the Musical Typing Keyboard.
  1. You will notice how the parameters of the ES P interface change as you move between presets.

ES P Parameters

We will now investigate the plugin controls. We will be looking at three main sections of the plugin: the synthesis engine on the left side, the resonance/filter section in the middle, and the ADSR section on the right.

martinesp3

  1. The Oscillator section allows you to control the type of oscillators that make up the sound produced by the plugin. From left to right, you have the triangle, sawtooth, and rectangle waves. The next two faders are sub-octave generators, the first controlling the amount generated one octave below the sound from the first three faders, and the second dropping two octaves. The final fader controls the amount of white noise that introduced into the sound. To the left of the faders are three button labelled 4, 8, and 16, which determine which octave the sound produced resides in.
  2. The Filter section introduces a low-pass filter into the signal. It reduces the range of frequencies produced about the cutoff point (labelled as frequency). The 1/3, 2/3, and 3/3 control the octave range that is covered by the lowpass filter. 1/3 will cut off the least amount of signal, while 3/3 will cut off the most. The resonance control allows you to choose how much the signal is boosted at the cutoff frequency. Changing the amount of resonance will drastically change the synthesized sound.
  3. The Envelope section allows you to control the attack (A), decay (D), sustain (S), and release (R) characteristics of the sound produced. By using ADSR to shape the volume envelope of the sound, you can create familiar or completely new sounds.
  4. The remaining controls offer additional ways to change the sound produced, including distortion and chorus effects, a low frequency oscillator, and additional envelope parameters that will not be used I this tutorial.

Creating a sound

We will use the plugin parameters to create a basic synthesized sound.

  1. Use the Recall Default setting in the preset menu to reset the plugin the its default parameters.
  2. Begin by setting all of the oscillator values to zero, at their lowest position.
  3. Raise the triangle wave slider about halfway up. Use the Musical Typing Keyboard to produce a sound.
  4. Next, raise the noise slider to add sharper attack characteristics to the sound. While making sound, find a position that you like.
  5. Select the 8’ octave range.
  6. Next we will move to the Filter section. Raise both the Frequency and Resonance controls fully clockwise and play a sound. You may have to hold down the key to hear the complete sound.
  7. Now lower the frequency control until it is cutting off the signal at a position that is pleasing.
  8. The “laserbeam” like quality to the sound is caused by self-oscillation created by having the Resonance set very high. Reduce the Resonance control until it is positively contributing to the synthesized sound and not causing unwanted distraction. You may change or lower to octave range of the filter to lessen the overall effect.
  9. Now we move to the Envelope section. The A control sets how long it takes for a sound to reach its maximum amplitude. The D control sets how long it takes for the sound to go from its maximum to resting level. The S control sets how long the sound remains at its resting level. The R control sets how long the sound takes to return to silence after the key has been released.
  10. Starting with all ADSR controls at zero, beginning moving them from left to right to shape the envelope characteristics of the synthesized sound. Moving the slider up increases the time value.

You will notice that longer attack values will require a longer key press to allow the sound to become audible from silence. Shorter values may imply percussive sounds, while longer sounds may evoke legato strings.

  1. Modify the ADSR values until a satisfactory sound is being produced. Use this sounds to play a few simple melodies, making changes to the parameters as necessary to increase the sound quality and function of the instrument.
  2. Finally, use the two sub-oscillator sliders to add lower harmonics to the sound. You may need to use high quality speakers or headphones to hear the change occurring due to low frequency content not being played back on smaller speakers.
  3. Once a desired sound has been created, click on the preset menu and click Save As… to save the sound for later use.
  4. Go through this process several times until three contrasting and useful sounds have been created.

Closing the application

  1. Close the Logic application by selecting Logic Pro > Quit Logic Pro.
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Ugliness and the Coloration of Digital Sound

By Matt Rederburg

Things can be beautiful when they begin to fall apart. It is no secret that many of us find unpredictability a very musical thing. Most like it in small doses. Many styles of rock n’ roll are bettered by a player’s utilization of tube-based guitar amp and the breakup they have come to expect from it at certain volume levels. The effect of amp-breakup on the sound of an electric guitar can be a key part of the overall tone. Take a listen to “I’m Slowly Turning Into You” by The White Stripes, or strap in for the entirety of “Dopesmoker” by Sleep. These are just the first two examples that my iTunes offered up, chosen for no other reason than the fact that these songs owe some to their sonic signature to the abuse of imperfections in a signal chain. Although standard practice now, guitar amplifiers were not originally designed to respond in such a way. A shortcoming of design is now a preferable feature.

My intention isn’t to champion the virtues of the modern electric guitar, but to support the same attitude toward other instruments and sound generating devices. Perfection and purity will never escape the realm of subjectivity, so why not place value in a bit of ugliness? By testing the limits of a piece of hardware, you allow yourself to be surprised. You also might find that you give a voice to a piece of equipment in an extreme way. An ideal situation finds you at the threshold of visceral engagement where you respond to the gear as much as the gear responds to you.

I have only, and will only, ever perform in an era where digital synthesis and manipulation of sound is an accessible option. Sound leaves to digital realm to be heard by us, but there is a very deep reserve of processing options before that stage. There are so many exhausting branches to the analog (hardware) vs. digital (software) debate, and most just get in the way of actual performance. My experience has led me to believe that it IS, however, harder to coax a sense of randomness out of a lot of digital options. The randomness that I’m looking for, an arguably inspiring randomness, is the same sort that can be found in driving hardware past a sensible point of engagement.

Do we throw computers by the wayside and instead choose from a selection of hardware and instrument options that time has already deemed acceptable? Not a single one of my peers draws such a thick line in the sand. There’s no need for it, and this musical randomness isn’t always appropriate. What I’d like to suggest, to those individuals who perform with sounds that begin in a digital realm, is to be more adventurous with the exit route of these sounds. They have to enter the world at some point to be heard. What if instead of adopting hardware to reproduce these sounds as neutrally as possible, you place an item in your chain (after the conversion from digital to analog) that’s distinct in the way it interprets the material?

Just recently, I had the pleasure of being a part of the Integra Contemporary and Electroacoustics (ICE) ensemble lineup for the Fall 2016 season, and it was a fantastic opportunity to put this idea into practice. Admittedly, my choice to instrumentation started more as a question of “What if?” than a calculated attempt at routing digital sound through an imperfect signal path. When asked to establish what instrument I was going to contribute to the ensemble, I grabbed my Macbook and a Native Instruments Maschine – which is a piece of hardware with velocity sensitive pads, knobs, and buttons used to send MIDI data. With it, I figured I would have plenty of flexibility to trigger and modulate sounds using the partnering Native Instruments Maschine software. Surely I could find a role in the ensemble easily with so many options. I also grabbed an external soundcard to provide analog outputs for my digital sounds. Lastly, I grabbed a cheap karaoke machine I had lying around. The appeal of this machine is that it had two microphone inputs with independent gain controls. These inputs ended up receiving sound from my digital rig. The manner in which this karaoke machine interpreted the sounds I was sending from my computer completely changed my role in the ensemble.

This karaoke machine distorted quite easily, and at the most extreme amount of input it would break up in a way that completely obscured the originally timbre of the digital sound. You could “play” the machine, adjusting levels of saturation, clarity and internal noise (a product of a fairly cheap design) by manipulated the two input gain knobs in combination with the master output knob. It was fantastic, and I became very excited to perform with it.

Once I understood the characteristics of the machine, I became less concerned with the complexity of the sounds I was using in the digital realm. Stock, pre-packed sounds became a new animal when coaxed through the karaoke monster. At least once per performance my deliberate tweaking jumped sideways into the territory of calf-roping as I jumped to counter a surprising response from the machine. Sometimes the inputs had a poor connection, and signal would drop out until I performed enough of the usual jiggling ritual to bring the sounds back to life. It was an experience that demanded engagement as a performer. Never did I have a free hand. The best part of my instrument was the portion that was falling apart. I invite you to try it out.

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