Creativity in the Electro-Acoustic Ensemble

by Adam Lefaivre.

The Electro-Acoustic Ensemble, as directed by Dr. Andrew Stewart, allows music students (in Digital Audio Arts) to have their own creative input in a class and get school credit for it; this is highly beneficial to the ensemble, since most of the students involved are highly creative.  The student can contribute to the ensemble in many ways, but students demonstrate technical creativity, improvisational creativity and compositional creativity. Compositional creativity allows for students to exercise their accumulated knowledge about music theory, music history, and computer assisted composition.  Technical creativity allows students to learn more about their performance instruments (or even develop appropriate instruments, depending on the desired creative outcome) or interfacing with appropriate technology in order to accomplish a compositional goal.  Students also develop their improvisational skills, which is a creative component in music that is not always available in some institutions of classical music.

Some examples of students demonstrating technical creativity are: Tugrul Rahimoglu developing his very own Max patch that analyzes melodies and musical scores, and manipulates these melodies so that they become inverted around a central note.  Rahimoglu is still developing this software; however, the idea of such a program is very creative, and has already been utilized in a theme and variations composition that Tugrul, Matt Cameron, and Rebecca Cameron developed on the theme of Helter Skelter by the Beatles.  Another example of technical creativity is Mathew Hellawell’s creation of the silent drum, which was based on a designed instrument created by Jaime Oliver (http://www.jaimeoliver.pe/instrumentos/silent-drum).    Hellawell successfully built a replica of the instrument and incorporated it in into a group composition titled Transmission. This composition also included Adam Lefaivre, who played classical guitar, and Shauna Gregus who mapped a Yamaha WX7 wind based gestural controller to Logic Pro in order to achieve some of the atmospheric sounds for this composition.  One final example includes a recent composition created by Jordan Nickorick involving sonically manipulated feedback produced by guitar amplifiers; the feedback is created by placing microphones into tubular enclosures, allowing for resonant frequency manipulations of the tubes.  This ensemble is very encourages technical creativity to flourish, as can be seen with the amount of technical know-how.

The ensemble also allows for compositional creativity, whether it be in a traditional classical music idiom, or more in the vein of textural based electronic music.  An example of this compositional creativity was the premiere of Jordan Nickorick’s Acousmatic piece titled Transient, which was originally written and developed for a 9.1 sound system.  Transient was developed entirely from vocal recordings and clearly demonstrated Nickorick’s ability to write compositionally successful and texturally rich electronic music.   Not only is compositional creativity a possibility in the ensemble but so is improvisation.  While writing various compositions students are able to improvise with one another in order to formulate the basis for a composition.  Furthermore students are encouraged to improvise solos in various scenarios; this has been encouraged for the piece “In C” by Terry Riley which the students have been working on, and will perform this semester on April 20th in room W420 in front of a receptive audience.

The Electro-Acoustic Ensemble allows students with creative minds to present their ideas and compositions, receive constructive criticism, and perform in front of an audience.  This process is conducive to success on many levels, making the Electro-Acoustic Ensemble not only beneficial to the University of Lethbridge’s music department, but beneficial to each individual involved in the ensemble.  With the amount of creativity the ensemble demonstrates, one can only wait, in anticipation, for many successful concerts.

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About dndrew

Orchestral, chamber and interactive music composer Digital musical instrumentalist Real-time software systems designer Computer music educator
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