/ Bricoleur and Engineer in Computer Music
their intentions, and this allowed us to investigate through work analysis how their aesthetic program was realized in the actual music. This was especially the case with Barry Truax, where the analysis showed how the movements of The Wings of Nike reflect his program of "composing through sound" (Truax 1990). Although the three movements share the same two sampled phonemes as their material, they are shaped into very different musical forms. The piece is realized by means of Truax' self-developed GSAMX composition program, and the development and use of this system is an integral part of his composition process. In this piece, Truax used the computer technology to articulate aspects of the micro-timbral qualities of the human voice in an artistic form. Kaija Saariaho's piece is conceived for radio and draws on various sound sources and - being close in genre to radio theatre - narrative strategies. Clips from the recording of an earlier work are mixed with soprano, flute, choir, concrete sounds and readings of poems by Kafka, Kandinsky, and Eluard in three languages to form a story about separation and the difficulties of communication. Another main theme is the exploration of how we move between different levels of consciousness, an exploration which is paralleled on the technological level by the morphing of one sound into another, using spectro-morphological techniques. In making the piece, Saariaho used specialized software for spectral analysis and morphing. Pizzicato Five is a Japanese pop-duo with a DJ rather than a musician background. Their music is made entirely by computers and comes close to techno and easy listening in style. In Trailer music they use sampling and editing methods, closely related to the DJ's practice, to make a short piece, containing references to at least five popular music styles from the last 50 years. Without revealing the exact identity of the originals - maybe they don't exist? - the eclecticism of this music comes close to the post-modern simulacrum. The piece was made using standard MIDI and sampling technology. John Oswald uses recorded material as basis for his plunderphonics style in which he edits and manipulates a large number of samples into new music (Oswald 1986). In Seventh, the source is a symphony movement from Beethoven, and although he leaves almost all thematic material out, the music remains 'Beethovenish' in character. Music analysts have shown that the essential quality in the Beethoven piece is created by small rhythmic cells (Riethmtiller 1994), and these are reflected in Oswald's loops of accompanying figures. Oswald's pieces are made by computer editing of a large number of samples, combined with certain - supposedly partially self-developed - DSP techniques. BRICOLEUR AND ENGINEER Tools, materials and methods The term bricoleur is used by L6vi-Strauss to exemplify the "mythical thinking" that he found among "native" people such as the West-coast Indians in North America. This kind of thinking interprets new phenomena as transformations of existing social and cultural structures. The bricoleur is described as a dabbler; he will use whatever materials and tools are at hand for his projects. He starts by looking back at the already existing set of tools and materials, and involves in a dialogue with his "treasure" to discover what each element could possibly signify in the context of the new project. The engineer is seen by L6vi-Strauss as an example of the Western scientific thinking. His projects are not limited by a closed collection of cultural artifacts, but are open to extensions of existing knowledge, tools, materials, and methods. He starts by looking forward rather than backward: he is projecting his idea beyond the existing knowledge and he is able to construct new materials and new tools to realize his project. Signs and concepts The tools and materials used by the bricoleur are already part of culture. They are not abstract materials, but already signify something before being used in the new project. Although the bricoleur will re-arrange everything into something new, the parts will retain a reference to their old meaning, even as they appear in the context of the new project. Meaning, in terms of bricolage, is created by restructuring of existing events. Opposed to this, the engineer is able to use abstract concepts which are, in L6vi-Strauss' terms, transparent to reality. He can create tools and materials specifically for his new project, with no reference to past events. His process is not so much constrained by culture as by nature itself, and only the final result takes its place as a cultural event. Meaning is created by the engineer as a result of the occupation with abstract structures. Musical bricolage Musical bricolage could be seen as an extension of a reception aesthetics, which claims that musical meaning is created in the mind of the listener as much as by the composer/interpreter: the work of art is happening in the moment of listening. Translated to a compositional method, the
Top of page Top of page