PROJECT | Auditory Fiction - Andrew

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  Auditory Fiction, written for the Zellig Ensemble, is cinema for the ears. The piece is an imaginary narrative that involves the use of a new tool for shaping musical time. In Auditory Fiction, the musicians play their parts by following in-ear clicktracks which coordinate four independent, flexible, shifting sequences of time. Each instrument in Auditory Fiction can act independently in time or join together in perfect synchrony. Closely layering temporal events can trick the auditory system and cause things to be heard that are not actually present.

Zellig Ensemble, Cal Performances, November 7, 2011

"But the most elaborate work on the program, and in many ways its climax, was "Auditory Fiction," an ingenious piece by UC Berkeley composer Edmund Campion that involved all four instrumentalists along with some newly developed computer software....The result was that the players would float in and out of sync with each other at various points - coming together at a structural landmark, then veering off again. This is the sort of thing that can easily become indecipherable if the composer falls too much in love with his tools. But Campion keeps clarity and even beauty at the fore - the harmonic language is simple, and the metrical variations just subtle enough to keep a listener engaged. The results were remarkable. "

Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

Decades ago, the composer Steve Reich pioneered the technique of phase shifting in live performance, but it is only with the new technology that full compositional control of smoothly-varying tempos becomes possible. This new technique presents a major challenge for both the composer and the performers -- the problems of navigating a musical space that is always in temporal flux. The tempo-editing tools were developed at the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies first by Matthew Wright and currently by John MacCallum with Jeff Lubow. The piece was commissioned by Mecenat Musical Societe Generale.

Working with dynamic tempo maps forces a disconnect from most of my compositional skill set - many of the traditional compositional approaches and techniques do not map meaningfully to the space - a new creation involves all the aspects of music not just the timemap space, but the timemap space demands a change in method for the composer. In Auditory Fiction, a fixed instrumentation that is not ideal to the primary software tool being developed (flute/clarinet/cello/piano) is also a big concern - not uncommon problem in these kinds of productions. - Effective working environment for creation: align the mode of production and synchronous tool building with the actual process of creation/production of materials. Don't dive too deep into tool production until aspects are tested through practice. Test, develop and modify the working method and process in synchrony with the emerging software. A successful composition is integral and our collaborative needs of technology/creation typically fractionalize the process which contributes to a poor or compromised result. - Existing models of successful asynchronous, polytemporal, dynamic temporal musics I am inspired by: Public bells (asynchronous time), Bali Javanese musics (dynamic tempomaps as norm), Campion pieces (tatum synchornized poly-tempos).

Excerpt I

Excerpt II

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