Volleys of Light and Shadow

for fl, 2 clns, bsn, 2 tpts, tbn, 2 perc, 2 vlns, vla, vc, bass and electronic sound

Full Score (pdf)

300 Word Statement

Volleys of Light and Shadow was commissioned by IRCAM/Centre Pompidou for Ensemble Orchestral Contemporain and premiered at the 2014 Manifeste Festival in Paris. It was composed and scored for chamber ensemble and real-time electronics. The electronic part was created in collaboration with Gilbert Nouno during a residency in IRCAM's studios. This work contributes to several research areas, including creative use of music information retrieval, concatenative sound synthesis, spectral-based signal processing, and score following.

Innovative aspects of this work emerged from Hackbarth's research residencies at IRCAM dating back to 2010, where he started collaboratively writing AudioGuide, an open source computer program for concatenative synthesis. In order to compose this work, AudioGuide was extended to permit flexible mapping of sound descriptor data, enabling a large array of sonic variations when using the same target and corpus. The idea of concatenative 'variations' was based on an earlier collaboration with Diemo Schwarz (Diemo, and Hackbarth. "Navigating variation: composing for audio mosaicing." 2012).

Both local and formal compositional decisions were partly organized around creative manipulation of audio descriptor data. Sound files were generated by the composer to capture gestural intent, and then analysed to obtain certain audio descriptors. These descriptors were then translated into symbolic notation governed by different rules for different sections of the piece. Therefore, part of the piece's formal design revolves around contrasting creative approaches to algorithmic composition using sound analysis.

The electronics consist of a combination of real-time signal processing and sound file playback. Soundfile playback is flexible depending on the tempo of the ensemble. The tempo is captured by a keyboard player, who is acoustically silent, but provides a MIDI signal which is analysed by AnteScofo in MAX/MSP. Antescofo then provides information to compress or dilate the fixed media materials to match the temporality of the ensemble.

Program Note

Volleys of Light and Shadow revolves around exchanges of energy between contrasting forces: the acoustic and the electronic, the seen and the unseen, the tangible and the mysterious, the tethered and the unleashed. A kind of repetitive and slowly-evolving canon is created between gestures iterated by the ensemble and the spatialized computer sound. While these canons often create a dialogue that evolves gradually and somewhat logically, the overarching formal design focuses on connecting improbable and unlikely endpoints. Thus, as the piece progresses, that which stabilizes gives way to movement, that which commands attention subsequently disintegrates, and that which behaves becomes wild and unwieldy. These contradictions create a listening experience cloaked in fog, as objects which seem present are revealed to be mere shadows.



Recording Credits: Ensemble Orchestral Contemporain: Fabrice Jünger, flute; Hervé Cligniez & Christophe Lac, clarinets; Laurent Apruzzese, bassoon; Gilles Peseyre & Didier Martin, trumpets; Marc Gadave, trombone; Claudio Bettinelli & Roméo Monteiro, percussion; Gaël Rassaert & Céline Lagoutière, violins; Brice Duval, viola; Valérie Dulac, cello; Michaël Chanu, bass; Roland Meillier, clavier; Daniel Kawka, conductor, 2014

Open Source Software Links

Audioguide homepage; Audioguide github page