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RECOVERY OF ANALOGUE DEVICES FOR LIVE ELECTRONICS: CASE STUDIES IN RECASTING KORG SE500
Mixed music with live electronics has, inherent to it, a problematic that exists since its genesis and that relates to the rapid technological evolution of the resources used. Primarily, the analogue methods used to process sound during the second half of the 20th century, have gone through a process of obsolescence with the transition to digital technology. Secondly, the velocity in which digital technology evolves – operative systems, softwares, hardwares – brings new and constant challenges, nowadays, to the sustainability of works written in this genre. This work focuses on analogue electroacoustic devices, whose obsolescence was a conditioning factor for the disappearance of these pieces. We think that the most viable and consensual way of reverting this process and recover these works is through a process of technology transfer called recasting. This method consists in the assembly of information about the machine parameters, about the pieces needs, and about performance necessities to create emulations of the devices in digital format. This migration and the flexibility offered by this type of softwares also provide a chance to rethink these works performance when it comes to the ease of handling the electronics. We present three examples of works for saxophone and analogue electroacoustic device that were subjected to this process and that use specifically the echo chamber Korg SE500. Sax-Blue, by Jorge Peixinho, Variants Invariants, by Costin Miereanu, and Mnemosyne et l’oubli, by Marc Tallet, all written in 1982. One of the priorities concerning the way the emulation was made, was that it should be close to the intentions of the composers regarding the way the works should be performed. The saxophone player should himself control the echo chamber manually during the performance. Nonetheless, the flexibility offered by the programming software used, Max/MSP and later Ableton Live, made us think about more accessible and easier ways to perform these works. Therefore, the emulation was also made to allow the automation of the parameter changes that the works require. These parameters are organized in lists that the performer triggers with a pedal in specific places of the piece. Since the performer must have an active role in the control of the emulation in both versions, the use of external MIDI controllers is required. Therefore, the use of these controllers influenced the evolution of the Korg SE500 emulation. An analysis of the works was required to assemble all technical information regarding the electronics part, but a comparative analysis revealed that the Korg SE500 is used in similar ways in all three works and the composers used the same symbols to specify parameter changes. Therefore, the same emulation made can be used in all works with little adaption being required. This process has proven to be very effective in the search of a solution for these works. Nevertheless, new limitations and challenges arise due to the fast digital technology evolution. Therefore, we must keep thinking forward about more and different solutions aiming for greater sustainability of repertoire for instrument(s) and live electronics.
Keywords: Recasting; Recovery; Korg SE500.
Philippe Trovão was awarded in several saxophone national and international competitions and has presented himself as soloist with wind ensemble and symphonic orchestra in Portugal, Spain and Italy. Master in Pedagogy by the Music School of Lisbon, Trovão develops work in contemporary music, mainly with repertoire of mixed music with live electronics, free improvisation, sound exploration, creation and multidisciplinary projects with theatre and dance as saxophone player or sound artist. His project RECAST, about the recovery of works for saxophone and analogue electroacoustic device, originated his debut album as a solo artist. Currently, Philippe Trovão, is Professor of Saxophone and contemporary music at Conservatório de Música de Santarém and Professor of saxophone at Conservatório Regional Silva Marques, Alhandra. He also is a Doctoral Student at University of Aveiro and currently recording his second album “Sur la Couleur”, a monographic of Jean-Claude Risset.
Henrique Portovedo was awarded with a Summa Cum Lauda PhD in the field of Science and Technology of the Arts (Performance and Computer Music) at the Portuguese Catholic University funded by FCT. Portovedo was Fulbright Researcher at the University of Santa Barbara Califonia, Erasmus Researcher at the University of Edinburgh, visiting researcher at the ZKM Karlsruhe and visiting researcher at McGill University Montreal. Master in Music Performance with Distinction by Trinity Laban London and Master in Music Pedagogy by the University of Aveiro, he was awarded with several prizes including by the Portuguese National Centre of Culture and the British Society for Education Music and Psychology. As saxophonist and intermedia artist has presented multidisciplinary creations in festivals worldwide, while being soloist with some of the most relevant contemporary ensembles in Europe. Currently Portovedo is professor at University of Aveiro, Guest Professor at the Real Conservatorio Superior de Musica de Madrid and coordinator of the Creation, Performance and Artistic Research’s group at INET-md.