EMS Proceedings and Other Publications

Barry Truax Riverrun (1986/2004), a case study from the TaCEM project, exploring new approaches to techniques of analysis and re-synthesis in the study of concert electroacoustic works

Michael Clarke, Frédéric Dufeu, Peter Manning

Michael Clarke, Frédéric Dufeu, CeReNeM, University of Huddersfield, UK
j.m.clarke@hud.ac.uk, f.dufeu@hud.ac.uk
Peter Manning, Durham University, UK


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This article presents the TaCEM project (Technology and Creativity in Electroacoustic Music), a 30-month project funded by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council, focusing particularly on the first of our case studies, Barry Truax’s Riverrun. Eight works have been selected for the project, taking into account criteria such as historical context, the nature of the synthesis techniques employed, and the aesthetics that have underpinned their realisation. Key considerations have included the accessibility of the technical resources and composing materials used in their production, and opportunities to pursue particular lines of enquiry with the composer concerned. In selecting the eight works for detailed study, a further consideration has been the extent to which the composers explored techniques that were already available at the time in ways that are unique and distinctive, or alternatively developed entirely new methods of synthesis in pursuit of their creative goals. The pioneering work of Barry Truax in terms of developing techniques of granular synthesis assign his achievements almost exclusively to the latter classification, and the composition of Riverrun (1986/2004) is a landmark achievement in this regard. Our presentation at this year’s EMS in Berlin included a demonstration of examples of the software we have developed to enable readers to engage with Riverrun interactively, both by analysing the original recordings and by using our emulation of the GSX system to be able to recreate passages of the work and manipulate the techniques employed in order to learn more about them. We also gave examples of other materials we have collected in relation to this case study, including videos of the composer himself working with the GSX system and discussing the composition of Riverrun.

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