Networked_Music_Review

Crossfade: Network Music

league_cabala.gif Crossfade: Eternal Network Music – These two pieces use Phil Burk’s JSyn software synthesis and TransJam network music software. They require a one-time installation of the JSyn plugin in your browser. Clicking on the name of either piece will bring you to a page where you can quickly install these; or if they are already installed, a Java applet will automatically launch that prompts you to login to start a piece, or to join an ongoing one.

ETERNAL MUSIC, by Chris Brown: Up to four players at a time can change the harmony and motion of 8 modulated sine-wave oscillators, producing a richly vibrating drone. APERTURE, by John Bischoff, invites sonic exploration and play using a palette of textured noise. By executing mouse-based motions, players can shape large and small changes in the sonic fabric.

CHRIS BROWN creates music for acoustic instruments with interactive electronics, for computer networks, and for improvising ensembles. Recordings of his music are available of Sonore, Tzadik, Centaur, and Artifact Recordings. He has received commissions from the Berkeley Symphony, the Rova Saxophone Quartet, the Abel-Steinberg-Winant Trio, and the Gerbode Foundation. He teaches electronic music at Mills College in Oakland, where he is Co-Director of the Center for Contemporary Music (CCM).

JOHN BISCHOFF is a composer who has created live electronic music for solo performer and in computer network bands since 1978. He was a founding member of two premiere network bands, The League of Automatic Music Composers and the Hub, and co-authored an article on the League’s music that appears in “Foundations of Computer Music”, MIT Press (1985). Recordings of his music are available on Lovely Music, Frog Peak, Centaur, and Artifact Recordings, and will appear soon on an upcoming solo release on 23five.

Indigenous to the Net: Early Network Music Bands in the San Francisco Bay Area – by John Bischoff and Chris Brown :: This article documents the work of two bands that were active in the San Francisco Bay Area between the mid-1970s and late 1990s. The League of Automatic Music Composers and The Hub were two of the first ensembles to investigate the unique potentials of computer networks as a medium for musical composition and performance. Both groups came about as associations of computer music composers who were also designers and builders of their own hardware and software instruments. Their approach to the computer music medium was strongly do-it-yourself, a characteristic common both to the electronic technology community of the San Francisco Bay Area, and the experimental instrument-building tradition of Harry Partch, John Cage, and David Tudor. They approached the computer network as a large, interactive musical instrument in which the data-flow architecture linked independently programmed automatic music machines, producing a music that was noisy, surprising, often unpredictable, and was definitely more than the sum of its parts.

Co-written by two members of the Hub, this article provides an audio/visual tour of the music, instruments, and networking designs produced by these bands. In assembling together the sounds, still images, video, programs, and diagrams that are the artifacts of twenty-odd years of creative work, we are struck by the ways in which both the recording and performance technologies represented reflect the character of their times. But we also hope to point out how many of the issues that were confronted by these bands are still relevant today to composers working on ways to make the internet a medium for live, interactive musical performance. This article will be followed in August 2002 on this same Crossfade site by the premiere of two new online network music pieces, one by each of us, pointing in that direction.

About CROSSFADE: CROSSFADE focuses on sound as artistic medium. The purpose of this ongoing project is to contextualize and facilitate access to a diversity of sonic and musical directions, which utilize network technology as an integral part of their production. A curated space, CROSSFADE spans different aesthetic points of departure and integrates visual works with sonic constituents. New approaches towards the specific properties and artistic potential of networks as time-based technology will be at the heart of CROSSFADE, which aims at becoming a meeting-point for artists as well as audiences whose paths rarely cross, be it locally or globally, aestethically or sociologically.

The core of CROSSFADE consists of commissioned “media essays.” These may take any form presentable in the WWW, ranging from text-based with hyperlinks, to designed interfaces. Artistic projects that explore the notion of network as instrument are also featured on this site. In addition, CROSSFADE will also present live events both in physical space and online: local or global networks may be used both as productive tools or as distributive channels. In the former case, artists utilize a network as part of their performance. In the latter the global audience can tune in remotely to be part of the local audience.

CROSSFADE is a joint project of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Goethe-Institut, ZKM (Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe) and the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis). It is funded in part by the James Family Foundation.


Apr 11, 2007
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Networked_Music_Review (NMR) is a research blog that focuses on emerging networked musical explorations.

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