Virtual Music Performance: Latent or Live? (David Cotter, University of Cambridge and Marc Estibeiro, Staffordshire University)
Writing in 2014, Margaret Barrett observed that ‘Collaborations may occur on a number of levels and degrees of separation, including those of place, time and expertise.’ In 2020, the global coronavirus pandemic provoked national lockdowns around the world, and this in turn motivated a proliferation of remote musical collaborations. Virtual choirs, orchestras, and ensembles of all shapes and sizes increased exponentially, using an array of digital technologies to connect performers across vast physical and temporal distances. However, despite an increasing number of products designed to address this issue, latency continues to frustrate online collaborative efforts, and prevents some altogether. Many musicians result to pre-recording individual parts, before subsequently stitching musical material together, but this is far from ‘live’ musical performance.
Marc Estibeiro’s Latent (2021) (for two guitarists and live electronics) explores the musical possibilities which arise from embracing lag, rather than embarking on another futile endeavour to eliminate it. A combination of graphic, musical, and textual notation provide pre-determined parameters for improvisation. The non-time-critical score allows, and indeed encourages, interaction between the guitarists and the electronics (a semi-autonomous SuperCollider patch) in ‘real’ time, without concern for the constraints and restrictions of latency.
This lecture-recital illuminates the approaches taken by creative partnerships operating remotely, processes of co-performer communication (especially the navigation of omnidirectional feedback loops in the virtual domain), and the nature of collaborating ‘online’ in the 21st century.
David Cotter is a guitarist and PhD candidate in the Faculty of Music at the University of Cambridge under the supervision of Professor John Rink. His thesis is entitled 'The Collaborative Guitar' and his research explores co-performer creativity, and the past, present, and future of the guitar as a collaborative instrument. He has given lecture-recitals, papers, and presentations in Belgium (Orpheus Institute), Hong Kong (Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts), Lithuania (Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre), Portugal (University of Aveiro), Serbia (Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences), and the UK (Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Middlesex University, University of Cambridge, University of Dundee, University of Nottingham, and the White Rose College of Arts and Humanities). He has also co-organised a conference (The Classical Musician in the 21st Century conference, University of Cambridge), and built self-playing guitar robots (RITMO Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Rhythm, Time and Motion, University of Oslo, Norway).
Marc Estibeiro is an associate professor of music at Staffordshire University. He has degrees in Music, Music Technology and Applied Linguistics from Middlesex University, Essex University and Bangor University. In 2016, he received his PhD in Composition from Durham University. Marc’s academic work focuses on composing music for acoustic instruments and electronics. His work has been presented at conferences, workshops, concerts and seminars in France (IRCAM, Paris), Italy (Conservatorio di Musica, Cagliari), Mexico (Visiones Sonoras, Morelia), China (ICMC, Shanghai 2017; International Guitar Research Conference Hong Kong 2019), Germany (MuSa 2017 and 2018, Karlsruhe), Canada (Brandon University March 2018), South Korea (ICMC 2018), and the United Kingdom (University of Wales, Staffordshire University, Durham University, Keele University and others). In addition to his academic work, Marc is a guitar player and an active composer.
The paragone: audio-visual framework in historical perspective (Antonio Cascelli, Maynooth University)
Abstract: The development of multi- and digital media over the last decades have brought into sharp focus the close relationship between the audio and visual worlds. However, this relationship constituted a core element in the formation of cultural meanings well before the twenty-first century. In this presentation I will explore the phenomenon from a historical perspective and look at the elements that form the background for our modern understanding of how music and images are connected. My hypothesis is that the paragone of the arts in renaissance culture – the idea that it is possible to illuminate one art through the other/s – constitutes the framework to comprehend the links between the senses, which are central to the way that music and images work together. From Leonardo – for whom painting is superior to its sister art, music – to Comanini’s treatise Il Figino, where ultimately the arts are placed on a more equal plane – the paragone undergoes a process of transformation which ultimately reconfigures and reshapes the relationship between the senses in a web of fully embodied affects and e/motions. In particular I will focus on few key moments that highlight the transformations: from Leonardo to Figino, through Vasari and the elements of rhetoric that compound a shared space between visual and aural imaginations in a performative space, whose traces can be tracked in the Counter-reformation milieu, contributing to the formation of a new form of, and space for spectatorship, particularly in the world of opera.
Biography: Antonio Cascelli is Assistant Professor in Music at Maynooth University, Ireland. His main research interests are in arts and music in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Italy, Claudio Monteverdi, Schenker and Chopin, music analysis, and the relationship between music and visual arts. He has published a book on Schenker’s material on Chopin from the Oster Collection, New York Public Library (LIM, 2017). His articles on Monteverdi’s Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda and L’Orfeo are published in the Cambridge Opera Journal (2017) and Philomusica Online (2018). He is co-editor, together with Denis Condon, of Experiencing Music and Visual Cultures. Threshold, Intermediality, and Synchresis (Routledge, 2021).
Darth, Mick and Dzhokhar: Emotional modelling and the waning hysteria of soundtrack villainy (Darrin Verhagen, RMIT University)
Abstract: Historically, the “golden age of soundtrack” in cinema was informed by conventions from the Romantic classical era. In opera, leitmotifs were a 19th Century form of musical code designed to remove any moral or narrative uncertainty for the audience concerning character, intent or circumstance. In this model, different characters would have specific personal anthems with clearly signposting their roles in the story being told. Alongside this important semiotic function was the genre’s concurrent embrace of emotional intensity. This combination of clarity with bold affect made heroes all the more heroic; villains all the more villainous. These mortality tales were also often driven by myth and fantasy at an epic scale – with such conceptual weight supported and driven by equivalent levels of musical excess. With this as an audiovisual model, it is unsurprising that many of the early Hollywood film composers came from (or were heavily influenced by) a Romantic classical background or that such approaches to scoring were considered appropriate imports for cinema narrative.
In much the same way that many contemporary stories have moved on from pantomime-level morality tales, so too have the options for score broadened in the exploration of a commensurately more nuanced territory. To illustrate such a trend, this essay will examine the different audiovisual relationships used in Star Wars, Wolf Creek and Patriots' Day to illustrate not only how models for score might be changing but also how three different types of emotion – outcome, moral and aesthetic – intertwine in the form and function of the soundtrack.
Biography: Darrin Verhagen is a freelance sound designer, composer and installation artist. He has worked with Australia’s premier companies in theatre, dance and screen, and as a founding member of the (((20hz))) collective, multisensory installation. He is currently working on a series of remixes for the ACMI archives. His soundtracks have won various Green Room awards and his recent Shinjuku Thief score for the feature film, Boys in the Trees was nominated for best soundtrack by both AACTA and the Film Critics Circle in 2017. His video essay, Materialisation, Emotion and Attention, outlines the mechanics of sound in audiovisual relationships and is used as an educational resource. Darrin is a senior Sound Design lecturer in the RMIT Digital Media program, and the director of the AkE (Audiokinetic Experiments) Lab where he researches the psychophysiology of multisensory experience.