Microsounds: Curtis Roads composes intelligent music in the worlds of virtual sounds

Posted: May 12, 2009 in creativity
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curtis road

An interesting 3-part VBS.TV series on Curtis Road titled “MOTHERBOARD – THE GRANULAR SYNTHESIS OF CURTIS ROADS”. Roads explains that with his compositions he’s leaving the limited scope of the 12 notes of the equal tempered scale. He wants to allow sounds to tell a story, a narrative similar to human life where they get born, married, divorced, clash & crash into each other, harmonise, walk together, give birth to new sounds and so on. That richness, he believes, unfolds in “an open universe of heterogeneous sound objects”, a world of virtual sounds. In it any sound is possible, and that really extends the game – especially when diving into the world of microsounds, as the VBS.TV blurb explains:

There are two divergent streams in 20th century electronic music: The one most people are familiar with starts out with goofballs like Jean-Jacques Perrey and Vangelis noodling around on synthesizers and eventually devolves into Kaja Googoo. Curtis Roads is part of the other path, the one that follows insane geniuses like Stockhausen and Morton Subotnik and uses whatever-period-it-happens-to-be’s state-of-the-art computer technology to produce compositions that completely defy conventional music logic and sometimes sound more like a freaked-out ATM than tunes you put on and listen to.

Professor Roads’ primary interests/methods are granular and pulsar synthesis. We’re still trying to wrap our brains around pulsar, but from what we gather granular synthesis is where you break down individual notes and sounds into teensy tiny little bits (or “grains”) and then reassemble them into music full of such microscopic nuances that it could only be fully appreciated by a man who’s like some kind of computer-man or something. There’s also this thing where the reconstituted microsounds don’t produce actual, distinctive tones but nebulous sound masses that can be modulated in ways that regular sounds can’t which we don’t fully understand despite Roads’ best efforts at explanationing.

Anyheux, that’s what he’s into. If you want it in Bo Diddley terms, think of it as his “hambone.”

Click here to look at the three short clips on Curtis; for more about him, go to delllounge.com

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