Deep Space by Malcolm Smith


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Deep Space for processed piano & electronics (1992) 4'57"

(Evolution - Space Movement)

This piece formed part of a concert given by Electronic Music students at the University of Hertfordshire on 9th December 1992. The concert was a continuous suite of pieces called "Evolution" composed individually by everyone on the course, and then mixed together to flow into each other. The work charted the Evolution of Earth and mankind from the primordial soup to the exploration of space (which is where I came in). I made good use of the wide variety of sound sources at our disposal in the music department:

The piano strings were amplified by microphones and processed with echo and reverb. During performance, I improvised on the keyboard and strings directly, as well as tuning analogue oscillators and filters. The sampler used a sample of a bowed cymbal I'd made in the University's Anechoic Chamber (a bizarre little place, not as big as the one at Bell Labs though!), which was played in a scale of ascending and descending fifths. I also used sine tones from my Additive Synthesis Project, having always loved the pure sound of sine waves and being fascinated by the Ancient Greek notion of The Music Of The Spheres. There were originally plans to use a solo cello, radio sounds and Morse Code signals spelling out the words "IN MEMORY OF JOHN CAGE" but these were not completed in time for the event. A guitarist joined me with some wailing alien sounds, and more hands assisted with the oscillator twiddling (oh, those sweet squirbly sounds of the AKS!). The audience were seated in the centre of the hall, around which were about eight Digital Audio Workstations manned by each composer, all relayed through the main surround sound system. There were two performances, both of which were recorded, although in the spirit of space exploration, neither was without technical difficulties: some howling bass feedback and me forgetting to unmute one channel, so half of the mix was lost! Now that I've acquired an Akai S3200XL, I hope to be able to use my old sample disks to one day recreate a complete version, but until then, you should fasten your seatbelt and enjoy this...

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0 LicenceThis work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0 LicenceThis work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0 LicencePlay/Download "Evolution - Space Movement" (2011 Digital Remix) [6MB .ogg file]

Tags: cosmic

[Recorded live in concert 1992-12-09 at University of Hertfordshire Electronic Music Studios by Malcolm Smith (piano and live electronics), remixed 2011-04-25]

Thanks to the wonders of computer technology, this digital remix segues the two performance recordings into one. I scooped out the middle section of each one where the bass feedback pretty much decimated the mix (this is what comes from having live mics processed by long feedback delays within way overcomplicated quadraphonic surround setups!). Gotta love drone pieces for their ease of crossfade overdubbing! (Although I did spend many hours adjusting the placement to try and preserve the long rhythmic structure of the rising and falling fifths.) Since the original performance was quadraphonic (IIRC), and these recordings are from just a stereo pair of microphones, I wanted to give a sense of movement to the otherwise very static mix, so added a touch of pitch change plugin and panning automation to one doubled copy of the mix in a lame attempt at Through Zero Flanging at one point (which didn't really work but still sounds nice). You'd be hard pressed not to notice where this occurs...! Thankfully the audience was very quiet, and the only clues that this was a live performance are the occasional clatter of switches and the sound of me frantically tapping on a button trying to fade out the samples at the end. (Darned digital parameter access! Give me real knobs any day! :-)

Your feedback is appreciated (but no need to bother asking "Where are the MP3's?")


This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0 Licence © The right to copy is left with the user copyleft Malcolm Smith 2005-10-08 - last updated 2011-04-26