On Tues. Feb. 19, archive * archive - the Dialogues opening festival concert at St Cecilia’s Hall features museum instruments that have been sampled to create a new, dynamic library of sounds. Performances on the original instruments will be remixed and reinterpreted through new pieces and projects made with the sample libraries by Gavin McCabe and Leo Butt. On the program is Nullius in Verba by Robert Scott Thompson, presented in octophonic surround sound, diffused by composer Pete Stollery.
Nullius in Verba translates from the Latin as “on the word of no one.” This acousmatic composition incorporates field and studio recordings and their transformation and elaboration. Sound sources include vocal, percussion, flute and ‘cello sources together with mechanical and environmental sounds. The music is conceived as a kind of “song without words,” and in working on it, I was reminded of Mendelssohn: “What the music I love expresses to me, is not thought too indefinite to be put into words, but on the contrary, too definite.” Techniques used for the work include ambisonic spatialization and spectral transformation methods. Tools used include Kyma, Csound, Metasynth, Cecelia, Trajectory and Spat Revolution.
Robert Scott Thompson is a composer of instrumental and electroacoustic music and is Professor of Music Composition at Georgia State University in Atlanta. He is the recipient of several prizes and distinctions for his music including the First Prize in the 2003 Musica Nova Competition, the First Prize in the 2001 Pierre Schaeffer Competition, and awards in the Concorso Internazionale “Luigi Russolo”, Irino Prize Foundation Competition for Chamber Music, and Concours International de Musique Electroacoustique de Bourges – including the Commande Commission 2007. His work has been presented in festivals such as the Koriyama Bienalle, Helsinki Bienalle, Sound, Présences, Synthèse, Sonorities, ICMC, SEAMUS and the Cabrillo Music Festival, and broadcast on Radio France, BBC, NHK, ABC, WDR, and NPR. His music is published on numerous solo recordings and compilations by EMF Media, Neuma, Drimala, Capstone, Hypnos, Oasis/Mirage, Groove, Lens, Space for Music, Zero Music, Twelfth Root, Relaxed Machinery and Aucourant record labels, among others.
Thompson’s work in the area of computer music is oriented toward high modernism in the tradition of the founders and pioneers of the field such as Pierre Schaeffer, Stockhausen, and Xenakis. His music is also informed by the naturalistic soundscape and importantly notions of contemporary expressions in chamber and orchestral music. Thompson’s aesthetics attempts to blend and meld the real and imaginary into a musical context that invites deep listening and engagement in the listener. The music – the tonality, sonority, transformation of materials – is the primary focus rather than the outworking of a specific technique or technology. In recent years Thompson has become an adherent of the techniques of ambisonic spatialization and increasingly creates work that is based in this approach to both multi- channel and stereophonic presentation.