Archive for the 'hörbeispiele' Category

Herbert Brün – Klänge Unterwegs c/w Anepigraphe

Herbert Brün - Klänge Unterwegs LP front cover
Herbert Brün - Klänge Unterwegs LP back cover
Herbert Brün - Klänge Unterwegs LP side B

Berlin-born composer Herbert Brün (1918-2000) fled Nazi Germany in 1936 for Jerusalem, where he studied piano with Stefan Wolpe, among others. He later studied at Tanglewood and Columbia University in 1948-50. Brün got interested in electroacoustic music in the late 1950s and visited electronic studios in Paris, Cologne and Munich, where he created several compositions and hörspiele. He was invited to teach at Illinois University in 1962 where he soon joined the electronic studio, started composing with computers and FORTRAN programming, and explored cybernetics theories. Brün founded the Performers’ Workshop Ensemble with students. See official website for more info.

Herbert Brün's theoretical writingsHerbert Brün seminar, k7 recording, 1977Herbert Brün during lecture
Above: Brün’s theoretical writings [+], seminar k7 recording [+], and lecturing

♫ This LP is a hörbeispiele, that is recordings of elektronische musik sound examples, a specifically German genre of which I previously posted several representative discs. Published one year before Herbert Eimert’s own historical Einführung in die Elektronische Musik (1963, posted here), Herbert Brün’s Klänge Unterwegs, or Wayfaring Sounds, was already distancing himself with 12-tone technique and atonality, and embraced the new electronic era with less mysticism and exaltation than Eimert. Klänge Unterwegs was recorded at the Siemens-Studio für Elektronische Musik in Munich in 1961 for a series of 8 radio broadcasts that same year. The LP ends with a proper electroacoustic composition, the superb Anepigraphe, recorded at NWDR’s electronic studio in Cologne in 1958, under Eimert’s tutelage.

01 Klänge Unterwegs – Beginn (21:48)
02 Klänge Unterwegs – Ende (13:06)
03 Anepigraphe (1958) (9:22)

Total time 44:16
LP released by Amadeo, Wien, Austria, 1962


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Henk Badings & JW de Bruyn – Elektronische Musik

Henk Badings & JW de Bruyn - Elektronische Musik 7in single front cover
Henk Badings & JW de Bruyn - Elektronische Musik 7in single back cover
Henk Badings & JW de Bruyn - Elektronische Musik 7in single
Henk Badings & JW de Bruyn - Elektronische Musik 7in single seite 1

During the 1950s, J.W. de Bruyn was Philips Research Laboratories’ official sound engineer, working at their Eindhoven electronic facility, when the company, possibly inspired by similar ventures elsewhere in Europe, decided it was time to have some music created with the oscilloscopes, sine wave generators and modulators and invited several composers over, including Edgar Varèse, Nicolas Schoffer and Henk Badings (1907-1987). The latter’s Kain und Abel was the first work ever composed in the newly launched electronic music studio, in 1956. The studio was moved to Utrecht in 1960 and became known as the STEM (Studio voor elektronische musiek).

Edgar Varèse with J.W. de BruynThis 7-inch disc was issued as an illustration of De Bruyn and Badings’ “Elektronische Musik” article in Philips Technische Rundschau, or Philips’ technical review, issue 19, Number 6, published 1957 in West Germany. One assumes the article introduced the engineers among the readership to electronic sounds and elaborated on the possibilities for composers. The front cover picture shows De Bruyn and Badings configuring the optical siren used in Kain und Abel. The record’s back cover blurb goes like this:

Die Magnetbänder für beide Seiten sind im Forschungslaboratorium der N.V. Philips’ Gloeilampenfabrieken, Eindhoven hergestellt. Diese Schalplatte ist nicht einzeln käuflich. Ein Langspielplatte mit dem vollständigen Werk “Kain und Abel” ist im Handel erhältlich.
[The magnetic tape for both sides was produced in the research laboratory of the N.V. Philips' glow lamp factory in Eindhoven. This record is not to be sold separately. A Long Playing record with the full-length version of Kain und Abel is commercially available.]

The B side indeed comes wih a short version, or Verkürtze Fassung, of the Kain und Abel 16mn electronic ballet music, recorded May 1956 in the Philips’ studio with J.W. de Bruyn as assistant. The work was commissioned by the 1956 Holland Festival for a Jan Zielstra choreography premiered by the Nederlands Ballet company. The LP version appeared in 1957.  Kain und Abel was reissued, along other Dutch early electronic works, in the Popular Electronics 4-CD box set published by Basta (booklet available here).

The A side is called Elektronische Musik Klangbeispiele, or Electronic Music Sound Examples, and is apparently a De Bruyn/Badings collaboration to illustrate their article. As far as I know, it hasn’t been reissued or digitized before. Though it is composed of a succession of various sound experiments, it works as a coherent tone poem in a pre-determined tonal pitch. The studio techniques used include: piano sounds through vari-speed manipulation ; backward running tape ; echo, reverb and overdrive sound effects ; sine wave electronic tonalities ; tape loop ; processed bell and clavichord sounds, a.o.

J.W. de Bruyn & Henk Badings
01 Elektronische Musik – Klangbeispiele (6:48)
Henk Badings
02  Kain und Abel – Verkürtze Fassung (8:10)

Total time 15:00
7-inch single released by Philips, West Germany, 1957


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Herbert Eimert ‘Einführung in die elektronische Musik’

Einführung in die Elektronische Musik LP coverEinführung in die Elektronische Musik LP back
Einführung in die Elektronische Musik side 1

German physician Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1894) demonstrated in his 1863 book On the Sensations of Tone as a Physiological Basis for the Theory of Music, that a single sound is the addition of various sound frequencies in addition to the basic pitch. Helmholtz completed the demonstration using his famous Resonators, brass spherical bottles with holes at both ends, in which one can hear the basic pitch of any given sound, however complex. The technology of the time did not allow Helmholtz to go further and create unheard sounds from scratch, but that would have been the next step.

Herbert Eimert (1897-1972)Like Helmholtz, Herbert Eimert (1897-1972) believed in a scientific approach to sound production. When, around 1950, phonetician Werner Meyer-Eppler and sound engineer Robert Beyer convinced Eimert of the feasibility to produce any kind of sound waves through (first the Bode melochord, and later) oscillators, Eimert envisioned a dedicated studio facility providing German musicians with a means for implementing the total serialization of music, the logical conclusion of his hero Arnold Schönberg’s 12-tone technique. Eimert, whose devotion to Schönberg was total and unconditional, was only twenty-seven years old when he published his theoretical book Atonale Musiklehre, or Atonal Music Theory (Leipzig, 1924) summing up the innovations of Schönberg’s 12-tone music.

Eimert with sound engineer Leopold von KnobelsdorffEimert had been working as music critic for the Kölnischen Zeitung journal from 1936 to 1945, after which he worked as music editor for Köln (aka Cologne) radio NWDR (Nordwestdeutscher Rundfunk, now Westdeutscher Rundfunk), then under British administration. As director of the NWDR’s late-night music programs since 1948, he launched his own broadcast series, Die Klangwelt der elektronische Musik (The sound world of Electronic Music). The first show, aired October 18, 1951, had lectures by Eimert, Beyer and Friedrich Trautwein on his Trautonium, plus sound examples freshly recorded on AEG Magnetophon tape recorders in the specially equipped studio granted by the radio for the realization of the Elektronische Musik, and that was to become the famous Köln electronic music studio. Stockhausen joined 1953, Gottfried Michael Koening in 1954. The first commercially released LPs appeared on Wergo in 1954.

♫ Like any other electronic/electroacoustic studio, the Köln studio had been subject to internal debates and theoretical divides during its first decade: Gottfried Michael Koening and Stockhausen did not get along well ; Robert Beyer had a rather different conception of electronic music than Eimert, the former dreaming of “floating sounds”, says Konrad Boehmer ; many composers visited the studio (Pousseur, Kagel, Ernest Krenek, Herbert Brün, etc), bringing new ideas with them and in a way diluting the original concept ; the music magazine Eimert founded, Die Reihe, 1955-1962, was not well received in the UK and US, too pretentious for some critics. Understandably, Eimert felt the need to sum up what he believed was his discovery in Einführung in die Eletronische Musik, or Introduction to Electronic Music, published by Wergo in 1963. Einführung… is a Hörbeispiele (or radioplay with sound examples) of electronic sounds and various ways to combine them, starting with basic elements like sine wave, pitch, tone mix, noise, chord, pulsation, envelope, and then moving to serial music, composing with electronic sounds, etc. The B-side is devoted to music examples from Webern, Meyer-Eppler, Eimert, etc, plus electronic versions of Stravinski’s music (!). A partial transcription of the text can be found here (in German). The LP comes with 8-page booklet with liner notes by Helmut Kirchmeyer.

This post is a collaboration with Acousmata, who offered to digitize the LP, while I scanned cover+booklet from my own copy.

01 Tone [Ton] (5:40)
02 Sounds [Klang] (4:01)
03 Tone mixture [Tongemisch] (5:17)
04 Noise [Gerausch] (:50)
05 Continuous Glissando (:45)
06 Ring modulation (5:54)
07 Pulsation [Impulses] (3:38)
08 The earliest compositions (1952-53) (2:52)
09 Further developments (until 1960) (5:40)
10 Music and language (1:52)
11 Acoustics and information theory – Werner Meyer-Eppler (2:04)
12 Electronic manipulation of vocal sounds (4:54)
13 In honor of Igor Stravinsky (1957) (1:31)
14 Variations on Webern’s op. 30 (1:28)
15 About the techniques used in ‘Epitaph for Aikichi Kuboyama’ (3:50)

Total time 50:00
LP released by Wergo, West Germany, 1963


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IRCAM – Un Portrait

IRCAM-Un Portrait LP cover
IRCAM-Un Portrait LP back cover
IRCAM-Un Portrait side A

This is not the place to ponder nor gauge the IRCAM’s project as a whole, yet, if one can set aside prejudices against anything state-funded in France, perhaps time has come for a reassessment of what the Parisian electronic studio brought to the state of music today. The tip of the iceberg is, of course, the conception of the ubiquitous Max/MSP software by IRCAM engineers in the middle of the 1980s, after years of tentative, home-made, real-time sound processing programs, which spread a revolution among electronic musicians the world over. But IRCAM is actually more than a bunch of computers, however expensive, being also a recording studio run by dedicated sound engineers with their own sound signature. As this LP demonstrates, as early as 1983 they were able to achieve a powerful sound from computer-processed music, and their total control of studio mastering even extends to benchmark-level pressing quality – side A is indeed more than 30mns long with an amazing sound throughout. Today’s laptop composers have a long way to even approach the density and depth of the electronic sounds on this LP. Anyway. . . Welcome to the enchanted sound world of Institut de Recherche et de Coordination Acoustique/Musique.

Jean-Baptiste BarrièreConceived by sound researcher Jean-Baptiste Barrière (b.1958), IRCAM – Un Portrait, published 1983 with financial support from Centre Pompidou, showcases the IRCAM’s fields of research, recent developments in sound processing and actual applications to music compositions using proprietary software, especially the CHANT and FORMES programs that paved the way for Max/MSP. Key real-time processing software developers like David Wessel, John Chowing and Jean-Claude Risset are included, and the listener soon gets familiar with Wessel’s elegant sound crafting or Tod Machover‘s magical sounds. The A-side (tr.#1-22) is devoted to Exemples Sonores selected from interns and engineers’ projects. Side B is a nice selection from composers who were using the technology in their compositions. It works fine as a kind of IRCAM Best Of. Particularly interesting is the piece by Ecuadorian composer Mesias Maiguashca [+].

IRCAM – Un Portrait:
01 David Wessel+John Chowing Frequency Modulation (1:18)
02 York Höller+Marc Battier Spectral Analysis (2:12)
03 Voice: Maurice Béjart Cross-synthesis (2:05)
04 Thierry Lancino+Roger Reynolds Sampling (1:15)
05 Gerald Bennett Computer Modeling I (1:07)
06 Xavier Rodet Computer Modeling II (:45)
07 Yves Potard Computer Modeling III (:42)
08 Xavier Rodet Computer Modeling IV(:26)
09 Jean-Baptiste Barrière Computer Modeling V (:34)
10 Xavier Rodet Computer Modeling VI – Indian reed (:07)
11 Alejandro Vinao Computer Modeling VII – voice (:42)
12 Jean-Baptiste Barrière Computer Modeling VIII (1:09)
13 Thierry Lancino+Roger Reynolds Additive synthesis (1:44)
14 David Wessel Line-broadening I (1:04)
15 Stephen McAdams+Tod Machover Line-broadening II (:35)
16 Stephen McAdams Electronic Imaging – 5 Examples (1:46)
17 David Wessel Timbre Space (1:07)
18 Clarence Barlow Computer-Assisted Algorithm (:45)
19 David Wessel Real Time Processing I (2:04)
20 Tod Machover Real Time Processing II (2:48)
21 Giuseppe di Giugno+Jean Kott Real Time Processing III (5:48)
22 Andrew Gerzso+Pierre Boulez Real Time Processing IV (2:24)
23 John Chowing Stria – excerpt (2:46)
24 Jean-Claude Risset Songes – excerpt (2:31)
25 Jonathan Harvey Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco – excerpt (2:40)
26 Tod Machover Soft Morning City! – excerpt (2:14)
27 Mesias Maiguashca FMelodies – excerpt (3:22)
28 York Höller Resonance – excerpt (3:31)
29 Morton Subotnik The Double Life of Amphibians – excerpt (2:31)
30 Pierre Boulez Répons – excerpt (5:55)

Total time 58:00
LP released by Centre Pompidou, ref. IRCAM 0001, France, 1983


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John R. Pierce ‘The Science of Musical Sound’ [with sound examples by John Chowing, Max Mathews & Jean-Claude Risset]

There were many editions and translations of John Robinson Pierce‘s influential book ‘The Science of Musical Sound’, published by Scientific American Library, 1983, but only the French translation came with a couple of 7-inch vinyl records with sound examples from Bell Laboratories, IRCAM and Stanford University. Through many historical and scientific references, electronics engineer J.R. Pierce [+] (1910-2002)  shows how music is grounded in mathematics, whether we are talking of sound waves, pitch, echo, human hearing, auditorium acoustics, etc.

The cover of The Science of Musical Sound‘s original edition (pictured right) shows a page from Stockhausen’s Zyklus score – as it were, a piece for solo percussionist, not electronics. The book  sums up Pierce’s music theory based on his research on vacuum tubes, psychoacoustic, satellite communication,  computer music and his discovery of the non-octave musical scale, or Bohlen-Pierce scale. Pierce composed several electronic music tracks (Stochatta, 1959, Variations in Timbre and Attack, 1961, Sea Sounds, 1963, Eight-Tone Canon, 1966) demonstrating mathematics’ sonic potential – some were included in the 1962 Bell Labs compilation LP Music from Mathematics, available here.

The two 7-inches collect around 10 short sound examples per side of mathematics applied to sound and music, each introduced by speaker Jean-Claude Risset (in French). Some were recorded by Pierce and Max V. Mathews at IRCAM, Paris in 1979. Some were created by Elizabeth Cohen [+] and John Chowing at Stanford University in 1979. Some were recorded by Jean-Claude Risset using Mathews’ Music V program in Marseille, IRCAM and Bell Labs. A biographical memoir was written by colleagues of Pierce in 2002, among them Dr. Max V. Mathews, and is available as a PDF here. Download link comes with 20 or so pictures from the book.

Records contents:

  • Side 1 (4:26)
    Ondes, battements, consonance
    (Sound Waves and Consonance)
  • Side 2 (6:15)
    Harmonie, accords, puissance, reproduction
    (Harmony, phase shifting and electronic reproduction of real instruments)
  • Side 3 (6:28)
    Synthèse des sons musicaux
    (Musical Sound Synthesis)
  • Side 4 (6:42)
    Paradoxes et illusions
    (Pitch Ambiguities)

Total time 23:41
2×7” with book ‘Le Son Musical’, editions Belin, France, 1984



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