Theses Doctoral

Flutes, Pianos, and Machines: Compositions for Instruments and Electronic Sounds

Jacobs, Bryan Charles

This dissertation is comprised of three recent original compositions- Dis Un Il Im Ir, In sin fin bin din bin fin sin in, and Percussion+Guitar. Each work has a unique approach to integrating instrumental performance with humans and computers. The essay component details unique computer-performer interactions I’ve developed to overcome complications in the concert presentation of previous acousmatic and mixed media works. The three works discussed here are related in their instrumentation and compositional style.
Dis Un Il Im Ir (2013), for flute, piano, and MIDI keyboard, experiments with the limit of human virtuosity and attempts to extend its affect via sound synthesis and digital samples. In sin fin bin din bin fin sin in (2104), for four computer-controlled pianos with electronic sounds, focuses on repeated melodic and harmonic patterns explored in previous works contrasted with unruly mechanical spasms. Percussion+Guitar (2015), for two computer-controlled flutes (contrary to the title), features a specially designed instrument built at Columbia University’s Computer Music Center. This composition is a duet with a structure defined by heightened rhythmic angularity and blazing fast speeds demonstrating the computer's special skills as a performer.
The essay part of this dissertation includes an analysis of the pitches, rhythms, and gestures where appropriate. I provide details about the artistic uses of software and hardware for each project. I trace my artistic inspirations for composing with and for computers and robots to my experiences in acousmatic music, pop production, and hands-on music making. I describe my process of organizing contrasting sounds into form-bearing elements- an approach inspired by Pierre Schaeffer’s typomorphology of sound objects later revisited by Lasse Thoresen. The paper concludes with a brief discussion about future works.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Lerdahl, Alfred W.
D.M.A., Columbia University
Published Here
December 8, 2015