Competition – Win one year’s free membership to Music Hackspace

Dom Aversano

We are giving away a year’s free membership – to enter, all you have to do is leave a comment on this page about at least one composer or musician who has greatly influenced your approach to computer music.

We want to know two things.

  1. How has their music affected or influenced you?

  2. An example of a piece of their music you like, and a short description of why.

Anyone who completes the above will be entered into the competition on an equal basis (you are welcome to list more than one person, but this will not improve your chances of winning) with the winner assigned at random and announced on Saturday 4th of November via the Music Hackspace newsletter.

To get the ball rolling, I will provide two examples.

Kaija Saariaho / Vers le blanc

I arrived somewhat late to Kaija Saariaho’s music, attending my first live performance of her music two years prior to her death this year, yet despite this, her music has greatly influenced me in the short time I have known it.

Although I have not heard the piece in full (since it has never been released) the simple 1982 electronic composition by Saariaho, Vers le blanc, captured my imagination.

The composition is a 15-minute glissando from one tone cluster (ABC) to another (DEF). Saariaho used electronic voices to produce this. The composition raises questions about what is perceptible. For instance, can the change in pitch be heard from moment to moment? Can it be sensed over longer time periods?

The piece made me question what can be considered music. Are they notes if they never fix on a pitch? can such a simple process over 15 minutes be artistically enjoyable to listen to? what would be the ideal circumstance to listen to such music? I experienced this music partly as an artistic object of study and meditation and partly as a philosophical provocation. 

Burial / Come Down to Us

Burial’s idiosyncratic approach to technology gives rise to a unique sound. He famously stated in a 2006 interview that he used Soundforge to create his music, without the use of any multitrack sequencing or quantisation. This stripped-down use of technology gives the music an emotional directness and a more human feel.

I find his track Come Down to Us particularly inspiring. At 13 minutes long it uses a two-part binary form for the structure. The composition uses audio samples from a transgender person, and it was only after a few years of listening that it occurred to me that the form might describe the subject. At 7 minutes the entire mood and sound of the track changes from apprehensive to triumphant, potentially describing a person undergoing — or having undergone — a psychological or physical transition. Released in 2013, this was long before the divisive culture wars and undoubtedly intended simply as an artistic exploration. 

Leave your comment below to enter the competition. Please refer to the guidelines above. The winner will be announced on Saturday 4th of November via the Music Hackspace newsletter.