The Computer Music Independent Festival

by UEHARA Kazuo (composer, JACOM representative)

Last fall a concert presenting works of computer music submitted by the general public was given by the Japan Computer Music Association(JACOM) and Xebec. This was the second such concert following the first five years ago. In the following report, JACOM representative UEHARA Kazuo discusses the variety of works that were submitted and the group's plans for the future.

On November 24, 1997, a concert entitled "Computer Music Independent" was held at Xebec Hall. This event was organized with the objective of presenting every work of computer music that was received from the public at large without being evaluated in any way. The concept was based on the independent exhibitions that have long been held in the art world to discover unknown artists with noteworthy talent.

JACOM, the organization that planned and produced the event, formed at the time of ICMC (International Computer Music Conference) in 1993--the first time it was held in Japan--making this the group's fifth year in existence. Since JACOM was formed in order to act as a catalyst for computer music and international exchange, we have worked to assemble a membership of internationally active composers as well as researchers and performers. In the past, we organized two events called "Computer Music Today," which presented the latest work in the Japanese computer music field, in 1994 and again in 1996. In March 1997, we produced a concert called "Japan-Korea: The Forefront of Computer Music" in Seoul. This event was one of the first steps in developing a computer music network in the Asian region.

Next, I'd like to offer my thoughts on the "Computer Music Independent" concert. The first concert in this series was also held at Xebec about five years ago. Many of the artists who participated then have since become active in the field, and in this way, the goal of the event has been achieved. Since the last event, there have been great chances in the technological environment that exists in the field, leading us as producers of the event to engage in discussions over such basic questions as what kind of works should be accepted. On the one hand, it would be a valid approach to refrain from placing any conditions on submissions in order to indicate the diverse nature of computer music. But in the end, the policy we settled on was designed to give as much exposure as possible to advanced or experimental works. This decision resulted in a certain degree of filtration by focusing on live computer music. The idea was to avoid works that merely played back musical data that had been fed into a computer using sequencing software, and works that only used tapes. Thus, we anticipated that the works submitted would be interactive, and therefore, performed live.

Most of the eleven works that were submitted involved the production of sound in real time, and many of these involved MIDI data that was processed through the use of programs such as MAX. Although space constraints prevent me from discussing them all, I would like to say something about the works that were performed in the first half of the concert.
NAKAMURA Fumitaka's "Magical" featured live guitar and keyboard performances as well as a visual display. As the MIDI data was performed live, it was mixed together and developed with computer-produced live sounds. "Object-Oriented Music for the Internet (No. 1.0)" by OKAMOTO Hisashi was based on the concept that music can be enjoyed as a group of people exchange data with each other by making use of the information environment that is the Internet. The interactive element of the work was created by making music with a mouse to control the graphic symbols on a network browser. NAGASHIMA Yoichi's "Atom Hard Mothers" employed sound created automatically by MAX algorithms and elements of altered natural sound as a backdrop for sounds that were created by a performer's actions to make live computer music. A variety of sensors that Nagashima had developed himself were activated by physical movements. FURITSU Ikue's "Mizu wo Kudasai" incorporated a poem by HIDAKA Teru that deals with the atomic bomb. Orations were performed by Hidaka and Gerald BIEDERMAN accompanied by multiple layers of computer-processed sound to create a kind of theater piece. "Mirage" by YOSHIDA Yasushi involved the performance of live guitar sounds being sampled and played back by a KYMA system to create a musical work. This was one of the few pieces in the event that employed DSP (digital signal processing).

In the break between the first and second halves of the concert, I gave a tutorial called "The Origins of Technological Music: A History of INA-GRM." Besides introducing the diverse activities being undertaken at INA-GRM in Paris, which I had visited last summer to produce a new composition, I discussed the various works that have been created by composers such as Iannis XENAKIS and Jean-Claude RISSE from the 50s until the present at the research facility as well as the sound processing and montage techniques that were advocated by Pierre SCHAEFFER according to his "objet sonores" concept.

In the fall of 1998, which will mark JACOM's sixth year, an international computer music festival is being planned to help encourage further developments and exchange in the field. Together with the cooperative efforts of many others, I am looking forward to the future of computer music.

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