24 mars 2015

Lawrence Casserley and the Live Signal Processing

There are many ways in electronic music and one of them is the Live Signal Processing, a Real Time practice linked to free improvisation where the performer is using the sounds of his performing partner simultaneously as a sound source , processing it with his sound installation  and as a co-performer improviser like another instrument. Along the years, I had the pleasure and fortune to sing in performance with Lawrence Casserley, one of the most interesting improvisers / live signal processing inventor. We did some interesting duo performances and this is exemplified in our CD MouthWind on the Hermes eye-ear label. We played also in different combinations with other improvisors like pianist Marjolaine Charbin, clarinettist Jacques Foschia, flutes Adelheid Sieuw, violinist Phil Wachsmann, bassoonist Mick Beck and pianist Yoko Miura. So, I think the following text written by Lawrence about his work is quite relevant.

Improvisation with Real Time Computer Processing
The Signal Processing Instrument   by Lawrence Casserley 

I have been making music with real time (live) processing of sound for many years. I have also been making improvised music for many years. Although the live processing has also been used for pre-composed music, and I have made improvised music without electronic processing. For me the two things, live processing and improvising, are completely intertwined. I do both for exactly the same reasons, and I couldn’t imagine one without the other.
The core of this is my respect, even reverence, for the sound itself. In the late 1960s, when I first had the opportunity to work with electronic sound, it was the ability to work with the sound itself, rather than the representations of sound in notated music, which was one of the great attractions. Another was the ability to move out of the prison of equal temperament, which seemed to me to be fundamentally anti-musical.
I began to form an ideal of sounds which could be taken on a journey of transformation, and for me transforming the sounds made by another musician became the key activity. In the 1970s this was very difficult, and I spent many years trying to develop systems that would make my dreams come true. It was not until the 1990s that the tools I needed began to become available. At that time I developed the basis of a real time digital transformation instrument, which became the Signal Processing Instrument (SPI) that I use today.
The crucial epiphany was the time I spent at STEIM in Amsterdam with Evan Parker in 1997, which is documented on our CD “Solar Wind” (Touch TO:35). This was the first time that a series of interesting concepts formed into something resembling a real instrument, the SPI. Of course there have been many developments since then, but the fundamental concept has remained the same. I am capturing the sound of my collaborator(s) and responding directly to their gestures with my own. They, of course, respond to my sounds, and the loop continues.
The nature of this is very interesting; on one level it is the same as the interaction between any two or more improvising musicians, the interplay of gesture and counter-gesture in a constantly varying continuum; but there is another layer of interactivity when the sounds of gesture and response are so deeply interwoven. Unlike many live processing performers, my instrument is not based on sampling technique, but on delay line technique; because the system is recording all the time, my responses can be very immediate, allowing very close relationships where gesture and response are like one entity, a “collective simultaneity” as one of my colleagues has described it.

At other times, because the short and long delays are part of the same structure, I can take a longer view, where the “now” and the “then” become confused in a complex mix of immediate responses and their multiple echoes. In describing the new instrument in 1998 I talked of a triangle of sound sources, those clearly originating from the source musician, those clearly emanating from the processing musician and a third category, sounds whose origin is no longer explicit. The important thing about this model, and a key characteristic of the SPI, is that these are not fixed points; I move freely between them without needing to cross boundaries from one to the other.
A key element of the SPI is the manipulation of musical time, and the Signal Processing Instrument might be likened to a kind of musical time machine:
What is “musical time”? How does it behave? How is this “continuum of continua” perceived? Time is at the core of our understanding of the world; and memory is at the core of our understanding of time. Both are fundamental to our perception of music. What happens to this understanding when “artificial memory” interferes with our perceptions? In Borges’s “Garden of Forking Paths” he imagines a Labyrinth of Time - "an infinite series of times, in a growing, dizzying net of divergent, convergent and parallel times”, "...an enormous riddle, or parable, whose theme is time". Why does this concept seem so natural, and so musical? In his essay "A New Refutation of Time" he states, "I deny the existence of one single time, in which all things are linked as in a chain." Then later, "Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger which destroys me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire which consumes me, but I am the fire." What indeed is time? When and how is it “musical”?
Finally, I return to the opening theme, my respect for the sound itself; the same colleague has said: “You were always revealing some (even to me) hidden aspect of what I was doing, using me as a source but never reducing me to a mere resource. Conversely, I get the feeling that interacting with you, on the model that your approach demands, serves to reveal your performance as that of an autonomous instrumentalist rather than an extension of your sound source. As the process of mutual interaction unfolds we both reveal something of each other; I find we have opened up a space or a world where we co-exist, which can emerge to other listeners, who can also co-exist there. It's not the everyday world where we all began. When we return, things are somehow different, changed from when we left.”

Lawrence Casserley

last revised October, 2014

MouthWind Project   
video : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IriH7fyIrZE 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRUiEh_j_hs     both in the Vortex Mopomoso

Lawrence Casserley live-signal processing & Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg extended voice.

Mouthwind is a project initiated by Belgian vocalist Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg and British live processing expert Lawrence Casserley. The core of Mouthwind is their duo, with Lawrence transforming the remarkable sounds of Jean-Michel’s voice into a dynamic and kaleidoscopic fusion of textures. Often they integrate other performers into their work – in 2007 a trio with Paul Hubweber, in 2009 a quintet with Marjolaine Charbin, Jacques Foschia and Adelheid Sieuw, in 2010  they are focusing on the core duo and performed in The Vortex, London, in Brussels and in the Pohyb – Svuk – Prostor festival in Ostrava and Opava (CZ).
Mouthwind augmented with Marjolaine Charbin performed again in London for the Lawrence's 60th Birthday concert in september 2011. In 2012 the duo was joined by violin maestro Phil Wachsmann and also by bassoonist Mick Beck.

For both these musicians the voice, vocal utterance and communication are at the centre of what they do and believe, as well as the transformative and emergent powers of these utterances. Lawrence’s electronic transformations intensify and enhance these properties. The musicians they gather around them project these same qualities in their music; the Mouthwind is the emergent and transforming flow of communication from the voices of their instruments.  CD MouthWind (Heyermears Discorbie HD 012)

Lawrence Casserley (born London 41) was one of Britain’s earliest pioneers of live electronic music, from his student work in the 1960s, through the intermedia groups “Hydra” and Peter Donebauer’s “VAMP” in the 1970s to the Electroacoustic Cabaret in the 1980s. For the last twenty years he has been a Director of the Colourscape Music Festivals, and since taking early retirement from his Professorship at the Royal College of Music, London in 1995, he has focused on the development of live computer processing in free improvised music. The original version of his Signal Processing Instrument was developed during a residency at STEIM, Amsterdam in 1997, where he was assisted in his work by Evan Parker and Barry Guy. Since then he has become a key member of Evan’s Electro-Acoustic Ensemble and has performed with many of Europe’s foremost improvisers. Projects w Phil Wachsmann, Adam Linson, Charlotte Hug, Gianni Mimmo & Martin Mayes. He has CDs released on Konnex, Leo, Maya, Psi, Sargasso and Touch.

Jean – Michel Van Schouwburg (born Belgium 1955) is an improvising singer extending the sonic limits of the human voice. Since the 80’s, J-M is involved in experimental music and free improvisation as an organizer, performer and writer. His solo sound poetry « ORYNX », (phonoetry as coined by J-M) was performed in London, Liège, Brussels, Lille, Gent, Rotterdam, Budapest and Nitra. He develops techniques like throat singing, harmonics, larynx vibrations, mouth sounds, acrobatic falsettos and invented languages over a range of three octaves and the help of a fast articulation. Jean-Michel sings currently in SUREAU with Jean Demey, bass and Kris Vanderstraeten percussion (Sureau cd) and in trio 876 w Marcello Magliocchi, percussion and Matthias Boss, violin. His duo with pianist Marjolaine Charbin (CD Quelles Bouches Voleront en Eclats) has worked with electronic musicians Dario Palermo and L Casserley. Palermo’s « Trance. Five Abstract Stations fr Male Voice and Electronics » was premiered by J-M VS in Norwich in 2009.
J-M VS performed with John Russell, Adelheid Sieuw, Paul Dunmall, Gianni Mimmo, Dan Warburton, Sabu Toyozumi, Phil Minton, Ute Wassermann, Adam Bohman, Zsolt Sörés, Nils Gerold etc…. Recordings released on Emanem, Inaudible, Creative Sources, Amirani, Duns, Setola di Maiale, Improvising Beings, White Noise Generator. « An uncomparable palette » (Gérard Rouy Jazzmagazine Paris) « Extraordinary performer » ( Massimo Ricci Touching Extremes)
Lawrence Electronic Operations - www.lcasserley.co.uk    J-MVS  www.myspace.com/orynx

More info on Lawrence Casserley

Lawrence Casserley (born UK, 1941) has devoted his professional career, as composer, conductor and performer, to real time electroacoustic music. In 1967 he became one of the first students of Electronic Music at the Royal College of Music, London, UK, on the new course taught by Tristram Cary. Later he became Professor-in-Charge of Studios and Adviser for Electroacoustic Music at the RCM, before taking early retirement in 1995.

He is best known for his work in free improvised music, particularly real-time processing of other musicians' sound, and he has devised a special computer processing instrument for this work (picture above). He has worked with many of the finest improvisers, particularly Evan Parker, with whom he works frequently as a duo partner, in various larger groupings and in the Evan Parker Electro-Acoustic Ensemble. He also works as a soloist, processing sounds from voice, percussion and home-made instruments. CDs have been released by ECM, Konnex, Leo Records, Psi, Sargasso and Touch.

Much of Casserley's work has involved collaboration with other art forms, including poets, eg Bob Cobbing, and visual artists, including Colourscape artist Peter Jones. He is a Director of the Colourscape Music Festivals, presenting contemporary music in the unique environment of the Colourscape walk-in sculpture. He also collaborates with Peter Jones on sound/light installations.

Casserley's "instrumental" approach to live computer sound processing is the hallmark of his work; the Signal Processing Instrument allows him to use physical gestures to control the processing and to direct the morphology of the sounds. This is the culmination of forty years of experience in the performance of live electronic work; his earliest live electronic pieces were performed in 1969, and he has performed many of the live electronic "classics" of the 20th century; he has also collaborated with other composers to realize their electronic performance ideas. He is noted for the breadth and variety of his collaborations, which cross styles and generations.
Here an interesting page of the visual score of Sette Pagine devised and written by Lawrence Casserley : http://www.lcasserley.co.uk/Sette_Pagine.html 

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Bonne lecture Good read ! don't hesitate to post commentaries and suggestions or interesting news to this......