Music Review of the 1992 International Computer Music Conference

by Brad Garton and Mara Helmuth
Columbia University Music Department

Some year I wish that they would hold an International Computer Music
Conference with no concerts.  This attitude stems from a growing
disillusionment I have been having with "concert context", particularly when
the presentation of computer music is involved.  Computer music is often
explicitly concerned with new modes of reception and the expansion of
listening.  By insisting on the adoption of the formal trappings of western
concert culture, we computer music composers are creating a hybrid musical
art which can negate our original compositional intentions.

The pasting of computer music, especially tape-only computer music, onto the
archaic concert-hall musical tradition really ruined a lot of the music at
the 1992 ICMC for me.  I have too many bad memories of sitting in a crowded
hall, in an uncomfortable chair, hands covering my ears because the composer
had mistakenly assumed a positive correlation between amplitude and musical
quality, enduring yet another twenty-minute-plus piece of music and
thinking: "Please let it end!  Please let it end!"  The sad part is that I
suspect I truly would have enjoyed many of the more uncomfortable pieces at
the ICMC if I could have heard them in my living room, in my car, or
practically anywhere except the cramped hardwood chair in the auditorium
from hell.

Despite this rather large anti-concert chip on my shoulder, there were a
number of pieces at the 1992 ICMC that made an impression on me.  What
follows are a few by-no-means-comprehensive remarks about some of the music
I heard on the eight concerts presented at San Jose State University.

Concert 1

My personal favorite on the opening concert was "Trying to translate", a
lovely piece for piano, tape and live electronics by Katharine Norman.
Norman performed the slowly evolving piano part which was subtly processed
by Paul Lansky (processing designed by Norman, of course) in a manner
reminiscent of some of Stephen Montague's work I have heard.  The piano
processing smoothly integrated the live piano sound with the tape sounds,
resulting in a strong sense of "extended piano".  In this case, the piano
was used to provide a frame and commentary for a computer-processed
recording of a woman discussing the problems of translating Gaelic to
English.  A very beautiful piece.

Chris Gennaula's piece "Binary Babble" was quite playful, although it was
a bit loud for my taste.  I also liked some of the big gestures arising from
the coincidence of the tape sounds and live performance for Stephane 
Roy's "Mimetismo" for guitar and tape.  I wish that Jon C. Nelson had expanded
certain moments of his "Six etudes breves" for 'cello and tape, especially
some of the 'cello harmonic passages at the beginning of the second etude.
Conversely, I wish that Dexter Morrill had chosen to present either 
his "Six Studies" or the "Improvisation" of his "Six Studies and an
Improvisation" for saxophone and computer music system.  The music was
interesting, and I enjoyed the minimal processing of the saxophone in
the "Studies" , but placing all of this music at the end of an overly-long
concert was unpleasant.

Concert 2

I was very impressed by the sound of Alejandro Vinao's "Chant d'Ailleurs"
for voice and tape.  This is a good example, however, of how an underlying
assumption of a concert presentation can destructively interfere with my
enjoyment of the piece.  Vinao painted a wonderful context for this music by
describing it in his program notes as "chants from a fictional culture", a
neo-primitive yet technologically sophisticated culture.  Vicki Burns' vocal
performance was sonically captivating, but her performance *on the stage*
came directly from the expressive/emoting school of the western operatic
tradition.  The sense of the music being part of a foreign ritual was
completely overwhelmed by the sense of the music as being a "Performance".

Richard Povall's "Impossible Rags" for piano and computer-controlled
disklavier was good fun, especially when an impression of strangely-twisted
ragtime music came poking through the frenetic piano sounds.  "Hachiku" by
Kazuki Kuriyama was a strange cross-cultural blend in that it treated the
shakuhachi flute in a very modernist manner; not how I normally expect a
shakuhachi flute to sound.  The processing of the flute by the IRCAM musical
workstation seemed to use patches that are becoming the normal operating
mode of the device.  I wonder how the music done with the IRCAM board will
change as the IRCAM researchers develop new patches.

The final piece of this concert, "On Growth and Form" by Bruno Degazio,
seemed to have little to do with the program notes, and I don't mean to be
pejorative with this comment.  I simply couldn't hear the relationships
Degazio described.  The music reminded me of some of Michael Nyman's work.
Unfortunately, the performance was plagued by some recurring loudspeaker

Concert 3

One of the big hits of the ICMC was Todd Winkler's "Snake Charmer" for
clarinet and live electronics.  Winkler's harmonic and gestural language
strikes me as a happy blend of "serious, uptown" art music and "snazzy,
downtown" jazz.  The feature that really captured the ICMC audience's
imagination was Winkler's use of his FollowPlay program, a MAX patch which
allows a computer to "listen to" and respond to a live performer.  I was
particularly interested in how Winkler had used the program to control the
processing of the clarinet (flanging, delays, etc.) -- an imaginative
approach to the notion of what a computer music "score" might contain.

Yasuhiro Takenaka's "Memory of the Universe II" was too long and too loud
for the concert, although I was intrigued by his orchestral use of
the computer.  I liked Cort Lippe's "Music for Guitar and Tape" because of
the textural effects achieved by Lippe on the tape.  In fact, I think I
would have enjoyed the tape part alone -- at times the forced focus on the
guitar obscured my hearing of some of the fascinating sounds in the tape

"PDM" by Akira Takaoka was one of the few pieces that actually benefitted
from the context of this concert.  This beautiful little miniature, consisting
of some gentle harmonic modulations of a pulsed bell-tone, was like a breath
of fresh air after the large pieces preceding it.  Three pieces by The Hub, an
improvisational computer-music ensemble, totally smashed the tranquility of
Takaoaka's music.  I was really looking forward to hearing The Hub perform,
as I had read of their activities in various articles and concert reviews.
Their music struck me much as John Zorn's music does -- a lot more fun to
perform than to hear.  Listening to twenty minutes of what sounded like the
auralization of ethernet activity, again at the end of an overly-long
concert, was not all that much fun.  Had I seen The Hub perform in some
bizarre late-night club, where normal human movement was not confined by
convention and tradition, I think that I would have had a much better time
with this music.

Concert 4

Several of the composers featured on this concert actually utilized the
concert-hall playback environment to enhance their music.  Francis Dhomont
wins the prize for the best use of loudspeakers in the performance of his
piece "Chiaroscuro" for tape.  Dhomont appeared to take an active role in
the mixing of his piece "live", creating a truly "moving" aural experience.
The spatialization effects (used in conjunction with the wildly shifting
timbres of the music) were quite remarkable, especially given that Dhomont
did not have a multi-speaker setup typical of many European tape music
concerts.  Neil Rolnick also explicitly recognized the concert-hall context
in his presentation of "Macedonian Air Drumming", a piece overtly *designed*
to be a performance.  Rolnick controlled the playback and manipulation of
recorded samples of several Macedonian instruments with the commercial
AirDrums "virtual drumsticks" interface, giving his piece a fascinating
visual dimension.  Guy Garnett's "Flute Fantasy" employed a similar
performance aspect through the use of a custom built "performance glove".
This was used by Garnett to conduct the dense synthesizer orchestra
accompanying the solo flute.  The concept was interesting, and the music
ably performed.  I wish that Garnett had been more aware of the visual
presentation of his music, however, and had positioned himself and the flute
player on the stage so that the audience had a better view of the action.
Instead, Garnett opted for the more traditional
conductor-in-front/players-to-the-rear arrangement, a bit strange given that
there was only one human being conducted.

Ira Mowitz was commissioned by the International Computer Music Association
(ICMA) to create a new work, but was unable to finish the piece because of a
death in his family.  His lovely tape piece "Darkening" was presented instead
(Mowitz' commission piece will be performed at the 1993 ICMC in Tokyo).
"Darkening" is my favorite piece of music by Mowitz, but much of the
subtlety in this delicate music was lost in the large hall.  Morton
Subotnick's "Five Scenes From and Imaginary Ballet" also suffered from the
translation to the "Big Screen".  Subotnick's inventive piece is a
multi-media work for a Macintosh computer, involving the simultaneous
presentation of text, graphics, and sound.  The focus of the work is an
excerpt from one of Max Ernst's collage novels.  Subotnick stated in his
program notes that he "intended to expand [Ernst's] pages into a dimension
of experience which I [Subotnick] can only suggest is a chamber media
work ... The dimension is intimate, even private."  Unfortunately, the expansion
of the piece into a large projection in a concert environment worked against
this type of experience (I believe Subotnick himself expressed some
reservations about the placement of this piece in a traditional concert
context).  My advice is to get the CD (in Mowitz' case) or CD-ROM
(Subotnick) and enjoy these compositions in surroundings more congenial to
the music.

The concert finished with "Kitab" by Horacio Vaggione, another ICMA
commissioned work.  The music was written for a trio of live musicians (Bass
clarinet, double bass and piano) and a set of audio sequences comprised of
processed samples of the instruments.  I consider myself a fan of Vaggione's
music, but I don't think that "Kitab" is one of his stronger pieces.  The
processed sounds contained some interesting composite timbres, but they
lacked the fire and vitality which I normally associate with Vaggione's

Concert 5

My favorite piece from this concert was Zack Settel's "Hok Pwah", written
for voice, percussion, and IRCAM workstation.  Probably because of his
intimate knowledge of how the IRCAM card operates, Settel was able to create
some audio processing patches beyond the generic use of the device.  An
extended section towards the middle of the piece using the IRCAM board to
create some floating harmonies around the solo voice struck me as
particularly beautiful.  I hope to hear more creative use of the IRCAM
workstation like this in the future.

Howard Fredric's "The Tragedy of the Leaves" explored some timbral
textures conjoined with a strong rhythmic flow.  I especially enjoyed the
use of a plucked kitchen egg-slicer and other found, *concrete* sounds in
the music.

I was led astray by Bruce Pennycook's program notes for "Praescio-VI: wir
leben durch dir Lieb' allein" in much the same way as I was earlier 
by Bruno Degazio.  Pennycook's music was intended to present a
contemporary world view contrasted with a Mozartean view (the
title of the work is taken from "The Magic Flute" ) of a natural order.
Pennycook utilized some *concrete* natural sounds to accompany the live
flute to ostensibly help establish the musical depiction of these
conflicting conceptions of the world.  Either the musical references
were too obscure or the referents themselves too fuzzy for me, but I
didn't get this aspect of the music at all.  I spent the greater part of
the piece attempting to follow Pennycook's loose program, ultimately being
frustrated in the end by my own inability to do so.  Program notes can be
dangerous things.

Concert 6

This concert was a case study in exactly how much a bad context can damage a
musical experience.  The concert, featuring interactive music by Don Buchla,
Bruno Spoerri, Susan Rawcliffe and others, was billed as a "Computer
Cabaret".  The starting time was relatively late at night, and some tasty
beer from a local brewery was served in the lobby.  All of this seemed to be
pointing towards a relaxed and informal evening of interesting music.
Imagine my surprise when the concert organizers appeared in the lobby
practically demanding that the audience file into the concert hall
(cabaret?!?) and listen passively to the presentation of the music.  Instead
of a nice, pleasant cabaret-like atmosphere, I found myself once again in
the confines and strictures of a Real Live Concert.

I think this jolting of the context hurt much of the music.  For example,
Don Buchla's composition "En Plein Vol" for percussion and two "thieves"
involved the removal of actual percussion instruments while they were being
played.  The interactive electronics enabled the percussionist to continue
"playing" the instruments after they vanished.  The joke was cute for a few
minutes, and probably would have been downright fun in a more informal
setting.  By being forced to adopt the concert-hall "structured listening"
mental filter, the piece turned into an obvious unfolding of what became a
rather tedious activity.  Many of the longer improvisations also suffered from
this contextual conflict, although I did like the "flying didjeridu" of Susan

I have to confess that my companions and I left the concert early.
Unfamiliar with the San Jose parking regulations, we were concerned that our
car would be impounded by the police after a certain hour.  We were also
very tired.  These are not the best conditions for a terrific concert

Concerts 7 and 8

I was asked to review these two concerts for the "Computer Music Journal".
Although it may not be "correct form" for an academic journal, I am
reproducing many of the same comments in both publications because I don't
think that the "Perspectives of New Music" audience has all that much
overlap with the "Computer Music Journal" crowd:

Concert 7

This concert opened with Eric Chasalow's tape piece "This Way Out".  There
seems to be something of a "movement" in the Northeastern United States to
incorporate some of the drive and energy of rock music into the academic
art-music culture.  Chasalow's piece is certainly infused with
this *zeitgeist*.  In the notes I scribbled at the concert, I described
this piece as "FM rock-n-roll Babbitt."  I can almost imagine Chasalow's
record collection (probably similar to my own!).  This was possibly the
only piece during the entire ICMC that I felt could have been played louder.

"This Way Out" was followed by "Nahual II", an absolutely beautiful piece
for chamula harp and tape by Roberto Morales.  According to Morales, a
chamula harp is an instrument used in religious ceremonies by the Mexican
Chamula Indian community.  The harp is employed by sorcerers to explore
alternative realities.  Morales did a marvelous job of creating a new
reality through the delicate interplay of the harp sounds and the tape.
Even the inevitable audience noises seemed to me subsumed into the
experience of the piece; a very mind-expanding and magical music.

Jonty Harrison's " ansi de suite..." began with some vivid sounds that
were reminiscent of glasses or balls being bounced on a table.  These sounds
were then expanded using a variety of computer-processing techniques.  I
liked the processing and the unfolding of the piece, but Harrison
unfortunately chose to play the music back at a loud volume.  This choice,
coupled with the length of the piece, made for a rather uncomfortable
experience.  I wish I could have heard the tape at home instead of in a loud
and crowded concert hall.

"The Lead Plates of the Rom Press" by Jonathan Berger was simply stunning.
Rarely do I have an experience in a concert hall such as the one I had
hearing this piece.  I think Berger set me up with his title and program
notes: "The Rom press was a publishing house in Poland known for its
editions of Yiddish poetry and Talmudic tracts.  During the Nazi occupation
members of the Resistance attempted to melt down the plates ... in order to
produce ammunition."  I could literally hear the war planes and advancing
Nazi forces in the processed computer sounds.  Setting these against the
plaintive and moving 'cello  part created one of those transcendent
emotional feelings which is nearly impossible to verbalize.  So powerful was
this feeling for me that the applause after the piece was almost disturbing.

Possibly the only piece in the world which could have followed Berger's
impressive music was Doug Scott's "Interlude and Fantasy" for tape.  I really
enjoyed this music, partially because of the way Scott used the concert-hall
context to insinuate his music into the listening environment, and partially
because the music didn't simply stop with his opening move.  The piece began
with digitized recordings of audience noise (coughing, paper-rustling,
etc.).  The performance started before the audience was aware that the tape
was playing, and it was a wonderful moment when the ICMC audience realized
that the sick and coughing group of people were actually "virtual"; part of
the music.  Scott then used these digitized audience sounds as input to
various signal-processing algorithms to created a well-crafted and engaging

Concert 8

Poor Mari Kimura suffered what every computer musician using live processing
fears most: a major system crash shortly after her piece ("'U' (The
Cormorant)") began.  Fortunately, after a simple reboot and restart the
music flowed.  I actually enjoyed one side-effect of the system crash --
the audience was treated to hearing the opening of the piece twice.  The
consummate professional, Kimura was able to re-perform the music with her
usual intense virtuosity.  Her music was quite intriguing, sounding to me
like a unique blend of Mario Davidovsky and Henry Kaiser.  Watching the
interaction between a  performer with Kimura's skill and a responsive
computer-music system was also instructive, although I wish that the
computer part had made more use of her own beautiful violin sound.

"Echo for John Pierce" by Jean-Claude Risset was another elegant tape
composition from one of the acknowledged masters of computer music.  After
hearing a large number of long and rambling pieces at the ICMC, it was
refreshing to hear such refined and well-proportioned music.  This attention
to compositional scale and structure, along with the use of processed
clarinet and Celtic harp sounds, created a feeling of "21st century Debussy"
in me.  I very much enjoyed this music.

The Northeast rock/academic art-music aesthetic resurfaced again in Dennis
Miller's "A Bit Above".  The driving rhythms of the piano, coupled with the
analog-like timbres of the tape rooted this music firmly in some of the rock
"tradition" of the 1970's -- at least for me, it did.  Miller reinforces
this impression by stating in his program notes that "the rhythmic element is
based primarily on an intuitive sense of continuity."  I suspect that he and
I probably listened to some of the same music on the radio in our formative
years.  Miller's music was also an example of another healthy trend in
computer music: the creation of interesting and vibrant music without the
use of the latest multi-thousand dollar computer system.

My experience of Nicolay Apollyon's "Honkyoku" for shakuhachi flute and tape
was utterly destroyed by the concert context.  This slow and meditative
piece had no business being performed in an uncomfortable concert
environment.  The tape part sounded like a delicate extension of
a 'shakuhachi ambience', amplifying the inner-looking aspects and timbral
sensitivity I associate with the instrument.  Why was I forced to listen to
this lengthy piece while sitting next to some snickering idiots?  This was a
piece of music which should have been heard privately.

Larry Wendt presented a rather bizarre composition titled "The Graton
Conference" for speaking voice and electronics.  I was glad that the piece
was programmed because it was so different from anything else at the
conference.  Wendt read a description of a strange journey home from
work, winding through a small Californian village where several odd
conferences were being held, with Bigfoot legends somehow being
woven into the fabric of the text.  The computer-music aspect
of the piece was minimal.  Wendt occasionally delayed his
voice with a Macintosh computer, but I heard no other overt use of
processed or synthesized sounds.  Taking a "composerly" stance, I could
criticize this piece because of this -- I would have enjoyed hearing some
more technological extensions of Wendt's reading, but this may have been
counter to the point of the piece.  The text itself contained a number of
California in-jokes, which left me a bit in the dark.  This was another
piece which was ill-served by the concert hall.  A radio performance, for
example, would have opened up my imagination more.

I knew in advance that I would enjoy Paul Lansky's "Table's Clear" because I
had heard it many times before.  "Table's Clear", a piece constructed using
digitized recordings of Lansky's children banging on dishes and pans (Lansky
uses some algorithmic compositional techniques to create the Lansky Family
Gamelan Orchestra), is one of my favorite pieces of music.  From my seat in
the hall, however, this piece received a very poor performance.  I arrived
after many of the choice listening seats had been taken, and I had to settle
for a position very close to one of the rear speakers.  What I heard, a
one-channel mono version of the piece, was quite disappointing.  My
companions (who did not know the music well) did enjoy the performance, but
my advice again is to buy the CD and listen to it at home.

The concert finished with Takayuki Rai's "Three Inventions" for a small
ensemble with live processing by IRCAM workstations.  The piece was
the third ICMA commission for this conference, and I have
vivid memories of Rai frantically working to finish the music
in the days prior to the concert.  I think this colored my
impression of the music, because it sounded somewhat unfinished.  I could
easily have heard more of the sounds Rai was achieving with the IRCAM card,
especially some of the warped delay effects (these are almost becoming a
staple in the IRCAM workstation arsenal).  I hope I get a chance to hear
this piece again someday.

Other Musical Activities

There were a number of concerts and events which were held prior to the
ICMC, but which also had strong connections to the computer music community.
I was not able to travel to the ICMC until the opening day of the
conference.  I asked Mara Helmuth, who was able to attend several of these
events, to write a few of her impressions:

Music at Mills
Paul Lansky: Looking Around with Curious Ears

Paul Lansky's concert was held at Mills in Berkeley three days before the
ICMC began and was one of the more enjoyable listening experiences of the
conference.  "Wayfaring Stranger", "Table's Clear", "Hammer", "Night
Traffic", "Delia" and "Now and Then" were all tape pieces composed
by Lansky during the last several years.  Lansky spoke in an
informal manner and answered questions from the audience,
which made this concert a less passive experience for the
audience.  His approach is to use sounds from everyday human experience to
explore our perception of the world.  "Table's Clear" was made with the help
of his sons on kitchen percussion after dinner.  The banging of metal pots
and pans with the children's voices and other sounds they made was processed
and mixed into a joyful timbral gamelan which, outside of a concert hall,
might encourage dancing.  "Night Traffic" is one of Lansky's
uncharacteristically dark pieces, about the "randomness and
violence".  The sounds of passing cars and trucks were
altered with comb filters and other processes, becoming
momentarily imposing and fantastic.  Dissonant sforzandi burst out of some
of the passings.  "Now and Then" I heard as a piece about the passing and
illusion of time.  The source material was Hannah McKay's reading of phrases
from stories, acoustic percussive material and more sustained pitches.  In
the first section are beginning phrases such as "one day", "once upon a
time" and "long ago"; the next sections explore subsequent times as "now and
then" and "after a while", and then ending times "it was not meant to be",
and "finally" are heard.  The feeling of finality and sadness of this ending
was transcended in the final section as all of the different time contexts
were combined in no particular order with more altered and polished voice
sounds containing bright overtones from comb filters and various
reverberations.  The sensation of any fixed location in time was blurred and
destroyed, creating another world where no time exists and everything that
has happened or will happen exists here and now.  All of these pieces had a
deceptive simplicity in the clear tonal harmonies and sometimes
uncomplicated but playful rhythms.  The context supplied by the natural
sound, the subtle processing, and rhythmic manipulations made the music
extremely live and evocative. 

Music at Stanford
Digital Music Under the Stars

The huge outdoor Frost Amphitheater was a tremendous setting for a computer
music concert.  Grassy elongated steps rose up gently from the stage.  The
quadraphonic sound system was good, and hearing the pieces spread out over
such a large area was a unique and satisfying experience.  Allen Strange's
"Cuitlatecoytl", based on an Aztec dance of penance, opened the concert.  As
the night deepened, we heard Ludger Bruemmer's excellent quadraphonic
"Painted Time with Fractaled Ravel".  Unlike many pieces using material from
older works, this piece sounded integrated and original.  Fragments of
Maurice Ravel's "Gaspard de la Nuit" were played into a sequencer program
which then modified tempo and timbre, and made a counterpoint of the sounds
with themselves, consisting of fragments on the micro and macro levels.
Atau Tanaka's "Kagami" ("mirror") was next, for BioMuse performer Galen
Brandt, BioMuse and MIDI instruments.  The glowing outline of the performer
was visible on the unlighted stage.  The movements of the performer were
translated into timbre, pitch rhythm and spatial trajectory, with the
BioMuse system.  The performer did not move much, and it was difficult to
perceive much connection between the movements and sounds from my seat near
the back.  The pitch material was from undertones, a mirror of the harmonic
series under the fundamental.   John Chowning's classic "Turenas" was next,
one of the earliest pieces using frequency modulation techniques which
Chowning pioneered.  The simulation of moving sound sources is particularly
effective in this important piece.  "Turenas" is an anagram of "Natures",
referring to the application of knowledge of natural sounds
to composition.  "Daily Life Among the Phrygians" and "I'm
Late" were both done on the Samsonbox by William Schottstaedt
and used frequency modulation, in the first case to
simulate violins and the second bird songs.  David Wessel and Chris Chafe's
"Finding Buried Signals" acknowledged the deployment of microwave surveys
searching for signs of extraterrestrial life.  This improvisation with Chafe
on celletto and Wessel on "thunder and lightning" provided a spontaneous
ending to the concert under the stars.  

Michael McNabb with Liss Fain Dance

On the eve of the conference was Michael McNabb's concert, a collaboration
with Liss Fain Dance.  "The Far and Brilliant Night" had Michael McNabb
doing computer synthesis and processing and Egon Dubois' performance montage
of multiple projected images.  The attempt was to explore "the evocative
power of aural and visual symbolism".  There were extremes in juxtapositions
of images of the violent and the holy, evil and beauty, metal constructions
and stars.  At one point the music moved from a heartbeat into a scream.
While some of these juxtapositions were startling, it was often difficult to
make sense of them, or of the piece as a whole.  The second piece, "Sudden
Changes" was more successful.  Michael McNabb improvised on saxophone and
live computer synthesis and processing.  Liss Fain choreographed the piece
based on observations of animal behavior and the effects of land development
on species.  The piece was intended to explore this loss and diminishment.
The computer music system generated all of the music from the performer's
improvisation, acting as a "performance amplifier" to create a polyphonic
accompaniment based on the harmonic, dynamic and rhythmic improvised
material.  McNabb played some jazz or rock-influenced and freer scalar
lines.  The dancers, sometimes in pairs, made interesting shapes and
interacted with the music well.

[end of Mara Helmuth's report]

Some Concluding Remarks

There were a few non-concert musical installations active at the 1992 ICMC,
notably three installations collectively called "Earthbits".  I was able to
see/hear "Earthbits I", titled "SongLines.DEM" by Scott Gresham-Lancaster and
Bill Thibault and "Earthbits III"  ("Music for Wind") by Wayne Siegel.
"SongLines.DEM" involved the translation of digitized terrain maps into
sound and processed images in a continuously-shifting multi-media
presentation.  Wayne Siegel's "Music for Wind" used anemometers to alter
the four-channel playback of MIDI-controlled synthesizers.  I thought that
both of these were fascinating, and could easily have spent a large part of
the conference enjoying the slow shifts of the sonic tapestry.  I was also
intrigued by the fact that people walking through the installations tended
to turn them into "interactive" pieces; many observers would spin Siegel's
anemometers to directly alter the sound, and people would move their hands
in front of the "SongLines.DEM" camera to watch the effect upon the
digital images being projected.  I was sorry to have missed  "Earthbits II"
by Mike Heivly and Allen Strange, an installation titled "The ICMC-Cygnus
Deep Space Site Transmission".

After a twenty minute search, I was also able to find the ICMC continuous
listening room and spend a pleasant hour and a half hearing some tape music
in a nice environment (the chair was *very* comfortable!).  There were
only one or two other people in the room with me, and I suspect that only a
handful of ICMC participants got a chance to hear some of the music in the
listening room.

This is too bad, because the listening room was probably the best place to
hear much of the music presented at the ICMC.  Reading back over my review,
I am somewhat surprised at how negative many of my reactions to the ICMC
concerts were.  Note, however, that nearly all of my negativity is directed
at the implicit notion that music *must* be done on concerts to be
counted as music.  This assumption is having unhealthy repercussions within
the computer music community.  Most notable was the incredible strain placed
upon the music selection jury.  More than sixty hours of music was submitted
to the 1992 ICMC, each composer hoping for one of the limited concert slots.
Without even getting into socio-political arguments about the ill effects of
this hierarchical view of music and musical selection, it seems obvious that
something must be done to address (and hopefully embrace) the explosive
growth of computer music by the ICMC if it is to remain a vital forum for
the exposition of this music.  My feeling is that we can and should
investigate ways to present computer music which will allow for an expansion
of musical possibility, instead of imposing stronger and more arbitrary
restrictions on musical activity.   The technology we use to create our
musical art can also be used to open doorways to new modes of musical
communication and experience.  It seems almost absurd to force our output to
conform to centuries-old presentation methodologies.  We can do better.