Some thoughts on electronic multiphonics…

When I recently tried to introduce some additions to the English Wikipedia-page on Multiphonic I was told:

“The fact remains that reliable secondary sources do not appear to apply the term here, so again, it’s OR [Original Research] to extrapolate otherwise, even in passing reference. If, down the line, mainstream literature comes to apply the term to such instruments we can add it then. There is no deadline.” [Discussion]

So, here are my thoughts in the hope that someone will point me to quotable research–or use this opportunity to publish a paper 🙂

“Multiphonics are of course possible on musical instruments producing sound by electronic means. This way e.g. the traditionally monophonic theremin can be augmented and it’s restricted range of timbres supplemented significantly.
For electronically produced multiphonics there are several Eurorack VCO modules enabling the creation and manipulation of overtones, e.g. (in order of the date of announcement on modulargrid) the tELHARMONIC by Make Noise Music (2015), Xaoc Devices Odessa (2018), Generate 3 by Joranalogue (2019), the Harmonic Shift Oscillator by New System Instruments (2020) and the Ensemble Oscillator by 4ms (2020).” [Andrew Levine, 2023]

Walker Farrell from Make Noise had some interesting comments:

“The techniques described for wind instruments sound acoustically similar to ring modulation, with a carrier and modulator represented by the instrument’s note and the performer’s own voice. […]
Elsewhere, the Wikipedia article mostly seems to refer explicitly to sounds that are not part of the harmonic series of the “main” note that is being produced. Almost every VCO and VCO-adjacent synth module like tELHARMONIC is going to operate primarily in its own harmonics unless modulated by a second source that is tuned differently. […]
One thing I’m not totally clear on is where the line resides between timbre shifts and multiphonic playing, if it is not primarily about creating non-harmonic overtones. Just about every traditional tonal acoustic instrument will have a change in harmonic content across and between notes, and this is a primary component of what’s experienced as the timbre of the instrument. […]
Audio rate FM, RM, AM or audio rate modulation of any timbral parameter on any VCO is probably going to be similar in its overtone structure to extended wind techniques.“ [eMail correspondence; published with permission]

Even Buswell from New System Instruments had these comments:

Increasingly, especially in the case of drone music, the term “timbre” is not adequate for our instruments and what we’re making them do. At the heart of Western music theory is the idea that music consists of notes, with a non-overlapping category of entirely atonal sounds (percussion, sounds, noise). These notes are then measured according to different characteristics (pitch, timbre, overtones, harmonics, envelopes, etc.). Multiple notes theoretically blend in a characterless purely additive space, where each note retains its individuality and interacts with other notes only pathologically (unwanted beat frequencies, or “phase issues” in mixing). But this theoretical basis is not actually how a lot of modular or drone music works, where you might have an entire piece in which no musical event changes what “notes” are playing, but the overall tonal mix does profoundly change. “multiphonics” is of course a counterexample within Western music, but the term seems to be structured to recover the notes theory rather than to accept its destabilization. Maybe “pathophonics” would be better; how many notes are there? We can’t always answer and that is part of the music.

This destabilization is one of the core drivers of my musical instrument creation and my music. Adjusting the HSO‘s stride parameter can sometimes be more a matter of adjusting the rhythmic structure of different parts of the harmonics than forming some kind of a priori overtone series of a “note.” Also, the root tone and the overtones of the HSO will perceptually cohere and decohere into a single whole depending on how they are moved. The Triphase is partly interesting for its ability to cancel and then recall the root harmonic, seeming to exist in an unstable register. Even more so, playing different notes into Babel creates a *singular* harmonic structure that, well, it’s not *not* polyphonic, right? (e.g. To me, that litotes captures the essence of this kind of music. We can’t put it into the supposedly opposite categories of monophonic or polyphonic or tonal or atonal, because those categories are being broken by the music. But at the same time, these categories aren’t irrelevant, as they might be in some harsh noise music, for example. So you might say something like “pathophonic,” not really poly- or monophonic, “orthogotonal,” not really tonal or atonal, etc. [eMail correspondence; published with permission]

Berlin & Kassel in July

Apostel-Paulus-Kirche in Berlin-Schöneberg

On Friday, July 21 at 20:23 CET I will be performing together with Thomas Noll, organ and Rudi Fischerlehner, percussion in this beautiful space (Apostel-Paulus-Kirche, Grunewaldstraße 77A, 10823 Berlin-Schöneberg) as part of the festival OrganoVino.

And on Sunday, July 23 at 17:00 CET you can hear me in a duo with Peer Schlechta, organ in the “Ambient Stairs” series in the Auferstehungskirche, Mombachstraße 24, 34127 Kassel.

Summer update: the previous and upcoming releases…

Just noticed I was too busy releasing music to post an announcement on my homepage. So here goes…

Copepoda Rising” is the latest release by 安若闻| An Ruo Wen. Like all music by my alias the 20 min single is a solo performance, in this case on a modular synth.

This trio performance by Kriton Beyer – Daxophone, Julian Schäfer – Japanese Shakuhachi and Indian Bansuri, and me – Moog Etherwave Plus Theremin & Make Noise 0-Coast is from the first instalment of the “Journey has been cancelled?” series. The video premieres on YouTube on July 06 together with the release of the music.

New paths to music – Ways to approach the new music

I am excited to return to Weimar again so soon to improvise together with Michael von Hintzenstern on June 24 at the village church (Dorfkirche) in Denstedt.

The instrument that Franz Liszt played on has a wide range of timbres and, together with the air pressure control (Winddrossel) enables inventive performers to construct amazing sound scapes.

More information here.

Journey has been cancelled?

Freitag, 02. Juni 2023 | Friday, June 2nd, 2023

20:00 Uhr / 8 PM @ Kirche Maria-Magdalenen Klein-Borstel: Stübeheide 175, 22337 Hamburg.

Kriton Beyer ist ein griechisch-deutscher Musiker und Komponist, der als Performer und Improvisator hauptsächlich mit dem Harmonium und dem Daxophon arbeitet. Er studierte Musikwissenschaft in Griechenland, wo er mit verschiedenen lokalen Musikgruppen sowie mit Musikern wie Sakis Papadimitriou und Floros Floridis zusammenarbeitete. Im Jahr 2004 zog er nach Berlin, wo er sich intensiv in der improvisierten Musikszene der Stadt engagierte. Kritons Daxophonspiel zeichnet sich durch eine sehr persönliche musikalische und klangliche Ästhetik und eine unkonventionelle Technik aus, die manchmal auch durch den subtilen Einsatz von Elektronik unterstützt wird.

Roy Carroll ist ein irischer Musiker und Komponist, der in Berlin lebt. Er arbeitet vor allem mit elektroakustischen Medien; dazu gehören Schallwandler, Synthese, Rückkopplung, Audioaufnahmen, Verstärkung, Software und sogar auditive und psychoakustische Phänomene. Mit diesen Materialien stößt Carroll Prozesse an, die rücksichtslos Klangfarbe, Artikulation, Gestik, Form usw. untersuchen. Rückkopplung, der Schrecken eines Instruments, das sich selbst hört, ist ein wiederkehrender Bestandteil von Carrolls Arbeit, der vielschichtige Formen schafft, die die Transformation von elektrischen Audiosignalen in gestörte Luft immer wieder neu verhandeln.

Andrew Levine, geboren 1968 in NYC, begann mit 6 Jahren Geige zu spielen; später studierte er Gesang. Seit 2010 spielt Andrew das Moog Theremin in frei improvisierenden Konfigurationen. US-Tournee und 4-tägiges Theremin-Festival im Jahr 2020. Von 2021-23 erlauben ihm mehrere Stipendien, seine Klangpalette zu erweitern: flexible Manipulation vom Theremin-Timbre und im Rahmen von “in-ORGAN-ic” das Studium der Kombination von Orgeln und Elektronik. Aufnahmen und Konzerte in Berlin, Weimar und Trier, Tournee mit Quatuor BRAC und Katrin Bethge, Residenz mit Eric Cordier in Paris, Portugal-Tournee und eine Konzertreihe mit Michael von Hintzenstern.

Das Konzert ist ein Teil des “blurred edges” Festivals Hamburg. 02.-18.06.2023

blurred edges 2023 wird gefördert von der Behörde für Kultur und Medien der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg, der Hamburgischen Kulturstiftung und dem Musikfonds e.V.

Experimentalstudio Orgel

Recording-Session with Claudìo Pina at the church “Igreja da Paróquia da Nossa Senhora da Ajuda” in Lisbon

After having been able to work intensively on the interaction of electronics and organs in the course of my last two scholarships, I am very pleased to have been invited by Prof. Martin Sturm to participate in the series “Experimentalstudio Orgel” at the HfM Franz Liszt in Weimar.

Harpex spcmic in action