Michael Edwards - Composer/Artist Statements

Long

As a composer I work in the area of instrumental, electronic, and algorithmic
composition (software-generated music). My main focus is what is increasingly
being called electro-instrumental music; this combines acoustic instruments and
digitally processed or synthesised sound.

I develop my own software in a variety of languages for the generation and
realisation of works that incorporate both restricted and extended instrumental
playing techniques, real-time electronics, and studio-sculpted digital audio.

I know it's an unpopular view in some circles, but I firmly believe that by
coding your own musical ideas you can explore them with a depth that would be
impossible otherwise and without insights from the art of programming. In my
view, to not code your own algorithms would be a little like trying to get
inside a culture without knowing its language.

I generally aim to blend rather than oppose acoustic and electronic sound
sources. My hope is that this offers the audience a compelling aural
investigation into the provenance and nature of sound and its structures, as
well as extending well-known timbres into new expressive realms. Perhaps more
importantly though, I usually try to present a coherent sonic image, where the
new and old not only meet but cross-fertilise, and where instrumental sound is
extended by electronics and electronic sounds are enhanced by live performance.

This approach goes beyond the surface sound world into the musical forms
themselves. I algorithmically generate my instrumental and computer music parts
from the same musical data, creating a more deeply-rooted synthesis of these
often structurally incompatible sound worlds. To achieve this I code mainly
deterministic algorithms--I am less interested in randomness than I am in
perceivable structure, repeatability, and the 'code-generate-improve' feedback
loop.

On the other hand, seeing myself as part of the experimental tradition of
Western composition means I refuse to be pinned down to any particular
aesthetic or approach. Like most of us, I grew up in a musically pluralistic
environment and from my earliest years had no problem switching between, say,
Hendrix and Ligeti. In fact I find more in common between these two musicians
than surface listening might ordinarily reveal. So I improvise too: on
saxophones, laptop, and MIDI wind controller.

My music, then, ranges from long, delicate meditations for the piano and
computer, to dense and aggressive ensemble music exploring performance failure,
to freely improvised electro-instrumental noise. I am decreasingly occupied
with the specification of fixed musical details and increasingly interested in
making flexible software to create music-structural potential.

To this end, in my algorithmic works, generative ideas and their expression in
software are the crux of the piece, rather than the details of any one score
generated by them. Or to put it another way, the fixed score is not the essence
of the music but a tool towards reaching one possible realisation of the ideas
as expressed in software--I'm just swapping one code for another, really.


495 words

Medium

As a composer I work in the area of instrumental, electronic, and algorithmic
composition (software-generated music). My main focus is an amalgam of these,
combining acoustic instruments and digitally processed or synthesised sound.

I firmly believe that by coding your own musical ideas you can explore them
with a depth that would be impossible otherwise. To not code your own
algorithms would be a little like trying to get inside a culture without
knowing its language.

I generally aim to blend rather than oppose acoustic and electronic sound
sources, to present a coherent sonic image where the new and old not only meet
but cross-fertilise. This goes beyond the surface sound world into the very
musical structures themselves. I algorithmically generate my instrumental and
computer music structures from the same musical data, creating a more
deeply-rooted synthesis of these two often structurally incompatible sound
worlds.

Seeing myself as part of the experimental tradition of Western composition
means I refuse to be pinned down to any particular aesthetic or approach. I
grew up in a musically pluralistic environment and from my earliest years had
no problem switching between Hendrix and Ligeti. So I improvise too, on
saxophones, laptop, and MIDI wind controller.

My music, then, ranges from long, delicate meditations for the piano and
computer, to dense and aggressive ensemble music exploring performance failure,
to freely improvised electro-instrumental noise. I am decreasingly occupied
with the specification of fixed musical details and increasingly interested in
making flexible software to create variable scores as expressions of the
musical-generative idea--I'm just swapping one code for another, really.


270 words

Short

As a composer I work in the area of instrumental, electronic, and algorithmic
composition (software-generated music). I generally aim to blend rather than
oppose acoustic and electronic sound sources, as well as to present a coherent
sonic image, where the new and old not only meet but cross-fertilise.

Seeing myself as part of the experimental tradition means I refuse to be pinned
down to any particular approach, so I improvise too, on saxophones, laptop, and
MIDI wind controller. My music ranges from quiet meditations for the piano and
computer, to dense ensemble pieces designed to exploit failure, to freely
improvised electro-instrumental noise. I am decreasingly occupied with the
specification of fixed musical details and increasingly interested in making
flexible software to create variable scores as expressions of the
musical-generative idea--I'm just swapping one code for another, really.


143 words
michael-edwards.org