Michael Edwards


Programme Note

Thick is constructed from two similar and continuous musical structures, one made from a sample of piano strings being scraped with a piece of metal (scraped gently, however; this is not your amplified fingernails-on-blackboard nightmare--I hope), and the other, the opening phrase of a piece of Renaissance sacred vocal music. Both structures gradually open up an ever-increasing frequency space, starting low and aiming high.

The digital signal processing algorithms applied to these samples were developed and programmed by the composer using Common Lisp Music, a music software package written in the programming languages Common Lisp and C by William Schottstaedt of the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) at Stanford University, California. They include, amongst other techniques, granulation (including pseudo-random distribution of the grains), looping, convolution, transposition, time-stretching/compression, and formant filtering.

Many other smaller highly processed structures were overlaid onto the two larger intermingled structures, and created in the main from prepared piano attacks and cello samples. There is, however, rather significant, though background use made of lightly processed 'ambient' sounds: a dinner party, a telephone answering machine message, commentary from a televised horse race, helicopter radio communication from the Vietnam war (found on the internet), a brass band parade, as well as highly processed synthesised sounds made from drum-machine loops.

All of the processing and mixing for this heterogeneous, overweight piece was created in the composer's spare room on a 200MHz Pentium PC running Linux and Windows 95.