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Reviewed by:
  • Agostino Di Scipio: hörbare ökosysteme, live-elektronische kompositionen 1993-2005
  • Steve Wanna
Agostino Di Scipio: hörbare ökosysteme, live-elektronische kompositionen 1993–2005 Compact disc, Capstone Ed RZ 10015, 2005; available from Edition RZ, c/o Durand, Klausenerplatz 11, D-14059 Berlin, Germany; Web

In his 2003 paper, "Sound is the Interface: From Interactive to Ecosystemic Signal Processing" (Organised Sound 8/3:269–277), Agostino Di Scipio describes what he considers to be truly interactive music as music in which interaction is essentially reciprocal communication between all members of an interactive system. An interactive system may include: 1) some sound source(s), a digital sound processing unit (DSP), an "agent" (person controlling the DSP), any performers; and 2) a space (and all its components) to host and interact with these elements. All these components are typically treated as equals. In this music, sound is the result of interaction rather than a reason (or a map) for it. Interactions between components of the system can be, and, indeed often are, purely sonic, or mediated through sound.

Mr. Di Scipio distinguishes this kind of music from music in which the interactions are often nothing more than non-reciprocating reactions (sound processing that is not dynamic or adaptive). Furthermore, he proposes that "the DSP algorithms, and the methods by which they communicate among themselves, should be seen as the material implementation of a compositional process or concept" (Ibid.). This, in his view, reflects "a paradigm shift from interactive composing to composing interactions" (emphasis in original). These composed interactions, in turn, yield sonic results which we may (or may not) perceive as music. As Mr. Di Scipio puts it, "the shift is especially relevant when composed interactions are audibly experienced as a music of sound (timbre composition), more than a music of notes (as is often the case with interactive music systems, especially when instrumentalists are involved)." It is this notion of composing or defining the interactions rather than the actual sonic results that is at the heart of much of this composer's recent work and is the basic principal underlying all the works featured in the present recording.

This CD, dedicated entirely to the music of Mr. Di Scipio, includes four [End Page 94] works that collectively trace the evolution of the composer's interest in, and treatment of, the subject of live-electronics and room-adaptive or room-dependent music over the past decade. All four works utilize live electronics and two involve instrumentalists (again, as components of an interactive system). The use of live electronics is consistent in the four works and relies on "room-dependent" DSP that is actively "listening" through microphones scattered throughout the space to the total sound output in order to adapt its own behavior accordingly. In all four works, the composer defines a set of possibilities or paths of interactions that the components of the system (including instrumentalists, when present) can follow. These possibilities are, themselves, dynamic and do change as a factor of the feedback from the sonic result or output. In a sense, they become part of the interactive system rather than mere paths to be followed rigidly.

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As the title of Mr. Di Scipio's aforementioned article suggests, the various components of the system communicate exclusively through sound. Any change or adjustment of behavior on the part of any component within the system is governed only by a set of prescribed limitations and the sonic feedback it receives within the system. Again, it should be restated that the system may include any or all of a number of components (the DSP, instrumentalists, the performance space, even the audience as part of the space). Even in the pieces that involve instrumentalists, the "score" from which they read amounts to nothing more than instructions about actions that lead to sounds, rather than pre-conceived and pre-shaped sonic ideas or graphic representations of sounds to be realized by the performers.

Integral to all these pieces is a sense of openness where each performance (realization of some interactions) and its emergent sonic result (the music) are subject to the specific conditions...


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pp. 94-98
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