- EMusic Indaba 2010: Home Made—Hand Made
[Editor’s note: Selected reviews are posted on the Web at mitpress2.mit.edu/e-journals/Computer-Music -Journal/Documents/reviews/index .html. In some cases, they are either unpublished in the Journal itself or published in an abbreviated form in the Journal.]
The eMusic Indaba and the accompanying workshops “Home Made—Hand Made” were held 23–25 September 2010; they included two evenings of electroacoustic music performances and three days of workshops. (Indaba is a Zulu term meaning conference.) The workshops were held at various venues around the School of Music at the University of Kwazulu-Natal (UKZN) and the live performances took place at the Howard College Theatre. The university is situated in the city of Durban, Kwazulu-Natal Province, South Africa. The Indaba is a feature of New Music South Africa (NMSA); the event was curated by Jürgen Bräuninger and Fiona Tozer and was organized by Mandy Witken. Five years on since UNYAZI 2005, the first electronic music symposium/festival to be held in Africa, there has been an increasing number of academic institutions offering music technology courses. The intention of this, the third festival, was to broaden the acoustic horizons of local practitioners and students in establishing bonds through their common workshop experiences with the international composed and improvised electronic music community.
On Thursday, 23 September, the Indaba opened with morning and afternoon workshops. The first workshop featured Nicholas Collins on handmade electronics, showing upcoming composers who did not necessarily have much background in the area of electronics the possibilities of working with low-budget technologies. Collins led the composers through a number of projects to create novel new instruments that subverted the intended use of the appliances that were modified (such as analog radios and children’s toys). Not only did the results themselves spark ideas about how the composers might incorporate them in new works, but the process also taught them, in a very practical way, some of the most fundamental principles of electronically produced sound. The concept for this workshop underscored the festival subtitle, “home made—hand made.”
The POW Ensemble from The Netherlands conducted workshops featuring DJ DNA, who presented a very personal introduction to turntabling and how DJs can be integrated into instrumental groups. He told the story of his work with a number of such groups and demonstrated his extremely idiosyncratic techniques. Many of these techniques have been developed in direct response to the situation of working as part of an instrumental ensemble, rather than as a dance DJ. The presentation was fascinating for the wide-ranging group of performers and composers who attended. In addition, other members of the ensemble presented workshops demonstrating extended saxophone techniques (Luc Houtkamp), baroque recorder (Erik Bosgraaf), and vocal group improvisation and vocal processing (Guy Harries). Performers as well as composers interested in creating works for these instruments attended the workshops.
The evening at the Howard College Theatre featured first the works of Nicholas Collins, a pioneer in the use of microcomputers in live performance, using simple processes to generate musical material. Some of the works employed festival guests and workshop participants. Pea Soup II, with Petra Ronner on piano, used a fair emulation (with extensions) in software, and what was particularly noticeable was how the acoustical personality of the room was transformed into an aural experience. In Mortal Coil the introduction of the glove in the one hand allowed the performer to interfere with the electromagnetic sound field. He performed three other works: The Talking Cure, Salvage (Gulyu Blues) (workshop participants collaborated in this work for handmade electronics), and In Memoriam Michel Waisvisz.
The second part of the evening belonged to Petra Ronner, a pianist from Switzerland showcasing her work Pianessence, a program developed for piano and electronics that seeks to create a fusion of concert-oriented piano music and sound installation involving a pianist. The performer acknowledged characteristics of a physical space—its acoustical properties, appearance, and meaning—and, with extreme focus and determination, she felt her way toward a kind...