fixed media work focused on digital synthesis
Composer: Brett Masteller
Cyncada (2007-08) is an 8-channel acousmatic work. The piece was inspired by the 17-year cicada swarms that inhabited Chicago in the summer of 2007. That particular summer, the sounds produced by the swarms were tame in comparison to previous visits. I spent some time recording the cicadas in hopes of using the drones in a piece, but the recordings I made rather uneventful. I decided instead, to create a purely synthesized piece of music. All of the sounds heard in Cyncadawere synthesized using a patch I created with the software Max/MSP. Within the patch were a number of different buffers, all of which were continuously updated with random streams of values. The information in the buffers was then used as magnitude values read in the frequency domain. Using a variety of vector sizes and FFT window sizes enabled me to change the bandwidth of frequency bins; this let me create sounds ranging from broadband nosy bursts and glith-like pops to pitched tones and complex tone clusters.
Cyncada was created for inclusion in Project Condor, an art installation/event that involved wireless audio playback through speakers connected to floating blimps. Project Condor was conceived and created by Casey Farina. For that presentation of the piece it was not necessary to process the audio in a manner that created spatial cues, the blimps were scattered around a huge gymnasium and were able to move around with wireless remote controls. In 2008 I decided to compose spatial cues for the sounds so the piece could be performed in a more traditional manner (e.g. fixed speaker locations).