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Friday, October 23, 2009

Steve Lehman brings Computer Music to Jazz

I caught this review of Steve Lehman on NPR and unlike most of the jazz they review, it actually really struck me.

Lehman is applying a concept borrowed from the computer music world,"Spectral Music", to a Jazz context. In short, the composer uses a computer to analyze the sonic signature of a piece of audio, then consciously manipulate it to compose in the meta-space that is the texture of the whole of the piece by causing interference patterns, morphs between states, etc. In long:
Spectral music (or spectralism) is a musical composition practice where compositional decisions are often informed by the analysis of sound spectra. Computer based sound spectrum analysis using a Fast Fourier transform is one of the more common methods used in generating descriptive data. Using FFT analysis, features of a particular sound spectrum can be visualized using a spectrogram. Spectral composition focuses, then, on bringing out these features, interconnecting them, and transforming them.

My favorite music in the world (minimalism, idm, drum'n'bass, dub) tends to focus the listener on these higher level abstractions of the song, rather than just the melodies or harmonic progressions, so this is some jazz I think I can really get behind. I'd love to hear what else is happening in this area right now.

Here's an extended interview with him, also has lots of live footage of the octet:



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