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Live Processing Into the 21st Century: Delay-Based Performance and Temporal Manipulation in the Music of Joel Ryan, Radiohead, and Sam Pluta

Riordan, Brian (2023) Live Processing Into the 21st Century: Delay-Based Performance and Temporal Manipulation in the Music of Joel Ryan, Radiohead, and Sam Pluta. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Live processing is altering and affecting the sounds of instruments, live without the aid of fixed media, to create new unique sounds that are an independent voice in a musical performance. This performance practice emerged as an important musical activity in the twentieth century and evolved with digital technology around the turn of the millennium. This dissertation explores the musical results of three recorded performances in which electronic performers digitally manipulated the sounds of other performers. In the first, Joel Ryan processes the soprano saxophone of Evan Parker in Instant 1. In the second, English rock band Radiohead features two live processing duos on Everything in Its Right Place: with Ed O'Brien processing Thom Yorke’s keyboards and Johnny Greenwood processing Yorke's voice. Finally, Sam Pluta processes the trumpet of Peter Evans on a track called Event Horizon. Each recording is analyzed using spectrographic images, which are representations of musical sound that allow for the precise measurement of musical gestures. I argue that delay-based performance and temporal manipulation are key musical characteristics common to all three recordings, defining both smaller-scale and large-scale designs. Additionally, I argue that the generative technology that produces these delays does not produce the music on its own but rather the human control of the electronic sounds allows for successful performances within this aesthetic. Using Kramer’s conceptual vocabulary, along with a technique I developed called phase cancellation analysis, I show that contemporary delay-based performance using digital technology challenges the concept of extreme discontinuity as it is usually defined.
In my original composition, Recorded Ruins, for amplified quintet (bass clarinet, trombone, piano, violin, and cello), I aimed to explore a different kind of fusion between acoustic and electronic sounds from the kind of live processing discussed in the research portion of this dissertation. Instead of using computers to manipulate delayed samples of the acoustic instruments, synthesized tones generated from computer software were emitted through transducers placed on the piano strings, converting the piano into a giant loudspeaker. The frequencies from the transducers were tuned to specific overtones of the strings, while the rest of the ensemble then tuned to these microtonal frequencies or performed with different intonations, creating an extended just intonation tuning system.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Riordan, Brianbrr48@pitt.edubrr48
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee CoChairRosenblum, Mathewrosenblu@pitt.edurosenblu
Committee CoChairWilliams, Amyamywill@pitt.eduamywill
Committee MemberMoe, Ericemoe@pitt.eduemoe
Committee MemberJohnson, Aarondraj@pitt.edudraj
Committee MemberDannenberg,
Date: 11 May 2023
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 17 March 2023
Approval Date: 11 May 2023
Submission Date: 3 April 2023
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 90
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Music
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Music, composition, theory, live processing, electronic, improvisation, Radiohead, Joel Ryan, Sam Pluta
Date Deposited: 11 May 2023 18:39
Last Modified: 22 May 2023 13:10


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