The original research underpinning this project was undertaken by Paulina Sundin as part of her PhD (2010) at the University of Huddersfield. The full text of her PhD, entitled ‘Re-inventing Harmony in Electroacoustic Music’ can be found here: http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/9289/.
Much of Sundin’s work investigating new harmonic way of thinking about and structuring electroacoustic music was based on the work of William A. Sethares documented in his book ‘Tuning, Timbre, Spectrum, Scale’ (Springer-Verlag, London 2010)
Sundin was particularly interested in ways in which the spectrum of an acoustic source could be used to generate what Sethares terms a ‘dissonance curve’ and how, instead of merely an analysis tool, this could be used as the starting point for rethinking harmonic relationships within a work of electroacoustic music. Sundin’s initial research was part of a project programmed in collaboration with Sten-Olof Hellstrom in Max/MSP. This project tested the feasibility of her ideas. (http://www.kmh.se/från-dissonans-till-konsonans). Sundin used the resulting dissonance curves as a mechanism by which to create filters for ‘tuning’ sounds.
Sethares writes ‘Dissonance curves provide a straightforward way to predict the most consonant intervals for a given sound, and the set of most-consonant intervals defines a scale related to the specified spectrum. These allow musicians and composers to design sounds according to the needs of their music, rather than having to create music around the sounds of a few common instruments. The spectrum/scale relationship provides a map for the exploration of nonharmonic musical worlds.’
Further specific information about how to create dissonance curves can be found in the online article ‘Relating Tuning and Timbre’ on William A. Sethares’ website (http://sethares.engr.wisc.edu/consemi.html)
Following the intial work by Sundin and Hellstrom, the MAX patch was significantly expanded by Adrian Gierakowski. The first musical work produced with this new software tool was the live electronic work Shards. This was performed by Adkins and Sundin at the Festival AKOUSMA in Montreal in October 2012.
Sundin, Adkins and Gierakowski documented the research up to this stage in an academic paper that was given at the International Computer Music Conference in Perth, Australia in August 2013.
The paper is published in the proceedings of the conference and provides a summary of our early research work.
Read the paper: Beyond Pythagoras