Having lived and worked with electronic instruments over a period of twenty years, my attention was lately drawn to the tendency of retrospect interest in old analog synthesizers. These instruments represent to me not only a different quality of sound but also a different mode of composing. This in turn deeply affects the musical structures coming out as the final result. Digital systems have a greater flexibility in terms of time and spectral control on a point to point basis. Analog systems on the other hand offers a way to create complex structures with a direct physical control coupled with a unique ‘raw’ quality of sound lacking in digital instruments.
Composing with ‘old’ analog systems is a rare phenomenon in todays world of computers, harddisc recorders and digital synthesizers. With increasingly few exceptions, analog synthesizers are more often missing than present in modern electroacoustic workspaces. The transition from analog to digital systems as the main composing tool in electroacoustic studios has taken about ten years. The development of medevial instruments to their modern counterparts took several centuries.
I have felt an urge to work with ‘old’ instruments for some time — the last time I worked with analog systems was in 1986, more than ten years ago — and the invitation from the Groupe de recherches musicales (GRM, Paris) to make a piece gave me the opportunity to explore a renaissance of the analog in the digital domain. The piece is based on sounds from a Serge modular synthesizer and some additional sounds from renaissance instruments like drums, lute, krumhorns and viola da gamba. My intention has been to create a virtual meeting between the sounds, composing methods and aestethics of the analog and digital worlds, painted on a remote canvas of medevial timbres and rythms.
Renaissance was realized in 1994 at the composer’s studio and premiered on January 31, 1995 in the Salle Olivier Messiaen of the Maison de Radio France (Paris, France). It was commissioned by the Ina-GRM. Renaissance received a Honorable Mention at the Prix Ars Electronica (Linz, Austria, 1997).