Danilo Rossetti, Jônatas Manzolli, Pedro S. Bittencourt

Analyzing Shifting Mirrors: Emergence in a Collaborative Network between Composer and Performer

This submission discusses the creative process of the composition Shifting Mirrors (2016), for alto saxophone and electronic sounds, composed by Horacio Vaggione (Argentina, 1943) in straight collaboration with the saxophonist Author2 (Brazil, 1975), to whom the piece is dedicated. Our main objective is to investigate to what extent the participation of the instrumentalist in the creative and performative processes contribute to producing musical form.

We understand the musical performance as a complex and dynamic process, in which a collaborative network is formed in all the creative steps. The roles of the instrumentalist and composer (often responsible for performing the electronic part and sound diffusion) are merged, and it enhances musical creativity and new materials to be worked out. The musical interpretation is constructed in all the steps of the process, before the premiere of the work and even before the writing of the instrumental score (Author2, 2018). We consider this network an emergent process, in the sense of Francisco Varela (1989), basing ourselves in his concept of enaction: to give conditions of a form to emerge (Vaggione, 2010)

The methodology adopted for analyzing the creative process of Shifting Mirrors in this article is based on two graphical representations – the volume (Malt; Jourdan, 2009) and the Spectral Liveness (Author1; Author3, 2018), both generated in Max/MSP and constructed through the analysis of the audio recordings of the piece by audio descriptors (Peeters, 2004). The employed audio files in the analysis are: 1) the full recording, 2) the six channels of the electronic fixed media, 3) the stereo reduction, and 4) the solo saxophone recording. In Figure 1, we present the volume graphic of Shifting Mirrors (above: the full recording; middle: stereo reduction of the tape; below: the solo sax), and, in Figure 2, the Spectral Liveness graphics.

According to the results (Fig. 1), we observe the morphological similarities between the sonorities of the stereo tape reduction and the solo sax. They merge each other in the full recording, producing the form of the piece. In Fig. 2, the graphical representation shows the prominent tonal features of the saxophone recording, which interacts with the noisy configuration of the granular texture of the tape. The saxophonist cannot follow all the complex sonorities of the tape, but, when the sax sounds are very clear in the tape, there is a sort of ambiguity which creates doubts about what are the “real sounds” of the saxophone and which sounds belongs to the electronics. There is an interaction between different time scales constructed with many sax samples. It is quite interesting to consider the sax player as the real- time transformation of the tape, such as the idea of a mirror that slightly deforms the original sounds. The emergent sonority of the full recording (the amalgam of both instrumental and electronic worlds) will be properly detailed in the full article.


University of Campinas, Brazil

Studied composition (instrumental and electroacoustic) with Jose!Manuel Lo!pez Lo!pez, Silvio Ferraz, and Flo Menezes, and live-electronic music techniques with Alain Bonardi and Anne Se”des. Ph.D. in Music Composi- tion at the University of Campinas, with a doctoral stage at the Centre de recherche Informatique et Cre!ation Musicale of Paris 8 University. At this moment, he is a post-doc researcher at the Interdisciplinary Nucleus for Sound Communication of the University of Campinas, with a fellowship from the Sa#o Paulo Research Foundation and supervised by Jo$natas Manzolli. His main research area is computer aided composition and analysis of contemporary music. His compositions have been played in many events and festivals such as ICMC, CMMR, NYCEMF, CICTeM, BIMESP, SBCM e ANPPOM. He has been one of the awarded in 2016 Brazilian Arts Foundation Classical Music Prize, in the category of electroacoustic and live-electronic music.


University of Campinas, Brazil

Combines contemporary musical creation and cognitive sciences focusing on the dialogues between music and science. The interdisciplinary study results in electroacoustic, instrumental, and multimodal works. A composer and mathematician, full professor of the Art Institute, Unicamp, Brazil, he is a pioneer in the Brazilian research in Computer Music. He has been a guest researcher at the Institute for Neuroinformatics, Switzerland, the SPECS Group at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona and the CIRMMT, McGill University, Montreal. Jo”natas Manzolli’s most notorious achievements have emphasized the relationship between man and machine, including the use of artificial intelligence and digital interfaces such as Ada: Intelligent Space (2002) and the Multimodal Brain Orchestra (2009). His compositions also include large orchestral settings such as the multimodal opera Descobertas (2016). He has received numerous grants and awards including the recent Rockefeller Foundation “Arts & Literary Arts” Award to be an artist resident at the Bellagio Centre (2018).


Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Is a full time Professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Brazil. Director of the UFRJ’s Sax ensemble. Founder, director and saxophonist of ABSTRAI ensemble. Music PhD at CICM/Paris 8 University, with a research on mixed music for saxes under the supervision of Horacio Vaggione. The PhD scholarship he was awarded was supported by the Portugal’s Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT). Master of Arts/Musicology at University Bordeaux 3, with a thesis on Iannis Xenakis’ Oresteia. Guest artist in ZKM in Karlsruhe, Germany. Saxophone and contemporary chamber music studies with Marie-Bernadette Charrier at Bordeaux National Conservatoire, France. Bachelor’s degree in Radio-Communication at UFRJ, Rio de Janeiro. Began studying the saxophone at the age of 10 under the instruction of Mecenas Magno in Rio de Janeiro. Pedro Bittencourt plays on Selmer saxophones with Vandoren mouthpieces and reeds.