João Fernandes

Creative processes in electroacoustic musical improvisation – The duos in the Unmapped collective

Improvised music with electroacoustic means is an experimental musical practice that aims to create evolutionary musical processes in the time of performance. Technology is used by musicians to generate or transform sound in real time. This sound, produced at the same time by digital and acoustic instruments, is broadcast simultaneously through a sound diffusion system to an audience. A performance situation of electroacoustic improvisation is made up of different elements (musicians, instruments, sound diffusion system, place of diffusion and audience) whose purpose is to emerge a musical form, a sound flow of the ensemble through the interactions between the musicians and with the environment.

These interactions correspond to the exchange of information between previously mentioned system components. The engagement of musicians (and the public) in the creative process depends on a good understanding of the messages exchanged between these components. That is, for the interactions to occur and the musical discourse to be consistent, the different types of codes will have to be assimilated in order to respond to the received stimuli. Interactions in the context of electroacoustic improvisation are performed at different levels: between the musician and his instrument; between the digital instrumentalist and the acoustic instrumentalist to which he is coupled, between the pairs, between the instrumentalists independently of the couplings, between the audience and the ensemble and finally the interaction with the environment where the performance is held.

I propose to analyse the creative process based on the interactions between musicians that are made by different means. An important concept to achieve this is the sound territory created by the musicians. Locally, a sound territory is managed by an instrumentalist who shares it with the ensemble. This sharing is achieved through instrumental and corporal gestures, the sound generated by the instrumentalist or even by coded messages (for example graphic partition generated in real time).

In more detail, for this presentation, I propose an analysis of the creative process of the duos – digital instrument / acoustic instrument – within the Unmapped collective. If in written mixed music, sound transformations, parameter values can be defined and adjusted before the performance, in musical improvisation, all this is done during the construction of the creative process, that is to say in the performance time. The instrumentalists, having the awareness of the minimal reaction time to react to different musical situations, must prepare their instruments and have effective methods of interaction between them. I propose to look in detail at the strategies used by this group so that the interactions inside the duo are coherent locally and in the sound flow of the ensemble. In particular, I will analyse the technological solutions for the interactions inside the duos.

The Unmapped collective was formed in 2007 and currently is formed by 11 improvisers, using digital and acoustic instruments. The specificity of this ensemble lies in the fact that they perform (almost) always in the configuration of duos of mixed music for more than 10 years. A reflection on these issues has been conducted over the years and I will try to show how these strategies have evolved.


Musidanse – Paris 8 University, France

Is currently a doctoral student at Paris 8 University under the direction of Makis Solomos. He achieved his Master degree in Recherche en Musicologie, cre!ation, musique et socie!te!under the direction of Horacio Vaggione at Paris 8 University in 2011. From March to June 2013, he joined the GMEM Marseille as a trainee in Research and development in computer music and in 2015 he was granted a scholarship for a research period in Campinas University. His training also includes a year of Master (2008) at the Escola Superior of Musica de Catalunya, Barcelona, where he follows the course. In 2007 he finished a degree in composition at the Escola Superior de Musica de Lisboa. In parallel with his university research activities, he has been involved since 2010 in the electroacoustic improvisation group Unmapped and the duo Electrologues, which regularly performs in France and Europe. In 2016 he joins the big improvisation ensemble Le Grand8.