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ACTOR end-Year 1 Workshop

IRCAM, Paris

13-15 July 2019


Event Page

DAY 1 (13 July)

Check-in starting at 8:00 (Entrance lobby in front of Stravinsky room) Coffee 8:30-9:00 (Entrance lobby in front of Stravinsky room)

Plenary session 9:00-11:00 (Stravinsky room)

  • Self-introductions (20') Administrative business: budget, funding, partnership (15' – McAdams)

  • Reminder about committee structure and terms of reference

    • Report from Executive Committee (5' – McAdams)

    • Reports from Training & Mentoring Committee (5' – Noble)

    • Reports from Knowledge Mobilization Committee (5' – Wallmark)

  • Discussion of what is and isn't working in the ACTOR Partnership (60' – McAdams)

  • Aims and procedures of this meeting (5' – McAdams)

    • Who's doing what, when & how?

    • Establish what needs to be done & methodology.

    • Open up new subjects of collaboration.

    • Target potential additional funding opportunities.

    • Keep track of terms used and not understood and who used them for terminology survey. Role of student note-takers.

Coffee break 11:00-11:30 (Gallery, –2)

1st -year results lightening presentations (10') 11:30-13:00 (Stravinsky room)

  • 11:30 A multi-legged taxonomy for ACTOR (Bouliane)

  • 11:40 Analysing piano and chamber music (Hérold)

  • 11:50 Terminology survey (Noble/Wallmark)

  • 12:00 A lexicon to communicate timbre features (Susini/Rosi)

  • 12:10 Sound field studies in music and 21st century orchestration (Radford)

  • 12:20 Optical music recognition of orchestral scores using commercial software (Fujinaga)

  • 12:30 Recording protocols: ODESSA/CORE (de Francisco)

  • 12:40 ODESSA documentary by the OICRM at UMontréal

Lunch 13:00-14:30 (Gallery, –2)

1st -year results lightening presentations 14:30-16:00 (Stravinsky room)

  • 14:30 The state of Orcheil development (Newsome)

  • 14:40 Computer-aided orchestration and artificial intelligence approaches (Esling)

  • 14:50 ACTOR website and future Online Orchestration Resource (Soden)

  • 15:00 Interactive presentation of sound and timbre (Hadjakos)

  • 15:10 Research Ensemble pilot (Hamel)

  • 15:20 Educational Timbre Quiz (Aliberti)

  • 15:30 Timbre analysis in contemporary music (Hasegawa)

  • 15:40 Journal of Orchestration and Timbre Studies (Hasegawa)

Coffee break 16:00-16:30 (Gallery, –2)

Student presentations 16:30-18:30 (Stravinsky room)

  • Nicolas Farmer 16:30-17:00, SMU, Seeing new colors: Devices of Scriabinian and post-Scriabinian orchestration

  • Dorothea Lincke 17:00-17:30, HfM Detmold, Acoustic characterisation of concert halls illustrated by the Salle Claude-Champagne

  • Louis Pisha 17:30-18:00, UCSD, Advancing the state of the art in real-time acoustic modeling

  • and reconstruction for source separation Kit Soden 18:00-18:30, McGill, Orchestrational prolongations and transformations in operatic and symphonic music

Dinner (18:30 - 21:00) - (Gallery, –2)

DAY 2 AM (14 July)

[Abstracts for sessions at the end]

Coffee 8:30

Breakout sessions 9:00-10:45

  • Taxonomies 1 (Stravinsky room)

  • Artificial intelligence (Studio 5)

Coffee break 10:45-11:15

Breakout sessions 11:15-13:00

  • Taxonomies 2 (Stravinsky room)

  • Compositional applications (Studio 5)

Lunch (13:00-14:30) - (Gallery, –2)

DAY 2 PM (14 July)

Breakout sessions 14:30-16:15

  • Recording protocols 1 (Stravinsky room)

  • ACTOR website and Online Orchestration Resource (Studio 5)

Coffee break 16:15-16:45

Breakout sessions 16:45-18:30

  • Recording protocols 2 (Stravinsky room)

  • Timbre semantics (Studio 5)

Dinner cocktail (18:30-20:00) - (Gallery, –2)

Bastille Day fireworks at the Eiffel Tower 23:00

DAY 3 AM (15 July)

Coffee 8:30

Breakout sessions 9:00-10:45

  • 20th-21st analysis 1 (Stravinsky room)

  • Composer-performer orchestration research ensembles (Studio 5)

Coffee break 10:45-11:15

Breakout sessions 11:15-13:00

  • 20th-21st C analysis 2 (Stravinsky room)

  • Generative Orchestration (Studio 5)

Lunch (13:00-14:30) - (Gallery, –2)

DAY 3 PM (15 July)

Breakout sessions 14:30-16:30

  • OrchView score annotation platform (Stravinsky room)

  • Performance applications (Studio 5)

  • 18th-19th C analysis (Shannon room)

Wrap up 16:30-18:00 (Stravinsky room)

  • Discussion on JOTS

  • Open research questions

  • Potential funding calls for collaborative proposals

END OF DAY 3 (18:00)


Orchestration Analysis Taxonomies (Bouliane/McAdams) [Stravinsky room] Orchestration can be studied or practiced from different perspectives. One of the important ideas of the ACTOR project is to develop coherent, organized perspectives of analysis and study which, combined together, can contribute to a better understanding of orchestration in general and of specific methods used and phenomena perceived in particular. We will present a common structure for annotations as a potent method of investigation to foster analysis, discussion, sharing and dissemination of knowledge on orchestration. Several legs of analysis have been proposed that can each contribute to a better global understanding of Orchestration and that could be developed more or less concurrently.Two specific legs will be presented in detail. Orchestral effects related to auditory grouping form a taxonomy of perception. It classifies and demonstrates the psychoacoustic/acoustic consequences of orchestration based on concurrent, sequential and segmental auditory grouping processes: how we group acoustic information into "events", perceptually connect successive events into streams, textures or strata, and hierarchically segment sequential structures into smaller- and larger-scale units. Orchestration techniques derived from compositional and pedagogical practice form a taxonomy of compositional actions. They comprise a comprehensive listing of actual techniques an orchestrator might use or has used.

Artificial intelligence and generative models (Esling) [Studio 5] The focus of the working group will be to discuss the amazing wealth of current research in artificial intelligence and machine learning, and how these can be efficiently leveraged in the context of musical orchestration. The major framework that will be discussed revolves around generative models, as recent work at IRCAM has produced deep variational learning with multivariate, multimodal, and multi-scale approaches, in order to bridge symbolic, signal, and perceptual information on creative processes into a joint information space. These models should be developed through the analysis of musical orchestration, which lies at the intersection between the symbol (score), signal (recording), and perceptual representations. Furthermore, as current research focuses on the generation of a single content, studying the interactions between different generated elements along with their different time scales represents the next paramount challenge in generative models. Hence, the working group will be dedicated to opening up new paths and designing new tools for AI applied to orchestration, while trying to clarify how this can be instantiated and successfully implemented through pragmatic collaborative projects in the near future.

Compositional applications of timbre and orchestration research (Noble) [Studio 5] This working group will explore compositional applications of inter/multi/transdisciplinary research on timbre and orchestration, as represented in the creative output of ACTOR members. Willing participants are invited to share scores and recordings of their works, and to briefly describe how research in any field(s) related to timbre and orchestration may inform their compositional processes. We will then have an open discussion about how we can steer ACTOR activities in directions that will benefit composers.

Recording Protocols for the Orchestral Distribution Effects in Sound, Space and Acoustics and Composer-performer Orchestration Research Ensemble projects (de Francisco) [Stravinsky room] ODESSA is a collaborative project aiming to study orchestral blending effects, examining how instrumental sounds are sculpted by the conductor, the musicians and the hall acoustics, and how the sound changes when heard and recorded from different perspectives. Under the combined leadership of four researchers of ACTOR partner institutions, the ODESSA project consisted of a complex multitrack recording of the Orchestre de l’Université de Montréal performing excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony, “Pathétique”. More than 50 microphones were used in a combination of close microphone pick-up and ambient recording. Concurrently, the acoustical balance of the instruments was examined employing techniques such as 3D intensity probes and an acoustic camera. Excerpts of the recording of varying instrumental combinations are used as listening test stimuli with the purpose of investigating timbral blending effects. Additionally, the CORE project at UCSD sought to establish a recording protocol for the Composer-performer Orchestration Research Ensembles piloted by UBC in 2018-2019 and to be further developed by UC San Diego, McGill, UMontréal and UToronto in 2019-2020. The global aim of this session is to explain certain concepts of sound and recording, on which the ACTOR recordings are based, and most importantly to do a crash course in critical listening, as we work through the recorded material in multitrack recordings.

ACTOR website and Online Orchestration Resource (Soden, Noble) [Studio 5] The ACTOR website represents a significant portion of the public face of ACTOR. This working group will present the current state of the website, including private and public pages, blog posts, news updates, partner information, and so forth, and invite open discussion to assess how well the website is meeting the needs of ACTOR members. The Online Orchestration Resource (OOR) represents one of ACTOR's cornerstone outputs and is slated to be fully embedded in the ACTOR website. Its format, content, and future directions will be further topics of discussion.

Semantic Dimensions of Timbre and Orchestration (Wallmark/Noble) [Studio 5] Work by ACTOR members dealing with semantic, metaphorical, and associative aspects of timbre and orchestration will be presented. Various methods are represented in this research, including corpus analysis, acoustical analysis, perceptual studies, and interactive software development, each of which represents a valuable perspective on a notoriously difficult subject. Summary presentations will be followed by open discussion on the potential, pitfalls, and methodological peculiarities of musical semantics research.

Timbre analysis in 20th (and maybe 21st) Century music (Hasegawa/Michel) [Stravinsky room] The focus of the working group will be on the development of two collaborative projects: (1) analytical tools to describe composite timbres in contemporary music by Rebecca Saunders, Chaya Czernowin, Pascale Criton, and others (led by Robert Hasegawa) and (2) the analysis and performance practice of Grisey's Les espaces acoustiques including rehearsal footage and interviews with conductor Pierre-Andre Valade (led by Pierre Michel). Additional propositions for collaborative research on the general topic of timbre analysis of 20th-century and contemporary music can also be proposed for discussion during this session.

Composer-performer Orchestration Research Ensembles (CORE) (Reynolds/Hamel) [Studio 5] This working group will discuss the initial steps made at University of British Columbia and UC San Diego during 2018-19. Composer-performer Orchestration Research Ensembles are a unique way for composers and performers to experiment with orchestration in a controlled environment. We will discuss the first year of the ACTOR project (primarily at UBC and UCSD), the ensemble recording specifications being developed, and the works written by graduate students at UBC, performed and recorded by the ensemble. We will discuss the next phase of the project involving compositions written at all five collaborating institutions: written for the same instrumental ensemble (violin, bass clarinet, trombone and vibraphone plus small percussion) and recorded using identical recording specifications, beginning in 2019-2020. We will develop strategies for sharing compositions between institutions so that the works can have multiple performances with different ensembles in different acoustic spaces. We will discuss recommendations for maximizing consistency between institutions and investigate analysis strategies so as to compare the works composed, performed and recorded at different institutions. Additional agenda items will include how the size and nature of the common ensembles will develop over time and what part electro-acoustic resources will play.

Generative orchestration (Orchidea) (Cella) [Studio 5] The focus of the working group will both consider the current state of research and tools for computer-aided orchestration and will discuss future directions and tools on this topic. Several computational approaches for musical orchestration have been proposed in the literature in which the problem is modelled as the search for relevant sound combinations within large instrument sample databases that could match a given sound target. However, all these approaches are bound to “time-blind” features, by the use of averaged descriptors over the whole spectrum, and do not account for the micro-temporal structures that are crucial in the perception of musical timbre. Also, this "projective orchestration" approach is far from being the only direction that can be explored in the domain. Hence, the working group will be dedicated to opening up new paths and designing new tools for orchestration, while trying to clarify how this can be instantiated and successfully implemented through pragmatic collaborative projects in the near future.

Demonstration of the OrchView score annotation platform (Baril/Bohelay) [Stravinsky room] OrchView is a software dedicated to orchestration analysis and research. It includes a large number of advanced tools for music annotation and reads PDF scores as well as MusicXML. The first half of the presentation will explain OrchView’s features, how it was conceived, and how it connects to the Orchard database. The second half will consist of a software demonstration of the most recent version.

Instrumental timbre and applications in music performance (Delisle/Hérold) [Studio 5] This working group will focus on practical aspects of music performance and the ways instrumental timbre can be used in order to enhance musical expressivity and the perception of formal and/or semantic aspects of music. We suggest a working session with musical instruments, but there will also be room to explore the various conceptions of timbre among instrumental families (strings, wind instruments, piano), and to discuss the role of specific aspects of timbre in music performance, such as the use of different vibratos, attacks, spectral variations, and dynamics.

Orchestration analysis in 18th-Century and 19th-Century music (McClelland/Lee) [Shannon room] This working group will consider the current state of research into orchestration and timbre in 18th- and 19th-century music and identify key questions that might be investigated, through individual or collaborative projects. Examples of topics for discussion might include the relationships between orchestration/timbre and the projection of large-scale musical form, the identification of formal functions, the communication of musical meaning, the creation of distinctive compositional language, and aesthetic discourses of timbre and sound.