Sheng! L'orgue à bouche - 10th seminar [live]

Analyse acoustique de l'orgue à bouche
Tue 13 April 2021,
2:30 p.m.- 5:30 p.m.
salle Stravinsky

Live on Youtube

The afternoon will be divided into two sessions:

A comparison of sheng and khene acoustics: What we found out with the visualization of reed vibration, and new perspectives on previous results
with René Caussé (IRCAM - STMS)

The khene and the sheng both belong to the family of free-reed instruments. They present several differences in their structure (number of pipes, reed position, the embouchure and its link to the base, etc.), and in the relationship between the resonant frequencies of their pipes and of the associated reeds. One of the principal consequences of these differences is noticeable in the spectral composition of the resulting sounds.

In the second part of this talk, we will come back to several results presented earlier in this seminar. In particular, the influence of pipe length on the reed oscillation, and the role of sheng "resonators".

Finally, a few visualizations of reed vibration will be presented, and the usefulness of these visualizations will be addressed, for a better comprehension of the way the instrument works, but also for the study of various playing techniques.

Spectral characteristics of sheng tones: between interactions, adaptations, and instrumental technique
with Julie Delisle (Université de Montréal) and Mikhail Malt (IReMus/IRCAM)

If the sound of sheng is without any doubt a living thing, for some sheng musicians, the instrument itself lives its own life. Because of its structural properties, of its self-imposed constraints, and of the way it reacts to the energy brought by the musician's breathing. Our first research results will be the subject of this presentation, as a work in progress. They were obtained following an approach based on an analysis of the audio signal, with the aim of characterizing in acoustical terms the indicators of this constant interaction between the sheng and the person who brings it to life.

The collaboration with two very skilled musicians, experts of the sheng, Wu Wei and Li Li-Chin, was the key to  become more familiar with the sheng aesthetics and instrumental technique, but also with the challenges they bring with them, in the context of daily practice as well as while experiencing compositional tendencies that lead sheng musicians to constantly develop new aspects of their playing, among them polyphony. In addition, a series of sound samples were recorded by Li Li-Chin, grouping individual notes, intervals and combinations of notes, and various articulations and techniques to perform tone inflections and modulations. These samples were analyzed with the help of different algorithms for the extraction of timbre descriptors.

First, we will address the principal spectral characteristics of sheng timbre, including harmonicity and roughness, as well as temporal aspects. Then we will further explore the polyphonic capabilities of the instrument, and the phenomena occurring when several pipes are simultaneously set into vibration. In the last part of this talk, several parameters and aspects of sheng instrumental technique will be discussed, and we will explore their acoustical properties and possible variations.

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With support of IReMus, CNRS, LAM, Collègium Musicæ, DRAC Ile-de-France et SACEM