THE IDEA BEHIND IDEA
The Artistic Issues
Just like the title suggests, as do the titles of the three movements that compose it, IDEA is inspired by the thought process, the way in which an idea is “born” without being a musical program.
The first part, Neural Networks, refers to the concept we generally associate with thought—biological or artificial—like human/animal brains or artificial intelligence machines. In the case of a biological neural network, the Synaptic Signals evoked in the second movement are chemical and electric.
Does the composer Sampo Haapamäki hope that, catalyzed by the “alchemy between the ensemble and the electronics that bathe the listener’s brain, the listening process for IDEA will be able to awake at least one phenomena that is close to cerebral activity (emotional and/or rational) like the Reborn Resolutions of the third, final, movement.”
FOLLOW THE LEADER!
The Technological Issues
While visiting the Sound Museum in Vienna during the spring of 2017, Sampo Haapamäki discovered the installation Virtual Conductor: a conductor simulator. This installation lets the visitor use the baton to lead, using the tempo of her choice, a virtual version of the Vienna Philharmonic projected on a screen. The repertoire is made up of big classical works like The Blue Danube by Johann Strauss. For the composer, this museum experience confirmed the importance of capturing the conductor’s movements to vary the length of time (for example changing the tempo or the numbering of a measure), even during a concert, and to set off sound files and processing events of a mixed work in real-time.
Sampo Haapamäki, Serge Lemouton, Frédéric Bevilacqua in IRCAM Studio © Déborah Lopatin
At IRCAM, Sampo Haapamäki and the computer music designer who works with him, Serge Lemouton, naturally looked to the ISMM team (Interaction Sound Music Movement) that has developed motion sensors for 15 years. Lemouton works closely with Frédéric Bevilacqua, the team head, who has developed Gesture Follower since 2005; a software program that follows and analyzes movements, later using the Mubu tools for Max developed by Riccardi Borghesi, Diemo Schwarz, and Norbert Schnell. Concerning the sensor itself, it will be the R-IoT sensor developed by Emmanuel Fléty. Serge Lemouton has already worked with these motion capture technologies on several past projects, but IDEA will be the first time he works with motion capture of the conductor.
Christian Karlsen in IRCAM Studio © Déborah Lopatin
In January 2018, the first tests began at IRCAM: Lemouton recorded data from the motion following of three students in conducting from the Conservatoire national supérieur de musique et de danse de Paris, sometimes without an orchestra. A little later, the tests were done again, but this time at the conservatory with the composer and an orchestra to fine-tune the analysis of the gestures in situ.
In May and June 2018, it was Christian Karlsen’s turn. Christian Karlsen is the conductor who led the International Contemporary Ensemble for premiere on July 5, 2018 at the Viitasaari church during the Time of Music Festival. Karlsen spent 4 days in the basement of IRCAM with a R-IoT sensor attached to his right hand, following even the most minute gestures. At the end of this intense session, Karlsen conducted the entire score in the studio, without an ensemble, to record the data from his movements throughout the work. These data were used during the performance. Used as a reference point, their comparison with data collected in real-time enable the computer to follow the score via the Antescofo software program developed by the IRCAM-STMS Musical Representations team. As Sampo Haapamäki said,
“the work periods varied considerably during IDEA and the composition uses a large array of time signatures, sometimes even micro measures and additives, as well as temporal accelerations and decelerations.” Finding one’s place in the musical flow is crucial for the fluidity of the performance.
Photo: Christian Karlsen conducting ICE ensemble at the premiere of Sampo Haapamäki's IDEA © Time of Music
PROJECTS AT IRCAM
Logo (2013) for violin and electronics for 9 channels (produced during Cursus 1 under Grégoire Lorieux), 6 minutes.
IDEA (2018) for ensemble of 11 musicians and electronics diffused on 8 channels, commissioned by the festival Time of Music and IRCAM, supported by the European Union ULYSSES Network (Creative Europe), with the computer music designer Serge Lemouton, 27 minutes.
Composer (b. 1979)
Sampo Haapamäki studied composition at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki with Tapio Nevanlinna and Veli-Matti Puumala, until obtaining his Master’s degree in 2005. He continued his education with Tristan Murail a...