Historical Electronic Music by Andrew Bentley
I started to study electronic music at the Electronic Music Studio of the University of York, UK, in 1971, under Richard Orton, one of the pioneers of electronic music in Britain. My contemporaries at York during the years 1970-76 included a few persons who went on to become famous names of the electroacoustic music scene, especially for acousmatic music, as tape music later came to be called. These people included Trevor Wishart, Martin Wesley-Smith, Denis Smalley and Jonty Harrison. Some fellow students of that era—including John Cardale, Martin Gellhorn and Richard Pickett, who contributed to the triple vinyl album Electronic Music from York (YES 2-4)—seem not have continued actively in the electroacoustic genre. Electronic music education in York started in 1968 (1) and at the outset the emphasis was on live electronic music. York students Richard Bernas, Graham Hearn, Stuart Jones and Michael Robinson were involved in electronic music at the university prior to my arrival and participated in the work of the London/York ensemble Gentle Fire. Tape music took over as the prevalent trend in the York studio in the early 1970’s.
I made a number of electroacoustic music pieces in the tape music genre between 1972 and 1986, and the first of these were made in York. I also worked with live electronics and electronic improvisation pieces during this same period. I continued to work in live electronic genres during the twenty years leading up to the present day (2017).
(1) Davies, Hugh, Gentle Fire: An Early Approach to Live Electronic Music, Leonardo Music Journal Vol 11. pp. 53-60, 2001
Andrew Bentley: Carillon (1977)
“Carillon (1977) was the first piece of mine to be made in Finland, after arriving from the UK in August 1976, and after first having to build a studio there in which to work. It was composed primarily using material brought from the York University studio, as well as some bells from the Yle archive. The name of the piece refers to a church instrument comprising a set of bells operated from a keyboard. I was fascinated by the possibility of “interfering” with a sound which is normally fixed and immutable, overcoming its utilitarian aspects and making it more virtuosic and ornamental through the use of technology. The bells are transformed at the beginning of the piece by the Springer machine (Tempophon) and layered with delays. Other sounds are synthesized with the EMS VCS3 Putney, using amplitude modulation among other techniques. I think I might also have used a Walsh function sequencer for some of the repetitive patterns. Some distortion is used in the synthesis to bring attack noise close to the sound of the bell attacks. I was already deeply into my foray into tape music at the time I made this piece, but it nevertheless suffers from several technical and formal limitations, some of which were my fault and some just the limitations of the era and having a rather primitive studio to work in. It received an honorable mention in the Russolo competition in 1979, and was programmed by François Bayle, together with Bowing, in the Cycle Acousmatique concert series in 1980.”
f.p. Bourges Festival 1977
then at UEA Norwich, Nordic Seminar Helsinki, Fylkingen Stockholm, Varese Italy, Cycle Acousmatique of the GRM Paris, Salzburg Festival and Illinois
broadcasts in Finland, Sweden, France (2), Australia, Italy
awarded a Menzione D´honore in the I Concorso Internationale di Luigi Russolo, Varese Italy 1979
chosen for inclusion in the Gaudeamus International Composers’ Workshop 1978
(intormation as of Dec 1980)