Historical electronic music by Andrew Bentley 2

Andrew Bentley: Bowing (1978)

This was the second piece I made in the Experimental Studio of Finnish Radio, in 1978. Being almost entirely synthesised, it shows a shift of interest in my work from tape techniques to (analogue) sound synthesis and an attempt to bring synthesis to a level that is timbrally sophisticated and satisfying to the ear. The quality of sound in a stroke of the violin bow was some kind of ”ideal”, or target to live up to, but there are is no real bowing used in this piece, only synthetic.


Picture caption: the young electronic musician’s first encounter with the studio, Nov 1978

Original programme note: ”There exist two polar opposites: a note that is moving in a completely random manner, and a note that is, melodically speaking, of fixed pitch. Somewhere in between there lies the glissando, paradoxically stationary and in motion at the same time. Even if a note is of fixed pitch, however, it can be moving internally and timbrally in many ways: one single bow-stroke on a violin, for instance, is fantastically rich in this kind of internal movement. In electronic music these ”allures” as we call them can represent the difference between a dead sound and a living one.”

Mimicking the Groupe de Recherches Musicales (GRM) style of a short synopsis describing the progression of the piece, I wrote an alternative programme note for the Nordic Seminar on Electronic Music, held in Liisankatu Studios, Helsinki in 1978:

  • glissando contained within a timbral articulation
  • discontinous pulsations with supporting accents
  • arrestation (i) glissando
  • virtuoso cadenza dissects (and insects)
  • bowing of falling phases
  • continuously rising scales redress the balance
  • arrestation (ii)
  • articulation of near opposites
  • final glissando: expectation/instability

f.p. Helsinki Cathedral, in a Finnish Radio Season Concert, February 1978
then at York University, UEA Norwich, Universities of Durham and Edinburgh, Cycle Acousmatique of the GRM Paris
broadcasts in France (2), Australia, Moscow, Sweden, Finland
(information as of Dec 1980)