Premiered by Syzygy Ensemble at the Melbourne Recital Centre. For Laila Engle (flutes), Robin Henry (clarinets), Jenny Khafagi (violin), Campbell Banks (cello), Leigh Harrold (piano) + Electronics. 21:34
This piece was made possible by the genrosity of patrons Mark Lazarus and Kingsley Gee.
Recording made at ABC Iwaki Auditorium, with sound engineer Chris Lawson
“This concert also presented the world premiere of Emile Frankel’s piece Tracecore, which was magnificent. The introduction of electronic sound and amplification was used along with the full ensemble. The piece consisted of simple melodic ideas counterbalanced with a high level of technique and intricate rhythms. Using simple foot stomps on the hardwood floors of the Salon of the MRC was clever; whilst using the artists’ abilities to hum simple drones rounded the piece into one of pure perfection.” -- Nicholas Collins, Cutcommon Magazine
Chart pop is recorded through a live-streamer’s laptop or camera microphone. Lyrics become nearly indiscernible and the spectrum of the music is muddied. For me, these recordings sound readily intimate - music through the walls of your neighbour’s house, music heard from the bathroom of a party. I wanted to emphasise this intimacy but also the voyeurism of streaming culture. I used the basic autotune software Melodyne to contrast a machine heard and interpreted version of these songs, against my own listening. The ubiquitous ‘Audio to Midi’ algorithm on many DAW’s has its own set of listening biases. In my animation, humanoid avatars float and move with the sound, lyrics from the music hanging off them and flying in an imagined wind.
“At the end of last year, we went into the ABC studio to record Emile Frankel’s brand new work, ‘Tracecore’. Tomorrow at 6pm will be its world premiere, and we are excited to present it to you. Our cellist, Campbell Banks, interviewed Emile about the development process.
CB: How did this commission come about?
EF: This commission came about through the combined generosity of Syzygy Ensemble, MarkLazarus and Kingsley Gee. Many years ago, when I was in my last year of a Bachelor of Music at the University of Melbourne, I was lucky to have a piece workshopped by Syzygy Ensemble. I’m deeply grateful to them for remembering my work, reaching out, and for the support and kindness of Mark and Kingsley.
CB: What was your motivation/inspiration for this composition?
EF: I was inspired by what is increasingly becoming an everyday online experience - sharing sound and listening with others who choose to turn on their camera and make public their lives. Watching streaming video sites like Twitch, I noticed in the background of video games and other activities the constant presence of sparkling pop and royalty-free music. I was enchanted by the sound of this music exiting a cheap speaker, and entering the low-quality microphone of a phone or laptop. Listening to music from tiny speakers distorts sound in unique ways: upper frequencies become haunting, and the sound itself becomes reflective of a shared yet hollow intimacy. Somehow this timbral quality captures the tenderness of being alone in your bedroom plugged in online, and the sound of the isolated yet shared internet life we subscribe to.
CB: What can audiences expect to hear?
EF: Audiences can expect to hear both direct recordings and fictional recreations of music from these intimate bedroom spaces. I arranged and orchestrated algorithmic interpretations of this music, and the process became both an act of replication, and also wild imagination: taking a soft and near indiscernible sound and imagining what it might be if it was newly vibrant - played on real instruments by wonderful players within the wooden walls of the Melbourne Recital Centre.
CB: your work will be performed alongside music by Debussy, Jolivet and Mantovani. How do you feel about this company and how do you see your music in relation to theirs?
EF: What might be a shared experience of all listening, is that we tend to find special connections between vastly different musical pieces. But thinking particularly about Debussy and his musical fascination with the softness and subtle ness of natural cloud formations - I can see a parallel where my music is supported instead by a digital cloud, and supported not by the ‘exotic’, but by a re-imagining of very mundane everyday sounds. I think that there is a certain romanticism in the mundane which Mantovani finds. I indulge in it as well, but I have attempted to twist a little bit.”