Re: Polphony

Richard Povall (
Thu, 15 May 1997 16:25:09 -0400

Intrigued and largely in agreement with Mark's comments about compositional
form, and particularly the use of traditional formal shapes and
expressions. I also come from a classical music compositional background,
and therefore pay a particular kind of attention to form and formal
relationships almost by second nature. (I think artists coming from other
kinds of backgrounds pay other kinds of attention to different formal
relationships - I'm not trying to claim any kind of primacy here!!) I do
think there are expressions of more contemporary forms that can also apply
to "muchomedia" (thanks for reviving that phrase mark) - extended canon and
phase relationships, multiphonics and multi-polyphony, and yes, I think
Mark is right to suggest that monody can be expressed through multiple

The whole issue of the relationship of many media and many points of
simultaneous view on the stage, and how audiences percieve those
relationships is always the single most difficult aspect of working in this
area (well, perhaps I exaggerate - but it's certainly one of the most
difficult issues), and it seems to be one that is often not paid too much
attention to. It's true that viewers in the late 90s see things entirely
differently than even 10 or 15 years ago (when I, for one, received my
early formal training). There's no real doubt that audiences are entirely
capable of accepting multiple strands of visual and aural stimuli - but our
sense of control over these multiple strands and how to shape them and the
way they work with one another seems complicated by this, rather than made

So many of the interactive environments I make also tend to work well with
a solo performer, but not with groups of performers on stage. The clear
relationships between a single dancer and his/her interactive environment
seem to work so much better than with ensembles. But I may be completely
wrong about this - I know others who do work with ensembles with great

Any other experiences?


R i c h a r d P o v a l l
Assoc. Prof of Computer Music and New Media
MPO Box 0332 TIMARA/Studio 5
Oberlin, OH 44074-0332 USA Oberlin Conservatory of Music
Voice: +1.216.775.1016 Oberlin College
Fax: +1.216.775.8942 Oberlin, OH 44074 USA
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