ANALOGUE SYNTHESIZER PERFORMANCE PRACTICE
Abstract: This paper argues that despite the increasing popularity of analogue (subtractive) synthesizers, in-depth studies of synthesizer performance practice in popular and experimental music are under-represented in academic research. Special features of the analogue synthesizer are briefly defined within the broader context of electronic music instrument research. By examining recordings of live and online video synthesizer performances, the paper explores different strategies for technology-centred audiovisual analysis of music. Where instruments can be clearly defined (as in the case of most non-modular or semi-modular synthesizers), in-depth analyses of performance practice are presented. Each analysis reveals the specific framework and affordances of the synthesizer used in each case, and the different musical approaches to the same instrument across a range of video performances. Three main modes of performance practice are identified: keyboard-centred, parameter-centred (spectral) and sequencer-driven. Musical examples are used to demonstrate how modes of performance practice overlap, often incorporating elements of two or more categories.
Bio: Ewan Stefani is a composer, musician and academic based in the UK. He has been composing with synthesizers, computers and tape recorders since the late 1980s. As a composer and performer he has worked closely with a broad cross-section of collaborators including Christophe de Bézenac, Stephen Altoft, Paul Hession, Will Baldry, studio Césaré, and Centre de vidéo-danse de Bourgogne. His solo pieces have been performed on BBC Radio 3 and at various international conferences and festivals. As an academic, the main focus for his research is on the analogue synthesizer viewed from the perspectives of composer, musicologist, and performer.