Composer/keyboardist/producer Elodie Lauten creates operas, music for dance and theatre, orchestral, chamber and instrumental music. Not a household name, she is however widely recognized by historians as a leading figure of post-minimalism and a force on the new music scene, with 20 releases on a number of labels.

Her opera Waking in New York, Portrait of Allen Ginsberg was presented by the New York City Opera (2004 VOX and Friends) in May 2004, after being released on 4Tay, following three well-received productions. OrfReo, a new opera for Baroque ensemble was premiered at Merkin Hall by the Queen's Chamber Band, whose New Music Alive CD (released on Capstone in 2004) includes Lauten's The Architect. The Orfreo CD was released in December 2004 on Studio 21. In September 2004 Lauten was composer-in-residence at Hope College, MI. Lauten's Symphony 2001, was premiered in February 2003 by the SEM Orchestra in New York. In 1999, Lauten's Deus ex Machina Cycle for voices and Baroque ensemble (4Tay) received strong critical acclaim in the US and Europe. Lauten's Variations On The Orange Cycle (Lovely Music, 1998) was included in Chamber Music America's list of 100 best works of the 20th century.

Born in Paris, France, she was classically trained as a pianist since age 7. She received a Master's in composition from New York University where she studied Western composition with Dinu Ghezzo and Indian classical music with Ahkmal Parwez. Daughter of jazz pianist/drummer Errol Parker, she is also a fluent improviser. She became an American citizen in 1984 and has lived in New York since the early seventies

Visit Elodie Lauten's Web Site
Saturday, June 24, 2006
Revenge of the Nerds

Guided by William Duckworth’s excellent Virtual Music – How the Web Got Wired for Sound, I actually took the time to explore some of the sites and sounds that are currently happening in web-based music.

In my search, the DJ DangerMouse phenomenon stood out: DangerMouse, who likes to appear in a pink fuzzy costume, had the nerve to remix the Beatles with a rapper without any permission and release the result on the internet. The product was wildly successful. After being sued by the recording industry, he has now achieved major status as an award-winning producer, as witnessed by the New York Times article published last week.

We must face the reality that a new leading edge in music is expressing itself on the internet. This means discarding many of the values that we once held dear:
1.Sound quality,‘good sound’ and acoustics in general are completely irrelevant to the medium. 2.Originality of creation of the material is also irrelevant, as people feel free to borrow, steal, share, and collage over any existing material from any source. 3. Individual ownership of a musical composition is becoming obsolete, as people often team up, as scientists would, or reuse material created by others, crediting them – as the Plunderphonics guy whose iconoclastic mixing combinations broke new grounds in the field of creative recycling.

Why don’t you and I do more with internet-based music? Because solving technical problems can get in the way of the creative process, as opposed to encouraging it. Many savvy computer users, still concerned with avoiding viruses, are not so keen on downloading some buggy unknown piece of soft-who knows where… Also, the delay effect – the fact that a signal once transmitted long distance comes back with a delay or ‘latency’, as demonstrated by Pauline Oliveros who actually took the trouble, with a couple of technicians, to send a signal to the Moon and back, finding that the sound delay was about 1.8 seconds – which is, from a musical standpoint, a very, very long delay. Some of the more successful web pieces have actually used latency as a parameter. I look forward to a time when this open jamming process can actually occur painlessly and we can all partake in the emergence of this new form.

I can’t help thinking of this as a ‘revenge of the nerds': the computer tekkies who used to work behind the scene are now at the forefront of what’s happening, because they are the ones who can make it work.

In this new conceptual music medium, form appears to be more important than content: a piece is not appreciated for its sound or its author’s style, but for its cleverness or freshness, possibly its humor or generally the ideas it offers or simply the fact that it happened despite a technically challenging environment. It is process-oriented composition, music of the mind, music that makes you feel smart (could make you smart as well, as it is by no means facile). Also much appreciated is the interactivity component: the sharing attitude and the collective creative process – but again this may change as the technology advances. One thing we can count on is the constant evolution of the technology. In fact, this conceptual web music may be a historic phenomenon that will be over soon or the budding stage of a huge new trend, technology-driven music-making.

This approach takes after John Cage’s attitude of non-judgmental openness to any attempt to silence that becomes sound, but one must also keep in mind that Tod Machover’s interactive sound environment the Brain Opera - a 3 million dollar mammoth endeavor- was handled like a scientific research project. It could easily be considered the most successful large-scale music project of the 90s, with a world tour starting with Lincoln Center, and now permanently installed in Vienna.

I see a parallel between the reign of the serialists and their followers and the new unexpected reign on the web of post-Cageans experimentalists. It’s funny, though, I always thought that despite his mathematical approach, Schoenberg always managed to make a piece ‘sound good’ so to speak, and not be a bother to listen to. Same with Cage: somehow he made all his ‘musical’ pieces rather pleasant to listen to. But for their followers, those of Schoenberg (who as you know, happened to be Cage’s official composition teacher) and those of Cage, it is not always true. Maybe they take the method - or the lack of it - to the letter? Who knows. For music to sound good seems 'démodé' to the new avant-garde, just no longer a valid parameter of composition.