By now, the electronic music has become a real and legitimate part of our musical culture. We consider all the problems of creative work, production specifics related to the newest and most expensive equipment, self-assertion of the genre and its creators in the context of the traditional musical thinking rested upon acoustic nature of the tone (including the avant-garde!) to be a rather topical question. This article by Lilia Suslova is devoted to the creative work of the leading master of this direction in this country - Edward Artemiev - will satisfy, to some extend, as we hope, our readers' interest and curiosity toward electronic music.
This musician is traditionally regarded first of all as a popular film composer. Indeed, Edward Artemiev composed music for more than 150 feature films in this country and also abroad, plus many documentaries and cartoons, theatrical, radio and television plays. Among the directors he worked with we find famous names: A. Tarkovsky, N. Mikhalkov, S. Samsonov, A. Konchalovsky, V. Abdrashitov.
However, the centre of the composer's aspiration has become electronic music as pure art. (At the same time it should be noticed: the both lines have not been honoured with our musicologists, they somehow passed them by...) The work in this field starting from the very first steps (the beginning of the 60s) meant a breakthrough into some new worlds of sounds, discovering of other, different from the traditional music forms of spatial-temporal and dynamic organisation of the material. Working with synthesizers and computers of different generations and models, the composer gradually, step by step was laying the foundation of new timbre inflexion, disclosing spheres of expressiveness inside the sound itself, new combinations of electronic and acoustic soundings, modelling spatial sounding effects.
The path, which Artemiev has chosen and has been following for many years is far not so easy. One should have possessed a marvellous gift of foresight to see vast horizons of the music of computer age behind the first steps of musical experiments on the primitive electronic devices generating sounds.
As is well known, electronic music in this country was paving its way with much trouble: it was regarded as a non-musical phenomenon, purely technical, and only contemporary creative experience was able to overcome this view. The isolation from the achievements abroad, the low level of provision with equipment for recording and reproduction of the sound, inaccessibility for the corresponding theoretical works also had their negative effects. In essence, electronic music in this country was developed mainly by the efforts of single devotees and did not have (in contrast to that abroad) an unbroken ascending line of evolutionary development. Let us remind the names of such devotees.
L.S.Termen - the patriarch of musical electronics, a talented physicist, the creator of the termenvox - unsurpassed till now in the family of performing electronic instruments (owing to its keen sound control options); └.└.Volodin - a big scientist in the field of electronic sound synthesis, the designer of a whole series of new instruments; E.└.Sholpo - an engineer who created the first electronic synthesizer - variaphone; E. └.Murzin - an outstanding inventor, the moulder of the unique photo-electronic synthesiser (└NS), the founder of the Experimental studio of electronic music in Moscow. Today, in the same list we place the name of E.Artemiev - the President of the Russian association of electronic and acoustic music. He maintains wide international contacts, attends the festivals of electronic music where his creative works are heard as well, co-operates with the recording companies and cinema studios of France and the Netherlands, the USA and Sweden, and of other countries, participates in the activities of the International confederation of electronic and acoustic music, is a member of the editorial boards of some foreign magazines.
Edward Artemiev was born in 1937 in Novosibirsk. In 1953 he enters the Moscow choral college. His first teacher on composition was M.Partskhaladze, who organised in the college in those years an optional course of composition. "Artemiev, - recalls the composer, - spoke amazingly too little and stood out among his fellows with his notable firmness of purpose and efficiency. Tasks on composition were to narrow for him. Rich creative fantasy, a passion to experiments in the field of musical means of work are the characteristic features of Artemiev in the period of our studies". Really, non-traditionality of creative thinking, passion for sounding colourfulness, an interest for unusual timbres and timbre combinations were revealed during the years of studying of the future composer.
1956-1960 - the period of study in Moscow conservatory in the field of composition at Yu.Shaporin and N.Sidel'nikov. As a diploma work the young man has presented an oratorium "I was killed near Rzhev" based on the poetry of A.Tvardovsky for baritone, mixed choir and orchestra, choir cycle and a concert for an alt. "The oratoria, as well as the following suite for a symphony orchestra "Singing and Dancing Rings", were marked by a general expressionist direction of the music" (Yu.Tiulin), aspiration to a "dynamization" of the expressive means (complication by a timbre variationism). Later, when the composer estimated his first opuses, he remarked there an influence of the creative works of impressionists - Debussy, Ravel, and also young Stravinsky, which he was fond of in the conservatory period. "I was always attracted by the timbre in music, - says Artemiev. - And namely from the impressionists ... I have studied the art of colourite, fixation of the finest moods, fleeting impressions, transference of a sound landscape. Still, it is not correct to think that the music of impressions, with its bright colours has an indistinct form. Namely from Debussy's music I have studied the accuracy of construction."
Meeting E.Murzin after graduating from the conservatory has predetermined further creative destiny of the composer. A talented scientist and passionate music lover, E.Murzin became his teacher in electronics, acoustics; he has joined the beginner-author to exact sciences, electronic technology, practice of stereo sound recording. Artemiev becomes one of the most active and keen members of the electronic studio - young enthusiasts, having united around E.Murzin in the beginning of the sixties. One can say, that the history of the native electronic music began from putting into practice his electronic device - the ANS synthesizer, named so after A.N.Skriabin. First creative experiments on the ANS has performed composer A.Volkonsky (1958), and a little bit later the work with the synthesizer was began by O.Buloshkin, E.Artemiev, A.Nemtin, S.Kreichi, S.Gubaidullina, A.Schnitke, E.Denisov, Sh.Kallosh. So, let us consider the experiments of the scientist a little bit more in detail.
His new device E.Murzin has named "the photoelectronic optical synthesizer of sound". It is based on a photoelectronic device. Photoelectronic principle of synthesis, used by E.Murzin, implies the graphic imaging of soundings on a special plate, covered by a solid layer of black colour, which he has very exactly called "the score". Before the composer is a row of levers, on the end of every one of which is a chisel. In the needful places the colour could be removed (with the chisels), and then one could get a system of splits of a definite configurations: more rich sound required to draw a line (instead of a point), and a chord required to put several points in different places. Received this way splits, points and lines served for a regulation of brightness of light rays, directed on photoelements through rotating discs - frequency modulators. By the effect of light there appeared electric current, which was later transformed into current. "The Score" also played a role of operative memory, letting composer to make various changes in the character of created sound signals, i.e. to correct the sound picture in accordance with the author idea.
Optical sound generators of the ANS synthesizer (and their number is 720) make it possible to obtain 720 sinusoidal tones and compose from them oscillations having any level of complexity. The main sound range of the instrument is a division of octave on 72 steps (144-step temperation was also possible). "Practically having no temperation, - wrote Artemyev, - ANS exceeds most commercial synthesizer of that time (for example, module synthesizers of the MOOG type) by its unlimited polyphony, and possibility of strictly scientific synthesis (knowing spectral composition of the timbre, it could be exactly reproduced on the keyboard of the device)." And in another place: "A composer, working on the score of the synthesizer, is like a painter; he paints, retouches, erases and deposits code pictures, immediately carrying out an auditory control of the result. The sounds, being completely unusual by their spectra on the glass of the score. The device, which has a memory system, can remember these elaborations, so that to use them later. Having no limitations in the timbres and their changes, the ANS makes it possible to use artificial voices and noises of various buildings in the works."
So, the ANS synthesizer opened before musicians the unknown ways in recreation of quite unusual world of sounds, radically changed the process of composition, has given the composer an unique possibility of working on the acoustic microlevel, using new sound qualities and shades, appearing from a free combination of harmonies, sounds, noise effects. Inner-sound relations and processes were regulated by microtemperation, effects of overtones were regulated by microdynamics and microrhythm. Only one sound, or more exactly, construction of its timbre, could be the essence of a composition.
This idea has got various realisations on some works, created on the ANS, "Fa-diez" by O.Buloshkin, "Twelve Glimpses on the World of Sound (Variations on one timbre)" by E.Artemiev, "The Stream" by A.Schnittke. By the essence, the very sound in these works, plays the role of a composition object, as a result of its timbre formation from the most simple parts. And the composition of the timbre - its dynamics (an attack and fading of a sound), rhythmical organization, thematical development (which corresponds with a chosen law of time and order of appearance of all the timbre elements: overtones, noise sounds, and so on) - presents a complete model of the composition. Such a deep immersion into a timbre, gave amazing results for that time, with that they were different in every concrete composition.
The most significant compositions of Artemiev created during the "studio" period on the ANS synthesizer, are: "Mosaic" (1967) and "Twelve Glimpses on the World of Sound" (1969). Besides, the following opuses were written for the ANS: "In Space", "Star Nocturne"(1961), "Concert Waltz for the ANS Synthesizer" (1964).
E.Artemiev: "I would determine this period as some trial of strength, as a touch to some other substance of music. Composers as if were fitting on their work - how is it possible to get inside a sound, what one can do with that. Still, these are a timid attempts to touch a new sound world...
My attitude towards music is a 90% emotional phenomenon. It has arisen and must be in that state. And when I started working with electronic music, new most complete possibilities for expressing of emotions, strange it may seem. It was like a breakthrough to some new worlds, new soundings, new space.
In the composition "Twelve Glimpses on the World of Sound", created on the ANS, I was interested in the possibility of not only construction of timbre, - and the ANS synthesizer provided a unique possibility of the timbre construction from any number of overtones, conducting of harmonics on all the band of the synthesizer score, - but also some its emotional turns. I was attracted by the timbre of the temir-komuz, because it has a large number of components and make it possible to treat freely any combinations of the overtones."
In a large composition "Twelve Glimpses on the World of Sound" the timbre of Yakutian instrument named temir-komuz plays the role of theme; after careful analysis, its overtone row undergoes various modifications on the ANS, as a result of which there appear various kinds of the "overtone blocks" (an arbitrary combination of the overtones), "acoustic versions", "undertone versions", "distortions of the overtones", micropolyphonic and microrhythmical processes on a intersound level (variation of the motion and rhythms, horizontal and vertical polyphony). The composer realizes all the possible variants of work with sound, synthesizing from its spectrum both non-traditional timbres with pure electronic properties, and natural, living ones (for example in the form of imitation), and, at last, he switches on a direct record of concrete sounds, absorbing "the voice" of temir-komuz
In general, this work of a rather large scale makes a strong emotional effect, opening such an inner depths of only one timbre, which would be impossible in a traditional composition.
Still, the timbre construction, conduction of the fine structure of the sound spectrum, obtaining of specific sound and noise effects (in this sense the ANS is a "scout" in the world of new methods) to a certain degree have shielded the living qualities of the timbre, the living dynamic processes. These factors has mainly determined the "synthetic", artificial character of electronic sounding, which was marked by some composers, i.e. S.Gubaidullina and A.Schnittke. Having created the masterpieces of early electronic music - "Viviente Non Viviente" by S.Gubaidullina and "The Stream" by A.Schnittke, which are recognized now as a domestic classics in this field of the art, - later they have departed from it.
Unsufficient development of the inner structure of artificially obtained timbres was an objective cause of adherency of composers, working in the electronic studio, to almost exceptional use of noise-sound constructions, forming sound unifications-layers, noises, large touches, "spots", separate voices-points, lines and so on. By this fact is also explained the small number of electronic compositions having developed melodic line, extended solo voices, having the living intonation. Still, the bright sonor properties of compositions, created by the ANS, make it possible to evaluate them as a whole musical works.
In Artemiev's "Mosaic" - the work, which was a success on The First International festival of electronic music in Venice (1968), completely has revealed the characteristic features of the branch of sonoristics, in which, according to the expression by E.Nazaikinsky, "the sonoric substrate, being a result of the synthesis, serves to the composition as a main content on the aural sensor level". Considerable characteristics of "sonoric substrate" in its traditional understanding, non-distinguishing of individuality of separate voices of the "total timbre-sonor" with a bright spatial, dynamic and colour properties, "distraction" from real soundings of classical instruments are in many respects intensified due to special electronic characteristics.
The sonoristic whole of "Mosaic" is formed as a result of the synthesis of various elements: sounds of a piano, received on its keyboard and strings, a singing voice, whispers (from sibilant and whistling phonemes, which have underwent electronic transformations). As a result of tedious work with timbres (let us remind, that the ANS possessed a possibility of strictly scientific synthesis of spectral timbre composition), the composer succeeded to synthesize a multicomponent medium including both many-voice noise-sound constructions, mainly heights-non-differential, and a "tone" single-voice material (repetitions on iv of the small octave with microchromatic deviations-flows). In them are "mosaically" interwined noises of another class: fields of a separate overtones, glissanding passages of piano strings, shouts of denaturalized (instrumentalized) human voice, successfully synthesized choral sounding (three cord-colored soundings) and also separate "concrete" noises (knocks, rustles, wind howls etc.). General effect is intensified by the microclaster electronic technique, operating by multisounds, composed of microchromatic intervals, merging in undefinable vertical complexes, horizontal layers, separate spots, noises. Important structuring role with that is acquired by contrast timbre-colored soundings - dynamic, registerial, "factural" (single-voicing - multi-voicing), rhythmical, articulating. Dynamical development of electronic composition in time is quite logical and natural: moments of uplifts and falls are connected with culminating sections in the end of every part of the composition; all the dramatic organizations is often connected on the wave principle, causing associations with sea tides. Let us mention also the expressive spatial properties of composition - an illusion of acoustic sound space (artificially created) in various its manifestations (effects of reverberation, echo, sound reflection etc.)
New beyond-music images, associations, expression forms of "Mosaic" stimulate the listeners fantasy, i.e. they serve to the composition namely as "a main contents on the aural sensor level". The absence of melodical relief is compensated here by the above-mentioned unusual timbre effects, rumbles and noises, picturesque plays of soundings, strictly organized spatial-time and dynamic development of sound material. They increase the direct emotional effect of electronic sounding, which obtains "an artistic concretization" of the new sound pictures...
Cinematographists were interested in the experiments by Artemiev, and they have found a bright use in the cinema. At the first time the scientific-popular films on the "space" theme were sounded by the sound-noise layers, electronic effects, emphasingly "unearthly" sound. Such were, particularily, the first experience of the composer in the new sphere - a film "Toards the Dream", documentaries "The Planet Ocean", "Home in Space", some episodes in the cinema journal "I Want To Know Everything", "Almanach Of Cinema Journeys", etc.
With the broadening of expressive possibilities of the electronic music, it penetrates into another genres of cinema - feature films (in this number television ones), animated cartoon films. In 1967 Artemiev has completed his first independent work of this kind - film of director S.Samsonov "Arena" ("Mosfilm" studios). After this cinema strongly came into the life of composer, having became fro him, as he said himself, " a perfect laboratory for various creative experiments", evolutioning from purely external sound effects, being projected to "surreal" video sequence, to the synthesis of various stylistic layers in electrical-acoustical palette of the film.
Edward Artemiev, which one of the first domestic composers, who began the wide use of electronic soundings in films, feels the screen perfectly. And this means, that his music brings not only a painting - informational loading, but also an emotional, aesthetic and spiritual one. In science-fiction film, detective film or psychological drama, the composer opens really image-expressional (as well as technical) possibilities of the new type of musical art of the second half of the twentieth century. We can remember such films, as "Solaris" and "Stalker", "Some days from the life of Oblomov" and "Relatives", "Siberiada" and "Moon Rainbow", "Visit to Minotauros" and "Fox Hunt"...
Separately here stand three films by Andrei Tarkovsky ("Solaris, "Mirror", and "Stalker"); in every case the turn to electronics was caused by the tasks, which were put by the film director before the composer. Artemiev was always aspiring to the complete mutual understanding with the film director, to penetration in his world-perception. "Style of the film director, - says Artemiev, - directly effects the style of composer, the style of presenting music". And only in the Tarkovsky's films, emphasizes he further on, electronics is employed in "a pure form'; the combination of synthesizers (ANS, SINTI-100), other devices with a symphony orchestra, performing in the "style" of electronic music, and also a specific choral sound, concrete sounds, creates in them a quite unusual atmosphere, which does not repeat anywhere else.
Work on "Solaris" is also remarkable by the fact, that to this film Artemiev has created the first electronic score - one of the few remained scores of the early domestic electronic music.
Sound aesthetics of "Solaris" is caused by position of film director, according to which the music in context of the film is some subconscious background, a sound contrapoint to the screen motion. The delay of time rates in "Solaris" , whimsical combination of various plans of the film (present - past, real - imaginary), and the main thing - the image of thinking Ocean - all these could not but made an effect on the character of musical solution of the film. Design of its electrical-acoustical matter may be characterized "incontinuoity", "prolongation", "statics", "lasting state", "sojourn". Composer is constructing a timbre massif - a syncretic meta-timbre. This whole sound-noise complex possesses specific "electronic qualities" and implements considerable imaging - expressional function in the film atmosphere. It appears rapidly in the scenes of coming Solaris, fascinating by its mysterious unknowingness, living breath of giant waves. Related by its emotional modus sound-noise music accompanies also the "guests" from space, send by the thinking Ocean for implementation of the contact with people.
Composition construction of the electrical-acoustic layers of this kind, by composer's words, is based on an empirical approach ("method of probes and mistakes"), at which are recorded on a separate tapes, and then worked sound-noise elements, being used subsequently at the final cutting. A rather many records with "drfaft variants", demonstrating multiple possibilities of sound transformation could be created, but not all of them become sound elements - "voices", written in the sore sheet. So, the initial elements of episode "Dream of Chris" (first appearance of Hari ) are recorded on the synthesizer ANS "colour noise" and sinusoidal tones, piano clusters with non-naturalized timbre, fragments of choral soundings, accords of wind and string instruments, whisper of the chorus (hushing letters) and again - timbre of the temir-komuz. Most elements underwent deformations, which has considerably transformed their natural timbre qualities. For example the technique of the change of tape speed can unrecognizably distort the timbre, having considerably increased or lowered the initial highness of sounding (in the score this operation is presented by the numeral definitions of the speed of record and playback). "Speed operations" are often combined with the tape reverse playback, imposition of its direct and reverse motion.
A very broad and constantly changing timbre-register-dynamic characteristics are promoting the achievement of depth and volume of sound, create a tremendous possibilities for the realization of spatial effects, being amplified by a reverberation, which are, in our view, not reachable by a traditional music.
A specific use of choral timbres (being reproducted with the speed change, as well as the majority basic elements of the score, with the speed change), at which, according to the author's remark, "every member of the chorus freely pronounce any syllables on the one note, being arbitrary chosen", from the ones being indicated by the composer (c-moll scale is recorded), also is directed to the creation of inner mobile and non-different sound-noise layer.
Despite of its multi-component structure, this kind of a syncretic metatimbre possesses a quite monosemantic, almost physically felt, tense emotional modus, which rather accurately reflects "the contents of psyche in its completeness" (E.Nazaikinsky) in the concrete screen context.
The artistic-emotional wholeness of the metatimbre includes also purely musical means. In the same episode "The Dream of Chris" this is a bright fretting coloration of the most instrumental, choral and electronic complexes - "sound textures" (Artemiev), causing associations with a key of the choral prelude of I.S.Bach (leitmotif of the Earth). Moreover, more close parallels with texture picture of harmonic figuration, which accompanies the Bach theme, orchestrated by Artemiev, are arisen.
The sound world of electronic music demanded correspondingly new approaches to the fixation of its sound matter, development of new system of codes (sound highness was determined in Hz, loudness was determined in DB, or percents of the State Standard of the sound recording, continuation of sounding was determined in seconds). This gave an opportunity to reflect the dynamics of timbre-noise spectrums sufficiently neatly, and to fix the processes of sound elements deformation on a magnetic tape.
The phonogram of "Solaris" is fixed both in the form of symphonic or choral scores, and in graphic codes of electric-acoustic of the film fragments. For the latter the composer has chosen a musical-graphical method of recording (using colour graphics for the better clearness). It reflects a final montage of the composition and exactly exposes main contents of technological processes with all elements, being placed in definite spatial-time relations on a "score" sheets with a millimeter net. Designations of "sound textures", to which relate electronic, "concrete", instrumental, choral soundings and noises, and also indication of the main deformation processes, which are made with them, are given in their time expansion, or in a separate commentaries.
Therefore, selection of initial elements, their transformations and synthesis in a definite space-time continuum - are the main phases of composer work in creation of electronic scores of this kind...
In 1972 the Experimental studio of electronic music has purchased of module synthesizer "SYNTHI-100" of English company "Taylor" - complicated multifunctional studio device with numerous electronic blocks, with highly developed control panel and memory system. Possessing two different systems of powerful synthesizers, the Experimental studio has entered the number of most advanced and technically equipped electronic laboratories.
Operator-programmer Yu.Bogdanov (sound engineer of "Melodia" company), who became the closest assistant of Artemiev, has first mastered the technical possibilities of "SYNTHI-100". The composer has given an idea of the work, and its sound implementation, "timbre coloration" came from the engineer. This collaboration assisted creation of electronic music group "Boomerang", which often gave concerts in the seventies, still its main direction was a studio work. Since 1977 the "Boomerang" group became a purely studio band. It has realized a record of three vinil discs with Artemiev's music on the Melodia company: "Pictures - moods" (musical fragments from music to films), "Ode to Herald of Good" (the cantata for three choruses, soloist, symphony orchestra, the "Boomerang" group), "The Warmth of Earth" (vocal-symphonic suite on the verses of Yurii Rytheu for the "Boomerang" group and soloist Jeanne Rozhdestvenskaya ).
E.Artemiev: "The period, when in the electronic music studio appeared "SYNTHI-100", has given more results in purely quantitative respect. In my view, this was connected with conservative thinking and musicians' practice. In view of the fact that the instrument had a traditional keyboard, performing possibilities, it has given more traditional results, connected not with novations in the field of electronics, but with continuation of traditions of acoustic music. Those were some plans of a new instrumentation and, maybe, some "space spots". But all these in no means did not lose contact with traditional music - in the sense of the timbres and in the sense of the possibilities of electronics.
As a matter of fact, the same thing in their time was made by rock-musicians - for the general public; they have discovered some new horizons, spaces and possibilities for a composer thinking, which I never met in music before..."
The middle of seventies has marked the beginning of a new stage in the Artemiev's creative work and his music finds other features. The composer shows an increased interest to the rock-culture, and one may say that he discovers it for himself. In this culture Artemiev was, first of all, attracted by the new "aesthetics" of sound, meaning a bright, open emotionality, an increased expressive tone of pronouncement, its "orientation on the listener". And, naturally, the democracy of musical language.
Artemiev sees creative prospects in assimilation of the achievements of professional academic school and rock-culture on the base of electronic technique. Works of this stage - the cantata "Ode to Herald of Good", the vocal-instrumental suite "The Warmth of the Earth" poems to the texts of the Lithuanian poets "White Dove", "Summer", "Vision", and film music (films "Sibiriada", "Moon Rainbow", "Fox Hunting", etc.) - to a certain extent reflect the pictured position of the composer. The main quality becomes the ability to create any combinations - genre, stylistic, "technical" ones, opens to various musical traditions, and prohibitions and limitations of any kind are completely removed!
A convincing example to the said above can serve the "Ode to Herald of Good" based on the poetry by Pierre de Cubertain in a remarkable translation by N.P.Konchalovskaya, written to the Olympic Games in Moscow (1980). The dynamism, expressivity of rock-music with its characteristic timbre indications and symphonic means of development, fine sound recording and power of supermultivoice chorus, sounding of the "SYNTHI-100" synthesizer, symphony orchestra, chorus and soloist, being integrated by the most modern achievements in the field of recording technique, have organically interflown here. According to the author's words, the cantata is "the synthesis of all the known techniques". This is a grand canvas with bright and vivid thematism, expressive images, which has expressively correlated with the visual sequence of the ritual of the opening and closing of the Olympic games.
E.Artemiev:"... I would divide on three parts the music in its present state. There is a large, even the main part of musicians, composers and artists, which had a traditional training, and they have an academic school. There is a lesser part of authors, who are making their creative search in completely different area - electronic music, and they as if do not come in contact with the academic school. And the third part is rock-musicians.
So did it happen, that the "academic" musician almost are not aware of the events, taking place in the "electronic" area, for them it does not exist, they neglect it or are making some timid attempts to contact this area. Though - and this is already quite clear - during the last twenty years the electronic music comes as an avalanche, and one can not just neglect this fact. From the other side, the musicians and more often technicians - engineers, which deal with new electronics in its extreme form - the avant-garde one - do not look for the contacts with traditional academic school. It is like two poles. What concerns the rock-musicians, they use the both approaches, but in a definite context.
I consider, that a new music - the principally new one - can appear as a result of the combination of electronics ( I mean not only the instruments, but also a new acoustics, and all the things, which electronic technique will give us) and the academic school, traditional acoustic instruments. For me, this is the main direction, and it can absorb all the rest, depending of personality and conception of either, one or another author.
Creative work in the field of electronics - and this is not yet completely estimated - is in many respects indebted to the rock-music, its practice of approaching of the performers, its energy, its living sounding, living emotions.
I had a good academic school. But meeting the opera "Jesus Christ - Superstar" became decisive factor for me, and I can say, that I was formed as a composer in many respects thanks to the rock-music. There were practically no electronics in opera. But there was completely different vision of traditional Bible themes, which were always solved in academic way, beginning with the works of Monteverdi, and maybe earlier, and concluding with Shoenberg's works ("Aaron and Moses"). I have always lacking open emotional string, power and energy. All this I have hear in the rock-music, and this has shook me. The rock-music has taught me not to be ashamed of emotions - you do not need to hide them!
Rock-musicians have created a principally new "sound" - the bright one, with shining sounds, a melted gold - this is my perception of this. Now it lives in my subconsciousness, which is very important for my creative work. Many works were written in this manner, and one of the first ones is "The Warmth of the Earth".
To a certain extent this suite can be considered as a turning-point work, which imbibed main discoveries, made by composer when he has immersed in stylistics of the rock-music. In the nine-part cycle, written for a rock-group in generally traditional staff, and also for a powerful "SYNTHI-100', the composer succeeded to expose a deep poetical sense of the verses by Yu.Rytheu, telling about love, existence of a man and a nature as a whole living organism in the endless space, primevatly of the ancient legends and sagas, in which a modern artist finds inspiration. Main characteristic feature of this multicoloured sound canvas - richness and diversity of electronic timbres, timbre effects, with the help of which (let us notice a specifically "variety" manner of sound production with the help of a microphone), the composer has revealed, as it seems, all the shades, all the finest nuances of the inmost lyrical moods, incarnated in the poetical text.
In the whole, we say it again, fine and light figurativeness of inspired lyrics prevails in the emotional-semantic scale of the work. Thus, from the nine parts of the cycle only three ones are marked with a tensely-dramatic expression, emphasized by expressive possibilities of motorics and percussionivity. In the other ones prevail the song-declamation and romancing spheres, being combined with other genre tonations (folklore ones, hymn ones, sagas ones), often coloured with the features of romantic trembling. And this is not surprising; by a remark of one researcher of jazz and rock-music, true rock, in its essence is a song genre, and its aesthetic ideal is closer to declamations of "chansonier" and "bards". Lyrical-romantic figurativeness of the work is completely imbued with elements of style system of the modern mass music with its specific timbre line, the manner of vocal performing, a characteristic rhythmical-tonation basis, forming stable associations for the listeners. Organization of musical material is aimed in general on the creation of a specific type of lyrical expression - by means of gradual bright dynamization of emotional structure of the music. In this aspiration of the composer to a definite sound ideal one can see a manifestation of a tendency of the modern art, being connected with revealing, sharpening of emotions, to the extreme exaltation...
Modern digital technique, which obtained wide expansion since the eighties, places into the disposal of composers, working in the field of electronic music, unique instruments with a tremendous artistic-expressional potential, which opens only at a deep, professional approach to the specificity of their functioning. The use of computers, digital synthesizers, samplers, digital sound processing devices, as it was repeatedly said, considerably enriches traditional sound palette.
A possibility to work in a direct "contact" with sound oscillations, perceive and aesthetically master the nature of acoustic microprocesses, to model sound space, and also "automatize" a whole number of elements of traditional creation of the work - all this could not but influenced methods and principles of the creative process, correlation of intellectual and emotional, rational and intuitive in it. From the history of electronic music we know, that often correlation of this kind were not for the benefit of an artist-creator.
Originality of the present situation is in reimbursement (on the principally new level) a true sense to the musical creative work, at which the instrument (synthesizers of last generation and a computer with corresponding software), according to the ready-witted expression by Artemiev, becomes a "continuation of the soul", and a composer again finds himself before a "pure sheet of paper", tete-a-tete with his talent. The immense world of sounds is opened, and "the human factor" with that not only do not lose its effectiveness, but also is strengthening its meaning. After all, finally, everything depends on the mastery, professionalism, creative intuition and inspiration of the artist. A characteristic property of the work in electronic studio is the unification in one whole such types of activities, which existed separately in a traditional musical practice: a composer, a performer, creator of new instruments (timbres), editor of the scores, sound engineer. The dream of B.Asafiev, that "some time, a composer will be able to "record" his ideas simply and conveniently, not thinking about performers, an orchestra, instruments, and dealing with directly with an infinite world of sound-timbres, and he will have corresponding devices will be available for him" has come true.
Today in Artemiev's home studio are the most famous models of digital music systems with a broadest spectrum of possibilities: "Yamaha DX-7" and "Korg M-1R" synthesizers, "EPS-16" and "Emulator-II" samplers, a powerful keyboard digital system with build-in computer "Kurzweil-250", blocks of effects "Yamaha SPX-90II", "Yamaha REV-5" and "Lexicon", percussion installation, mixing remote control unit "Fostex, Model 450", "Macintosh" personal computer (this is the equipment of studio at 1994-1995 - Artemiy Artermiev).
E.Artemiev: "Now I perceive the electronic studio as one instrument. Though it is divided on synthesizers, on control units of the mixture, on devices of sound processing, influence on the sound - the so-called sound-processors, - all these united as a whole and controlled by a computer, is a kind of an instrument for the composer. The studio is an instrument, a working place of a modern author, as I consider. If there is an acoustic hall, then the hall is an instrument. But how could one handle this instrument? - a great art is needed here. You need to be a sound engineer, a performer, know acoustics and many other things. This is a qualitatively new level of a musician. I can not say "higher or lower", but this is something different, absolutely different. Today one needs to enter the electronic music from student years - only this way one can enter it organically, having not spent any special efforts; only this way is the listening experience formed. And the listening experience obtains a decisive role in electronics.
It is impossible to write music sitting at the table - by this one can only create a general concept of the composition. And in studio you need to have a clear concept of what are you going to do, and you need to know, how will you do it, to know the way: which devices to use, which synthesizer, and necessarily seize the musical image by the inner hearing. And then you can realize your idea - playing, testing various devices, handle the control arms or working with computer programs. Now there are very powerful programs, which make it possible to control the synthesizers more neatly, to synthesize the timbres, faster load other programs, listen to them, select the best ones.
Let us suppose, that the sequencer programs, such as the "Performer" is a record of your playing in the real time. In the process of the work one can hear it many times, and introduce various changes: adjust irregularities, correct dynamics, lay one's playing methods, make some new impositions, transpose the sounding, apply any methods of editing, any inversions. Such programs saves a lot of time for a composer, freeing him of a routine work. But this is not a mechanisation of work, on the contrary, it is even more interesting to work, you can do everything faster. Further on, you still begin creating: if you do not like something, you are correcting and editing it, etc.
Programs of the "Sound Designer" type is a deepest work with sound. It makes it possible to adjust the finest dynamic changes, taking place in sound spectrum for a smallest period of time (milliseconds), make a detailed frequency analysis, a synthesis and re-synthesis of a sound. With an electronic pencil you can write additional overtones or remove a separate ones, or correct a living (real) voice of a singer in the needed range. All the information about the sound is displayed on a computer monitor for observing and editing...
There are a tremendous number of programs now - "for all cases in life"; for example, there is a program named "advisor", which tells you what is to do better and in what sequence you should perform specific operations, etc. If you need a score, then the "Finale" program can transfer all the sound material into the notes, and print the score as a traditional musical notation. All the composition is recorded in the computer memory as a whole; there is an enormous timbre library, which a composer can use during the process of the work.
I understood, that all the searching in the quality of musical material for me are in its spatial organization. There is a whole spectrum of devices in electronic music, which enables composers to emulate and create the space themselves - this is a quality, of which nobody heard before in music.
... Today the electronics has come to a qualitative level, which is commensurable with the most strict criterions from the point of view of the musical art - it has approached a level, when it has become "a white sheet of paper". You can do everything you want! Absolutely everything! There are no limits! Moreover, human consciousness is already limited, and our experience is limited, being compared to the technical possibilities, which engineers have given us.
Today is a great sin for a musician not to know electronics; this is even an ignorance. If he is consciously running from it, he cuts himself off a whole world, hinders his development, sometimes forever. You need to study electronics necessarily, in the same way as harmony, polyfony is studied in a conservatory, if you want to be a composer. Maybe you will not use it later on, but practically unlimited sound world of electronic music will present in your creative work unconsciously ... "
The result of Artemiev's deep immersing into the digital musical technique are the number of compositions, demonstrating its manifold expressive possibilities: modeling of the sounding of a chorus, the sounding of human voice ("Aria"), sounding of acoustic instruments (organ), the synthesis of "synthetic" electronic timbres ("A Road to Uncertainty"), an orchestra ("Returning To the Basics" ). The last of the named works is a classically tonal composition of homophonical-harmonical type with a developed melodic line. There are purely sonoric compositions with a "play" of timbres-modules and expressional spatial illusions ("Far Away - Close" , "Ocean"), a timbre-rhythmical variations with moving forward of a percussion instruments group with a strong reverberation ("In a Rhythm of Waltz").
The most considerable works of the end of the eighties - the tree-part canvas "Three Glimpses on the Revolution" , written for the 200th Anniversary of French revolution for the electronic music festival in Bourges (1989) on the order from the organizers, and a cycle of compositions made on the basis on the music to the films by A.Tarkovsky "Solaris", "Mirror", "Stalker" (1989). External effects, sound decoration, timbre multi-colourity do not screen their inner psychological implication.
In enthusiastic responses of the foreign press on premiere of "Three Glimpses on the Revolution" were marked the technical perfection, expression of music, being created with the help of the most modern means of "computer support" of the composer.
A three-part cycle "An Idea of Freedom as An Idea of Pure Mind and A Free Spirit", "Deeds and Fulfillment", "The Judgment Day", represent a consistent formation of artistic conception of moral-philosophic aspects of revolutionary character, widely interpreted by the author. This concept passes a three-stage development from some abstract "idea of freedom" ... through its practical implementation in "Deeds and Fulfillment", when having come to the street and capturing a crowd, an idea, being humane in its base, leads to a thoughtless destruction, smashing everything on their way, to the appropriate final, retribution of "The Judgment Day".
In the first part prevails sonorically organized ostinate "rings", electronic noises, sounds of the bells, and fragmentary singings of "the women chorus" (modeled on digital instruments). Out of the depth comes a colourful ostinate pivot. Its chatoyant rotationality, mobility, sound glimmer, three-dimensional "air perspective" are summoned, according to the composer's words, to bring out the feeling of "Divine light", which lighten a person. The technique of a "loop" (or a "circle"), realized by the "Performer" program, made it possible to reproduce and record this pivot. The composer has recorded (on different instruments) and mastered on special devices - sound processors - five "rings", composed of a small gamma-like ostinate cells (built by the type of the "Rimsky-Korsakov's scale"), with various interval variants, not similar rhythmical organization and the time-shift of every voice joining. Sounding of these sequentional tonally-oriented (initial tone is "d") sound elements, recorded with an imposition (the "sound on sound" technique) in high register and quick tempo, is mixed on a control panel, where a synchronization of several records, which is necessary according to author's idea, is carried out, special effects (vibration, reverberation, etc.) are introduced. As a result, main sound elements - just mentioned ostinat cells, possessing a similar intonation semantics in conditions of horizontally-movable shift, - are interflowing in a whole syncretic, lightly-elevated emotional metatimbre. It becomes the transparent thematism of the first part.
Gradually, this pivot (it can be named syncretic-sonoric ostinato) is coloured by a triumphant bells ringing; intuitionally the composer introduces crescending flows of electronic noises and solitary bell strokes in the low register, vocalises of women's voices. Energyzation of general dynamic level, "strengthened" by various expressive possibilities of digital techniques of mastering of sound signals, intensify colour properties of the sounding matter even more.
By the end of the part one, "rotating" timbre pivot and its colourful counterpoint are distorted and destroyed, being displaced by a qualitatively different timbre-image. In the depths of the triumphant bells ringing - the light herald of good - are born menacing hammer blows, being transformed into alarming, self-destructive voices of the alarm bell. Development of the composer of this timbre by means of manipulating with the synthesized parameters of sound (with the help of the timbre synthesis program) leads to a harmonic pauperization and distortion of sound signal, transforms a rich initial timbre thematism into another, beyond-musical substance (discrete overtone point-splashes, having lost the qualities of musical sound, are reproduced with intensified reverberation). In its essence, this is a first "warning" on the impossibility of achieving a noble idea by means of destruction and violence...
If the main pivot of the first part - sonorically organized ostinate circles, which become a specific "cantus frermis", then in the second part the similar function is carried out by the rhythm of a popular French revolution song "Saira" performed by a jazz percussion installation. Having crystallized from a "macro-rhythm" of the low alarm-bell of the previous part, this timbre-rhythmical ostinato symbolizes here some "revolutionary" appeals, giving rise to spontaneous people gusts, - "Deeds and Fulfillment" , wiping off everything on their way.
Concretely-material attributes of revolutionary events are like deposited on the rhythm, recorded with large spatial effects. Fierce motorics of impassive low electronic timbres (the second ostinate layer, being realized by the composer in the technique of "reflected" signal, as well as the first one), fragments of quazi-sounding of a brass-band, noise, whistling, cries of a raging crowd - these are the main elements forming a many-coloured sound-noise palette of the "Deeds and Fulfillments". Their violent, avalanche-like growth, in the moment of the highest emotional rise, is abruptly stopped with a shrill death-cry, and wipes off by a devastating impulse of the wind. Imagination of the listeners is "induced" in the world of revolutional cataclysms, which is almost physically felt, which provokes a very strong impression.
The filing of sound space, i.e. stringing on the previously recorded main rhythmical pivot of the other sound and noise phenomena (brass band, being simulated on the "Kurzweil-250", strings, "natural" noises records, etc.), according to the composer's words, were performed intuitively, and was determined completely by a specific time parameters (time of sounding of each part of the composition does not exceed five minutes). A technique of this recording, being performed on the interface-synchronized digital devices (the "Performer" program), presumes the possibility of listening and editing of a separate "voices" (introduction of the necessary rhythmical, height, dynamical and other changes and additions, imposition of new voices, etc.) in the real time.
The time processes of expansion of the timbre material of the second part of the "Three Glimpses on the Revolution" are connected with a whole stratum of interesting and less-studied problems of the electronic music. Clearly expressed timbre thematism (I with clear spatial properties) of most works by Artemiev reveals its tremendous, almost infinite expressive potential not only in the development of image-sense processes, but also in the formation of composition. The character of sound material "dictates" the choice of methods of its transformation and time development to the author ('the material is leading you" - objects Artemiev), and therefore the form becomes an individual scheme of process-time organization of the "timbre-events" of the work, being the contrast ones or identical ones (and, as a special case, complementary-ostinate ones).
In the "Judgement Day", which differs from two previous parts by a traditional tone and rhythmical organization (e-moll, 4/4), is dominated such a scalable textural phenomenon, as a "plyphony of the stratums", with its combination with thematically and texturally individual polytimbre formations. As a latter, two main multi-voice layer with self-dependent thematism are coming out - the "choral" one (boy chorus, man chorus, being simulated on the "Kurzweil-250") and the "orchestral" one (a synthesizer ensemble with a characteristic "sharp" timbre), flowing in the culmination section in a powerful unisonic "tutti".
The external manifestations of sorrowful senses are alien to the tragedy of the "Judgement Day", which is a sensual culmination of the composition as a whole. Music of this small on its scale but volumetric by a deep emotional fullness of the "vocal-symphonic" fragment of the composition is penetrated by an internally-discreet stress and dynamism...
Analyzing the works by Artemiev, which were created on a different stages of its creative path, being the works of various style and genre orientations, one can make a conclusion of some new specific timbre-intonational pithiness, which was formed for the composer, or, in other words, about a formed style. Development and enrichment of this style, one can observe almost in every new work of the composer. These are numerous varieties of electronic complimentary sonoric technique, and syncretic sound-noise meta-timbres, which performs a considerable function in the formation of artistic conception of the musical whole, and organization of timbre space, qualitatively effecting the composition structure.
The last work of the composer - a three-part composition "I would Like to Return", created by an order from the Bourges electronic music studio (and realized there in 1994). In 1994 it was successfully performed of the elctronic music festival in Bourges. This is how the author himself characterizes the idea of this work and it artistically-technical implementation:
E.Artemiev: "I had a nostalgic for the avant-guard electronic music, the music, which was made on generators, on tapes, where the sounds and sound collages were glued - one sound was glued to another one. In this work, it was something like I summed up my work, went all my path again...
The first part is a sound collages of sounds of various types - both electronic and "concrete" ones. The second part is an "avant-guard" electronics, constructed on a specific way. Sound fluctuations - stochastic processes, as if being thrown out by a spontaneous sound generator, are, as a matter of fact, organized in the style of rock-music. The third part is a spatially tone music.
I have made a circle, which I underwent in my creative work. This is the very idea of this composition".
Lilia Suslova ("Musical academy", No.2, 1995)