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  2. Professor Denis Smalley

Professor Denis Smalley

Professor Emeritus

Centre for Music Studies

Overview

Professor Denis Smalley is a composer specialising in electroacoustic music. He was born in New Zealand, and completed music degrees at the University of Canterbury and the Victoria University of Wellington (MusB, and BMus honours). In 1971-2 he studied with Olivier Messiaen at the Paris Conservatoire, and took the course in electroacoustic composition with the Groupe de Recherches Musicales, completing the Diplôme de Musique Electroacoustique et de Recherche Musicale (Paris Conservatoire).

He then moved to England, living initially in York where he completed a doctorate in composition at the University of York. In 1976 he was appointed Lecturer in Music at the University University of East Anglia, and as Senior Lecturer became Director of the Electroacoustic Music Studio. He was Professor of Music at City from 1994 until he retired in 2009; he is now Professor Emeritus.

Professor Smalley's works have been widely acclaimed, winning a number of international awards including the Prix Ars Electronica in 1988. In 2008 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters by the University of Huddersfield for his achievements in electroacoustic music. He has made original contributions to thinking about electroacoustic music, in particular his investigations into the listener's perception of electroacoustic music, and his development of the notion of spectromorphology  (the shaping of sound spectra through time). His most recent writing has been concerned with the spatial image, and with spectromorphology in instrumental music. A book on his music and ideas was published by GRM/Ina in the Polychrome Portraits series - in English in 2010, and in French in 2011. Associated on-line resources are available at
http://www.institut-national-audiovisuel.fr/sites/ina/medias/upload/grm/mini-sites/smalley/co/siteWeb_Smalley.html.

Three solo CDs of his music are available: Valley Flow, Piano Nets, Clarinet Threads, Wind Chimes, and Darkness After Time's Colours on the Empreintes Digitales label (Canada); Névé on Effects Input (Groupe de Musique Expérimentale de Marseille); and Base Metals, Empty Vessels, Tides and Pentes on Empreintes Digitales.

Research interests

  • electroacoustic music, particularly acousmatic music
  • the sound world in general (not only music)
  • sound and space
  • music perception, reception, and listening strategies

Publications

'Spectromorphology : Explaining Sound-Shapes', in Organised Sound, 2(2), pp.107-126,  Cambridge University Press 1997.
 
'Space- Form and the Acousmatic Image', in Organised Sound 12(1), pp. 35-58, Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Valley Flow; Piano Nets; Wind Chimes; Clarinet Threads; Darkness After Time's Colours. CD of electroacoustic works. Performers : Roger Heaton (clarinet), Philip Mead (piano); Empreintes Digitales, IMED-9209-CD, Montréal, 1992. Reissued, with some remastering in 2004.

Base Metals; Empty Vessels; Tides; Pentes. CD of electroacoustic works. Empreintes Digitales, IMED 0054, Montréal, 2000.

Musical works

Spectral Lands (2011) for electroacoustic sounds in six channels. Commissioned by the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and the Centre for Research in New Music (CeReNeM) at the University of Huddersfield. First performance: Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, November 2011.

Annotated catalogue of works by John Young, in Denis Smalley: Polychrome Portraits, ed. Évelyne Gayou, pp 103-131, Paris: GRM de l'Ina, 2010; French version: pp 115-145, Paris: GRM de l'Ina, 2011.

Gradual (1974) for amplified clarinets and electroacoustic sounds. Fylkingen Prize 1975.

Pentes (1974) for electroacoustic sounds. Commissioned by the Groupe de Recherches Musicales, Paris. First performance: Maison de Radio France, Paris.
 
Ouroboros (1975) for electroacoustic sounds.

Pneuma (1976, rev. 1981) for amplified voices and percussion. Commissioned by the University of York Chamber Choir. First performance: York Festival 1976.

Darkness After Time's Colours (1976) for electroacoustic sounds. Second prize in the Bourges Electroacoustic Awards. Euphonie d'or award, Bourges.
 
Chanson de Geste (1978) for amplified voice, clavichord and percussion.

The Pulses of Time (1979) for electroacoustic sounds. Commissioned by the West Square Electronic Music Association. First performance: St John's, Smith Square, London, 1979.

Word Within (1981) for two amplified voices with percussion. Commissioned by the Bath Festival with funds provided by South West Arts. First performance: Bath Festival, 1981.

Vortex (1982) for electroacoustic sounds. Commissioned by Electronic Music Now for an Arts Council Contemporary Music Network tour, with funds provided by the Arts Council of Great Britain. First performance: The Round House, London. First prize in the Bourges Electroacoustic Awards; special prize of the International Confederation of Electroacoustic Music.

Tides (1984) for electroacoustic sounds. Commissioned by the Groupe de Recherches Musicales, Paris. First performance: Maison de Radio France. Second prize in the Newcomp Award, USA.

Clarinet Threads (1985) for amplified clarinet and electroacoustic sounds. Commissioned by Roger Heaton with funds provided by the Eastern Arts Board. First performance: Norfolk and Norwich Festival, Norwich, 1985. Prize: Prix Ars Electronica.

O Vos Omnes (1986). Motet for eight-part choir, treble, alto and tenor soli, with electroacoustic sounds. Commissioned by the Norwich Cathedral Choir. First performance: Contemporary Church Music Festival, Norwich Cathedral.

Wind Chimes (1987) for electroacoustic sounds. Commissioned by the South Bank Centre, London. First performance: Electric Weekend, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London.

Piano Nets (1990) for piano and electroacoustic sounds. Commissioned by the Sonic Arts Network with funds provided by the Arts Council of Great Britain. First performance: Norfolk and Norwich Festival, Norwich.

Valley Flow (1992) for electroacoustic sounds. Commissioned by the Birmingham Electro-acoustic Sound Theatre with funds provided by West Midlands Arts. First performance: Radio 3 live broadcast, BBC Pebble Mill Studios, Birmingham.

Névé (1994) for electroacoustic sounds. Commissioned by the Groupe de Musique Expérimentale de Marseille with funds provided by the Arts Council of Great Britain. First performance: Marseille.

Empty Vessels (1997) for electroacoustic sounds. Commissioned by the French State and the Groupe de Recherches Musicales/Institut National de l'Audiovisuel. First performance: Maison de Radio-France.

Base Metals (2000) for electroacoustic sounds. Commissioned by Swedish Radio. First performance: "L'espace du son" Festival, Brussels, 2000.

Ringing Down the Sun (2002) for electroacoustic sounds in six channels. Commissioned by the Danish Institute for Electroacoustic Music (DIEM). First performance: MIX.02 Festival, Aarhus, Denmark, 2002.

Resounding (2004) for electroacoustic sounds in six channels. Commissioned by Sonorities, supported by the National Lottery through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. First performance: Sonic Arts Research Centre, Belfast, 2004.

CD Recordings

Clarinet Threads Performer: Roger Heaton (clarinet). Wergo Schallplatten, WER2025-2, Mainz, 1990.

Wind Chimes, Wergo Schallplatten, WER2026-2, Mainz, 1990.

Valley Flow; Piano Nets; Wind Chimes; Clarinet Threads; Darkness After Time's Colours. Performers : Roger Heaton (clarinet), Philip Mead (piano). Empreintes Digitales, IMED-9209-CD, Montréal, 1992. Reissued, with some remastering in 2004. Further information and programme notes at www.electrocd.com. Available from www.metamkine.com.

Tides; Vortex; Pentes. Ode Recordings, CD MANU 1433, Auckland, New Zealand, 1993. Névé Effects Input, Groupe de Musique Expérimentale de Marseille, GMEM E1 03, Marseille, 1995. Available from www.metamkine.com.

Base Metals; Empty Vessels; Tides; Pentes. Empreintes Digitales, IMED 0054, Montréal, 2000. Further information and programme notes at www.electrocd.com. Available from www.metamkine.com.

Book chapters

'On Listening to the Music of Suk-Jun Kim: imagined places, imagined spaces', in Suk-Jun Kim: Hasla, ed.Ingrid Beirer, pp 7-11, Heidelberg: Kehrer Verlag / DAAD Berlin, 2011.

"Klang, Morphologien, Spektren: Spektromorphologie in der Instrumentalmusik', in Klang Perspektiven, ed. Lukas Haselböck, pp 45-71, Hofheim: Wolke Verlag, 2011.

'Spectromorphology in 2010', in Denis Smalley: Polychrome Portraits, ed. Évelyne Gayou, pp 89-101, Paris: GRM de l'Ina, 2010.
French version: 'La Spectromorphologie en 2010', in Denis Smalley: Polychrome Portraits, ed. Évelyne Gayou, pp 101-114, Paris: GRM de l'Ina, 2011.

'Spectro-morphology and Structuring Processes', in The Language of Electroacoustic Music, ed. S. Emmerson,  pp 61-93, London: Macmillan, 1986.

'The Listening Imagination: Listening in the Electro-acoustic Era', in Companion to Contemporary Musical Thought Vol 1, eds. J. Paynter, R. Orton et al., pp 514-554, London: Routledge, 1992. Republished in Contemporary Music Review, Vol 13, Part 2, pp 77-107, Harwood Academic Publishers, 1996.

Portuguese version:
'A imaginaçao da escuta: a escuta na era eletroacústica', in Cogniçao & Artes Musicais: Revista da Associação Brasileira de Cognição e Artes Musicais e do Programa de Pós-Graduação em Música da UFPR (Cognition and Musical Arts,), volume 3, number 1, pp 27-41, and volume 3, number 2 pp 85-96 (divided into two parts), Brazil: Universidade Federal do Paraná, 2008.

'La spectromorphologie: une explication des formes du son', in Esthétique des arts médiatiques, Tome II, eds. L. Poissant, et al., pp 125-164, Montréal: Presses de l'Université de Québec, 1995.

Italian version:
'La spettromorfologia: una spiegazione della forme del suono', in Musica/Realtà, 50/51, pp 121-137, July 1996; pp 87-110, November 1996,  Libreria Musicale Italiana.

English version:
'Spectromorphology : Explaining Sound-Shapes', in Organised Sound, 2(2), pp 107-126, Cambridge University Press, 1997.

German version:
'Spektromorpohlogie: Ein Zeichensystem zum Verständis einer neuen Klangkunst', in Kunst, Zeichen, Technik: Philosophie am Grund der Medien, eds. M. Kubaczek, W. Pircher, Eva Waniek, pp 157- 200, Münster: Lit Verlag, 2004.

'Etablissement de cadres relationnels pour l'analyse de la musique postschaefferienne', in Ouïr, entendre, écouter, comprendre après Schaeffer, eds. D. Dufour and J.-C. Thomas, pp 177-213, Paris: Buchet/Chastel 1999.

'Electroacoustic Music', with Simon Emmerson. Major entry in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, London: Macmillan, 2000.

'Materials, Ideas, Style in My Music', in Komposition und Musikwissenschaft im Dialog V (2001-2004), eds. I.Misch, C. von Blumröder, pp 177-201, Berlin: Lit Verlag, 2006.
Conference Reports

'Digital Transformations in Tides', in Proceedings of the International Computer Music Conference 1985, ed. B.Truax, pp 213-215, San Francisco: Computer Music Association, 1985.

'Can Electro-acoustic Music be Analysed?', in Atti del Secondo Convegno Europeo di Analisi Musicale, eds. R. Delmonte, M. Baroni, pp.423-434, Trento: Universita' di Trento, 1993.

Articles

'Acousmatic Music: Does it Exist?', in Lien : revue d'esthetique musicale, pp.21-22, Ohain, Belgium: Editions Musiques et Recherches, 1991.

'Spatial Experience in Electro-acoustic Music', in L'Espace du Son II. Special Edition of Lien: revue d'esthetique musicale, 1991, pp 121-124, Ohain, Belgium: Editions Musiques et Recherches, 1991.

'Defining Transformations', in Interface Vol 22/4, pp 279-300, Lisse, Netherlands, 1993.

'Defining Timbre, Refining Timbre'. With Lelio Camilleri, in Contemporary Music Review, Vol 10, Part 2, pp 35-48, Harwood Academic Publishers, 1994.

'The Analysis of Electroacoustic Music' in special double Issue of the Journal of New Music Research, 27(1/2), eds. Lelio Camilleri & Denis Smalley, pp 3-12, 1998.

'Space-Form and the Acousmatic Image', in Organised Sound 12(1), pp 35-58, Cambridge University Press, 2007.

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