A girl steps out onto the stage and begins plucking the pipa, a traditional Chinese lute. Synthesized sounds soon envelop the room, mixing with the sharp sounds of the pipa. Behind the performer, a projection creates colorful, abstract images that appear and move to the beautiful, haunting music.
This is electroacoustic music, a genre that combines acoustic instruments, electronic music, and computer-generated imagery to create a unique musical experience of both the natural and technological. A pioneer of this worldwide phenomenon, Marc Battier, Ph.D., joins APU’s College of Music and the Arts for a two-week residency in February as the university’s fourth world music scholar-in-residence.
Currently professor of musicology at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, Battier helped develop the study of electroacoustic music, cofounding Electroacoustic Music Studies Network, an organization hosting annual research conferences across the globe. Since 2008, his compositions have blended electronic textures with Asian instruments. China’s De Tao Master Academy named Battier Master of Electroacoustic Music in 2013.
“Marc Battier has a unique compositional voice that incorporates the unusual combination of traditional western compositional developments from acoustic to electronic mediums with the sound palates of other cultures. His visit is inspirational to the aspiring ethnomusicologists, composers, and performers within the School of Music at APU,” said Stephen P. Johnson, DMA, dean of the College of Music and the Arts.
Battier’s residency at APU began with a live interview with John Sutton, DMA, assistant professor and chair of choral activities in the School of Music, during Performance Forum, an integrative class attended by all undergraduate music students. During the course of two weeks, Battier will deliver talks on composition, ethnomusicology, music theory, and music technology, and visit classes to share and demonstrate electroacoustic music and other innovative techniques.
“I look forward to introducing the APU community to the diverse forms of electroacoustic music,” said Battier. “Today, electroacoustic music is widely used in classical contemporary music, as well as in experimental and improvised music. Conservatories and music schools all over the world teach it and attract many young composers. It has a captivating history and development, and I enjoy sharing this with audiences.”
“God has given imagination and the ability to create to each person, and visits from international musicians like Dr. Battier expand students’ understanding of possibilities in the world of music,” said Kimasi Browne, Ph.D., director of ethnomusicology and music research in the School of Music.
On February 27, the residency will culminate in Munson Recital Hall with a free concert open to the public. The audience will experience firsthand the creative landscapes of Battier's 21st century contemporary art music as international expertise and student talent converge. The APU Symphony Orchestra will perform the world premier of Battier’s original composition Rain Water for Symphony Orchestra, as well as Sibelius’ Symphony No. 5 and concertos featuring the student soloist winners from the College of Music and the Arts’ annual concerto competition: Yao Wang, cello; Michael Hong, clarinet; and Shotaro Matsumoto, piano.
“I want to show how contemporary music can result from imagination, the mastering of technology, and the presence of our various local cultures and traditions,” said Battier. “Placing orchestra instruments in electronic music settings has never been as easy as today, facilitating a unique diversity of sound. This is not music that depends solely on technology, but is driven by imagination and creativity. Technology is never the end goal, only a means to realize electronic sounds that derive from what instruments can do, enriching music as a whole.”