IRCAM: Recherche & Création
March 6, 2012
Asynchrony, Plesiochrony, and Virtual Tempos: Thoughts on Rhythm and Time
John MacCallum, composer
John MacCallum will present an overview of his recent work related to music with multiple, independent, smoothly-varying tempi. While working at the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT, UC Berkeley), he developed a number of software tools to help composers navigate the myriad technical challenges that present themselves to those wishing to work with such material. In addition to these technical challenges, one must find common musical ground on which the different performers may meet despite their lack of a unifying tempo. He will discuss his recent work Aberration for percussion trio as well as recent works by composer Edmund Campion that represent attempts to make musical sense out of temporal chaos.
John MacCallum is a composer based, since 2004, in Oakland, CA. From 2008–2011 he held a position as Musical Systems Designer at the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT). While there, he designed a number of software tools including some useful for composing and performing music with multiple, independent, smoothly-varying tempos, which resulted in his composition Aberration (2010) for percussion trio and continues to inform his current work. In addition to his interest in polytemporal music, MacCallum’s compositional work is heavily reliant on technology both as a compositional tool and as an integral aspect of the performance of a piece. His works often employ carefully constrained algorithms that are allowed to evolve differently and yet predictably each time they are performed.
John holds degrees from the University of the Pacific (B.M. in Composition/Theory), McGill University (M.M. in Composition), and the University of California, Berkeley (Ph.D. in Music Composition). In 2007, while working on his doctorate, John was awarded a FACE (French American Cultural Exchange) Fellowship to work at the Centre International de Récherche Musicale (CIRM) and to study composition and electronic music with Michel Pascal at the Conservatoire de Nice and the Université de Nice Sophia Antipolis.
John is currently a Visiting Lecturer at Northeastern University where he teaches composition and electronic music.