Music festival celebrates electronic sounds

Since before the dawn of computers, man has expanded the capabilities of electricity and technology in music, seeking to express beauty and reality as potently as through the traditional symphony, poem or fresco.

The Electronic Music Festival at Butler University celebrates the accomplishments of electronic music­—a genre born of software, circuits and wires. The pieces featured on the program make use of altered recorded and synthesized electronic sounds.

The concert is programmed by Frank Felice, an associate professor of music, who is no stranger to this electronic genre. Felice said that his love for the art form grew from his participation in rock ‘n’ roll bands in high school and jam sessions in his garage.

Since entering the realm of art music from his rock foundations, Felice has done much work with electronic music, including a record released with Capstone Records called “Sidewalk Music.”

Felice said the concert features works from both professional composers and students.

Describing how he picked which works to program, he said, “In many ways it’s like curating any other concert,” where the goals are variety, uniqueness and a mastery of technique.

Student composers said the electronic medium provides a new outlet for musical expression.

Brian Spicklemire, a graduate composition student who has a piece in the concert, said he likes having no limitations and complete creative control.

“I can create or manipulate virtually any sound I can think of,” Spicklemire said.

Graduate student and composer Drew Worthen said that while it is true that with electronic music “you are not limited to the comparatively few sonic resources that the orchestra has to offer,” he prefers to have the human element of performers in his pieces.

His piece on Sunday’s program features recordings of three actual trains from various times of history, calling to mind Steve Reich’s hybrid piece “Different Trains.”

Felice said he believes experimentation is an important part of working with electronic music.  This musical genre seems naturally averse to conformity and Sunday’s concert appears to be full of novel approaches and refreshing uniqueness.

The Electronic Music Festival is free and open to the public.  It is scheduled for 8 p.m. on Jan. 29 in Lilly Hall.

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