Lou Cohen (1937), a pioneer of software based in Boston,
returned to music when he
was about 60, mostly using a programmable synthesizer and
algorithmic and stochastic techniques. This led to the computer music
the triple-disc Music (Pogus, 2013).
The ten Shape compositions demonstrate how to create music using
mathematics, something that many have done in the 20th century, notably
Iannis Xenakis. One can assume that Cohen selected the patterns that
result in pleasant sounds to his ears. The droning mini-concerto
Harmonies delivers more powerful vibrations.
Homage To Cage is surprisingly clownesque, or, at least, dadaistic.
The brief Concerto, instead, represents a peak of melodrama, with
a much more calculated game of timbres and counterpoint.
Circles is a lighter sonata for whirling, hissing and whistling cosmic music.
Besides Harmonies and Concerto,
the highlights of this collection are the nine "symphonies", which are
sound collages (the shortest is less than seven minutes, the longest lasts
20 minutes). They range from
violently atonal and disjointed (Symphony 1) and
totally chaotic (Symphony 5)
old fashioned Schaeffer/Henry musique concrete (Symphony 3).
Symphony 8 is really a sonata for toy piano and electronics.
Possibly the standout is the
aphasic, intermittent and fleeting Symphony 2.
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