Simpson, Diana [Composer] (2007) Cipher. (Acousmatic). Brazil : PANaroma. (Música Maximalista / Maximal Music, no. 14: VII)


‘...I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.’ (Umberto Eco) Cipher explores a range of sound material associated with cryptography. Through the use of Morse code rhythms, mechanisms and electrical sparks, there are references to early mechanical devices built for code making and breaking purposes, in particular the Enigma encryption machine used during World War II. These elements are continually being revealed, obscured, repeated or interrupted, as is possible in the transmission of any code. Over the course of the piece, broken elements gradually merge to reveal voices, often very fragmented, and rarely intelligible. The original sound material was gathered from a variety of sources and includes Morse code, a typewriter, small mechanical parts and glass fragments. In addition, much of what might initially seem mechanical or ‘glitch’ to the listener may be derived from recordings of extended vocal techniques, performed by Sarah Alexander. The work was composed during a Bourges Competition residency at CEMI, the Center for Experimental Music and Intermedia at the University of North Texas, USA.

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