Monthly Archives: July 2013

José Vicente Asuar


José Vicente Asuar (born 20. July 1933 in Santiago de Chile) is a Chilean composer, who ranks among the pioneers of the electroacoustic music of its country. He studied in Santiago at the conservatoire and the catholic university and in Berlin (1959/60) with Boris Blacher and Josef Rufer and attended the courses of Daarmstadt. Also he is Civil Engineer. On 1958 he founds the first laboratory of electroacoustic music in Latin America, in the Catholic University of Chile, where he composes “Variaciones Espectrales”, his first electronic work. Soon he founds and he directs laboratories of electroacoustic music in Karlsruhe, Germany (1960), Caracas, Venezuela (1965) and in the University of Chile (1969). In 1978 he creates his own personal laboratory: COMDASUAR.
José Vicente Asuar is, along with Juan Amenábar, one of the pioneers of electroacoustic and computer music practise in Chile and in the whole Latinamerica region [Fumarola, 1998]. In 1958 he founded the “Estudio de Música Electronica” , the cronologically second one in Chile and in Latinamerica. His electroacoustic piece “Variaciones Espectrales” is one of the pioneer works in Latinamerica together with Juan Amenábar‘s “Los Peces”.
José Asuar was extremely aware of the computer music experiences that had been carried out in the USA, Canada and Europe from 1955 onwards, as he summarizes in his Paper “Un sistema para hacer música con un Microcomputador” [Asuar, 1980]. A sharp knowledge of the early and posterior achievements of Lejaren Hiller, Leonard Isaacson, Iannis Xenakis, and Max Mathews, among others, is undoubtedly present in the way he entered upon the COMDASUAR, and not only it; his background in the musical applications of computing science and programming is clearly noticeable in several of his previous pieces (both instrumental and electroacoustic), and in his articles published in the “Revista Musical Chilena” . His historical awareness is untypical in Latinamerica since most practitioners of electroacoustic music in Latinamerica in the time tended to work isolated with respect to their colleagues in North America and Europe.
If we are going to apply the distinction between ’electroacoustioc music’ and ’computer music’, it is very wise to state that whereas Juan Amenábar is the pioneer of electroacoustic music in Latinamerica, José Asuar is the pioneer of computer music in that subcontinent.
JV-Asuar-3-2In his book “La música electroacústica en Chile, 50 años” (The Electroacustic Music in Chile – 50 years) Federico Schumacher dedicates one chapter to introduce, describe and analyze the Asuar Digital Analog Computer: COMDASUAR, a personal computer dedicated exclusively to musical purposes built from scratch by José Vicente Asuar in 1978 in Santiago de Chile.
At the end of that chapter the author writes the following about the composer and engineer: “Hopefully these lines that we have written about everything done by him during more than thirty years of work in our electroacoustic music landscape, will pay a fair and perhaps forgotten tribute, to the person who has done more than anyone for electroacustic music in Chile”.
The construction of that laboratory gave him the opportunity to write his dissertation in order to get accreditation as Civil Engineer, and was also the origin of his activity as electroacustic composer. His text “En el umbral de una nueva era para la música” (In the Threshold of a New Era for Music, 1959) is a foundational theoretical text considering the possible impact of new technologies in musical production.
In his life, he won some prestigious composition prizes like the one in Bourges in 1975 for his work “Guararia Reparo” and the Dartmouth Arts Council Prize for his composition “Divertimento”. All along his career he was in contact with several important composers however Meyer-Eppler in Germany seems to be particularly important as wel as Juan Amenábar in Chile.
During his career as a musician and technician of electroacoustic music, Asuar mainly composes a great amount of works of electroacoustic, but also instrumental music, those that have been published in numerous discs in Chile and abroad. Asuar wrote the music to Imagén de Caracas, in one for 1200 visitors established theatres taking place performance for to eight film and forty-five still-picture projectors, music channels, singing voices and instruments. In addition it wrote compositions for electronic instruments, orchestra works as well as a Oktett for four flutes and four Schlagzeuger.


(from the writing of Martín Alejandro Fumarola – “Report Of The COMDASUAR” )

COMDASUAR stands for “Computador Analógico Digital Asuar” that translates “Asuar Digital Analog Computer”. This machine was conceived and assembled entirely by José Vicente Asuar in 1978.
His experience creating studios in Chile, Venezuela and Germany gave him mastery in the knowledge of sound studios and music labs. At the time he faced difficulties of starting the process of making a personal computer in a country in South America where no industry was ready to receive his technical research the critiques about his computer based compositions were in general quite positive. COMDASUAR was made with the idea of creating a tool to explore different possibilities of computer music, on the one hand there is a system to generate sound that was a mixture between a digital and analog process and on the other hand there is a system to create algorithmic musical pieces, called “heuristic software” in the words of Asuar himself.
There are many things that make his work unique, amongst other things there is the equilibrium between his role as technician, as composer and as writer; in every step of his career there are texts, albums and technical achievements that show the coherence and consistence of his production.
By the time José Vicente Asuar built COMDASUAR he already had composed music using computers, for instance he worked at the beginning of the seventies with the PDP 8 computer.
The CPU of COMDASUAR was an Intel 8080 processor, the sound was produced using 2 timers, each one with 3 voices, therefore COMDASUAR was polyphonic (6 voices). COMDASUAR’s software was completely programmed in machine language; some of the software that Asuar coded and called “heuristic software” can be considered today as algorithmic composition software. Asuar produced one educative and artistic album using COMDASUAR, that album is entitled “Así habló el computador” (Thus Spoke the Computer) he published a comprehensive report in 1980 about COMDASUAR in the journal “Revista Musical Chilena”.
Both the hardware and software (with 26 subprograms) components are further explained pointing out the computer-related compositional possibilities.
COMDASUAR has unique and pioneer role in the world history of computer music since it does not register any equivalent at the end of the seventies and serves for the revalorization of Latinamerica in the world context of electroacoustic and computer music.
His formation as engineer helped him out, evidently. The COMDASUAR puts into evidence, among other things, Asuar‘s deep understanding of the electronic side of computers’ architecture. Besides, the differenciation between supercomputing and microcomputers is mentioned in his articles, something that no other composer did in Latinamerica at that time. On the other hand, his musical training was very profondous, making easy for him to develop a very particular compositional thought, in which his influence from the serialism as well as from the stochastic approach are distinctive qualities. The COMDASUAR is the first computer music instrument in Latinamerica, bringing computing sciences applications and music together.
Before to the design and implementation of the COMDASUAR, José Asuar had several important accomplishments in electroacoustic and computer music, including meaningful instrumental pieces devised by computer music methodologies. Above all, the most important is “Formas I” (1970) produced in collaboration with the “Grupo de Investigaciones en Tecnología del Sonido” [Asuar, 1972]. That work makes application of probabilistic processes to composition, algorithms based on serialism but with probability, “directed probability”, histograms, sequences, and it is programmed in FORTRAN IV. Two vinil disks with Asuar’s pieces had been released before to the birth of the COMDASUAR: “El Computador Virtuoso”, and “Música Electrónica de José Vicente Asuar”.
comdasuar2The COMDASUAR is able to perform any musical score in an authomatic manner (i.e., with no human intervention), having a poliphonic capacity of up to 6 voices. It is completely tuned and sincronized, with the feasibility to choose the timbre for each voice. Its most outstanding compositional features include, for example: the possibility to develop heuristic programs, and to propose musical ideas based on probability and musical gambles. The COMDASUAR was the first musical instrument based on a microcomputer developed in Latinamerica. Some of its general characteristics are the following:
-unexpensive: the total cost of its components was around U$ 1,000 in 1978.
-broad range of use: from a home use replacing a piano until a concert performance including its use as a   tool for a composer.
-sounds produced in real time. It is possible to modify the musical results while they are listened to. Its    frequency range is equivalent to the audible range (8 octaves).
-poliphony of up to 6 voices
-standard QWERTY keyboard for data entry as well as a TV-like monitor
-sounds obtained from the microcomputer are square waves, which are passed on to analogical units    which transform them in the resulting timbres. It gives a balanced and equalized mixing result of the 6  voices that must be able for performance or recording.
-it can perform any musical score, offering heuristic possibilities.


The software is written in machine language and ocupies 5 Kbytes of memory. It has 26 subprograms, each one named with the letters of the alphabet from A to Z. Those subprograms are divided into:
A1 – Commands for the computer:
1) displays in the screen the content of the memory, 2) erases the screen (2 pages), 3) stores information in memory, 4) changes data in memory, 5) moves memory allocation, and 6) executes programs (2subprograms).
A2 – Operations with musical data:
1) introduces data (3 subprograms), 2) changes data, 3) removes data, 4) interpolates data, 5) moves pitches, and 6) moves durations.
A3 – Heuristic:
1) Canon, 2) Retrogradation, 3) transmutes tones, 4) transmutes durations, 5) probability, and 6) inserts groups of durations.
A4 – Convertion to sound:
1) with sincronism (2 subprograms), and 2) without sincronism.
A5 – Control of periphericals:
1) it records cassettes, and 2) plays cassettes.

All those programs of A are recorded in the EPROM so it is possible to resort them at any moment. In addition, other programs were developed, specially heuristic ones, which are stored in cassette and can be utilized from a certain location of RAM memory. In those cases, it is necessary to trespass the desired program from the cassette to the foreseen memory location. In fact, this allows to extend the memory capacity to an undefinied quantity of programs.

B – Musical Codes, each one expressed by its pitch and duration:
asuar-2B1 – Pitch, expressed in 3 ways:
Octaves: a number from 0 to 7, which implies 8 octaves
Grade in the scale: with letters according to the standards of American format: A, B, D, E, F, and G. R for the silence Cromatism: the standard, S, W, and Q
Quarter tones alterations: U = ascending quarter tone, T = three ascending quarter tones, V = descending quarter tone R = three descending quarter tones
B2 – Duration
It is expressed according to the terminology in Spanish: R = redonda, B = blanca, C = corchea, N = negra, S = semicorchea, F = fusa, M = semifusa, L = lunga, P = punto (it multiplies the previous value by 1.5). Any duration value can be obtained by the addition of the aforementioned values. Besides, the following ciphers are defined: 0 = normal, 3 = triplet, and so on for the irregular values.
B3 – Final Denomination
For the reading on the screen, the computer numbers automatically each tone. As soon as it is finished to write the pitch or duration of a tone, the composer presses the space bar, what is represented in the screen with the symbol /.
B4 – Redundancy
In order to simplify and speed up data introduction, the COMDASUAR takes advantage of the enormous redundancy of musical data. In this sense, only it is indicated to the computer those elements that change from tone to tone. Any element of notation like an octave, grade, cromatism, duration that keeps constant, it is not necessary to mention it, the computer assigns the value it had in the previous tone.
The COMDASUAR also takes advantage of redundancy by defining different modes of introducing musical data:
Mode 0 (J0): it is the usual mode. For each tone, its pitch and duration are indicated.
Mode 1 (J1): Constant duration. At the beginning, the value of the common duration to a tones series is indicated.
Mode 2 (J2): Constant pitch. At the beginning, the value of the common pitch to a rhytmical sequence is indicated.
Mode 4 (J4): Reiteration. This mode is utilized when a tones succession is repeated at least once. First, it is indicated the number of times it repeats, and then, the tones succession, which is limited by another mode indicator. This mode is specially useful for representing trills, tremoli, etc.
Mode 5 (J5): Repeats a sequence. This mode inserts a sequence that has already been written before. There is no limitation in the extension of the sequence to be repeated. Both the first and the last tone of the sequence to repeat are indicated.
B5 – Texture. Asuar defines the texture of a sound to “its variation like a glissando or a vibrato”.
Glissando. It is expressed like Mode 3 (J3) and defined indicating the pitches of the beginning and of the end of the glissando and its duration. The glissando is obtained as a fast succession of tones whose difference of frequency is very little and follows the direction of the glissando. The computer calculates the number of tones it must output and the frequency of each one, based on a fixed speed for the succession of tones. By employing this procedure it is possible to obtain any design of frequency variation.
Vibrato. It is calculated by points of a sinusoide whose axis is the central tone and its amplitude the 16th part of a tone. The frequence of repetition depends on the position of the Tempo regulator. For a Tempo N = 60, it is of 8 cicles per second. The computer calculates 32 points of this sinusoide according to a table. Due to the speed those sounds are issued, it happens something similar to the glissandi and a continuous vibrato is heard. The beginning of a vibrato is indicated as Mode 6 (J6) and its end as Mode 7 (J7). Between those 2 indications, any quantity of tones can be placed.

C – Heuristical Programs.
For José Asuar, heuristical programs are those ones in which the computer has a creative intervention (it issues a score in the memory) or acts as a performer (it manipulates a score stored in memory). The following programs are stored in the EPROM of the COMDASUAR:
C1 – Canon
C2 – Retrogradation. It is necessary to indicate the initial and the ending tones of the section that is retrograded.
C3 – Tones Transmutation. It can be run with at least two voices in memory. It allows to exchange the pitches of the tones corresponding to the 2 voices while the durations remain unchanged. It is mandatory to indicate from which tone in each voice the transmutation is realized.
C4 – Durations Transmutation. Similar to the previous one. It exchanges durations while keeping the pitches. José Asuar states that he developed these 2 programs influenced by his former Professor Boris Blacher. At this point, we have a wide spectrum of possibilities for composing music.
C5 – Probability. For this program it is necessary to define and quantify the musical elements that will be affected by probability. The COMDASUAR allows the simultaneous and independent probabilistic organization of registers, pitches, durations, harmony, and sound texture (vibrato and glissando).
C6 – Insertion of group of durations.
Normally, the tones lists sprouted by probabilistic programs are monotonous and unarticulated. With this program is possible to interpolate pauses and to make possible that tones groups of the probabilistic series have the same duration. The quantity of tones, its location and the constant duration are also calculated by probabilities.
C7 – Another heuristical programs.
José Asuar developed several additional heuristical programs for meeting the requirements of specific musical fragments. One of the best examples is the piece “Asi habló el Computador”, appearing in the LP of the same name, which was composed based on a numerical series and in various arithmetical gambles that determine the rhythm of some of its voices. In other compositions, José Asuar utilized aleatoric combination of groups of durations with groups of pitches. Of special interest are the weird mixtures, such as, of modal series with rhythmical series belonging to the serialism as well as using the melodies of the Argentinian vidalita, as in pieces of the LP “Asi habló el Computador”. Several procedures of the serialism were utilized.


asuar-1D – Tones obtainment
All tones are attained from an only quartz oscillator. This oscillator resounds at the frequency of 2,048 kilocicles and the different tones are obtained by divisions or subarmonics of this generating frequency. Let’s take the example of an oscillator that resounds at 28,160 cicles per second: it is outside of the audible spectra but if it is divided by 64 (the subarmonic of order 64), we obtain a pitch of 440 c.p.s. (A). Between 64 and 128 we have 64 possibilities of division or subarmonics, and if we choose all those that are nearer of the values of the tempered scale, we can obtain a musical scale of aproximate tuning. Therefore, the worse tuning, which corresponds to the high pitches, has a definition in the subarmonic 70, which is equivalent to a quarter tone, aproximately. The lower the pitch the better the tuning.Tones are get by a system of division of frequencies supplied by the INTEL Timer 8253. This Timer is capable of obtaining simultaneously 3 different subarmonics from the same generating frequency. With that purpose, the microprocessor delivers the dividing cipher, with a definition of 16 bits, to each one of the 3 dividers of the Timer, attaining the 3 tones as subarmonics of the same oscillator, having stable intervalic relations. In the COMDASUAR, it is possible to work either with a quartz oscillator that delivers a fixed frequency of 2,048 kilocicles or with an oscillator of variable frequency, which can be used manually or with voltage control. Therefore, there are two possibilities for obtaining the tones: by fixed tuning and by variable tuning.

E – Rhythm Obtainment
For producing rhythm, the COMDASUAR makes use of a quality of the microprocessors: the possibility to be ctivated by interruptions of the external media. The inner logics of the COMDASUAR has a program for interruptions waiting. When an interruption comes, the microprocessor goes to execute the main program, which consists in decrementing the counters in charge of counting the duration of each tone. As soon as the counters are decremented, the microprocessor goes again to the program of interruptions waiting in order to repeat the process. The COMDASUAR employs a multivibrator of variable frequency for generating the interruption pulses which allows to manually obtain accelerandi and retardandi. The maximal speed is around the 19 or 20 tones per second and per voice.

F – Analogic equipment
For each voice, one filter with voltage control, one envelope generator, and one amplifier with voltage control are built. The control voltages for the filters are obtained from six digital-analogic converters connected to 7 bits of each port of two paralel interfaces (Programmable Peripheral Interface, INTEL 8255). The 8th. bit is used as trigger for launching the envelope generator. Three of the voices have at their disposal a wave form generator, which consists in a demultiplexor that divides the square wave in a wave of 8 segments. The original frequency is divided in eight parts as well, i.e., the pitch of the tone decreases in 3 octaves. By passing this stepped wave through the filter, it is possible to attain different spectrums, in which it is possible to gamble with the relative magnitudes of the first 8 harmonics. With this procedure it is possible to achieve a very convincing synthesis of many well-known timbres, such as of some acoustic instruments.
The COMDASUAR also includes additional analogic equipment for the generation of effects: a white noise generator, a rose noise generator, two ring modulators used for getting inarmonic espectra like bell sounds, two tremolo generators, two generators of functions oscillating at low frequency with the goal of generating sinusoidal, triangle, and square voltages, which control filters and amplifiers for attaining different effects (vibrato, tremolo, etc.). A dephaser for accomplishing spatial-like effects as well as complementary units like inverters, multipliers, mixers, reverberators, etc. are also available in the COMDASUAR.

G – Scores storage.
The RAM memory where musical data are stored has a size of 2 Kbytes. Because of the simplicity of many codes and to the information reduction by redundancy, this memory size allows to store up to 2,000 tones in the 6 voices. This information is physically placed within a cassette. The ransference of music data from the cassette to the memory of the COMDASUAR is very fast, it takes only a few seconds.

H – Synchronism.
As it was stated before, the poliphonic capacity of the COMDASUAR is up to 6 voices. For producing performances of more than 6 voices, it allows to syncronize them by resorting multi-track equipment. In the case of a 4 track recorder, one track is appointed to record a pulse for originating the interruptions. In the remaining 3 tracks, up to 18 voices (up to 6 in each individual track) can be recorded with total sincronism. For the recording of the pieces featured in the LP “Asi habló el Computador”, a 2 tracks REVOX A77 tape recorder was utilized. The sincronism in the 2 tracks was obtained by recording a reference tone at the very beginning of track holding the first recording. After the issuance of that tone, the COMDASUAR counts certain amount of time and starts to perform the score. For syncronizing the second recording, it is necessary to play the track with the reference tone, and after this last one, the computer begins to play the new score.


The COMDASUAR has been useful not only for high-end computer-based composition but also for pedagogical and teaching purposes. Many of its features were an advance of computer music developments that came years later. José Asuar then suggested several new additions and improvements that made the COMDASUAR an authentical tool for
composing and real-time performing music, for instance, the inclussion of piano-like keyboards, firstly one monophonic, then two monophonic, and finally one polyphonic. Sensors and optoelectronic devices have also been tried and this could have the most important potential field for its development. The COMDASUAR is a pride for Latinamerica and has to be included in all the manuals and handbook listing and describing pioneer computer music instruments. The uniqueness of the COMDASUAR as a sequencer, a score editor, an algorithmic composition tool, and a sound synthesis program puts it in the same seat of honor as the key computer music developments of the USA and Europe.

Selected discography:


Jose Vicent Asuar ‎– Obra Electroacústica (3xCD)

nw 2013-07-28 Jose Vicente Asuar

Electronic- / electroacoustic music series

José Vicente Asuar born 80 years ago, on 20th July1933. Because in this show I present the following musics.

Jose Vicente Asuar ‎– Obra Electroacústica 3 x CD Box


In mid 2005, when Pueblo Nuevo Netlabel started their activities, opening their platform to Electroacoustic Music was nothing but a wish of their founders. Five years later, their catalog presents several landmarks in that respect, becoming also a meeting place for musicians and sound artists from different generations.
It is José Vicente Asuar who offers now his important and pioneer work to us – an enormous and unreachable corpus for these notes to comment upon. However, it is an excellent chance to refer to these endless acts of justice we have been privileged to witness from time to time.
Each time some Chilean-music-related material is reissued, feelings of joy and asking-for-more surface: most of these pieces were scattered into long ago out-of-print LPs and cassettes. And that also involves a challenge: becoming active re-searchers of our sound memoire and stop waiting for others to do it, talking to our past and our future via these sounds – true and faithful pictures of our identity.
This carefully crafted compilation contains an unvaluable piece of history, comprising the complete electroacoustic works of the chilean master and pioneer – José Vicente Asuar

1. Variaciones Espectrales (1959): Tape music.
Used as soundtrack for “Germinal” ballet piece. Choreography by Germán Silva. Premiered in May 1964 by Ballet de Arte Moderno. Teatro Municipal. Santiago, 1964.
2. Preludio La Noche (1961): Tape music.
Composed at Technische Horschule Studio, Karlsruhe, Germany. Used as soundtrack for “Germinal” ballet piece. Choreography by Germán Silva. Premiered in May 1964 by Ballet de Arte Moderno. Teatro Municipal. Santiago, 1964.
3. Serenata para mi voz y sonidos sinusoidales (1961): Tape music.
Unfinished piece, labeled “out-of-catalog” by the composer. Composed at Technische Horschule Studio, Karlsruhe, Germany.
4. Estudio Aleatorio (1961): Tape music.
Unfinished piece, labeled “out-of-catalog” by the composer. Composed at Technische Horschule Studio, Karlsruhe, Germany.
5. Catedral (1968): Tape music. Original version in 4-track tape.
Part of “Imagen de Caracas” (multimedia work commissioned by Consejo Municipal de Caracas, Venezuela, celebrating 400th years of the city foundation).
6. Divertimento (1967): Tape music.
First Prize at International Electronic and Computer Music Contest, sponsored by Darthmouth Arts Council, USA. Part of “Imagen de Caracas”.
7. Caleidoscopio (1968): Tape music. Original version in 4-track tape.
Part of “Imagen de Caracas”.
8. La Noche II (1967): Tape music.

1. José Vicente Asuar ‎– Obra Electroacústica (2011, 3xCD, Pueblo Nuevo ‎– PN_CD 08) CD1 1. Variaciones Espectrales (1959)
2. Preludio La Noche (1961)
6. Divertimento (1967)
7. Caleidoscopio (1968)
8. La Noche II (1967)


1. Guararia Repano (1968): Tape music.
Winner of 3rd. Concours International de Musique Electroacoustique de Bourges (1975).
2. Buffalo ’71 (1971): Tape music.
Composed at New York University Electronic Music Studio.
3. Affaires des Oiseaux (1976): Tape music.
Commissioned by Groupe de Musique Electroacoustique de Bourges GMEB.
4. Amanecer (1977): Tape music.
Composed at nowadays Institut für Sprache und Kommunikation at Technische Universität Berlin, Germany.
5. Elegía (1982): Tape music.

2. José Vicente Asuar ‎– Obra Electroacústica (2011, 3xCD, Pueblo Nuevo ‎– PN_CD 08) CD2 1. Guararia Repano (1968)
3. Affaires des oiseaux (1976)
5. Elegía (1982)


1. Diálogos (1985): Tape music.
Premiered in October 1985 at Festival Anacrusa. Sala Goethe. Santiago, Chile.
2. En el Jardín (1985): Tape music.
3. En el Infinito (1987): Tape music.
4. Erase una vez (1989): Tape music.
5. Cuatro Piezas Instrumentales (1989): Tape music.

3. José Vicente Asuar ‎– Obra Electroacústica (2011, 3xCD, Pueblo Nuevo ‎– PN_CD 08) CD3 5. Cuatro Piezas Instrumentales (1989)

You can listen  here (beginning from 0:00):

no wave 2013-07-28: part1
no wave 2013-07-28: part2
no wave 2013-07-28: part3
no wave 2013-07-28: part4

阿部薫 (Kaoru Abe)


阿部薫 (Kaoru Abe) (born May 3, 1949 Kawasaki Cityben, Kanagawa prefekture) was an influential Japanese avant-garde / free jazz alto saxophonist who generally played solo, and is often regarded as having the greatest abrasive saxophone sound. He died young from a drug overdose, and has been romanticized in the Japanese jazz underground. He was married to the author Izumi Suzuki, and was the subject of the film Endless Waltz by the director Koji Wakamatsu. Self-taught at a young age. Collaborators included Masayuki Takayanagi, Derek Bailey, Sabu Toyozumi, Aquirax Aida, and Motoharu Yoshizawa. Those said to have been influenced by Abe include Otomo Yoshihide and Masayoshi Urabe. He was cousin with the famous singer Kyu Sakamoto.
To some listeners, this avant-garde Japanese player from the ’70s wins the sweepstakes for the most abrasive saxophone sound in history, an important competition indeed in this genre. With some saxophonists claiming their tone can remove coats of varnish from antiques, cook a 20-pound goose in one hour, or even wound a small rodent at 200 feet, there is no denying the impact of Kaoru Abe on alto sax; and on clarinet, he hardly harbored ambitions to be the new Artie Shaw. Unfortunately, his premature death meant he never lived to see the heyday of Japanese avant-garde music, nor enjoy the prestige his type of abilities on saxophone might have garnered him as the interest in free jazz increased in the ’90s. He also never held at least half of his releases in his hands, since some of the best material from this player was only released in the years after his death.
The entire CD format, allowing the expansive playing time required to properly document his unfolding energy discourse, was also not something he lived to enjoy. Several small labels have practically created cottage industries out of his posthumous releases, pumping out an annual multiple-CD set for several years running. Fans of his playing tend to count backwards from the date of his death to the recording date, the higher the resulting number basically indicating the greater possibility of genius contained within. There are several explanations of this, one rooted in debauchery, and the other in perhaps a worse curse, multi-instrumentalism.
wind2At any rate, this performer’s lifestyle is said to have been soaked with liquor, stuffed with drugs, and sniffing with loneliness and tragedy. It had enough of these elements to inspire a movie treatment, nonetheless, so fans of Japanese free jazz have the option of searching for the film Endless Waltz, which supposedly tells the tale of his marriage to the writer Suzuki Izumi — who had even more problems than he did, if the screenplay is to be believed. In the decade that he didn’t quite finish out, the ’70s, some fans feel his talents sizzled with the inevitability of a roaring fire that is repeatedly doused with filthy water. If this was the case, he certainly shouldn’t be blamed personally for following a lifestyle that many believe to be required for such a career. Dexter Gordon performed brilliantly after drinking entire bottles of vodka, and several acknowledged free jazz masterpieces were recorded by players whipped out of their minds on LSD.
Some of the lack of appeal of Abe’s later material has got to come not from the perception that he is out of it but from his introduction of other instruments, including the dreaded harmonica and crudely played guitar. Historically, there are few known cases of saxophonists being praised for adding other instruments into their arsenal, so any critical about-face on this issue can be considered an important development in itself. Other Japanese music scholars have praised the later-Abe material and his use of diverse instruments, but even they seem to feel his work on the alto saxophone has never been equalled. One thing is for sure, no matter how extremely noisy the Japanese music scene has gotten, it has yet to produce another reed player as good as this one.
His solo sets were said to be the peak of his creative form, but he also took advantage of opportunities to record with the master American free jazz drummer Milford Graves and the British father of free improvisation, guitarist Derek Bailey. Abe contributes immensely powerful playing to these two completely different contexts. He also can be heard on recordings with other Japanese free players, such as the Aida’s Call album, in which he holds forth with dynamic trumpeter Toshinori Kondo and virtuoso bassist Motoharu Yoshizawa. One of Abe’s earliest groupings was the New Directions duo in 1970 with Masayuki Takayanagi.
He died September 9, 1978.


Selected discography:

kurai nichiyoubi2kaze ni fukarete2akashia no ame ga yamu2
last2studiosession2solo19720121-2kagayakeru nintai2trio2bed2abe713-2

Abe ・ Yoshizawa ‎– 北 [Nord] Duo ’75
Abe-Toyozumi Duo ‎– Overhang-Party – A Memorial To Kaoru Abe
Kaoru Abe ‎– Mort À Crédit
Kaoru Abe ‎– Solo Live At Gaya Vol. 1
Kaoru Abe ‎– Solo Live At Gaya Vol. 2
Kaoru Abe ‎– Solo Live At Gaya Vol. 3
Kaoru Abe ‎– Solo Live At Gaya Vol. 4
Kaoru Abe ‎– Solo Live At Gaya Vol. 5
Kaoru Abe ‎– Solo Live At Gaya Vol. 6
Kaoru Abe ‎– Solo Live At Gaya Vol. 7
Kaoru Abe ‎– Solo Live At Gaya Vol. 8
Kaoru Abe ‎– Solo Live At Gaya Vol. 9
Kaoru Abe ‎– Solo Live At Gaya Vol. 10
Kaoru Abe ‎– Solo Live At Gaya
阿部薫 ‎– 彗星 (Partitas)
阿部薫 ‎– 暗い日曜日 (Kurai Nichiyoubi)
阿部薫 ‎– 風に吹かれて (Kaze Ni Fukarete)
阿部薫 / 佐藤康和 ‎– アカシアの雨がやむとき ‎(Akashia No Ame Ga Yamu)
Abe Kaoru ‎– Last Date 8. 28, 1978
Kaol Abe ‎– Studio Session 1976.3.12
阿部薫 ‎– またの日の夢物語 [Solo.1972.1.21]
阿部薫 ‎– 光輝く忍耐
阿部薫 ‎– Trio 1970年3月, 新宿
阿部薫 ・ 山崎弘 ‎– Jazz Bed
阿部薫 ‎– Winter 1972
阿部薫 ‎– 遥かな旅路
高柳昌行・阿部薫 ‎– 解体的交感
高柳昌行・阿部薫 ‎– 漸次投射 Gradually Projection
高柳昌行・阿部薫 ‎– 集団投射 Mass Projection
Kaoru Abe / Motoharu Yoshizawa / Toshinori Kondo / Derek Bailey ‎– Aida’s Call
阿部薫 ‎– The Last Recording
Kaoru Abe & Sabu Toyozumi ‎– Overhang Party / Senzei
阿部薫 ‎– CD Box 1970-1973
阿部薫 ‎– 未発表音源+初期音源

no wave 2013-07-14: 阿部薫 (Kaoru Abe)

Improvising music series

阿部薫 (Kaoru Abe) died 35 years ago, on 9th September 1978. Because in this show I present the following musics

Derek Bailey ‎– Duo & Trio Improvisation


This 1978 recording finds the estimable British guitarist in the musical company of several members of the cutting edge of the Japanese jazz avant-garde of the time. These musicians, including Kaoru Abe (who died later that year), the late bassist Motoharu Yoshizawa, and the trumpeter Toshinori Kondo match Bailey.
The duo between Bailey and Kondo, wielding two trumpets simultaneously, is a small gem of concise free improv, while the trio with Abe and saxophonist Mototeru Takagi screams along with abandon. The session includes a couple of duos between Kondo and Takagi. One is a brief piece with each on multiple horns, sounding very much as though intended in tribute to Rahsaan Roland Kirk, who had died a few months prior to this recording. The other is a very attractive, considered performance beginning with watery lines that escalate into cascading torrents of sound. When the trio that opened the disc (Bailey, Yoshizawa, and drummer Toshi Tsuchitori) returns for a finale, the listener has the sense of having witnessed an intriguing roundtable of ideas, a meeting of cultures that turned out to not be very different. Duo & Trio Improvisations isn’t an earthshaking entry in Bailey‘s lengthy discography, but a fine and absorbing listen, worthy of notice.

1. Derek Bailey ‎– Duo & Trio Improvisation (2003, CD, Kitty Records ‎– MKF 1034)

3. Improvisation 23 (Derek Bailey, Kaoru Abe & Mototeru Takagi)

阿部薫 (Kaoru Abe) ‎– 暗い日曜日 (Kurai Nichiyobi)


Kurai Nichiyobi (Sombre Dimanche) collects material from two shows, the first on December 4 (1971) at the Akita University Festival, the other two days later at a jazz coffee shop. From the earlier is drawn one track, a sensational version of ‘After The Acacia Rain’. A radically different to that on Acacia No Ame Ga Yamu Toki (performed only five weeks earlier), this is classic Abe. He plays scant regard to the original, contemptuously intoning its basic tune before proceeding to completely tear it to shit. The one track which illustrates Abe at a massive early career peak, it’s an unbelievably frenetic, jumpy, and deliberately rough-around-the-edges performance, and also the one on which an Ayler influence is easily detectable (not just because of its audible ‘Ghosts’ rip) – an almost comically brassy reference to the original, followed by a vicious, breakneck flight into the ether, with ‘Sombre Dimanche’ later given the same kind of treatment.
It’s followed by an equally impressive alto improvisation (‘Alto Saxophone Solo Improvisation’) which, though not as heart-shakingly intense, demonstrates more technical strings to Abe‘s bow. Sort of a demonstration of technique, it amplifies at length a series of his favourite tricks with the instrument: short, brutally blown tones, abruptly gushed out one on top of another in a staircase of sound, and periods of overblowing so harsh as to resemble a form of electronic distortion, speedily juxtaposed with playful melodic cadences. Here Abe is all over the saxophone’s range, leaping from one end of the spectrum to the other with astonishing skill and dazzling pace.
Also included is a bass clarinet improvisation, which further argues the point made by the PSF CDs – that Abe‘s work on the bass clarinet is fundamentally different to his work on the alto saxophone, beyond any blandly obvious contrast in basic sound between the two instruments. Though certainly not afraid to abuse the bass clarinet in his typically frantic manner, Abe was seemingly enamoured of the muted, sombre palette it could project. Hearing a piece as restrained comes as a relief shock after the two preceding alto screams, and no doubt it provided some relief for those who witnessed the performance. It’s fairly typical of Abe‘s bass clarinet excursions: cautious tinkering with pretty, melodic note structures interspersed with tones drawn out and slowly faded – though this is hardly ‘soundscaping’.

2. 阿部薫 (Kaoru Abe) ‎– 暗い日曜日 (Kurai Nichiyobi) (1997, CD, Tokuma Japan Corporation ‎– TKCA-71096)

1. アカシアの雨がやむとき (After The Acacia Rain)
4. 暗い日曜日 (Sombre Dimanche)

阿部薫 (Kaoru Abe) ‎– 未発表音源+初期音源
(Mi Happyou Ongen + Shoki Ongen)
CD BOX 1970~1973


Abe at his best! Crudely generalising a contrast in free jazz tendencies between AMM/SME/MIC/FMP and AACM/ESP, it’s hard to say if Abe‘s closer to the gentle, bearded intellectualism of some European improvisation, or to the gutsier funk of more US freedom fighters. Up there with the best of both Western sides of the sea, but unlike any one from either, his stroppy, razor-sharpening alto style mixes tousled emotionalism with dogged puzzling, like an amalgam of Anthony Braxton and a sadder, angrier Albert Ayler.
DIW released Mass Projection, a previously unissued material dating from a July 1970 gig which sounds as full-bore heavy and straight-up phenomenal as one could hope. This was originally going to come out on PSF, but DIW naughtily intervened – after the deal with PSF had been agreed – with a significantly larger offer to secure the release. Mass Projection – the title a reference to Takayanagi‘s philosophy of improvisation – is sufficiently harsh that it could, with the benefit of hindsight, be regarded as a kind of proto-snuff jazz, in that its only real point of comparison is the wall-flattening roar that Borbetomagus would begin conjuring up 10 years later. The two pieces here – 29 and 24 minutes long respectively, I’m told they were the first and third pieces from the gig in question – see Takayanagi and Abe levelling breathtakingly intense ear-shredding salvoes at each other. Takayanagi is simply sensational, extracting vicious, razor-edge feedback skrees from his guitar which slice gaping holes in the air; Abe, as one would expect, rises to the challenge, meeting Takayanagi head-on, and going all-out to match him blast for blast. Neither lets up an inch (though there is a brief period of respite about 17 minutes into the second track) and, unlike Kaitaiteki kokan, a real musical synthesis is achieved: feedback and noise deployed with musical intelligence and skill and deep reserves of energy to create an intimidatingly dense and textured roaring din, which at this point on the historical timeline was pretty much unprecedented. One of those uncategorisable archival releases that’s not a “new” album and not a reissue, Mass Projection is thrilling, sensational, a revelation – this could well be some of the heaviest music we’ve yet heard from either player.

3. 阿部薫 (Kaoru Abe) ‎– 未発表音源+初期音源 (2012, 4 x CD Box, Youth Inc. ‎– YOUTH-165) (CD1)
高柳昌行・阿部薫* ‎– 集団投射 (Mass Projection)
1. 阿部薫・高柳昌行 Duo – 1970.7.9 Station ’70

Kaoru Abe ‎– Mort À Crédit


After the Partitas double album (recorded 1973, released 1981), Mort À Credit was to become the last Abe album to be released in his lifetime.
Mort À Credit was the title given to Céline‘s novel, not a coincidence and an analogy that makes at least a little bit of sense – Abe was reportedly a major Céline fan, and his solo disks on PSF have Japanese translations of Céline text attached to the songtitles in the CD inserts. It consists of two alto improvs from a show on October 18, 1975, and five more (three on alto, two on sopranino) from another performance a couple of days earlier. Released by Kojima on 2LP in 1976 (the reissue does not appear to contain any unreleased material), it can be said to mark a significant change in Abe‘s style.
It seems that Abe had lost a little of his urgency – this can perhaps be in part attributed to the passage of time – and become more interested in spacing and the exact rhythms of phrasing. While never entirely ignorant of these concerns, by now they had come very much to the fore, as is illustrated by the two recordings from the earlier show here, in which roughly cut-off notes are spaced so regularly that their rhythms are like watching a slowed-down strobelight. With run after run of harsh, crude and almost bawdy staccato honking, Abe speedily races through the octaves in ascending and descending anti-order cadence. He breaks regularly into very shrill squeaks and squeals (and the occasional bold wail-melody) and references non-existent simplistic and just about jokey tunes. The eventual effect is like having someone tapdance on stilletoes on your temple. The recording of these two tracks, mastered for CD reissue directly and audibly from the vinyl, both suffers and benefits from either ill-considered microphone placement or unpredictable stage movement on the part of Abe – some passages are about 50% clearer than others, and at more than one point the fidelity swings sharply, moving from distant, muffled high-pitch screeching tones to furious forehead-centre blowing gusts in virtual machine-gun arc.
Of the three alto tracks from the October 16 performance, the first is the most impressive. Again beginning with twisting, dancing note clusters that somersault forth from the speakers, Abe soon moves into the increasingly familiar technique of aching, wrenching bursts of heavy shrieking alto, separated by stopwatched periods of silence. Dwelling almost exclusively in the upper register, Abe sets upon the sounds lying within a limited tonal range and squeezes hard, eking an incredibly broad range of textures from an ostensibly small palette.

4. Kaoru Abe ‎– Mort À Crédit (1995, 2 x CD, ALM Records ‎– ALCD-8,9) CD1

1. Alto Improvisation No.1
2. Alto Improvisation No.2

You can listen here (from 0:00):

no wave 2013-07-14: part1
no wave 2013-07-14: part2
no wave 2013-07-14: part3
no wave 2013-07-14: part4

Roberto Cacciapaglia


Roberto Cacciapaglia (born in Milan) is an Italian pianist and composer.
Cacciapaglia received his degree in music composition from the Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi in Milan, under the direction of Bruno Bettinelli. While at the Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi he also studied orchestra direction and electronic music. Roberto has also worked for the Department of Phonology at RAI (Italy’s national television station) in Milan and has collaborated with the CNR (National Research Council) of Pisa, where he studied computer applications in the field of music.
Cacciapaglia is a prominent figure on the more innovative Italian music scene and a point of reference in Italy and abroad, for his musical research between classical and experimental electronic and direction towards music without borders that goes beyond divisions. For some time, he was involved in studying sacred music and dance, and for a number of years he has conducted a research effort that studies the powers of sound. His music draws inspiration from these experiences and passes through emotions rather than through traditional rules and structure.
His full legacy extending not only over the field of electronic music, but also into avant-gardism, into a (decidedly) different language of rock, into computer-based music or natural experimenting, into classical opuses and into concept-filled fresh, generic art-leaning language.
In his music, Cacciapaglia generally blurs (or melds, better said) the line between classical and electronic, between orchestral and soloistic designated playing, between fully-researched and improvised music, between tradition(al) and emotion-driven ingenuity. Much of what he offers is down with avant-garde impulses and with an artistic superior code.


Selected discography: 


Roberto Cacciapaglia ‎– Sonanze
Roberto Cacciapaglia ‎– Sei Note In Logica
Roberto Cacciapaglia ‎– Generazioni Del Cielo
Roberto Cacciapaglia ‎– Angelus Rock
Roberto Cacciapaglia ‎– Ann Steel
Roberto Cacciapaglia ‎– Tra Cielo e Terra
Roberto Cacciapaglia ‎– Arcana
Roberto Cacciapaglia ‎– Tempus Fugit
Roberto Cacciapaglia ‎– Quatro Tempo
Roberto Cacciapaglia ‎– Canone Degli Spazi ‎
Roberto Cacciapaglia ‎– Ten Directions
Roberto Cacciapaglia ‎– Live from Milan

no wave 2013-06-30: Roberto Cacciapaglia

Rock music series

 I present the following Roberto Cacciapaglia‘s musics.

Roberto Cacciapaglia ‎– Sonanze


An influential member of the Italian avant-garde, Roberto Cacciapaglia has spent the last four decades blurring the lines between classical and electronic music, developing a sound that has never been restricted by genre. A classically trained pianist and composer from Milan, Cacciapaglia first came to prominence in the early seventies as keyboardist for the king of experimental Italian pop, Franco Battiato on his legendary second LP Pollution. After recording his own debut LP, 1975’s Sonanze in Milan, Cacciapaglia traveled to the Ohr / Cosmic Couriers studios in Cologne to mix the results under the watchful of eye of krautrock overlord Rolf-Kaiser Ulrich (Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, Ash Ra Tempel). The resulting album was a mix of electronic (moog, synth) and classical instruments (guitar, oboe, trombone, clarinet) that was experimental in the cosmische sense.
Cacciapaglia self-produced the album in Milan for the Cosmic Couriers label, and it certainly brings echoes of some cosmiche kraut experiments like those of Popol Vuh, Klaus Schulze or Tangerine Dream, yet retaining a unique personality of its own.
Actually it’s the feel given by Cacciapaglia‘s mixture of classical sense compositions with adventurous experimentalism what makes the sound of Sonanze so unique. Through this work, Cacciapaglia entered into contact with various German music groups such as: Popol Vuh, Tangerine Dream, Wallenstein, Dieter Darks.
180 gram vinyl. Comes with a bonus CD of the album, includes15 bonus tracks recorded between 1972-74.

1. Roberto Cacciapaglia ‎– Sonanze (2013, LP + CD, Мирумир ‎– MR 100702)

Sonanze / Sonances
1. 1st Movement
2. 2nd Movement
3. 3rd Movement
4. 4th Movement
5. 5th Movement
6. 6th Movement
7. 7th Movement
8. 8th Movement
9. 9th Movement
10. 10th Movement

Roberto Cacciapaglia ‎– Sei Note In Logica / Six Notes


Sublime minimal sounds from Italian composer Robert Cacciapaglia – a record we’d rank right up there with the 70s best from Terry Riley, Steve Reich, and Philip Glass! Cacciapaglia follows in a tradition begun by other Italian modernists – like Giusto Pio and Franco Battiatto – but he also adds in phase-oriented playing that really opens things up – a beautifully lyrical vibe that’s probably most close to Terry Riley in its hypnotic swell, but which is carried off here through complicated variations of strings, woodwinds, electronics, marimba, and some especially great vocal passages! The cover’s as wonderful as the music.
Cacciapaglia‘s second album from 1979 featuring the title composition scored for voices, orchestra, and computer. This newly remastered edition also includes the original unreleased acoustic version. This early LP is an anomaly in his output and seems to be his take on the then-current Minimal trend, as the music and instrumentation is highly reminiscent of both Fred Rzewski’s “Coming Together” and Steve Reich’s “Octet” (which, to be fair, Cacciapaglia probably hadn’t heard since it came out at the same time as this LP). But the wild card here is the incorporation of computer sounds–pretty novel for the time, and used to awesome effect. A massive influence on Jim O’Rourke (just ask him) and I’ll bet Fennesz is well aware of this disc as well. Ace photo of a tennis court on the cover too (a pretty Minimalist sport, when you think about it).” Alan Licht – Minimal top ten

2. Roberto Cacciapaglia ‎– Sei Note In Logica / Six Notes (2001, CD, Proper ‎– SP005)

Sei Note In Logica
1. Sei Note In Logica (Original Version) First Part
2. Sei Note In Logica (Original Version) Second Part

3. Roberto Cacciapaglia ‎– Sonanze (2013, LP + CD, Мирумир ‎– MR 100702)

11. Skywaves
12. Electric Avenues
13. Birds Over Prague

4. Roberto Cacciapaglia ‎– Sei Note In Logica / Six Notes (2001, CD, Proper ‎– SP005)

Six Notes
1. Six Notes (Acoustic Version) First Part
2. Six Notes (Acoustic Version) Second Part *

You can listen here (beginning from 0:34):

no wave 2013-06-30: part1
no wave 2013-06-30: part2
no wave 2013-06-30: part3
no wave 2013-06-30: part4