MATRIXSYNTH: Eduard Artemyev, Coil, and the ANS Synthesizer

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Eduard Artemyev, Coil, and the ANS Synthesizer

Mr. Array wrote in after coming across this gem. "I think the original score was written in the 70's, so the photos of the Emulator and such are a bit anachronistic. Cool track. This theme was later remixed in 2001 by the group PPK"

Eduard Artemyev - Siberiade theme

YouTube via gobodrodiont

"Эдуард Артемьев - музыка к фильму Сибириада"
"Eduard Artemiev - music for the film Sibiriada"

After a little digging Mr. Array found an interesting bit of history regarding Eduard Artemyev. He was one of the few composers that used the ANS Synthesizer.

Regarding the ANS via Wikipedia [per GNU Free Documentation License]: "The ANS synthesizer is a photoelectronic musical instrument created by Russian engineer Evgeny Murzin from 1937 to 1957. The technological basis of his invention was the method of photo-optic sound recording used in cinematography (developed in Russia concurrently with America), which made it possible to obtain a visible image of a sound wave, as well as to realize the opposite goal - synthesizing a sound from an artificially drawn sound wave.

In this case the sine waves generated by the ANS are printed onto five glass discs using a process which Murzin (an optical engineer) had to develop himself. Each disc has 144 individual tracks printed onto it, producing a total of 720 microtones (discrete pitches) available to the user. These are arranged vertically from low frequencies at the bottom to high frequencies at the top. The convolved light is then projected onto the back of the synthesizer's interface.

This consists of a glass plate covered in opaque black "mastic" which constitutes a drawing surface upon which the user makes marks by scratching through the mastic, and therefore allowing light to pass through at that point. In front of the glass plate sits a vertical bank of photocells which send signals to band-pass amplifiers, each with dB trim switches.

The glass plate can then be scanned left or right in front of the photocell bank in order to transcribe the drawing directly into pitches. In other words, it plays what you draw. This process can be aided with a step geared motor drive (strangely similar to an engineering lathe) or can be performed manually. The speed at which the score scans has no relation to pitch, but serves only as a means of controlling duration. The ANS is completely polyphonic and will generate up to all 720 of its pitches simultaneously if required.

Murzin named his invention in honour of the composer Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin (ANS). Scriabin (1872 - 1915) was an occultist, Theosophist and early exponent of colour-sound theories in composition; hence the tribute. The Synthesizer was housed in the electronic music studio situated above the Scriabin Museum (just off of the Arbat in central Moscow) before moving to the basement of the central University on the corner of Bolshaya Nikitskaya. It was saved from the scrapheap thanks to Stanislav Kreichi who persuaded the university to look after it.

The ANS was used by Stanislav Kreichi, Alfred Schnittke, Edison Denisov, Sofia Gubaidulina and other Soviet composers. Edward Artemiev wrote many of his scores to the movies of Andrei Tarkovsky with the help of the ANS.

After several years at the Theremin Centre, the ANS (there is only one - the original was destroyed and this is the improved version) is now located in the Glinka Museum in Moscow.

An album of works by the composers mentioned above, called "Musical Offering" was released on Melodiya (C60 30721 000) in 1990 - although the recordings date from the 1960's and 1970's. Recordings by Stanislav Kreichi - "Ansiana" and "Voices and Movement" - as well as earlier works ("Electroshock Presents: Electroacoustic Music") - using the synthesizer are available on Electroshock records. A soundtrack for the film "Into Space" (1961) in collaboration with Edward Artimiev remains unreleased. In 2002 BBC Radio4 broadcast a programme about the ANS by Isobel Clouter as part of her "Soundhunter" series. In 2004, the British experimental group Coil released CoilANS, a box-set of experimental drone music performed on the ANS. The Norwegian artist Zweizz released a cassette in 2007 where side B is made entirely out of ANS recordings." See Wikipedia article for additional links and references.

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ANS Synthesizer website

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I decided to do a quick search on ANS Synthesizer on YouTube and the following video by Eduard Artemyev came up as well as the two futher below. The synthesizer is not mentioned in the video description but it is listed in the tags of the video and this is from 1966. If anyone affirmatively knows what he used for this piece, feel free to comment or contact me directly. It is a fascinating bit of electronic music history.

Tarkovsky / Artemyev - Zerkalo soundscape

YouTube via OpenEyeVisuals

"An extra feature from Andrei Tarkovsky's Зеркало/Zerkalo/The Mirror DVD. Soundscape by Eduard Artemyev.

"Several of Tarkovsky's films are shot both in color and black and white, including for example Andrei Rublev which features an epilogue in color, and Solaris and Mirror, which feature several black and white sequences. In 1966, in an interview conducted shortly after finishing Andrei Rublev, Tarkovsky dismisses color film as a "commercial gimmick" and doubts that contemporary films meaningfully use color. He claims that in everyday life one does not consciously notice colors most of the time. Hence in film color should be used mainly to emphasize certain moments, but not all the time as this distracts the viewer. To him, films in color are like moving paintings or photographs, which are too beautiful to be a realistic depiction of life." -wiki (lol)"

Two additional videos I found on the ANS Synthesizer:

1330-Sintezator.avi

"Light-sound synthesizer ANS is transferred in a museum of Glinka"

P1040081.MOV


"ANS Synthesizer presentation part 1
16 октября 2008 Ведущий: композитор С.А. Крейчи
Московский музей музыкальной культуры"

Update: video translation via Mr. Array:
"FEMALE NARRATOR: This instrument has been heard by practically everyone. When we listen to Edward Artimiev's scores for the movies "Stalker" and "Solaris", this is what you hear. This instrument is named after Alexander Nikolayavich Scriabin.

MALE SPEAKER: The principle means of sound generation are not electronic. There are no electronic tone generators. Sound is generated by photocells. These photocells make up the signal path. They are activated by a series of rotating discs. On every disk, there are records of 148 pure tones. When you sum them together, one gets the impression of white noise. (Turns up the mixer, we hear white noise)

MALE SPEAKER: This light which passes through these rotating discs, and these photocells, and projects onto a vertical line. Each sound is spaced one millimeter apart. This sensor mechanism, located here under the flat glass, contains the photocells. (screen shows the photocells) (TRANSLATOR's NOTE: I think he means that the light passes from the light found on the discs, onto a vertical line on the black panel, and then into the photocells.)

MALE SPEAKER: These photocells turn the light into an electrical signal, these signals are then amplified into "polar oscillations" (TRANSLATOR's NOTE: I have no idea what he means, this is a literal translation). In modern day terminology, this device is a 20 band equalizer.

MALE SPEAKER: There is a selection of 720 sounds. This black panel serves as a means to obscure the light. This glass is covered by a special covering on which one can make holes through which the light can pass. There where the light passes, those sounds come through. This here will sound like a chord made up of various sounds. (turns up the mixer and the chord is heard)

MALE SPEAKER: The movement of this panel creates the illusion of time. That is to say, the movement of a transparent line turns into a sustained sound. A short line gives a short sound, and a long line produces a long sound. (turns on the mechanism which moves the panel)"

Coil and the ANS
"ANS is an box set created and produced by Coil. The album uses a strange and esoteric photoelectric synthesizer known as the ANS synthesizer. It was built around half a century ago and still to this day sits where it was originally conceived; in the Moscow State University. This 3 CD release also came with a DVD that held animations created by Peter Christopherson which synched with four songs that are not included on any of the CDs. It is an expanded release of ANS, with CD A being the same as that release." I added Coil's ANS to the Synth CDs section. It is available on Amazon here and Ebay here.

Updates via the comments:
via N_Phay: "Artemiev's music for Tarkovski's films is some of the most outstanding film music I have ever heard.

Artemiev's son Artemiy has a label, "electro-shock" (www.electroshock.ru), among the releases is a comp of ANS pieces. Some beautiful/other-worldly music there, well worth scoping out a copy, several other electroshock releases I have are excellent."

via Dave Cornutt: "Very interesting... The operational principle of the ANS relies on the same basic concept that John Whitney was using to produce some of his experimental film soundtracks in the mid-20th century. There is a previous Matrixsynth on the Whitney Music Box here, but the link in that post points to a blog that no longer exists. I posted some info last year on Whitney, pseudo-recording, and his methods of producing synthesized optical sound on Sequence 15 here and here."

Update:

The ANS Synthesizer (Синтезатор АНС)

YouTube Uploaded by octopusvision on Oct 23, 2009

Googlish:
"Synthesizer ANS photoelectronic musical instrument designed Russian inventor Eugene Murzin in 1958. With ANSA composer can create music of any flavor in the immediate-sounding form, without music performers, he writes he needed the sounds of glass, coated with an opaque nesohnuschey paint, removing cutters paint in certain places. This glass is the original score of the tool when working on the score of the synthesizer, composer likened to a painter who paints the picture: he wears a, retouches, washes and puts new code images, performing the auditory control of the result. Freedom to work at such a score is fraught with boundless possibilities. The invention was called the designer "ANS" in honor of the composer Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin. Most of the music for the films of Andrei Tarkovsky, Eduard Artemiev wrote with ANS.
In 2003, the British experimental band Coil released an album of ANS, including composition, created using this synth.

Video shows the experiment; ANS reproduces figure painter Svetlana Hercules "Unknown Worlds".
October 21, 2009 GTSMMK them. MI Glinka concert dedicated to the 95 th anniversary of Eugene A. Murzin."

Original description:
"Синтезатор АНС фотоэлектронный музыкальный инструмент сконструирован русским изобретателем Евгением Мурзиным в 1958 году. С помощью АНСа композитор может создавать музыку любых колоритов в непосредственно звучащем виде, без музыкантов исполнителей, он записывает нужные ему звуки на стекле, покрытом непрозрачной несохнущей краской, снимая резцами краску в определенных местах. Это стекло является своеобразной партитурой инструмента, работая на партитуре синтезатора, композитор уподобляется художнику, пишущему картину: он подкрашивает, ретуширует, стирает и наносит новые кодовые рисунки, осуществляя слуховой контроль получаемого результата. Свобода работы у такой партитуры таит в себе неисчерпаемые возможности. Изобретение было названо конструктором «АНС» в честь композитора Александра Николаевича Скрябина. Большую часть музыки к фильмам Андрея Тарковского Эдуард Артемьев написал с помощью АНС.
В 2003 году британская экспериментальная группа Coil выпустила альбом ANS, включающий композиции, созданные с помощью этого синтезатора.

Видео демонстрирует эксперимент; АНС воспроизводит рисунок художника Светланы Богатырь "Неведомые Миры".
21 октября 2009 года ГЦММК им. М.И. Глинки концерт посвящённый 95-летию со дня рождения Евгения Александровича Мурзина.

(synthesizer ANS)"

Update March 12/2012:

Unique Soviet Synth ANS (BBC The Soundhunter 4)

YouTube Uploaded by toitoitoy on Oct 27, 2011

"The Soundhunter
4 March 2006
Saturday 4 March 2006 5:45-6:00 (Radio 4 FM)

Isobel Clouter goes on an epic quest around the globe in search of disappearing sounds. 4/5.

Isobel is in Russia hearing about painted sound experiments and learning about early musical inventors.

More info http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ANS_synthesizer"

Previously:
BBC Radio's The Sound Hunter and the ANS Machine

7 comments:

  1. Eduard Artemiev is genius...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Artemiev's music for Tarkovski's films is some of the most outstanding film music I have ever heard.

    Artemiev's son Artemiy has a label, "electro-shock" (www.electroshock.ru), among the releases is a comp of ANS pieces. Some beautiful/other-worldly music there, well worth scoping out a copy, several other electroshock releases I have are excellent.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Very interesting... The operational principle of the ANS relies on the same basic concept that John Whitney was using to produce some of his experimental film soundtracks in the mid-20th century. There is a previous Matrixsynth on the Whitney Music Box here, but the link in that post points to a blog that no longer exists. I posted some info last year on Whitney, pseudo-recording, and his methods of producing synthesized optical sound on Sequence 15 here and here.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The Coil ANS CD is worth looking for. Nothing else sounds like the ANS

    ReplyDelete
  5. The Coil ANS cd set is available at sensible prices from
    www.thresholdhouse.com.

    best2all
    sleaZ

    ReplyDelete
  6. So, essentially - you have a soundbank of bunch of CDs, and a sequencer that you PHYSICALLY modify in real time, which simply what it does is it blocks the light beam reading your sample disk.

    In Soviet Russia, when you did not have access to Akai/Ensoniq/Roland/Korg sampler/sequencer/workstation - YOU MADE ONE!

    Pretty primitive, yet cool...

    ReplyDelete
  7. i just finished watching Solaris, which made me research Eduard Artemyev- great composer!!!!

    ReplyDelete

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