Barry Truax

Barry Truax, electroacoustic composer, acoustic communication researcher, professor (b at Chatham, Ont 10 May 1947).

Barry Truax, electroacoustic composer, acoustic communication researcher, professor (b at Chatham, Ont 10 May 1947). After receiving a degree in science at QUEEN'S UNIVERSITY, Truax studied musical composition at the UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA before spending the years 1971-73 at the Institute of Sonology, Utrecht University. His first computer composition in 1973 used FM (frequency modulation) sound, a process Truax designed. On his return to Canada, he became a research assistant in Murray SCHAFER's World Soundscape Project at SIMON FRASER UNIVERSITY, for which he later became director. In 1977 Sonic Landscape No. 3, using his advanced version of POD, a program that permits polyphonic, timbral construction of electronic sounds, won first prize at the Fifth International Competition of Electroacoustic Music in Bourges. His Riverrun (1986) took the prestigious Magisterium prize at that event in 1991. Building on the concepts of the British-Hungarian physicist Dennis Gabor, Truax by 1986 had developed the PODX system, which allowed granular synthesis, a real-time granulation of sampled sound, combined with a programmable digital signal processor. Since 1987 he has used this technique extensively to process sampled sound as compositional material because the sounds can be stretched without changing pitch. Pacific (1990) showed the possibilities of dealing with full-scale environmental sounds. The work is created with granulation of environmental sounds from the Pacific region, including the Chinese dragon dance, ocean waves, boat horns and seagulls. Over 20 other composers around the world have used this technology to create compositions. In 1998 he completed the opera Powers of Two, which he has called "a psychological, spiritual and sexual search for unity" involving six singers, two dancers and an eight-channel soundtrack. Truax founded in 1985 the Cambridge Street record label, which now handles all of his recordings. A video realization of his music theatre work Androgyne, Mon Amour (1998) was released in 2001. It is based on poems by Tennessee Williams further exploring homosexuality, the theme of Power of Two. Truax is highly regarded in the international electroacoustic community for his mastery of studio techniques, and his innovative analysis of sound and inclusion of environmental materials. Among recent international presentations and workshops was in 2005 the performance of The Shaman Ascending at Bourges. His highly acclaimed book Acoustic Communication appeared in its 2nd edition in 2001 and includes the CD-ROM version of the Handbook for Acoustic Ecology. Truax continues to explore acoustic instruments involving Asian ones in Bamboo, Silk and Stone (1994) and two Japanese ones in The Way of the Spirit (2006) as well as recording a number of piano recordings featuring Baroque, Impressionistic French composers, in addition to Cole Porter and Gershwin.