LA JOLLA — At the advent of electronic music, visionary modernists predicted that concerts given by live musicians would soon become as outmoded as buggy whips. In the inexorable course of progress, they argued, sophisticated machinery would take over the drudging manual labor of music-making. Such futurists were as off base as their counterparts who predicted that food consumption would be reduced to popping meal-complete tablets or that everyone would commute in their own private helicopter.
Although most composers continue to prefer writing for live musicians who play traditional instruments, electronic music has influenced the way in which younger composers hear the sonic possibilities of such live performance. Thursday night's concert at UC San Diego's Center for Music Experiment, a mixture of acoustic and electronic music performances, provided ample evidence of this reciprocal influence.
Paul Koonce's "Mezzo" for solo violin imploded with the discrete, pointillistic tones characteristic of minutely calibrated computer-generated sounds. Violinist Janos Negyesy displayed a host of deftly plucked sounds as well as delicately bowed colors with a wide variety of attacks and sustains. His serene concentration as solo performer mirrored the work's inward, vaguely mystical ethos.
In "Soul Rejoinder" for tape, composer Robert Scott Thompson mixed computer-synthesized timbres with manipulated recorded sounds of voice, trumpet and bamboo flute. The resultant intersecting sonic planes suffused the room in a vaguely new age wash of sound, accented by pinpoint bell sounds and a scattering of muddy electronic growls associated with the more primitive stages of musique concrete .