Montes cordillera

The piece was realized using software written by the composer in the C+ programming language in Medford, OR in 1991.

The term "montes cordillera" generically is a mountain range the encircles you. Specifically it refers to a mountain range on the dark side of the moon.

Montes was composed graphically (on paper!) as a collection of envelope functions. These looked like mountain ranges to me, and the piece had a circular structure, so the title seemed to fit. The sound of the piece also suggested an alien landscape, such as one might experience on the moon. Looking at the following sample pages original graphical score,  one can imagine that this music was on the stereo in the tank in the vintage video game "Battle Zone".

Montes cordillera chunk 13


Montes cordillera chunk 24

Montes cordillera chunk 31

The software used a Chowning-based 2 to 4 operator FM algorithm. All pitch information is defined by whole number ratios (just intonation). The frequencies and amplitudes of both carrier and modulator operators were defined in single independent multi-stage envelopes digitized manually from the graphical notation. Future plans to modernize the software are still on the back burner.

The good old 80286 AT computer had an 8-bit audio card, so the 64-bit audio from the software was truncated down to that 8-bit depth in the output of the program itself. The 10 Megabyte hard drive (really!) was not big enough to do it any other way. And forget about stereo!

The truncation process introduced a lot of noise, and that noise stayed there (except in the silences) until a new generation of software became available to me about 10 years later in the form of Cool Edit (now Adobe Audition) which had the two tools I needed to eradicate the noise: a "Brownian" noise generator and "sampling" noise reduction.