Homo Homini Lupus

This work was premiered at the “New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival 2017“.  This work was also programmed in the Seoul International Electroacoustic Music Festival 2019. the Sur Aural in 2021 and the International CSound  Conference 2022 in Athlone Ireland.

The main issue of this work is a sounding reflection about how humanity builds its own concept as species and how this determines its limits. As old as humanity invented language, human nature holds the capability of thinking about itself, reflexively expressing itself. We can trace this back to Plauto, who two thousand years ago, in his work Asinaria stated the following: “Homo Homini Lupus“, which I have used as the title of this work. Later on, Hobbes popularized this assertion as a definition of selfishness in human nature.

The main idea of the work is the use of the limits of voice recognition as a reflection of the limits of humankind’s thinking. What does it make possible to recognize us as humans? What does it make possible to recognize the voice as a timbre?

This metaphor is made into sound through three different strategies. First of all, by experimenting with the limits of voice recognition as a metaphor of how our thinking as a species determines our limits. Secondly, by experimenting with the individuality of the sound in between its integration into the sound fluxes, as a metaphor for the polarity individual-collective. And third, by experimenting with how the velocity of change in the parameters affects the voice recognition.

This work experiments with the relations between the sound movement and voice recognition. A literal imitation of the voice is not intended, but an ambiguous one. There is an ambiguous continuity between the vocal timbre and timbres quite related to voice changing by morphing. To provide it, I have used a voice synthesis system based on format synthesis (FOF algorithm). There is only one Csound patch controlled by 30 parameters that will change slow or fast, or become fixed. Everything is controlled by several algorithms whose input is the repetition time of the patterns that inside the algorithm generate the score.  I never use parameters combination too near to human voice, there is always a parameter which is different from the human voice recognition perspective, providing overtones and distortions over the voice timbre. It is not pretended to give a closed vision of human nature but to provide a sound flow that facilitates each listener its own human nature concept.

Sometimes the voice is clearly reckonable, sometimes not, and this is different for each person but the patch is always the same. Sometimes the voices work together in such a way that they are heard just as a single voice or providing critical band interferences from which individual voices can arouse several times. The tension between individuals and the collective is one of the mayor reflections about humanity. Very intensive use of microintervals is used.  The use of the movement as the main factor to recognize the voice is intended as a reflection of how history determines how we see ourselves as the mirror of the others.

The work has been produced using a parametric algorithm (designed and programmed by the composer). It produces several repeating patterns in which the parameters of the sound objects are determined by their relative position to other ones, in such a way that any pattern or parameter can´t be considered as central. Each pattern works as a reference ax repeated at a different speed. The position of each pattern concerning each other is measured by the phase. We have a very deterministic system, with cross determinations, for example, each FOF parameter is determined by the phase of another pattern. The only parameter controlled by the composer is the iteration time of each pattern.

The work was created between 2014 and March 2016.

This work is related to  Cognitive dissonance and Three chants for computer, so if you enjoyed this work, probably you will find them also worth to listen to.

You can find more information about this work in the paper Intrasensorial Synesthesia in Musical Composition