Komponisten – Portrait: Adrian Borza


Adrian BORZA (*1967) has been recognized as a versatile musician, dedicated to writing vocal, instrumental and electroacoustic music, to music software development, to audio post-production, to artistic research, and to music teaching. His recent compositions and researches have been focused on the interaction between performer and computer.

His music has been performed in festivals, concerts and broadcasted across Europe, Asia, North America, Australia, South America and New Zeeland, such as the Ai-maako Festival – Santiago de Chile (2007), Zeppelin Festival – Barcelona (2008), La Nuit Bleue Festival – Besançon (2008), JSEM/MSL Electroacoustic Festival – Nagoya (2009), Musica Viva Festival – Lisbon (2009), ISCM World New Music Days – Sydney (2010), International Computer Music Conference – New York City (2010), SIMN International New Music Week – Bucharest (2014), Art & Science Days – Bourges (2015), CAMP Festival – Stuttgart (2015) and more.

He has received commissions from renowned soloists, ensembles and institutions, including the Swedish Concert Institute and Magnus Andersson – Chaconne for guitar solo, Jörgen Pettersson – akSax for saxophone quartet and Daniel Kientzy & Reina Portuondo – Fragile for saxophones, viola and electronics.

He organized Elektro Arts 2013, an international call for electro-acoustic works, for the Cluj Musical Autumn International Festival.

He joined the teaching staff at the Gheorghe Dima Academy of Music in Cluj-Napoca (1992), where he has taught Musical Analysis, Electronic Music, and Musical Stylistics. He initiated the introduction of the Interactive Music Systems (programming in MAX) course into the Theoretical Faculty’s curriculum (2008), a premiere in Romania.

His music has been recorded on CD by Hungaroton Classic Hungary and Nova Musica France. His books and studies have been published by Editura Muzicală Bucharest, Babeş-Bolyai Studia Universitatis Cluj-Napoca, Lucian Badian Editions Ottawa, Music Faculty Press Braşov and MediaMusica Cluj-Napoca.

He was awarded a PhD in Music (2004), the George Enescu Prize of the Romanian Academy (2013) – If for Oboe and Interactive Computer, and the Prize of the Romanian Association of Composers and Musicologists (2012).


S.O.U.N.D. (2008)

This 1-minute music is the expression of my personal experience while composing S.O.U.N.D. – Sound Objects Uttered Nearly Dreaming: I dreamt at night and I put the sounds together during daylight. There were some weird sound objects I “uttered” while nearly sleeping, thus dreaming.

Această muzică de 1 minut este expresia experienţei mele personale în timp ce compuneam S.O.U.N.D. – Obiecte sonore rostite aproape visând: am visat în timpul nopţii şi am pus sunetele la un loc în timpul zilei. Au fost câteva obiecte sonore ciudate pe care le-am „rostit” în timp ce aproape dormeam, deci aproape visam.

Dusk Year (2007)

Dusk represents the mysterious dilemma between day and night, between the light of rising and setting of the sun, it suggests the state between dream and reality, and it embodies the ephemeral sense of clarity. By means of sounds, Adrian Borza has created the necessary oasis for contemplation. Dusk is a tranquil imaginary voyage toward darkness and to the nocturnal lethargic universe. In fact, the origin point of the sounds used in the sonic texture was a graphic image of simple lines. With a computer, the composer has “translated” the visual characteristics of the image (shape, brightness, color) into the sound perceptual qualities (pitch, duration, loudness, panning), a synthesis process known as the sound of image morphogenesis.

If (2011)

for Oboe and Interactive Computer

Performers: Adrian Cioban – oboe, Adrian Borza – nanoKontrol, computer

The work If, written for oboe and interactive computer, is created with seven notes, iterated throughout the oboe register. Deliberately designed in a “tempo rubato”, a flexible speed, and to bring supple melodic allusions, in Romanian pastoral character, the work explores the particular expressiveness of the instrument. The duration values specified in the soloist’s score are limited to three, namely sixteenth note, quarter and half notes, and the conventional indications about speed are missing entirely. The performer score represents therefore a real challenge for the iFPH software which controls the performance, regarding the interaction between the artist and the computer.

Présents | Here and Now (2015)

Présents (Here and Now) dance performance owes its existence in the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch that amazes by a profound perspective on human desires and fears. The Garden of Earthly Delights triptych, sublime but scary, shows scenes with nudes and imaginary creatures socially engaged and oversized fruits and flowers. It is a masterpiece of divine Paradise and Hell. It is a mirror of Christian morality in the Middle Ages. In Présents, after the Creation of the World, the biblical landscape Earthly Paradise continues with the central scene Garden of Earthly Delights, suggesting a natural progression from original sin, the virtue of ignorance, to the pleasures and temptations of life. The punishment of sinners in Damnation is followed by the final scene Salvation: humans have a difficult road to deliverance from sin. This project has been inspired by the peculiar power of gestural expression. Air gestures or hand movements are used to control several parameters of the sound, without touching the computer. The wireless sensor data is mapped to loudness, panning, pitch shifting, amplitude modulation, filter, overdrive effect, time stretching, and glitch destruction.

Fragile (2008)

for Saxophone, Viola and Electronics

Version: computer Performer: Adrian Borza – MIDI Keyboard, computer

A première vue, Fragile semble être réalisée à partir d’un matériau vulnérable, comme le titre suggère la nature de la pièce elle-même, de sons délicats et vibrants. Des atomes de sons, des accords ou des intervalles linéaires, sont joints pour créer de courtes phrases de musique, produites par mon logiciel, nommé IAC Interactive Algorithmic Composition. Mais, au second regard, j’ai constaté que ce méticuleux processus de composition algorithmique avait une force inattendue. Fragile devient la décomposition d’une expérience musicale en «mots» compréhensibles qui pourraient nous parler, basée sur ce que nous avons soigneusement écouté et appris dans le passé. Les processus de composition et de décomposition sont eux-mêmes fragiles, mais ils ne se soustraient pas à la durabilité. La pièce a été composée en 2008 à la demande de Daniel Kientzy et sa Fondation.

Drones II (2012)

for Violin, nanoKontrol and iFPH

Performers: Ladislau Antoniu Csendes – violin, Adrian Borza – nanoKontrol, computer

The work integrates a sophisticated set of processes of transformation in real-time of the violin’s sound. Transformational abilities are offered by the author’s iFPH software, which has the interaction between performer and computer as a key concept. Drones II exclusively contains violin sounds captured by a microphone and processed on the scene. Here is an example of a chain of sound transformation processes: iFPH’s High-pass Filter module filters the input signal, attenuating the amplitude of specific frequencies; Freezer module extracts a sound grain from the filtered sound of approx. 50 milliseconds, then it iterates the grain and also performs a FFT calculation in the frequency domain to imprint a discrete timbre evolution; Envelope Follower module extracts the overall amplitude of the input signal and projects the amplitude to the signal generated by Freezer, which means that the iFPH reacts to the loudness changes coordinated by the performer, even if they are almost unnoticeable at a first audition. Drones II investigates therefore in a microscopic sound world, where the note and sound are at the same compositional level.

80 after Max (2006)

for MIDI Keyboard and Interactive Computer

Performer: Adrian Borza – MIDI Keyboard, computer

In 2006 the electronic music community has celebrated 80 years since Max Mathew’s birth, the one who created the first computer program for sound synthesis and music playback at Bell Laboratories. M. Mathews stated: computer performance of music was born in 1957 when an IBM 704 in NYC played a 17 second composition on the Music I program which I wrote. As an example of admiration for the legendary researcher, 80 after Max work bears his name. The 17 minutes composition was created with IAC Interactive Algorithmic Composition, a software made by Adrian Borza, which generates a two-voice music composition involving a counter-melody whose structure in terms of pitch, register, intensity, duration and tempo is addicted to the melody created and performed spontaneously, without special preparation by a musician.

Une minute cinéma pour l’oreille (2008)

Natural sounds are put together to create a “movie”: city traffic, policemen whistling, engines starting, cars honking, engines restarting, people shouting, glass breaking, alarms beeping, crowds cheering, low growling, people screaming, and then a man’s voice, astonishing music, and a car door closing. Interest, acceptance, curiosity, uncertainty, fright, and surprise; it is all in your imagination. It is the power of the sound design. Une minute cinéma pour l’oreille is a puzzle of the everyday life. The acoustic sounds are partially detached from their original significance, in order to evoke intriguing stories and to suggest cinema images.

Akedia (2011)

for Oboe, nanoKontrol and iFPH

Version: computer Performer: Adrian Borza – nanoKontrol, computer

Ακηδία: Akedia: Despondency. It is in the nature of the soul to be incessantly in motion -- he could not endure resting (Saint John Chrysostom). The numbness souls, lack of motivation or sweet idleness are forms of a sufferance that the Church Fathers call “akedia” and they consider it an obstacle in the spiritual life. But, a profane human being can also be a victim of despondency, one who no longer expects anything from life, by losing the ability to enjoy the spiritual and earthly gifts. Akedia for Oboe, nanoKontrol and iFPH is a metaphor of seeking to exit this temporary blindness.


01 A. Borza: about „Sound“ | 0:25

02 A. Borza: Sound | 0:59

03 A. Borza: about „Dusk“ | 1:04

04 A. Borza: Dusk | 8:27

05 A. Borza: about „If“ | 0:52

06 A. Borza: If | 5:59

07 A. Borza: about „Here and Now“ | 1:32

08 A. Borza: Here and Now | 31:53

09 A. Borza: about „Fragile“ | 1:01

10 A. Borza: Fragile | 9:00

11 A. Borza: about „Drones II“ | 1:28

12 A. Borza: Drones II | 8:29

13 A. Borza: about „80 after Max“ | 1:01

14 A. Borza: 80 after Max | 17:28

15 A. Borza: about „“une minutes...“ | 0:47

16 A. Borza: Une minute cinéma pour l’oreille | 0:59

17 A. Borza: about „Akedia“ | 0:44

18 A. Borza: Akedia | 16:58

19 A. Borza: Fragile | 9:00

20 A. Borza: Sound | 0:59

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