further information on the techniques used to realize the work ...
Despite the brevity of the source material used for Nike (i.e. two phonemes), very rich textures and complex rhythmic patterns were obtained from it through the technique of granulation. The pitch and timbre of the resulting sound are determined by the source material unless the grain duration is too short and a broad-band spectrum results. However, the overlay of up to 20 simultaneous versions of such sound, each with its own variations, produces a "magnification" of the original sound, as well as the possibility of gradual or rapid movement through its micro-level characteristics.
The degree of magnification involved can be appreciated when it is realized that the three movements of The Wings of Nike, lasting approximately 12 minutes, were derived from only the two phonemes, each about 170 ms long! The stereo tape is a mixdown from an eight-track original which includes four stereo pairs of the granular material, and therefore the vertical densities of sound are around 80 at any one moment, and the horizontal densities range from quite sparse through to 8,000 events per second at the very end. The sounds are heard at approximately their original pitch combined with versions an octave up or down, except towards the end of the first movement (Album) where a slow downward glissando is heard.
In the case of the male phoneme sequence ("tuh"), timbral changes are possible as the grains move (with changing offset) from the aspiration at the beginning of the sample, through the consonant to the pitch of the voiced vowel and finally past it. Microscopic timbral changes that normally go unnoticed become evident with the repetition of the overlapping grains. Formant regions become especially pronounced. The analogy in the work is between the sampled visual image of the statue and the sampled vocal sound as the source of the synthesized music. Each is based within the human dimension but the transformation techniques extend them towards the epic and the supra-human, as at the end of the first movement.
In the second movement, the Scherzo, the statue is given a head, though rather androgynously, and the phonemes in the tape part are detached and realistic. However, each image accumulates again into more elaborate patterns that mask the source. In the last movement, the Coda, both the visual and aural elements are progressively multiplied (the wing feathers and drapery in the visual case, and the syncopated phonemes in the musical accompaniment) until fusion results. A new kind of machine emerges that releases the earth-bound images into upward flight, a metaphor perhaps for the technique of granular synthesis that seems to break into a new sonic domain.