Skip to main content

Viola Versatility

Deniz Çağlarcan, a graduate student in the School of Music, uses audio technologies to push the boundaries of the viola. In his pursuit of creating new sounds, Çağlarcan composed Void, a piece that combines viola and electronics to highlight the viola’s unique sound world. By revealing the hidden sounds of the viola using electronics, Çağlarcan helps bring audiences out of their musical comfort zones.

Void, inspired by the sound world of 60s electronic music, relies on digital manipulation to reproduce the otherwise inaudible processes of sonic energy. When music is made, particles of sound scatter, join together, and eventually diffuse in an explosion of sonic energy. This cycle is continuously repeated. Çağlarcan describes the void as the moment before the explosion when energetic tension is at its peak. In the same way that headphones enhance what cannot be heard from a stage, digital manipulation can be used to magnify and change the tonal quality of the viola. In doing so, Çağlarcan enhances what humans otherwise would not be able to hear.

To begin, Çağlarcan composed and uploaded viola musical notations into the digital audio workstation Logic Pro. From there, he created a set of fixed digital manipulations that complement the unique sound image of the viola when played in unison. Further, although the sheet music and electronics for Void are fixed, the outcome will differ slightly based on the live sound manipulations and the performer. As a composer, Çağlarcan is constantly working to create new sounds. By creating Void, he helps bring audiences out of their musical comfort zones by pushing the acoustic boundaries of the viola.

Çağlarcan’s passion for the viola developed from a young age, sharing “I met music when I was born... my mother was a violinist… my brother was a was a house of musicians.” By age six, Çağlarcan was studying viola at the Istanbul University State Conservatory in Turkey. After earning his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Composition from Bilkent University, Çağlarcan came to CMU to pursue a second Master’s degree in viola performance. He shares, “CMU really supported me in studying multidisciplinary musical fields...I was able to compose and conduct while studying viola [performance].” Having recently graduated from CMU in May of 2021, Çağlarcan will continue to push musical boundaries at UC Santa Barbara while in pursuit of a performance and composition doctorate. 

At CMU We Do Research, We Do Real World

Story by ORGS intern Hailey Nelson

September 2021