Qualia was composed at CEMI studios – Center for Experimental Music and Intermedia at the University of North Texas in 2017. The composition explores the experience of music from perception to sensation; the physical process during which our sensory organs – those involved with sound, tactility, and vision in particular – respond to musically organized sound stimuli. Through this deep connection, sound, space, and audience are all engaged in a multidimensional experience. The motion and the meaning inherited in the sounds are not disconnected from the sounds and are not the reason for the sounds but are, in fact, the sound altogether. Energy, movement, and timbre become one; sound source identification, cause guessing, sound energies, gesture decoding, and extra-musical connotations are not independent of the sound but vital internal components of it. Qualia are claimed to be individual instances of subjective, conscious experience. The way it feels to have mental states such as hearing frequencies at the lower threshold of human hearing or a piercing sound, hearing a Bb note from a ship horn, as well as the granularity of a recorded sound. It is an exploration of time and space, internal and universal. In Qualia, I do not experience musical memory as a sequence of instances but as a sensory wholeness that lasts the entire duration of the piece. The experience of sound itself is not sequential; it bypasses past or future; time becomes a single omnipresent unity. In this state of consciousness, time dissolves. The vibrating air molecules from the speakers, the reflections in the physical space, and the audience are the sound.
Kokoras is an internationally award-winning composer and computer music innovator, and currently an Associate Professor of composition and CEMI director (Center for Experimental Music and Intermedia) at the University of North Texas. Born in Greece, he studied classical guitar and composition in Athens, Greece and York, England; he taught for many years at Aristotle University in Thessaloniki. Kokoras's sound compositions use sound as the only structural unit. His concept of "holophonic musical texture" describes his goal that each independent sound (phonos), contributes equally into the synthesis of the total (holos). In both instrumental and electroacoustic writing, his music calls upon a "virtuosity of sound," a hyper-idiomatic writing which emphasizes on the precise production of variable sound possibilities and the correct distinction between one timbre and another to convey the musical ideas and structure of the piece. His compositional output is also informed by musical research in Music Information Retrieval compositional strategies, Extended techniques, Tactile sound, Hyperidiomaticity, Robotics, Sound and Consciousness.