Qu-Extensions – is an arrangement of found sounds, and their processed counterparts; I view this arrangement as a type of ‘slow improvisation’. For the work’s construction, my setup in the studio was adapted from a previous performance system, which had initially generated seemingly meditative and tranquil sonic forms. For me, the resulting performance would achieve an interaction of noise, freedom, and idiosyncrasy. A view of the patch can be seen here:
Extended Play (2015)
Extended Play is for Double Bass and laptop. Please click on the link to listen to Part I, performed by Anthony Allen and myself. He is often times asked to ‘compliment the musical events in the electronics’, which is also similar to Music for Electric Guitar‘s (2015) aim for its players to correspond with, and match one another musically. I wanted to build a way of playing which focused on supporting a spontaneous interaction during performance.
In this work, I have chosen to make a score, combining text and graphic instructions, guiding the laptop player’s own introduction of electronic sound into the dialogue with the bass player. My aim is ultimately to maintain a fluid dialogue between players in Extended Play. Various sections of the score can be seen here below; these instructions suggest how I can organize my performance on laptop with Anthony.
The score’s role can be viewed as guidance for directing me when engaging with the bassist. Anthony was given instructions, suggesting a way he could situate himself in the performance; for example:
“player is to familiarize his/herself with the core sample loops. play what seems to be representative of the core. make a performance by improvising combinations of these core shapes. explore variations of these combinations. develop and expand the core trying to create an exclusive sound, apart from what the electronics seem to be doing”.
The role I suggested for the bassist seems ambiguous here. However the results suggest that Anthony was able to shape a more personalized performance, while listening responsively.
Another feature of this work is in the laptop player’s use of instrumental samples, such as saxophone, brake drum, and snare drums. Part II in particular, uses an assortment of drums, cymbals and electric guitar samples, which have been assigned to the laptop keyboard. Parts III and IV are similar in their use of these types of samples, but allow the laptop player to improvise with a more limited range of samples compared to Part II. The fifth and final part instructs the laptop player to improvise with seven different presets, but with no keyboard-triggered samples. The pre-composed instrumental fragments are performed by the laptop player, and are meant to compliment the acoustic instrumental player in performance, alluding to the sound of a small ensemble. This procedure of expanding the solo laptop player to a larger ensemble of instrumental sounds is found in Gunnar Geisse’s May I Erase One of Your Drawings. Geisse had discussed with me his personal approach to controlling his instrumental samples in this composition:
‘I’m now controlling the computer with my guitar, changing the audio signal of the guitar into midi messages by analysing its spectral components and then back to audio by triggering virtual instruments and samples, altering parameter settings, etc – everything in realtime, or say, almost.’
Geisse’s setup is an example of how he manages his sounds, supporting real-time adjustments of his virtual instruments. As in Geisse’s method and work, Extended Play aims to expand an instrumental vocabulary, and use that feature as a way to maintain a dialogue with the bassist in performance.
This composition for bass recorder and laptop explores musical accompaniment. Each variation demonstrates a reconfiguration of musical accompanimental procedures. There are periods where either the electronics or bass recorder could support one another. The result is a distortion of traditional accompanimental behaviour. The purpose of this behaviour is not to build a ‘harmonious’ relationship between electronics and recorder, rather to create drama within the dialogue. Throughout Variations can be heard, disagreement or deliberate juxtaposition of different expressive characters and moods. Variation V is an example of musical disagreement which emerges. Click the link to listen. Below is the bass-recorder score for that Variation.
On listening, you may find it difficult to distinguish the electronic contribution from the instrumental sound in performance. This process emerges from the coupling together of performed and pre-sampled recorder sounds. The sampled recorder sound is not highly processed, and therefore preserves the recognizability of the recorder. The piece then exploits the illusion of causality between the sounds produced by the recorder and the laptop. Each variation demonstrates a different way of playing with this illusion.
The recording for Variations was produced with recorder-player Monica Schmidt Andersen. I performed with a Max patch which I designed, seen below. My patch presents various possibilities for making sounds, enabling me to play along with Monica.
The open notation used in Variations, seen earlier is a loosely designed pattern of non-descript pitches. My reason for giving a player these types of figures to perform with, is so the player is not constrained, and envites a personalized way of playing. Although the scoring for the bass recorder throughout Variations helps to shape the performance by giving pitch, rhythm, and tempo structures, there is no particular playing style implied. Therefore, this leaves the interpretation of the recorder notation open to many new approaches for expanding accompanimental procedures between laptop and bass-recorder. Variations was produced at EMS-Stockholm.
New Pages for Piano and electronics (2013)
My goal was to design a composition where the piano successfully intermeshes with the electronic sounds. New Pages (click the link to listen) was written for pianist Adam Tendler. I provided him a score which shows him when I would be triggering the electronic sounds with a laptop during performance.
My aim was to develop a concept between Adam and myself, which demonstrated a composite instrument in performance – interdependency bewteen piano and electronics forming that insturmentality.
My method aims to combine pianistic musical gestures with real-time capturing and processing of those gestures in the laptop with Max software.
The piano gestures themselves are influenced by ideas found in both Scriabin’s Vers la flamme (1914), and Debussy’s Cathedrale Engloutie (1910). On listening to these works, an abstract musical space emerges as is; without electroacoustic augmentation. I aimed for this sense of gesture in New Pages.
This soundscape was realized in the electronic music studios at Sonic Arts Research Center in Belfast. Material for this soundscape had been drawn from recordings taken as I walked through the town centre streets of Sao Paulo. These materials were freely arranged, through a process of reflective listening in the studio. My approach in the studio can be viewed as an improvisation; I aimed to create collisions of contrasting environmental sounds. The resulting juxtaposition of sound, seemed to highlight relationships between individuals and their environment. This approach, rather, this mixture of material doesn’t seem to shape an abstract sonic environment. Instead, a hybrid picture emerges as a result of my work in the studio.