One is a refreshing pale ale from Back Forty Beer Co. with a modest alcohol content and an American hop profile: a touch of pine. The other is a wintry meditation on mortality from Post & Beam with an intoxicating Pythagorean minor third: slightly lower than equal tempered. Both are Alabama natives wistfully recalling a vanishing rural past.
This fall when I plow the fields under I’ll be thinking only of you.
Soprano Susan Williams will premiere Sudden Swan for voice and live electronics at the Birmingham New Music Festival on Saturday August 23 at 7:30pm. The concert is at UAB’s Hulsey Recital Hall, 950 13th Street South,Birmingham,AL. Admission is free.
Susan and I have known each other since our college days at Birmingham-Southern. Since then she’s landed leading opera roles and appeared with the Cleveland Orchestra, Akron Symphony, Duke Symphony Orchestra and many others. This is the first time Susan and I have worked on a piece together, and we’re so excited to present it on Saturday.
The performer in Sudden Swan improvises a melody to a drone using a small set of just-tuned pitches. Each pitch is associated with one or more words which are strung together to create an ever-evolving poetry. The computer responds to variations in the vocal performance with subtle shifts of timbre, pulsating rhythms, and sometimes unpredictable flourishes.
In this TED Talk Ge Wang of Stanford geeks out about computer music (hooray!). He talks briefly about the hemispherical speakers used by the Stanford Laptop Orchestra. Their design (using an IKEA salad bowl) informed my hemi speaker experiments here.
I recently bought a 6-channel amplifier to upgrade the 3 2-channel amps I originally installed in the speaker. I’ll post about the new amp as soon as I drop it in.
Here are live recordings from this spring’s Parkside performance with John Wiese, Steve Jansen and Brad Davis. This is from my buzzy, noisy Radicans project which uses small motors and soundbug transducers (audio speakers without cones) to transform ordinary objects in the performance space into speakers.