51 3rd Recordings – Everyone Looks to a Sumatran, Virginian Curlew

Here are live recordings of my set from November’s show at 51 3rd Street that also included performances by Keir Neuringer and Rambutan (Eric Hardiman). It’s an eclectic set beginning with a slightly dysfunctional performance of

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Everyone Looks to the Sky

No one but me would know that the computer is responding to my playing differently than anticipated. Such is the fun of interactive computer music: you just have to work with it, ride with it, fight it, respond to the moment, change your plans. In this case, the conception of the piece is already so circumscribed that the content of the work is hardly changed, though the form is clearly different–and maybe more dramatic as a result.

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Batak Batak

A recent binge of Indonesian music led me to dust off this piece. I never felt I had worked out the sax part enough when the piece was new, which might account for why I shelved it. Revisiting the piece, I discovered very few indications of what I had intended for the sax part–little more than a scribbled microtonal scale. There’s clearly still work to do here, but I’m less bothered than I might have been in the past by the elliptical playing.

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East Virginia

This has become one of my go-to banjo pieces; a surefire way to find my place on the instrument.

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Curlew

A brand-new piece getting its first public airing. I learn so much by performing new material and can’t wait to revise this tune as a result. Yet another song with bird imagery (YASWBI).

Everyone Looks to the Sky

Photo: Diana Cooper

Here’s a recording of a new piece called Everyone Looks to the Sky.

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Everyone Looks to the Sky

I made the piece and the recording during my recent residency with David Behrman at the Atlantic Center for the Arts. The work is for any sustaining instrument with computer (here, I’m playing the soprano saxophone). The computer produces a gradually rising tone that matches the first note of each gesture (see the score below). The result is–yes, more glissando music–and a curious kind of interactive piece that always ends the same way.

Here are the juicy bits from the score:

Gesture 1
• Play 5 notes in an ascending series, beginning near the lowest note on your instrument.
For a performance lasting 10 mintues, each note should last 7 or many more seconds. Each note should be separated by a rest of approximately 7 or many more seconds–at a minimum, allow enough time between notes to perceive the computer’s pitch rising. For longer performances, adjust the durations appropriately.

Gesture 2
• Play 4 notes in an ascending series, beginning on any pitch lower than the last pitch of Gesture 1.
Durations of notes and rests are as in Gesture 1.

Gesture 3
• Play 3 notes in an ascending series, beginning on any pitch lower than the last pitch of Gesture 2.
Durations of notes and rests are as in Gesture 1.

Gesture 4
• Play 2 notes in an ascending series, beginning on any pitch lower than the last pitch of Gesture 3.
Durations of notes and rests are as in Gesture 1.

Gesture 5
• Play 5 or more notes in an ascending series, beginning on any pitch lower than the last pitch of Gesture 4.
Durations of notes and rests are as in Gesture 1, with a few notes or rests lasting shorter than 7 seconds, if desired.
Repeat as needed until the piece ends. The last 4 or more pitches played should be near the highest note on your instrument.

ASAC Presents DEEP FREEZE

The Albany Sonic Arts Collective presents their first concert of 2011 with performances by some of the Capital Region’s most exciting experimental musicians including Century Plants with Matt Weston, Holland Hopson, SoundBarn and Insect Posse.

DEEP FREEZE: Experimental Music for Snowy Times
Saturday, February 19
8:00 pm
Upstate Artists Guild
247 Lark St.
Albany NY
$5 suggested donation

This will be my first Albany show of 2011 and my last performance before heading to the Atlantic Center for the Arts for a residency with David Behrman (more on that later…). I’ll be performing a set of music for soprano sax and computer. My current plan includes a piece using a DIY plate reverb as the primary electronic sound source.

More about the artists after the jump…

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Ten Years of One 4 One

One 4 One is now available for download at Bandcamp!

Today marks the ten-year anniversary of One 4 One, the live recording of a set I performed at the Arts Center in Troy NY as part of the Impulse/Response series. The album had previously been available via Amie Street (RIP).

One 4 One includes 5 pieces for extended soprano saxophone and computer, and one piece for sipsi and computer. All of the pieces involve some degree of interactivity–the computer responds to the live instrument, and the performer responds to the computer’s output–made possible by custom software written with Cycling 74‘s Max. The name of the album is a pun on the date, of course, and it also refers to mapping inputs to outputs.

With Hidden Noises at Wired Kingdom

My installation With Hidden Noises is being presented as part of the Wired Kingdom exhibit at the Arts Center of the Capital Region. The exhibit will have a short, sweet run beginning Monday 9/20 and culminating with performances on Friday 9/24 as part of Troy Night Out.

With Hidden Noises is an interactive sound installation based on Marcel Duchamp’s sculpture of the same name. The original sculpture contains an unkown object placed inside by Duchamp’s patron and collector Walter Arensberg. The sculpture rattles when shaken, making it an early example of audio art. Unfortunately, the original is usually displayed in a vitrine and patrons aren’t allowed to activate it. Visitors to my installation can handle a replica of Duchamp’s readymade containing electronic sensors instead of an unkown object. Their interactions with the scultpture cause it to produce a variety of sounds related to Duchamp’s work. See some photos here and check out the CD based on the installation.

Wired Kingdom features work by Patrick Dodson, Pete Edwards, Angela Washko, Timothy Mahr, Rebekah Jarvis, Ira Marcks, Chris Harvey and Sean Hovendick.

Monday, September 20 – Thursday, September 23 11am-7pm
Friday, September 24 11am-9pm
The Arts Center of the Capital Region
256 River St.
Troy, NY

Upcoming in Australia

I’m prepping for my upcoming Australia visit and getting more and more excited about the trip. I’ll be participating in the New Interfaces for Musical Expression++ (NIME) Conference hosted by the University of Technology Sydney. The conference looks to be chock full of workshops and events including keynotes by Stelarc and Nic Collins. I’ll be performing twice as part of the conference:

  • On Thursday, June 17 at 7pm I’ll perform Life on (Planet) for 2 rocks and computer. The concert will be at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Eugene Goossens Hall. The featured performers are Ensemble Offspring.
  • On Friday, June 18 at 5:30 pm I’m performing a set of works for banjo and electronics. The concert will be on the University of Technology Sydney campus at the Bon Marche Studio.

Left Coast Festival

Then I’m excited to play with bassist Mike Majkowski on Saturday, June 19 at 7pm. We”ll improvise together as part of the Left Coast Festival 2010 at the Sedition Gallery. The gallery is apparently a working barber shop by day–sounds like a unique venue.

Throw in a Dorkbot gathering, the usual conference geekery, and some sightseeing and this should be a busy busy trip.

Max Multitrack Mojo

I’m in the middle of recording a number of my pieces for banjo and electronics for a forthcoming CD. (Stay tuned for more info!) All of the works involve live, interactive processing of the banjo sound and sometimes the voice as well. This processing is done in Max and is driven by analysis of both audio inputs and sensor inputs. All of this is geek speak to say that every time I perform the piece it sounds a little different, and sometimes markedly so. This can make recording the pieces tricky. Especially since most of the music we hear is assembled like a layer cake: each part recorded separately and then mixed together after the fact (with yummy frosting…). Not a workable option for my process.

Straight to “Tape”

My previous approach to recording followed a “live to 2 track” design. I would play the piece and capture the input sounds along with whatever sounds were generated by my Max patch. The results were certainly true to life, represented my live performances well, and usually sounded fine. Occasionally, though, I’d wish for more flexibility to tweak the sounds, particularly the vocal or banjo sounds since I don’t have the luxury of recording in the world’s greatest sounding room. So I looked into ways to expand the number of available tracks.

Multitrack Multitudes

I played around with Soundflower, Rewire and Jack in various combinations and sometimes got things working pretty well. But the setups never completely gelled for me–partly because I felt constrained by the number of available outputs on my aging MOTU interface, partly because I needed as much available CPU for running my patches and couldn’t spare enough to run my DAW at the same time. So I eventually went back to recording everything in Max using a very slightly modified version of the quickrecord utility. This turned out to be a great way to break out individual tracks for further EQing during the mixing stage. One drawback was having to split the multichannel file into individual stereo or mono files. (Audacity and ProTools both do this very well. If only AudioFinder would support multichannel files…) But mostly I still felt constrained by the limited number of outputs on my audio interface; I often resorted to creating submixes of individual elements in Max in order to cram all the sounds into the available channels. With 10 outputs available I’d use the first 2 for monitoring while recording, 3 or 4 for live mics, leaving only 4 or 5 for sounds generated by Max.

Aggregrate Device – Duh!

Just the other day I had a breakthrough realization: I could use a Soundflower aggregate device to address many more output channels than are physically available on my interface. Now I’ve got channels to spare. I’m kicking myself for not thinking of this sooner. The biggest drawback? Now I’ll be spending much more time in mixing mode. I wonder when I’ll ever get this CD finished…?