The Donald Tavel
Arts and Technology Research Center

 

PASIC Tech Day Program Notes and Session Abstracts

PERFORMANCES

Brady Harrison, Temazscal
Temazcal (Alvarez, 1984) stems from the Nahuatl (ancient Aztec) word literally meaning “water that burns.” The maraca material is drawn from traditional rhythmic patterns found in most Latin – American musics, namely those from the Caribbean region, southeastern Mexico, Cuba, Central America and the flatlands of Colombia and Venezuela. In these musics in general, the maracas are used in a purely accompanimental manner as a part of small instrumental ensembles. The only exception is, perhaps, that of the Venezuelan flatlands, where the role of the maracas surpasses that of mere cadence and accenet punctuation to become a soloistic instrument in its own right. It was from this instance that I imagined a piece where the player would have to master short patterns and combine them with great virtuosity to construct larger and complex rhythmic structures which could then be juxtaposed, superimposed and set against similar passages on tape, thus creating a dense polyrhythmic web. This would eventually disintegrate clearing the way for a traditional accompanimental style of playing in a sound world reminiscent of the maracas’ more usual environment. The sound sources on tape include harp, a folk guitar and double bass pizzicatti for the tape’s attacks, the transformation of bamboo rods being struck together for the rhythmic passages and rattling sounds created with the maracas themselves for other gestures. The piece is dedicated to Luis Julio Toro who first performed it at the East Mountain Artist Series in London in January 1984. – Javier Alvarez

Skewed and Such Duo: Liquid Folds and Brittle Edges of Wandering Time
Liquid Folds (2012) is the first piece that Trevor and Jeff worked on together as co-composers.  Its composition was inspired by a free improvisation performance by the duo in late 2011 that focused on bowed glockenspiel with electronic enhancements and manipulations.  Using their approach to bowed notes as one of the primary elements in the composition of Liquid Folds, Trevor and Jeff created a structure for the piece with the addition of contrasting material that also allowed them the freedom to improvise.  The result is a piece which is extremely consistent in its macro-structure, though the momentary details have been left open to allow for improvisation and intense interaction between the performers.

Trevor and Jeff next co-composed Brittle Edges of Wandering Time (2012) after Trevor acquired a collection of Indian Noah bells.  As with Liquid Folds, they worked to create a piece with a specific structure that leaves space for improvisation and interaction.  In this case, the duo focused on ways that they could connect the sound worlds of the different instruments together using electronics, through pitch shifting the original glockenspiel sound to resemble the sound world of the Noah bells.

Iván Andrés Yague: Dry
Dry is a new concept of multimedia interactive recital, using the new technologies as tool of inspiration and artistic development.The percussion instruments of all kinds giving a great richness of tunes and incomparable expression, processed in real-time and melting the effects with the natural sound of the instrument. Dry utilizes interactive projections that answer to the sounds of the instrumentalist, modulating the images and applying effects in real-time. The corporal movement of the performer also affects the modulation of the sound and of the images in real-time, extracting all the possibilities to the multimedia interaction.  Dry was composed in response to the effects of global climate change that is affecting human access to water across the planet.

Stuart Gerber: Sequitur
Sequitur XI, by Karlheinz Essl, is from a series of 14 compositions for various solo instruments and live-electronics which I started in 2008. It was written for orchestra instruments like flute and violin, but also for voice and more exotic ones such as electric guitar, toy piano and kalimba. Sequitur refers to Berio’s famous “Sequenze” cycle of solo pieces which focus on specific playing techniques of the respective instrument. All Sequitur composition use a software written in MaxMSP which creates an electronic accompaniment from the instrument’s live input; the player is confronted with his own playing, and this creates a situation like moving in a house of mirrors where the identities becomes blurred. Each piece can be performed by the player alone (using a foot pedal) or together with a second musician who operates the live-electronics. The software generates a complex canon on the fly, the temporal structure and density of which being controlled by random operations. This yields different results every time the piece is performed. Although following a precisely notated score, there is always a good portion of surprise for the musician which emphasizes his awareness and attentiveness.

Fernando Rocha: Tempestade em Copo D’Água; Céu (Sky); and Improvisation for frame drums, laptops and digital instruments
These three works form a broader research project that aims to study the performer/computer interaction in electronic mixed works and the challenges of performance that are typical of this repertoire. As part of the study of different models of interaction a number of studies and short pieces were composed using Max/MSP, the most common software used in live-electronic music. One important goal of our compositional process was to create interactive computer systems that were user-friendly. The idea is that any percussionist should be able to play the pieces despite his or her knowledge of technology. In fact, we believe that the collection of works created on this project can be a very enjoyable way to introduce percussionists to the world of live-electronic music, helping them to learn some important technological aspects of this music, especially related to the Max/MSP programming environment. In Tempestade em Copo D’Água (‘Tempest in a teapot”), the computer interacts with the performer by improvising rhythmic phrases based on pulses and subdivisions played by the performer. Céu (‘Sky’) explores different timbres of a triangle, expanding its possibilities through the use of filters, reverb and delays. The sonic result of the piece is a rich spectral fusion of the original triangle sounds with the processed sounds. In Improvisation for Frame Drum and Laptop, the computer is able to detect many aspects of the performance, including attacks and different timbres played on the frame drum. By recognizing specific phrases (or sounds) played by the performer, the computer is able to move through the different sections of the piece.

Peter Kates, Rings
Rings (2011), composed by Craig Farr, was commissioned by Peter Kates, the solo percussionist of the Bergen Philharmonic. The electro-acoustic works´s instrumentation is strictly limited to cymbals and utilizes elements of digital delay as a continuation of the subject matter: the mathematical theory of Daniel Gorenstein, who is also a relative of Kates. The Gorenstein Ring, which constructs a communative algebra-cycle without beginning or end, is represented here in rhythmic patterns as well as the piece´s structure, which in itself is a cycle. The performer is free to choose where to begin the performance, which ends when the circle is completed. Cymbals consist of rings and they are heard here in many different sizes and densities to create a limited yet still varied and complex soundscape.

Telematic Collective and University of Michigan Computer-Acoustic Players: Goldstream Variations
Goldstream Variations (2012), by Scott Deal, is a work that creates a dynamic musical environment through the integration of harmonic movement, computer interactivity, and intuition. The variations are scored for one to seven musicians on undetermined acoustic instruments, together with one to seven electronic/computer artists. Any ratio of electronic to acoustic artists is feasible.  The selection of this grouping shapes the aural nature of performance space through the arrangement of performers and loudspeakers. Each page of the score constitutes one variation that acoustic and controller musicians perform soloistically, yet in heterophonic fashion with the rest of the group. These passages are captured by computer artists, who in turn release cascades of harmonic, timbrel, and melissmatic material which emanates throughout the space as a dynamic constellation of energy. Goldstream Variations is designed for performance in either a single physical space, or distributed telematically between multiple sites through high-bandwidth Internet.

Aiyun Huang, Eagle Claw Wu Tsiao Chen Wins
Eagle Claw Wu Tsiao Chen Wins, (2009), by Sean Griffin, is a percussion/video work where the performer is situated within a complex and fragmented narrative culled from many Kung Fu novels and films. Pitting the performer in an epic struggle between fixed time and rhythmic flux, this work takes on early Kung Fu film’s use of Chinese instruments to punctuate fight moves. Based on video scoring techniques, this work brings the performing body into a unique context of “Asian Voices” filled with pop culture, musical violence, floating images, and story telling. This video scoring examines the tension between precision in timing and a performer’s individual choices placing the performer in the center of the creative act.

Andy Thierauf: Growing Fast in Sawdust
Growing Fast in Sawdust (2012, Thierauf) is an interactive electronic piece that uses the computer program, Max, to record, manipulate, and playback sounds made by the performer. The patch uses filtering, looping, sampling, and algorithmic processes to create the computer part. The performer uses a pedal to trigger different events in the patch throughout the work. By using random objects and setting parameters, the computer has improvisatory sections allowing freedom and flexibility on the part of the performer to also improvise.

Don Nichols: Black Sparrow Shadow
Black Sparrow Shadow (2012, Nichols) combines predetermined and extemporaneous musical composition. The percussion instrumentation includes a table of small traditional/non-traditional instruments combined with traditional drum set components, such as bass drum, cymbal and snare. The electronic set-up consists of a laptop running Max/MSP, which serves to record, replay and manipulate the live, acoustic sound.

Fabrice Marandola: Packing A Lunch, and Unsounding Objects
Packing a Lunch, for T-stick, illustrates the rad fury of 80′s-era school lunches. It is an attempt to expand the timbral vocabulary of the t-stick, in a way that includes cool synthesizers. The graphical score offers encouragement to the performer to really rock out with his or her appendages out. The piece was composed in close collaboration with D. Andrew Stewart for his T-Stick Composition Workshop; without his assistance, the piece would not exist. The T-Sticks are a family of gestural musical controllers designed and built by Joseph Malloch. Unsounding Objects is a series of studies composed for the SpectraSurface that examines various characteristics of the instrument. The SpectraSurface is a set of playing surfaces contained within a suitcase and equipped with contact microphones. Found objects such as bowls, pipes, or toys are placed on top of the surfaces. The sounds from the contact microphones are sent to a computer where they are analyzed for their important audio features; these features are then used to drive sound synthesis. The tradition of found objects in the percussion idiom (Henry Cowell, John Cage, Lou Harrison) offers a familiar interface with unique timbral and temporal characteristics, which produce interesting results in the analysis-synthesis platform of Unsounding Objects.

Laurent Mariusse, Yi Jing 1
Yi Jing 1 (2013, Mariusse), is a multi-percussion and electronics work that utilizes the OMAX computer interactive system, is composed as a nexus between music composition and computer. Yi Jing 1 is for a free set up consisting of a mallet instrument and unpitched percussion. For the PASIC Tech Day performance, the instrumentation will be vibraphone, malletkat, cymbales, tibetan bowl and wood blocks.

PRESENTATIONS

Fabrice Marandola: Performance with Live Electronics and Sensors
The goal of this presentation will be to demonstrate various types of usages of sensors in works for augmented instruments, and for DMIs (Digital Musical Instruments). I will focus on performance practice issues such as the control of sound spatialisation, the increased number of layers of information to be controlled during a performance, and the necessity to develop a new set of technical and expressive gestures according to the mappings specific to each DMI. Chosen examples will illustrate some of the research projects recently developed by researchers, composers and performers of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Music Media and Technology (CIRMMT) in Montreal.

Don Nichols: Percussion Improvisation and Computer Interactivity in Black Sparrow Shadow
This presentation is an overview of a piece for percussion and interactive electronics entitled Black Sparrow Shadow. The performance illustrates the integration of real-time software to expand the possibilities of acoustic, multi-percussion performance.  Black Sparrow Shadow combines predetermined and extemporaneous musical composition. The percussion instrumentation includes a table of small traditional/non-traditional instruments combined with traditional drum set components, such as bass drum, cymbal and snare. The electronic set-up consists of a laptop running Max/MSP, which serves to record, replay and manipulate the live, acoustic sound.

Josh Emanuel: The Telematic Arts: an Overview
This presentation provides an introduction to telematic art. Advances in Internet bandwidth and communications applications have allowed performers to create together regardless of the physical distance that separates them. This session introduces the work and ideas of the forerunners and prominent figures in telematic art and music; the necessary requirements for creating a telematic performance; and an in-depth look at two recent performances involving the IUPUI Telematic Collective.

Laurent Mariusse: An Overview of OMAX Interactive Performance Software
OMax is a software environment which learns in real-time typical features of a musician’s style and plays along with him interactively, giving the flavor of a machine co-improvisation. It is based on researches on stylistic modeling and improvised interaction architecture carried out at Ircam.OMax reinjects in several different ways the musician’s material that has gone through a machine-learning stage, allowing an efficient formal representation of the musical stream and a smart recombination and transformation of this material in real-time. We call this process Stylistic Reinjection. OMax visualizes  the current state of the learnt musical knowledge as a timeline augmented with colored arches connecting repeated patterns. OMax is able to navigate through this graph model to create one or several acoustical “clones” of the musician  it’s listening to. The Stylistic reinjection thus creates a specific musical interaction in which the musician is constantly confronted to a reinterpreted version of his own playing. It emphasize the memory effects and usage of (self- )reference found in improvisation contexts such as collective free improvisation or jazz.–Gerard Assayag

Christopher Roode: Creating Percussive Sounds From Additive Synthesis and Frequency Modulation
In today’s music world, percussion instruments are becoming increasingly sampled and synthesized. Various pieces of software and hardware allow a performer to edit large libraries of percussion sounds. However, instruction on how to create basic synthesized sounds is hard to come by, leaving percussionists aimless when trying to construct new and original timbres. In this presentation, Chris Roode will demonstrate several basic ways of generating raw waveforms and apply them to percussion performance with electronic triggers. This presentation will discuss three areas of synthesis that includes the basic components of sound synthesis, waveform editing, and total concepts of total sound.

Justin Trieger, New World Symphony Percussion: Internet2 Percussion Masterclass
Internet2 is a high speed, next generation Internet, connecting over 200 U.S. universities as well as international universities and governments world-wide. Designated for educational research and collaboration, the extremely high bandwidth makes it a natural medium for live, interactive musical collaboration, coaching and teaching.The New World Symphony is pioneering the application of this technology to enable advanced music programs from these universities to join in the remote exchange of masterclasses, seminars, rehearsals and symposia. NWS is expanding its mission and developing a new forum for musical exchange by continuously experimenting with new uses for technology. In the PASIC session, members of the New World Symphony percussion section will present a masterclass, with percussionist David Tarantino performing on site at IUPUI. A Q&A session will accompany the masterclass.

Ray Dillard: Recording Percussion (and More) on a Budget
This presentation highlights a process by which high quality recordings of percussion (and other instruments!) can be made on a modest budget with a common laptop computer.  This process will include descriptions of microphone types, microphone placement for percussion instruments, understanding multi-tracking limits and advantages, stereo recording and the basics of mixing multi-track recordings. The fully interactive presentation will demonstrate microphone sound and placement; tracking of a variety of instruments, and the mixing process into a completed musical work. There would also be a short demonstration of the power and process of digital editing, primarily to entice further exploration after the session.

Brady Harrison: Sound Choices: Creating a Total Concept in Aesthetic Decisions for Electroacoustic Performance
Performance choices for electroacoustic works start with the same considerations that we put into other concert works, but often go beyond just sound.  By using musical considerations as a launching point, we can make informed musical and extra-musical choices that coalesce into one cohesive artistic whole. Creativity, artistry, and practicality come together in the interpretation (and reinterpretation) of technologically influenced works to a degree not often found elsewhere in percussion literature.

Iván Andres: Motion Control and Visual Projection in “Dry” for Percussion and Computer Interactivity
Dry is a new concept of multimedia interactive recital, using the new technologies as tool of inspiration and artistic development. The percussion instruments of all kinds giving a great richness of tunes and incomparable expression, processed in real-time and melting the effects with the natural sound of the instrument. Dry utilizes interactive projections that answer to the sounds of the instrumentalist, modulating the images and applying effects in real-time. The corporal movement of the performer also affects the modulation of the sound and of the images in real-time, extracting all the possibilities to the multimedia interaction.

Mike McIntosh: Technology in Marching Percussion
Treatment with discussion will be given to the application of new technologies developing in the marching percussion environment.

Robert Grifa: Using Software for Productive Practice and Improved Performance
Goal oriented practice is essential for any musician to develop skills in order to perform music at the highest level but in today’s fast paced world the time to practice can be limited due to many factors. This session is about how you can use software that can enhance the time you do have by utilizing features that help make the most of practice sessions and provides both visual and aural feedback. Immediately start to apply the skills you are practicing or already have developed in more realistic performance situations without having to wait for a group rehearsal. Having the ability to practice in this way can help you to quickly master skills and gain self-confidence, which are necessary for high-level performance. Playing along with a CD that has music recorded at a couple of different speeds is fine but this software provides much more than that. Learn how you can customize your own practice material and also gain access to the repertoire that is available as part of the software. Jumpstart your practice sessions, creativity and performance! This session is for any level percussionist/teacher with any area of percussion interest: concert, jazz, marching, drumset, etc.

Andy Thierauf: Computer Processes in the Multipercussion Work “Growing Fast in Sawdust”
Growing Fast in Sawdust (2012, Thierauf) is an interactive electronic piece that uses the computer program, Max, to record, manipulate, and playback sounds made by the performer. The patch uses filtering, looping, sampling, and algorithmic processes to create the computer part. The performer uses a pedal to trigger different events in the patch throughout the work. By using random objects and setting parameters, the computer has improvisatory sections allowing freedom and flexibility on the part of the performer to also improvise. Of the many objects used in the patch the most important are the record~, buffer~, and groove~ objects. A huge palette of timbres is available when these objects are used with various filters. The use of micro-variation, changing the sounds slightly either by pitch, dynamic, envelope, or panning allows for a more organic and less machine-like computer part. Growing Fast in Sawdust uses these and other techniques to expand the timbral possibilities of the vibraphone.

Fernando Rocha: Three Pieces/Studies for Percussion and Live-Electronics
This presentation outlines a project that aims to study the performer/computer interaction in electronic mixed works and the challenges of performance that are typical of this repertoire. One form of interaction often cited in the literature is called ‘score orientation’; through it the computer synchronizes its actions with the performer at specific moments predefined in the score. Three models of score orientation are identified by Pestova (2008); each one is related to a method used to allow the computer to receive the information that the performer has reached a synchronization point: (1) the use of a pedal or MIDI keyboard, (2) the use of various sensors (such as pressure sensors or accelerometers), and (3) the computer’s analysis in real-time of the sounds produced by the performer (detecting attacks, frequencies, amplitude and inferring musical elements like dynamic, register and density). As part of the study of these models of interaction a number of studies and short pieces were composed using Max/MSP, the most common software used in live-electronic music. One important goal of our compositional process was to create interactive computer systems that were user-friendly. The idea is that any percussionist should be able to play the pieces despite his or her knowledge of technology. In fact, we believe that the collection of works created on this project can be a very enjoyable way to introduce percussionists to the world of live-electronic music, helping them to learn some important technological aspects of this music, especially related to the Max/MSP programming environment. Several of these pieces will be presented in this lecture and will be used as examples to discuss musical possibilities and performance aspects of interactive music, and to give an introduction to Max/MSP.

Mark Cook: Hardware for performing live electronics
This presentation aims to familiarize percussionists with some of the hardware needed for performing music with live electronics, and specifically with the audio interface.  It will be centered on the features to look for in an audio interface and discussion of the merits of certain features.  Features included in this discussion are: inputs and outputs; multi-channel operations; interface issues, cabling, microphones, mixers, and sound reinforcement.

MUSIC TECHNOLOGY LAB

Tom Johnson: Notation Software and Percussion Techniques Made Easy
This clinic shows how to create percussion scores that not only look right but sound right too. From simple drum set rhythm parts to complex marching band/drumline scores, discover the fastest ways to achieve the results you want. Topics will include fast and easy note-entry, pitched vs. non-pitched percussion, specific playback techniques, changing percussion instruments on a single staff, real-time entry, scanning music and more, all presented in an entertaining and non-technical environment.

Jordan Munson: Intro to Object Oriented Music Software (MAX)
The goal of this session is to educate percussionists on the basic language of graphic programming, as it relates to rehearsal and performance practice, via the software Max.  This hands-on workshop will take participants from a basic understanding of the environment to a functional algorithm for audio processing and playback within a single session.  Advanced functionality of the software will also be discussed and demonstrated.

Adam Batrich: Getting Started with Your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)
This session will cover the basics of utilizing software to create and record music directly to a hard drive.  Treatment will be given to the different ways to share music (.wav , AIFF, .mp3), as well as the selection of both professional and free DAW’s on the market, the use of software instruments and plug-ins. The session will conclude with a comparison of some of the leading DAW software applications.

Follow links to the left for information about the PAS Technology Day