some thoughts on performance

i have just finished digitizing the most recent live set i have recorded. the artifact was made on a small handheld tape-recorder. as a result, the sound quality suffers quite a bit, which helps amplify the "ethnographic" sensibility of the document. the grain of the tape is a welcome distortion, just like the filtering that occurs as the result of the space i'm playing in. i really believe that too few composers who work with electronics, especially those who work with acousmatic pieces, pay too little attention to recordings made of their performances, and instead emphasize the original artifact. the way the performance space filters the sound is lost because of this oversight, especially in transient-rich electronic music. to me, this elision results in a lack of dimensionality to the sound and an overemphasis on the effect of control, which is achieved by monolithically assuming the transparency of the medium and the perfection of the resynthesis.

in the performance i used a few instruments i designed specifically in order to thwart my own intention to control them. these somewhat limiting and unpredictable instruments (automatons?) were incorporated into a mixer which ran feedback both internally and through a planar speaker element i had set perpendicular to the stage's PA. small microphones created more feedback loops as well as picking up the instruments themselves. software was designed and manipulated in realtime. instead of manually controlling parameters like density, trigger rate, grain pitch, and deviation, i set up a control system based on polyrhythms, and manipulated the ranges and types of behaviours.

the instruments were mostly driven by analogue oscillators with photo-sensitive components. i came equipped with a flashlight to influence them. some of the instruments also produced light, which allowed interdependent events to occur amongst the "automatons."

i see these "automatons" as an example of what Bowers & Archer call "infra-instruments." however, it is not the individual actors themselves that i am as interested in so much as the ecosystem they inhabit. for my NIME performance, i plan to use some sort of clumsy physical system to trigger note events, preferably of both electroacoustic and computational origin.

as for what sort of sound-world i'm shooting for, the analogy always comes back to David Tudor. i guess another sound-world i wouldn't mind evoking is that of Paul De Marinis, specifically with his use of articulatory synthesis and linguistics.

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