Research Blog – II

Greetings!

It’s been a few months since my last written update, and there are plenty of things to talk about! Since I last updated this blog, I’ve been fortunate to perform with many different groups of instrumentalists and in a variety of settings, and I feel like this pragmatic experience is helping greatly in defining my improvisational approach to laptop performance.

Technically speaking, I’ve programmed a collection of synth definitions in SuperCollider that I use to process live inputs, synthesize sounds, and manipulate pre-recorded audio buffers. Until this point, I’ve been performing by sending server messages from the SuperCollider IDE to activate the synths and manipulate their arguments. This approach can be bit cumbersome and doesn’t really give me the level of reactivity I’d like to have; it does, however, provide me with the flexibility to alter every synth argument to the most minute detail.

I’ve come to realize that transposing this approach onto a physical interface means that I will have to prioritize either spontaneity or the amount of control I have over each argument. I’m currently in the process of mapping these server messages to a Monome 256 controller, which will give me the ability to react to musical situations much quicker than the live-coding approach. However, as the Monome is just a grid of toggle buttons, I have to limit myself to preset arguments for each synth definition – perhaps three “versions” of each synth. I see this as a necessary limitation at the moment, but it will perhaps force me to find creative solutions in performing with a restricted degree of control over synth parameters.

Though I haven’t finished the mapping process yet, I’ve been performing a fair amount with the server-messages approach. Since I last updated this blog, I have performed in the following settings:

23.3 – MAUM concert in Levinsalen, performed with 4 instrumentalists

30.3-31.3 – duo concerts in Denmark w/ saxophonist Anders Abelseth

1.4-7.4 – duo concerts in Berlin w/ vocalist Thea Soti (herself using analogue electronics)

10.4 – duo concert w/ pedal steel guitarist Emil Brattested

19.4-30.4 – Nord+Mix workshop in Vilnius, Lithuania where I performed in 3rd order ambisonics

4.5 – 6 channel collaborative piece with flute, harp, and 5 dancers

For the coming months, I have quite a bit of work to do, and quite a few things to look forward to! First, I will premiere a performative installation at Sentralen for the Only Connect festival. At the Nord+Mix workshop, I was introduced to the concept of spatial modulation synthesis, which I found very interesting. For this installation, we were asked to work with specific “spaces” in the service hallways of Sentralen in Oslo; I’ll try to fully exploit the idea of space by reading excerpts from the english translation of Georges Perec’s “Espèces d’espaces” while the transient information from the text controls the spatial modulation of my voice.

In the end of June, I’m heading to Köln for a series of concerts and workshops with the improvising vocal duo Monsters for Breakfast. Thea Soti, who I worked with in Berlin in April, makes up one half of the duo, and she has been generous enough to arrange a short tour in Germany along with a few workshops where I will present my approach to using SuperCollider in an improvisational context. In preparation for these concerts, I’m hoping to develop a few more synth definitions that I’ll be able to test out over the course of these concerts and workshops.

I have a few other concerts and workshops coming up as well, but I’ll report on those in the next blog update! Until then….

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