New sketchwork

There’s two pieces of music that I have on the brain right now to complete by the beginning of 2018, and I thought i’d write down some initial brainstorm thoughts that I’ve had with them.

First, one of my marching band students has asked me to write a piece for his senior trumpet recital. After a brief discussion about ideas, I decided to write it as an interactive piece using Max, which has gotten me down the path of re-learning and doing a lot of Max programming (because apparently I can’t make things easy for myself even if i tried). I’m not as familiar with MSP as I should be, but hopefully this will graduate me from beginner to competent amateur.

Right now I’m conceiving of the piece as being done in four movements, all of which play with a different concept of time. The first movement will be about the trumpet playing some passages that will then get echoed back and potentially manipulated, representing the trumpet playing from the “past” being used with current material. The second movement will be about the trumpet playing passages that has chordal movement in live unison, representing the trumpet playing from the “present” being used with the current material. The third movement will be about the trumpet playing passages that it hears from Max first, representing the idea that those passages are grabbing trumpet playing from “future” passages. The fourth movement will pull from all of those concepts into a single movement that is loosely based on the concept of spacetime.

The beginning stages of this is mostly programming Max patches that can deal with these various mechanics. I’m trying to figure out the best way to get the trumpet signal into Max, easily identify its pitch, account for tuning errors, different input/output gains and levels, and the like. Once I create that groundwork, I’ll deal with tools for the actual music. The patch for Movement 2 is going to be a modified version of an external patch already built by ICST, so that’ll also probably be what I compose first.

Second, I need to write a piece for nienteForte this year, and if all goes according to plan, that will be for the TALEA ensemble. A lot will depend on exactly what members of TALEA will be a part of the festival, but if all goes according to plan, the piece will also include some basic Max programming (but much more simple as it will be MIDI only and I can do that in my sleep). The piece is going to be based on a Dali painting that i love, with the idea that the ensemble is going to be split into two distinct tonal groups – one that uses equal-temperament and another that uses a “parallel” microtonal equal-temperament that phases in and out as controlled by Max and a MIDI piano. The idea I have right now is to put the responsibility of the parallel tuning on string instruments with the idea that it’s easier for them to constantly microtune than it is for wind instruments.

We’ll see how all of this shakes down; the current goal is to get the Max programming structure of the trumpet piece done in the next few weeks so that I can start writing the actual music in July. My progress on that will be somewhat contingent on Life getting in the way, which is going wonderfully ballistic right now with house hunting with the girlfriend, staying on top of TUMB stuff, etc.

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