Habits of Man – fifteen years later

Recently I pulled out my old solo digital audio work Habits of Man for a recital here on campus. It’s the first time that I’ve listened to it critically in several years (even though I posted it on YouTube four years ago):

There are a couple of small nagging sloppy parts to the piece that frustrate me and I think the middle section before the final climax is something that I would do slightly differently, but there’s more about it that I’m still happy with than unhappy, and that feels pretty good.  The more important thing is that fifteen years later it still feels like me – given the same source material that I had back then (which was probably over two hours worth of material), my approach to the composition might be more polished, but the general structure and idea behind the work would still be the same.

It serves as a good reminder that contemporary electronic art music is something that still holds importance to me in some way, and that, along with some other stuff that i’m almost done creating a different blog entry about, is giving me the drive to kickstart some abandoned projects in that realm to complete for the next couple of years.  There’s two electronic projects in particular that I’m planning on doing – one is a revision and a revamp of an old piece I did during my undergraduate years that then carried through to my masters called Surrounded By Mirrors for clarinet, MIDI keyboard, and interactive electronics.  The other, In a Fast Paced World, is a piece that I was originally conceiving of as an interactive octaphonic piece of music using a LEAP Motion Controller.  I’m not 100% convinced that the LEAP is the right controller for the job anymore, but it’s still worth fiddling with since the software side of the tech has improved greatly since i last experimented with it, and they may have even figured out at this point how to get two LEAPs to connect to a single computer.  We’ll see what happens, or if something else comes along that is a better sort of input for that project.

Electronic Music Performance Paradigms Part 2

Over the weekend I broke out my LEAP Motion Controller for the first time, hooked it up to Max, and started experimenting. I did a couple of videos of that experimentation, the second of which showcases some basic audio manipulation i did using the aka.leapmotion object and the grainstretch~ object:

Currently, i’m typing this blog entry in the electronic music studio at Tulane.  I got in here around 22:30 and spent a good hour or so familiarizing myself with the space here – the mapping of the mixing board, how that maps to the 8-channel speaker set up, and also some Reaper basics (since at home I use Audacity) and how to control that 8-channel space.  I had a tough time remembering some of what Rick showed me when he introduced me to the space last week, and 8-channel sound is a very new animal to me, so it took me a bit longer to figure it out than i would have liked, but i figured it out and started building some of the vocabulary of the sounds in Reaper in the way that i wanted as a starting point.

After i did that, i got out of the lab, walked around a little bit in the quiet of the now-locked music building, and started some hard thinking.  I thought about my weekend LEAP experiments, i thought about my experience with the In The Grid concert here, and I tried to put into focus what I wanted to accomplish with this piece – mainly whether or not the piece should be a pure audio-only piece with no added elements, or if it should be an interactive one that potentially uses the LEAP as its interactive instrument and conduit.  Mainly i was trying to answer the big question: would using the LEAP for the piece be something that ultimately enhances it or detracts from it?

In thinking about it, there were a few important elements to consider.

electronic music (and multimedia art) performance paradigms and its relation to my new piece

Last night i went to a concert at Tulane called “In The Grid”, which was basically a concert of student works of the multimedia/electronic music classes here at Tulane.  I assume it was end-of-the-year or end-of-the-semester projects.

The quality of the pieces varied – not unexpectedly since the students had a wide range of experience with the software and hardware that they were using for the concert – but the concert itself was pretty awesome because the program itself was very varied, a great showcase of exploration and experimentation by the students.   There were a few “tape pieces” which was to be expected, but there was also a piece where someone did some improv with an iPad controller and a pd patch, there was a guy that used a LEAP motion controller to control not just the music, but a projection of images that were aimed at two huge irregularly-shaped boxes that were suspended from the ceiling, and there was a piece that involved projecting varied light patterns and sweeps amongst a constant machine-generated smoke screen in which three dancers danced as silhouettes, an integrated music/light show/dance visual thing.

As i was listening and watching the concert…