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Output name: Journeyman

Date of premiere: January 2015

Journeyman premiere showing in Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh, January 2015 as part of Gap in the air.Journeyman premiere showing in Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh, January 2015 as part of Gap in the air.

300 word statement:

journeyMan is a collection of 3 compositions for mobile phone and ambulant listener. Each composition uses a distinct set of performance controls derived from the sensors on contemporary smartphones. These drive the piece forwards. Start the piece and the phone performs with you, responding to changes in direction and movement.

The first piece was called Journeyman and was specifically composed to accompany an exhibition of paintings by Christopher Orr in January 2015, hosted at Talbot Rice Gallery in Edinburgh. The piece mapped listener’s heading to paths through the piece and detected if the listener was walking or not. With these two parameters it was possible to push music forwards as people walked to each painting. The piece could also pause and hover in-place when standing still and looking at images.

The second piece was designed to work with archives of recorded lectures from the Conference on World Affairs, based in Boulder Colorado. This important archive of public and political opinion spans the lifetime of the festival and Parker was granted access to whole archive as source material for the piece. Lectures and panel discussions that could have mobile-phone related themes were selected. Valerie Plame Wilson’s session on spying for the CIA is juxtaposed against Tom Imboya talking about Africa’s nationhood. Questions about the future of art may crop up against panels where the role and responsibility of the media is challenged. These ideas resonate with the contemporary smart phone, alluding to commercial mining exploitation in Congo necessary to source the raw materials that allow smart phones to work and perhaps reminding us that, post-Snowden, the smart phone is the ideal device for corporations, governments and colleagues to spy on you.

INSERT LINK HERE TO THE VIDEO OF SCRIPTS:

Scripts, Live Performance, Quasar Sax Quartet, Church of the Gesù (Montreal) January 2017.Scripts, Live Performance, Quasar Sax Quartet, Church of the Gesù (Montreal) January 2017.

Portfolio:

Section 1: Output

Scripts is a composition at the intersection of improvisation, live electronic music and adaptive systems. It involves the crafts of creative coding, co-composition and live sound engineering.

The piece has been performed twice by the Quasar Saxophone quartet in La Gesu Catedral, Montreal, January 2017 and again in Greyfriar’s Kirk in Edinburgh, March 2017.

The work exists as a series of partially open scores and a sophisticated live electronics performance tool that responds very directly to sound input from the players.

Scripts Screenshot, the amplitude of incoming sound is used to push the parameters of live electronic processing along.Scripts Screenshot, the amplitude of incoming sound is used to push the parameters of live electronic processing along.

Section 2: Originality

Page 1 of the score to Script 2 showing very simple instructions that allow considerable variation and divergence between players in performance.Page 1 of the score to Script 2 showing very simple instructions that allow considerable variation and divergence between players in performance.

The forms and structures of music production and musical experience are changing. The roles of composer and performer have moved from a situation where composers write pieces with every detail prescribed in advance of performance, to situations where composers invent systems that reveal aspects of their potential in each performance. This approach to composition/performance grants performers considerable agency on-stage.

In the domain of live electronics, this granting of agency means moving away from click and tape tracks where time is fixed. Score following tools such as IRCAMs Antescofo project don’t work because the scores are so open and flexible. Parker’s solution to this challenge has been to make computer music systems that respond directly to the sound that comes in from the instruments. Each sound pushes the electronics through a shifting parameter space.

Screen shot of the Ensemble_designer section of the software tool. Here the composer shapes and sculpts the range of sounds possible for each script and saves each state as a preset.Screen shot of the Ensemble_designer section of the software tool. Here the composer shapes and sculpts the range of sounds possible for each script and saves each state as a preset.

Section 3: Significance

Scripts plays in a integral role in Michael Edwards’ 50 minute piece Hyperboles 3. They offer an opportunity for the players and audience to shift concentration and focus, whilst keeping the atmosphere and context of the larger work complete.

The piece was commissioned as part of Quasar Quartet’s 2016-17 tour and was supported by funds from the British Council and Local Government of Quebec. The work now forms part of Quasar’s increasing repertoire of work for Saxophone Quartet and live electronics: https://quasar4.com/en/repertoire/scripts.

Quasar quartet have been pushing the boundaries of what’s possible for sax quartet and electronics for several years and have worked closely with academic music departments in the UK such as SARC, Huddersfield and University of Edinburgh. Scripts is an addition to this extensive repertoire (https://quasar4.com/en/music/repertoire).

Section 4: Rigour

Players communicate more freely in performance as the scores are open and performance managed as much by listening as looking at the score.Players communicate more freely in performance as the scores are open and performance managed as much by listening as looking at the score.

Models for this piece were first explored with Quasar Quartet during their 2015 UK tour. At their visit to Edinburgh, we examined ways of using interfaces like Wacom tablet controllers as augmentations of their instrument. This led us to realise that the sounds they make could be used directly as the control mechanism for the computer part of the piece.

Development of the system for using sound to push through a complex parameter space was done with Anna La Berge and Pete Furniss in December 2015. At this workshop we explored ways of using multiple instrumental sources and voices to work together in single system of live-electronics processing.

Rehearsal session in Edinburgh with Anne La Berge (flute) and Pete Furniss (bass clarinet), testing ways of integrating multiple instrumental sources into a single live electronics processing system.Rehearsal session in Edinburgh with Anne La Berge (flute) and Pete Furniss (bass clarinet), testing ways of integrating multiple instrumental sources into a single live electronics processing system.

Having created an extremely adaptive system, Parker also integrated ambisonics directly into output stage of the software. This gave access to adaptive spatial audio that can be be experienced by players whether they are rehearsing individually on headphones or in larger speaker configurations.

Spatial audio possibilities for the piece can be scaled up from headphones-based for individual rehearsal up to any number of speakers thanks to the use of ambisonics.Spatial audio possibilities for the piece can be scaled up from headphones-based for individual rehearsal up to any number of speakers thanks to the use of ambisonics.

Some spatial audio options.Some spatial audio options.

Appendices

Appendix 1: Performances

  • Performance in the Church of the Gesù (Montreal), January 2017

  • Performance in Greyfriars’ Kirk (Edinburgh), March 2017

Appendix 2: Funding and support

The performances and development of Scripts has been made possible with elements of funding from the following bodies:

  • British Council, £2500

  • Quebec government, ca. £12000

  • University of Edinburgh £2.5k

References

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