"Baraka" MTIID MFA Show from Spring 2013

On March 6th 2013, the CalArts Music Technology MFAs collaborated on a new live film score to the 1992 film Baraka as our second semesterly concert. Since this project was not my own, I had not posted it into my projects hub.

Upon referencing it in the previous article about the Global Net Orchestra, I realized I didn't have a good audio stream of one of my pieces from it hosted anywhere. So now, this is a consolidation of the content I generated from that show.

"Untitled (Plinky)" had a couple of idea nuclei behind it:

  • wanting to do a piece that made the pressing and releasing of the sustain pedal on a old, crappy-sounding piano sound HUGE.
  • wanting to do a piece on an old crappy piano with the sustain pedal held down that's just descending down in chromatic 7ths (C-D-E-F-G-A-B going down an octave each time. for example). Obviously these ideas could live well together.
  • convolving two unintelligible strains of speech synthesis together.
  • big, big, big time The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Soundtrack by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross influence.

My piece with Raphael Arar was interesting because it was totally "instrumental". He improvised a plodding, dark march feel on piano that I controlled a reverb return to. I performed life effects processing (via Sugar Bytes Turnado) of samples of my niece Brooklynn struggling to say the alphabet that had been extremely time-stretched in SPEAR. I was locked to a timeline and Raphael wasn't.

We arrived at something that consistently took breaths in the same place from rehearsal to rehearsal but was somewhat improvisatory outside of that. It was cool.

Global Net Orchestra performance, March 1st 2014

In early February 2014, my professor Ajay Kapur brought to my attention the solicitation of performers for a 100-person "laptop orchestra"-style network music performance led by Roger Dannenberg, named the Global Net Orchestra. Excited at the opportunity to play in a network music piece and to work with Dr. Dannenberg (who is the original author of the open-source software Audacity that I use for my raw data experiments, and the developer of Synthetic Performer, among many other things!), I keenly volunteered.

Roger provided very detailed instructions for how we were to submit a long, prepared wav file that contained each note we would be playing with silence gaps in between, so that each member of the orchestra had their own voice. I decided to re-use a nice, buzzy Kontakt patch I had created many years ago at Berklee, which previously appeared as the ominous drone of this video. (The sound was recorded by another Berklee student some years before that, it's an electric shaver moving around a face that has been chromatically tuned.)

GNO software running during a rehearsal.

We had five rehearsals, of which I was able to attend the minimum two, since, for instance, some where held at 3AM to accommodate performers in East Asia! The experience of participation was part PLOrk, part Guitar Hero, part graphical score, and part drum circle. Representing Carnegie Mellon University, The final concert was on March 1st, and took place as part of the Ammerman Center for Arts & Technology 2014 Symposium at Connecticut College.

Among notable participants we could count Ge Wang and Pauline Oliveros, with Janelle Burdell serving as the ensemble's drummer, keeping time on a Zendrum. We played some Bach, we played a piece by Roger, we made some stuff up. Overall, there were 64 performers in the final concert, with hopes of doing it again sometime in the near future.

Read more about the event on Carnegie Mellon's website, check out the map of performers (I'm cloud_canvas in Valencia, CA!), and read a review in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.