motione participant Arts, media and Engineering

computer screens

in the words of the creators

Curtis Bahn

The soundworld for "How Long..." is drawn primarily from unaltered recordings of the sound of piano strings plucked with the fingers or tapped with soft mallets. Additional sounds are composed of natural recordings of small percussion instruments from around the world.
Improvisations using these sound sources were edited to create hundreds of small phrases lasting between about 1/2 second to 2 or 3 seconds. Sonic transformations of these basic sound sources makes an additional layer, almost a distant horizon, of sonic texture. In performance, the short phrases and their transformations are articulated through a computer program combining traditional compositional methods with live interactive control.

Trisha Brown's choreography does not often underscore surface relationships between musical gesture and dance. Rather she focuses on deeper more subtle relationships of musical texture and compositional development combining her musical studies and choreographic genius into a subtle dance of sound, silence and movement. In "How Long..." we have attempted to honor this approach in an interactive context where the relationships highlighted by the analytical data from the motion capture are used to create deep, and maybe often unobservable, relationships between movement and media. Yet, the movement breathes life into the media making it a live and constantly changing kaleidoscope of organic shapes and textures.

The result almost places the listener inside of an enormous imaginary piano. I have attempted to keep the sound natural, with plenty of space left to reveal the organic shapes and movement in Trisha Brown's choreography, and the evolving graphics on screen. Part of the challenge being my desire to keep basic relationships and esthetics of sound, silence and movement in a highly technological context.

The interactive system for real-time sound generation for "How Long . . ." is based upon a compositional computer program by Curtis Bahn using the application MAX/MSP by cycling74. Custom software was written by Todd Ingalls to connect the output of the custom dance analysis system and the MAX/MSP programming environment. The MAX/MSP environment allows an easy graphical interface for creating algorithmic relationships between movement and sound; calculating and articulating them in real-time during the performance. The recorded sounds and sounds transformations are generated based on movement
activity and spatial relationships of the dancers. Each performance is drawn from the sameset of hundreds of basic sounds, transformations and relationships, however, the way in which these elements are combined and articulated is always different.

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The Katherine K. Herberger College of Fine Art and the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering at Arizona State University.
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