Looking for Pieces for Percussion and Computer (preferably interactive)

    Jun 27 2015 | 6:52 pm
    Good afternoon! I have recently been scheduled to talk at a panel discussion regarding tape vs. computer compositions. I would like to know what some of the latest pieces are for percussion and interactive computer systems. Any suggestions? (composers, this is your time to self promote!)

    • Jun 28 2015 | 9:38 am
      Stockhausen's Naselflügentanz would probably fit very well in such a discussion.
    • Jun 28 2015 | 5:04 pm
      This is a pretty impressive one: "The Rush of the Brook Stills the Mind" by Elainie Lillios, performed by Scott Deal
    • Jun 28 2015 | 6:04 pm
      ...and having had the good fortune to see Scott Deal positively *nail* this piece in Baton Rouge, I would quietly suggest that performing it is not for the faint of heart.
    • Jun 28 2015 | 7:20 pm
      Thanks for the suggestions so far! This is great stuff! I'll have to do some digging to find the Stockhausen piece...it's not showing up on youtube. Scott Deal is brilliant! I had the opportunity to study with him in my masters program.
    • Jun 28 2015 | 9:30 pm
      Having only briefly scanned the OP, the name that immediately came to mind was Rodrigo Constanzo.
    • Jun 28 2015 | 9:34 pm
      and, as always, raja prompts a response: I don't think computers are instruments yet - sensors and microcontrollers can be though. But let's not get into that whole "screen-based" interaction dialogue here, k?
    • Jun 28 2015 | 10:34 pm
      . . . to keep the discussion alive, of course !
      ("companions". Nice)
    • Jun 29 2015 | 12:52 am
      This is spectacular! Opening me up to more stuff I didn't know about. I do agree that a lot of the implementations of computers are not where they could be. I do think a lot of the computer music is difficult to connect with because of the lower emphasis on traditional music structures. But that has been the genre...12 tone led to synthesizers and computer music.
      Anyway, I agree that the computer is more of a companion. I believe the music system is kind of a score...a score that can have some primitive cognition, which is very intriguing. However, when I look at the published pieces, I find a lot of tape still running around, and very little computer. Often the computer music effects are glorified tapes, or just a delay box. So this panel discussion I'm part of will be a chance to let composers and publishers know what can be done.
      Thanks for all of the contributions so far, and please keep posting! I love hearing what ya'll have to say (yes...I did say ya'll...)
    • Jun 29 2015 | 5:52 am
      Raja's suggestion is great indeed. If you talk about it, you'll have to mention Stockhausen's Mikrophonie I, of course (microphone + filter + large tam, 1964).
    • Jun 29 2015 | 6:58 am
      Hah, thanks for dropping my name in here. I thought about posting a link or two but decided against it as I don't think of myself as a "composer" anymore.
      I think what raja pointed out is an important consideration that extends past the decision to use a computer or not. A big part of what I do is a unified practice in general where there are fewer boundaries between the different aspects of creativity/creation. I think the moment you start slicing up the process into different bits (conceiving something, writing it down for someone to retranslate into music again, involving a performer which will add a layer of 'interpretation',) you have already introduced problems that having a computer/tape/electronics in the mix will not really solve, and can often make worse. I no longer get excited, much less interested, when I see that a piece has 'live electronics'. Bummer that is. BUT that says more about what I find interesting and isn't necessarily here or there when it comes to how people work in general. This is what's important to me.
      I agree that there is a deficiency in concert music where tape parts and live electronics are (seeming) afterthoughts and often not meaningfully integrated into the music/composition at an integral/conceptual/important level. It's a small/silly/semantic thing but the fact that we still call it a 'tape' part says something about how current/relevant that idea is.
      As a side note I do think computers are instruments, or rather, can be. Obviously software and implementation are super important there but I totally think of a computer as an instrument, on it's own, and as part of a meta-creativepractice instrument where no individual part of the sausage IS the sausage. It's all sausage, all the way down.
    • Jun 29 2015 | 7:14 am
      p.s. Pierre Alexandre Tremblay's 'la rage' is a great example of what you're looking for.
    • Jun 29 2015 | 12:51 pm
      Rodrigo, thanks for chiming in here! It makes sense the concern about a performer being another variable in the mix. Your comment gives me a lot to think about, and I like the ideas that are new to me. The original computer compositions rose out of a need to control more aspects of the performance than a performer could handle. It's interesting to think of that when viewing some of Puccini's later works. It was a massive production, and the trumpets in the pit / trumpets off stage become kind of a human form of a synthesizer patch.
      My greater historical concern is that there is a network of opera companies who will stage Puccini's work today. Pianists are able to re-create Beethoven's work today, even though they aren't Beethoven. I would think the works from our era that survive over the course of time will be ones that can be reproduced without the aid of the composer. It's a tricky line to follow, but I believe it is a necessary component of computer music.
      There could be...however...a record of this music through recorded media. However, that's not where the true music exists. Watching a youtube video of Scott Deal performing is great, but it's a totally different experience to be in the room where he is playing. I wonder what will happen to the next generation of music listeners who grew up in the spotify generation, and how they comprehend a live performance.
      Anyway, keep the thoughts coming! This is giving me lots to ponder...
    • Jun 29 2015 | 6:39 pm
      @chris There's an inherently musicological viewpoint to many of your comments/thoughts which I think are often contrary (or at least not in line with) the concerns of people creating new types of music/art/whatever. For example, Puccini's stuff could be viewed as a 'synthesizer patch' but I'm sure (guessing) to him it was new/additional parameters he could control or modulate, and so he did that. He didn't think contextually or historically. I think that distinction, to isolate it as an example, is what I was hinting at in my post, and is similar to what I read from raja's first response. People who create new/creative work do it without the boxes of context or labels or genre or impact. Those concerns are secondary (if even that close) to creative concerns.
      The second point you raise, about reproducibility is also inherently historical in its concern. We wouldn't apply the same issue to other art forms. Like you wouldn't expect to experience 'Coltrane' now. He's dead, and has been for some time. We have recordings and/or other people play it, but it's not the same (not to say it's worse, it's just different). Similar things can be applied to visual artists/paintings/performance art. Posterity, again, is not a creative concern. Its the concern of an agent or manager.
      I'll unpack this even further to say that there's an 'appeal to generality' that's often applied to composed/"real" music. "Could someone else perform it?" That's why I was hesitant to respond at the start because I don't think of myself as a "composer" anymore. I engage in a/many creative practice(s) which sometimes involves me writing things down ahead of time.
      Additionally there's the marginalisation of intrinsically mediatized art. The video raja posted before IS the art. It's not a document, or secondary to the experience of "really being there". It is something more/bigger than a performance that's been documented. Much of what I do is video-based art that's not a document. That piece is one I do perform live (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rFuL6JTNBo) but given the way it's filmed, the live performance is essentially the 'documentation'. It is secondary to the video, which is the real 'aesthetic object'.
      Over the years I've performed live less and less and made more and more videos, not really consciously, but for other reasons. I have a general dislike of "concert music", though I like live music. It's the anachronistic ritual of "concert music" that puts me off particularly with regards to electronic music. There was a reason why these things needed to happen in front of people, at a certain time, with certain etiquette, but now much of this feels gross to me. To encumber future/new art with this ritual limits the scope of things, if it has to be shrunken down to "10-15minute chamber music that gets 3 rehearsals and a premiere".
      The spotify generation will be making a new kind of art that you or I may not like, which is ok, because it wouldn't be for us.
      I hope none of this comes across as negative or (too) rant-y. I've had to deal with many of these issues in arriving at what/how I do things so I have lots of thoughts on the subject(s)!
      @raja There's a really awesome lecture/performance I saw by goodiepal where he was talking about computer music, as in, music made by computers FOR computers. Their aesthetics would be very different from ours obviously. Really interesting/amazing performance.
      I don't think we've talked about it really, but I'm generally averse to 'scores' and traditional/classical instruments. I view it as an artificially (financially/institutionally) sustained period practice more in line with an artisanal practice like basket weaving, than with what it means to make art now. I do realize this is a quite extreme stance/opinion though! But this thread has that kind of stink on it anyways, so might as well go "all the way" lol.
      I do agree with the 'anything is an instrument' thing, with computers being a really huge part of that. And there's a freedom that's audible/palpable when people create/compose/whatever with that kind of thinking, as opposed to the conceptually 'quantized' framework where there is a 'composer' and a 'performer' and a 'performance' with 'electronics' etc... The blocks are built, and things are discreet. There is little to no room for flow/fluidness.
    • Jun 30 2015 | 7:24 pm
      @rodrigo No worries about your tone. Your post was really interesting, and actually resolves some of my bit questions about the state of performance. I hadn't thought of the videos themselves as the actual art. I recently saw a piece of art in a gallery where part of the exhibit was a mass of facebook pics throughout the development of the piece with their corresponding comments. It's crazy to imagine youtube as our gallery.
      I guess more of what I am dancing around is the concern of audience. Everything that is created has an intended audience, whether it be yourself, your friends, or a broader group. With that, really there are no rules and regulations to follow. However, the performer is a type of audience...music teachers are an audience as well. My publications with tapspace.com are clearly targeted towards beginning percussion ensemble directors...there's no question about that.
      I've also come to see a score really as a piece of visual art. The arrangement of the symbols, the typeface, the spacing...it's graphics that performers can interpret into music. In that light...any particular performance is it's own creation. Like a street artist drawing the image of the Mona Lisa with chalk. It conveys similarity, but isn't exactly the same as the original. It would be like a musician alive today playing their own improvisation to a Coltrane lead sheet. But you bring whole new ideas for me to ponder.
      @raja My goal in this panel discussion, and in this new project I'm starting is to hopefully start to break people away from the tape/conductor type of thinking. I think some poking and prodding of our performers about computer music can hopefully get more people into it. Right now I see the vast majority of our audience who really knows what's going on are practitioners in the field. I'm a marimbist, and I have come to realize that marimbists are only feeding music to themselves...As a result, the local arts council here hires pianists and violinists for their concert series, and looks at me cross-eyed when I tell them I play the marimba.
      This forum is awesome! I feel like I've made tons of new friends!
    • Jun 30 2015 | 8:56 pm
      @chris On the topic of 'the audience', I've always found this video to be quite inspirational: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bm-Jjvqu3U4
      Specifically where she talks about the Edmund Snow Carpenter quote about NOT using existing channels to try to reach the maximum audience.
      Even in your comment of "imaging youtube as our gallery" shows the limitation of the (conceptual) binds. A gallery is a similarly antiquated idea. The invention of human flight didn't mean we could attach wings to our horse carriages to make them to faster, it fundamentally changed how things worked. A new art will not use the old paradigms.
      To quote Glenn Gould: “In the best of all possible worlds, art would be unnecessary. Its offer of restorative, placative therapy would go begging a patient. … The audience would be the artist and their life would be art.“
      Though this is now quite comfortable off topic!
      All of this is to say that I think you wanting to bring this concern up in a panel is admirable, though I think the solution involves much more than better percussion+computer pieces.
    • Jul 01 2015 | 4:10 pm
      @Rodrigo: (to push the 'off-topic-tendency even further) @Chris
      The statistical tools that are so much overused for measuring significance of contents have to be overcome rapidly. The quote (hits clicks likes) is an evil tool abused for judging the importance of something. Something is not better or more interesting just because it is bigger, faster, economical. One has also to take the quality (=meaningfulness) into account. I've heard that the next algorithms of google are going to include a 'truth factor'. Next step will hopefully be a 'beauty factor'
      "All of this is to say that I think you wanting to bring this concern up in a panel is admirable, though I think the solution involves much more than better percussion+computer pieces."
      Totally yes: it would need better people that are doing percussion and computer pieces.
      It would need artists that are doing stuff not only because it's doable on a level of engineering / virtuosity but because they have something to tell something that is integrated in the vision that is presented . Artists that feel the need to share something that they are moved by and offer to others the possibility to make an experience. Offering (yes it could be an offering) something that tells something about human condition, something that has an in-built quality that goes beyond its pure materialistic appearance should be the motivation for doing stuff in public
      Not to show off by presenting apparently 'spectacular' things that have the same amount of emotional content as a painting completed in a 'drawing by numbers' fashion, correct and nice but: so what ... This work on a short scale in the attraction society we are all condemned to live in: Life is too short and precious to feed this empty circles of constant fireworks that are only feeding the effect; no wonder that so may people 'burn out in doing so ...
      We should be looking for the gaps and lacks in the world we are experiences and focus on how to 'reflect that back' so that it becomes tangible and can be digested in a curative way.
      I can totally relate to the video you are quoting ... just to repeat one thing on how the channel/tool streamlines the content:: 'too much medium, not enough message'
    • Jul 01 2015 | 6:45 pm
      My own work...
      ... It's strictly interactive... my main goal was to convert classic "controlled aleatorism" (used by many contemporary composers, inter alia Witold Lutoslawski) technique into something interactive, let's say "interactive installation".