Murmurations on Palestrina

    Murmurations on Palestrina


    Originally published in Palestrina’s second book of motets in 1581, “Adoramus Te” is a short motet for four equal voices. A glorious example of 16th-century counterpoint, something about the ineffably logical movement of the voices put me in mind of the murmurations of enormous flocks of starlings, which are never guided by a single bird, but always by the logic of the group as a whole. This work, for eight iPhones, computer, and real-time video, uses the “Boids” algorithm to model the flight of eight separate 3D flocks of boids, comprising several thousand individuals. Each boid appears in the video screen as a single dot and in the music by a single synth voice. The LR position of each boid determines both its pitch and its spatial position in the speaker array, while up/down position controls the timbre of that individual voice. The piece is built entirely in Max, building on previous work with the Boids algorithm by Wesley Smith and Sam Tarakajian.