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…for the love of performative electronic music
For the past 2 years I have been working with a self-made controller that I connect to my laptop to control various sounds and processes during performance. Every so often, I make improvements to the instrument based upon what I learn during concerts and what I can glean from the “maker” community. The whole purpose of the controller is to make electronic more performative.
The instrument itself is nothing more than a series of Arduino connected sensors, mounted to a hiking stick. None of the elements on the controller actually create sound. Data is sent from an Arduino-nano to a laptop running Max. This data is mapped in whatever fashion fits the particular piece I am working with. For example, video playback rate can be mapped to the dial while a bandpass filter is mapped to the x-y coordinates of the accelerometer.
Current sensors mounted to the stick include:
1 dial (potentiometer)
1 3-axis accelerometer
Past sensors have included:
The decision to include and exclude certain sensors onto the controller had more to do with the shape of the stick itself. It was deemed more idiomatic to receive motion data from an accelerometer than from numerous other sensors. Two buttons and a dial were simply the absolute minimum necessary for controlling the sounds/scenes. Rather than focusing my attention as a performer on various buttons and distracting sensors (bend, pressure, distance), the accelerometer provides a clear and flexible form of data input that does not require anything more than movement of the stick. In some ways, moving the stick to control the sounds seems more natural, which translates into greater understanding for an audience who is able to connect the movements of the instrument to the elements of the live music.
The evolution of the instrument extends to the quality of the wiring to the mounting of the sensors to the stability of the circuit board. The most recent version uses a Arduino Nano and much smaller circuit board which is more firmly mounted to the stick than previous versions had been. During many a rehearsals, components would often went fly off of the circuit board because of all the movements the stick undergoes during every piece.
Installation: Hear Me Rohr
Analog electronics in an outdoor exhibition
Hear me Rohr is a reactive sound-art installation designed to be exhibited in public spaces with the potential for manipulation of a sound element. It was originally constructed as a part of the fall, 2016 street art festival in Fürstenfeld, Austria. Over 40 pipes are bound together in four groups of 10 and in their vertical arrangements form an abstract sculpture reminiscent of brutalist architecture and industrial design. Inside each of the pipes is an equal number of custom designed circuit/loudspeaker combinations. These speakers produce clicks at varying rates which are then tuned to the resonating frequency of each individual pipe. Additionally, light sensors adjust the speed of the clicking where more light equals faster clicking and less light, slower. The result is that for every time of day, the sounds made by the pipes are different. Not only can the position of the sun effect the light sensor but also participants can cover up the holes of the pipes to reduce the amount of light. They can also shine a light into the pipe to speed up the clicking. The overall effect is subtle yet pointed, natural yet artificial, and interestingly intricate.
Electronic Work: Freeze, Swell, Crack
For solo Clarinet and live electronics
Freeze, Swell, Crack, a work for clarinet and live electronics that seeks to improve the subtle characteristics of the clarinet by lightly processing its sound in real time through various processes. This is achieved by imitating and enhancing sounds such as key clicks, breathy tones, and a form of rough vibrato which are often found in traditional clarinet repertoire. Amplification and sound synthesis are additionally used to manipulate the sound generated by the clarinet.
Installation: Courage to Voice
“We live in a democratic world where anyone can say anything, where wisdom and ignorance abound in the cacophony of humanity. Who is to say what is right or wrong? How can citizens of a modern society sift through that which is “valid” and that which is “pointless?” How does one formulate their own opinion or voice?” – Jonathan Carter
Inspired by the idea that voicing one’s opinion is crucial to a democratic society, Courage to Voice (2012) is an audio-visual installation that allows the spectator to be a contributor. Hundreds of pieces of paper lined a corridor of the University of Louisville School of Music that contained word clouds on topics ranging from socioeconomics to random Facebook posts, the environment to Ayn Rand quotations, morality to taxation, elected officials to political philosophy. This immediate visual stimulus evokes an emotional response from the passerby and as a result hopes to spark an initial interest. Speakers placed along the corridor aurally introduce many of the same ideas as are written on the pages. The amplitude, density, and frequency of these recorded statements increases in concurrence with the number of passersby. A “Your Opinion Station,” where participants at a microphone setup record their own thoughts and ideas which are then placed into the buffer of floating aural ideas which are then randomly played as people wander through the installation. It is important to note that none of the responses, outside of accidental recordings, are filtered. This aims to show us and unfiltered, authentic micro-view of society.