New Music USA Grant Awarded 2017-2018


A new work for percussion and electronics using real-time analysis to control electronics, sound-synthesis, and spatialization.

For the past decade, I have been researching a means for new performative practices of live-electronics. The richness of instrumental performance through the vast amounts of repertoire created throughout the centuries has come down to the human level. In the context of the music of Bach, each performance can vary from performer to performer. In electro-acoustic music, this is the exact challenge we face. How can each artistic approach towards a piece of music in this genre be interpreted, challenged, and perfected? We are living in a particularly unique time period where research has resulted in new technologies to push the creative bounds of musical performance. With real-time spectral analysis techniques such as pitch tracking, amplitude, spectral flux in the forefront of musical timbre and touch, the performance is a unique opportunity for the performer to express musical independence by their impact on the sound result of the electronics. This develops an intimate relationship between the performer and the machine, acting in harmony or separating in suspension.

In today’s American percussion repertoire many basic live processing techniques are employed in electroacoustic works. These usually include: reverb, delay, harmonization, pitch shifting and looping. While these techniques are effective, they are often overused and exploited at the most rudimentary levels. Facilities such as IRCAM have cultivated and embraced far more complex ways of synthesizing, processing, and spatializing live sound. By broadening the compositional toolkit for live-electronics, new sound worlds and complexities are achieved. Most importantly this keeps new works sounding unique and less similar to what already exists. From 2014-2015, I had the opportunity to compose and study at IRCAM to learn their tools and techniques and employ them into my practice.

Expanding on these techniques, this new work for percussion and live-electronics will be a major contribution to the percussion repertoire and will be premiered and toured by Victor Pons, a percussionist who specializes in promoting and pushing the performance practice of technology integrated compositions. The set up for this piece consists of a vibraphone, a floor tom, found objects, and electronics. The performance gestures are analyzed in real-time to control sound synthesis, multi-effects (such as spectral freezes, stutter delays, and wavetable distortions), and spatialization. We will use an 8 channel audio interface consisting of 3 overhead microphones for an overall balance of the entire setup and 5 contact mics for localization of individual elements of the setup. Each audio signal and effect is mapped individually as a unique sound source to have independent analysis driven audio processing and spatialization trajectories allowing the audience to experience the sounds in a 3-dimensional space.

Stay up to date and follow this project at the link below!