Preface: The Soundcloud link is a recording I did while composing, or improvising, or experimenting, or whatever. After I did that, I wrote this while it was uploading. Many of these ideas appeared during that time. Anyway, I have no idea whether this is indicative of the way the improvised piece I play at the Firehouse will sound, but I found it interesting enough to listen to it again a few times and share it here.
Recently, I have been working on new music for a show at The Firehouse Space down in Brooklyn. I had been cooking up a new piece in hopes to work on developing a fully automated “Todd Reynolds-style” piece that could be notated and re-interpreted by someone else via a traditionally notated [ish] score along with a pre-set Ableton Live set through which you could perform via pressing much fewer buttons than when Todd plays in hopes of making an avenue for others to get performing with electronic music without having to learn quite so much software.
I was thinking that with so many avenues of electronic music these days, some people may appreciate a different means to dig in. It could also mean performers could perform electronic music that they didn’t compose. For composers, it means that if they could get a performer accustomed to this avenue of performance, the composer could write things that are more virtuosic than they could perform themselves.
Then a few days ago, I watched Todd play again.
I reconsidered why I wanted to notate a piece in that style – watching someone work the magician angle from stage, actively pressing all those buttons and leaving the audience wondering “how’d he make that sound” is so much more fun than watching someone perform with a tape track, which leaves a similar sterile aesthetic of watching one simply play a usual instrument while the other sounds come from an accompanist – and this accompanist not even human! Maybe automating everything so that the performer only needs one button is a little similar to performing with a tape track – except this time, the player has control of the pacing of the tape track. These days, most of the venues you’d play at have a sound system pre-installed, and everyone has a laptop, so all it would really require on the performer’s part is that they buy a mic hook up for their instrument and some sort of MIDI pedal (and perhaps a few cables).
It certainly presents a few obvious problems. Pre-composing the material used in various loops and recording that into the final composition, which would thus require at very least recording sessions with composition time in between, so it would still be a bit limiting to performers, but the bottom line is that it wouldn’t require any techy knowledge or composerly prowess to the person who would be the performer. Broadly, if there is enough interest, it could begin allowing composer-performers to begin to specialize into composers or performers.