Shells, skins and organs: composing the insides and the outsides of software for live performance

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)

Abstract

The act of composition decides its musical result at many levels, from the smallest local detail of note-choice to the largest formal design, and many things in between. In my case, these levels are usually elaborated at the same time, or at least in dynamic oscillation. When live electronics is involved, the MaxMSP environment is particularly good at allowing multiple concurrent activities of experimentation, design and refinement, driven by ongoing aural evaluation. The act of performance, however, makes a slightly different demand. The sounding organs have to be kept healthy and safe. That usually means creating a suitable software container and user interface to (re-)instrumentalise the system, so that its musicality functions within the dynamics of solo or chamber music rehearsal and performance. The organising structure, control mechanism and visuals all help make the system robust in the face of unexpected real-time events. This paper will review approaches developed empirically in my cycle of four works for solo instrument and live electronics, originally written between 2001 and 2004. In revising these works and updating their software, I have discovered similarities, odd differences, and some new strategic directions. Comparisons will also be made with selected instrument-and-electronics pieces by other composers.
Translated title of the contributionShells, skins and organs: composing the insides and the outsides of software for live performance
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSEMPRE One-Day Conference, "Composition & Computer-assisted Music-Making", Birmingham Conservatoire, UK, 31 March 2007
Publication statusPublished - 2007

Bibliographical note

Conference Organiser: Society for Education, Music and Psychology Research (SEMPRE)

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