Thursday, June 8th marked the first public performance of the “Musique Concrete:” project showcased at the Barker-Theatre in Turku, Finland.
Photos: courtesy of Reiska
After contemplating various musical ideas for the final performance, I decided to structure the composition based on three fundamental movements on a skateboard: rolling, turning, and tapping. Each of these three movements corresponded to a musical voice and was transmitted wirelessly via radio signals using the MIDI protocol:
The movements, once synchronized, produced a maximum of three simultaneous voices. My goal was to include fundamental musical elements such as rhythm, meter, melody, and harmony into the composition. Rolling corresponded to rhythm while turning would trigger a pentatonic scale melody. The scale would go up or down according to the direction of the turn. Finally, tapping triggered a series of one-second sound samples recorded from the urban environment.
In addition, the patch was divided into three sections allowing me to score the composition. Each section varied the instrumentation, pitch, and velocity of each voice and alternated over a certain period of pre-defined time. Instead of synchronizing the changes to a clock, I thought it would be more interesting to program them according to the number of wheel rotations-giving the composition a non-linear quality. The faster the wheels rolled, the faster the change was executed. After 1500 wheel rotations, the composition alternated from industrial-sounding bangs and whirling oscillators to soft tones with melodic harps.
Even though the idea was conceived almost one year ago, all of this was completed in 5 weeks during my residency period at Titanik and consisted of a skateboard, a computer, a wireless interface, a photo-resistor, a piezo sensor and a flex-sensor.
Overall, I’m satisfied with the results of the project. Despite, a few programming errors, the music sounded as what I imagined. Choosing the theatre as a location had its advantages: making use of the entire space I was able to flow freely on the skateboard and around the audience while leaving extra room for a quarter-ramp, a fun-box, a high-jump and a kicker.
The performance was well received by the public and many thanks to all who attended; especially to Sanna, the people at the Barker Theatre and the rest of the team at the Titanik gallery for making it possible.
Stay tuned for a video documenting the event.
Some news coverage from the Turun Sanomat documenting Thursday’s performance in an article dated Saturday, June 10th 2006.