New Spectral Tablature Collaborations Exhibited in Tokyo

I am pleased to be participating in an exhibition of work by Jasio Stefanski at Print Gallery in Tokyo, Japan. Jasio is showing a variety of his work including two pieces that we collaborated on together fron the series Spectral Tablature. The first piece is Synthetic Skyline previously exhibited for the Audible Edge sound art exhibition at the Katherine Nash Gallery in Minneapolis. The second piece is a new work in the series titled Synthetic Transitions.

Synthetic Transitions



To create the work I started by composing a simple sequence of notes that speed up and then slow down. Jasio requested that we included diagonal lines in the piece so I used linear portamento on the Moog Sub 37 to create the “transitions” he was interested in seeing. The video shows the plotter rendering Jasio’s Reprise of the work shown/heard in the image/audio below.

Synthetic Transitions Reprise



Jasio’s Reprise is based on form and color values as opposed to acoustic accuracy. The visuals were composed to place emphasis on the “transitions” or portamento. The output visually reinterprets the angles informed by the gliding notes without connecting them in the composition. When sonified the plotted design singles out the portamento, isolating it from the context of the sustained frequencies.

New Spectral Tablature Collaboration

Spectral Tablature 2015

Part music, part visual art, and part sound design, the collaborative series Spectral Tablature is something I’ve been doing in various forms since 2013. Recently I have been working on a new piece in collaboration with Jasio Stefanski for an upcoming exhibition of his work. I’ll share more information about the exhibit in a future post. For now I’d like to present some of the content that I generated in the process of working on the project.

The image above is spectral analysis of a piece of music that I composed deliberately to produce interesting sonic and visual forms. The piece includes three layers of sequences that slowly speed up and vary in pitch and then slow down again. The speed of the sequence was based on an LFO with a variable rate rather than BPM. This process, along with other techniques, resulted in a form that starts simple, approaches entropy, and then returns to its original simplicity.

Example with Portamento

The final piece will be reprocessed visually through a set of design criteria determined by Jasio. Once the new design has been printed I will digitize the image and reprocess it as sound. The new audio will retain the original frequencies and temporal information but the textural and timbral qualities will be completely transformed.

Post-prepared Piano Animated Sequence

I put together this animated sequence of the media from Post-prepared Piano to illustrate the relationships between the spectral analysis, the mapping with nails and twine, and the music from the piece. Thanks to Photosounder developer Michel Rouzic for suggesting that I make a video combining the sound and imagery after seeing the documentation I posted a few days ago.

Post-prepared Piano by John Keston and Piotr Szyhalski

Piotr Szyhalski and I have just finished installing a piece titled, Post-prepared Piano, in the Burnet Gallery at Le MĂ©ridien Chambers, Minneapolis. Our installation is part of a show called Interactions and features the work of select MCAD MFA students in collaboration with their mentors. Our piece consists of several components. The first part is a 14′ wide and 17″ tall inkjet print of spectral analysis from a short piano composition that I performed and recorded using my custom built, binaural head microphone (otherwise known as Vincent).

Below the print is an installation that Szyhalski constructed from tarpaper, nails, and one continuous piece of twine. This handmade mapping of the spectral analysis was then photographed and converted back into sound using Michel Rouzic’s excellent application, Photosounder. Thirdly, we installed an iPad with headphones that allows the visitors to hear the original recording, the nails and string version, and a combination of the two layered on top of one another (visit the tablet optimized webapp). The show opens today and runs through February 24, 2013 with an artist’s reception on January 31 from 6pm to 9pm. Read on for more details, photos and sounds. Continue reading