The International Festival and Conference on Sound in the Arts, Science and Technology (ISSTA 2017) is currently calling for works and papers to be presented at the Dundalk Institute of Technology, Ireland this September. Acceptable works include performances, installations, and workshops from makers, creators, performers, thinkers and researchers. The range of perspectives are broad and fascinating including: new creative approaches using self-designed or hacked controllers, communities and maker spaces/hackspaces, open culture and creative technologies to name a few.
ISSTA aims to bring together practitioners integrating fields of music, art, sound, science and technology. Our events serve musicians, researchers, scientists, engineers and artists by promoting sound within the arts, science and technology, within Irish and international communities. Since 2010 ISSTA has hosted an annual conference, gathering researchers from around the globe to present papers, installations, concerts and workshops. This year we are running our annual conference and festival at Dundalk Institute of Technology with Peter Kirn and Dr. Theresa Dillon as keynote speakers.
On June 13, 2015 I collaborated with a team of nine students and nine musicians on a project I directed for Northern Spark, an annual, all-night, art festival In Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. We titled the project, Instant Composer: Mad-libbed Music and the intent was to engage the audience into instantly writing musical compositions for an ensemble of improvising musicians.
I discussed the concept here in-depth and also announced the project last June. I had no idea what to expect, but was thrilled with the outcome. Around 115 crowdsourced scores were entered into a database via our mobile application. During the nine hour performance we interpreted nearly 70 of those pieces for the audience.
This video should give you a sense of what went on that night, but no media can fully represent an event like this. I can say that it wouldn’t have happened without the student collaborators, our collective of excellent musicians, the Northern Spark organizers, Art Institutes Minnesota, and the hundreds of people in our audience willing to engage in the process. Please see the video for the full project credits.
Recently I had the honor and pleasure of having a discussion with Darwin Grosse for his podcast Art + Music + Technology. If you’re not familiar with his interviews I suggest that you check out his program. Darwin’s straight forward conversations with a broad range of media artists seem to fill a void that no other programs do. It’s hard to single out any of the programs specifically because they are all entertaining (and educational), but some of my favorites (sorted alphabetically) include:
This quick demo illustrates how TX81Z Patch Degrader is interpolating between previous and newly generated parameter values. TX81Z Patch Degrader is a Max for Live MIDI effect that chips away at patches on the TX81Z by randomly changing (or degrading) parameters at a specified rate. What makes the process interesting is that it is possible to ramp up or down (interpolate) to the new value rather than changing it instantaneously.
To create the Max for Live MIDI instrument I started with TX81Z Editor 1.0 by Jeroen Liebregts who was kind enough to share his work on maxforlive.com. I added in the degradation process features and made some adjustments to the interface to make room for the controls. Once I get things shaped up I’ll be happy to share the patch if anyone is interested.
The features I added are visible in the second panel of the TX81Z Patch Degrader Max MIDI effect. I’ll describe them from the top down:
Level bypass prevents the operator levels from being included in the degradation process so that the sound doesn’t completely die out.
When the interpolate switch is on new values (as long as they have an adequate range) are ramped up or down to the new value based on the rate.
Loop causes the degradation to continue indefinitely by reshuffling after all 73 parameters included have been degraded.
Free/sync toggles between changing the parameters at an arbitrary pace set by rate, or note divisions based on the project’s tempo (therefore sync will only degrade while playing)
Rate adjusts the rate of degradation when in free mode, and the time it takes to ramp up or down to new values when interpolate is on. Rate is milliseconds and ranges from 15ms to 2000ms.
Below rate are the note durations for sync mode ranging from a 1/128th note up to a dotted whole note.
Finally the degrade button starts the process while interrupt stops everything so when you hear something you like you can save the patch on the TX81Z.
The TX81Z has a fairly small buffer for MIDI values, so spraying values at it too quickly will generate the “MIDI Buffer Error”. However, even after getting the error it will continue listening to the incoming data, so even though it might be skipping a parameter here and there it lets me keep throwing things at it. The video below shows how the LCD display responds to the stream of values coming at the machine.
I’ve saved quite a few very interesting effects so far and have nearly run out of the 32 patch positions available on the unit. Perhaps the next step is to add a library feature especially since I’m not thrilled about the idea of saving patch banks to cassette!