Saturday, July 30, 2011

On-air interview this week!

On Wednesday (8/3), I'll be interviewed on WHUS from 2-3 PM. I'm not sure what direction the interview will take, but I will discuss the recording I'm working on.

Those of you in CT can listen at 91.7 FM, and the rest of you can hear it streaming at I'll see if there will be an archived version of the show.

More info to follow!

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Last post, I mentioned that was starting a new piece. I neglected to mention that I was also rewriting an older piece.

Okay, it's not that old- it is from 2009. I'm revising Mirrors from my "Interactive Piano" series. That piece was originally written for the Yamaha Disklavier, and now I'm reworking it for acoustic piano and Max/MSP, for Keith Kirchoff. At first, I thought it would be a simple revision.

Well, I've got a good pitch-to-MIDI converter, so that is not a big problem. Mirrors is based on the idea that e pianist plays a note, and Max processes it, usually returning a few notes. Sometimes Max plays a few notes, sometimes runs. A lot of it is based on analysis of incoming data.

Well, it has gotten complicated. Some of the patches that worked well with pure MIDI data don't work well here, so I'm rewriting those. I've got to rework the random generators as well.

Recently, it occurred to me that since I'm not trying to have Max play notes on a keyboard, I can make use of microtones. And that has opened up a whole new world.

To do: devise new sounds. Right now, I'm using a generic Karplus-Strong module to make struck string sounds, like a piano. That will come later, I think.

And to think - I haven't even tinkered with any of the notes yet!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Starting a new piece

Sometimes, I just hate starting a new piece.

For me, every piece evolves differently. Some pieces come out quickly, others gestate for a long time. I often write in spurts: bursts of activity followed by quieter periods. I'm okay with that.

But starting a piece is always difficult! There is always this time where the new piece is this amorphous blob, and I'm not able to bring it into focus. And that's where I'm at right now.

The piece in question is a new piece for piano, percussion, and electronics. Okay, I've written for those instruments before, in many different contexts. I've even written a piece for piano, percussion, and electronics, back in the 1980s. Serigraphs was written in 1986, and played at a new music festival at the time. There were some live electronics (programmed by Charlie Baker, since those were the days long before Max), and some tape as well.

Ever since then, I've wanted to write another piece for the combination. Heck, I've wanted to do that since I first heard Kontakte!

And, here I am, starting it. So far, I have a general outline, and am starting to jot down ideas. And, I'm starting to toy with Max objects. Writing for Max is a lot like writing for percussion: there are an endless supply of objects and techniques, so it can be daunting.

I'm sure this anxiety will pass in a week or so...