PLOrk : Listen!

PLOrk Debut Concert!
Taplin Auditorium, Princeton University

p r o g r a m - n o t e s

1. The ABC Song

listen: mp3 | stream

PLOrk in kindergarten! Here the plorkers play an instrument where the laptop keyboard "speaks" the names of all the keys when typed. Each player has recorded 5 or so samples of themselves speaking the name of each key ("A", "shift", "return", etc....). When they type a key, one of those samples is randomly chosen for playback. These samples can then be filtered to create pitches, as in this 3-part rendition of the ABC Song.

2. The PLOrk Drones
Dan Trueman

listen: video (excerpts) | mp3 | stream

Using a pair of accelerometers each, the fifteen players make subtle adjustments to rich (if simple) additive synthesis algorithms in an effort to create Risset-Arpeggio-like patterns. The effort fails, given the phase-rich nature of the laptop orchestra’s distributed omnidirectional sound sources, but something else arises. A conductor gently guides the performance via text messages and other networked controls.

3. Conflict: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Parse Error
Brandon "B. Lowd" Lowden,
Charlie "Redmond Is Actually My Middle Name" Sneath,
Michael "I Swear to You I Set My Alarm" Hammond

listen: mp3 | stream

This piece ponders the human attitude toward war in two distinct themes. The first, representing human determination, begins as the manifestation of the misguided concept of righteous warfare. As the battle rages on, it is replaced by quiet, possibly despondent, acceptance represented by the second theme, as the sounds of the battleground rage all around. Yet, as the return of the first theme signifies, the struggle to survive does not end, and the unfailing determination of the human mind returns to rise against the brutality of war. Can the human condition triumph, or are we doomed to failure? Is the lust for battle stronger than the desire for peace? Could anything possibly match the pretentiousness of this description? Find out on the next episode of '24'.

4. Remix
Ken "I played your mom's violin last night" Schwartz
Jason "My last name sounds like a fruit" Pomerant
Matt "I'm the only person in this group who doesn't have a Z in their name so I have to compensate by using 9 computers at once" Rich

listen: mp3 | stream

Music has existed for years. No, seriously. It's been around for a loooong time. Like, forever. This piece examines three different eras of music, beginning medievally when cantors sang they're prayers. Skipping ahead a couple hundred years the listener then finds himself being romanced by a lone violinist, perhaps in 18th century Paris, or maybe Vienna? Again, trudging through time our poor, jet-lagged listener appears in the chaos of present day, engulfed by the sounds of a modern hip-hop culture. After his interlude in the present our listener again is swept away by the sands of time, but before him now is not a musical wonderland, but a raging battle, the battle for the supreme mastery of all music. How will it end? Will one era win-out? Can they reach a compromise? Or, because of this epic conflict, will the world just explode? We have no idea. It depends on how long Max can last.

5. On the Floor
Scott Smallwood

listen: video | mp3 | stream

You will notice when you walk into a casino that the machines are all tuned to the same key: a c-major chord. This chord floats around the space, in and out of every crevice, constantly arppeggiating, humming, droning, twittering echoing, sometimes incorporating snippets of melody. This happy drone soothes the nervous customers as they slowly drop their money into the machines. They create a sea of c-major, each and every one of them, pressing buttons on the machines, credit after credit, all day and all night.

6. Non-Specific Gamelan Taiko Fusion
Perry Cook, Ge Wang

listen: video | mp3 | stream

This piece is an experiment in human controlled, but machine synchronized percussion ensemble performance. Various percussive sounds are temporally positioned by PLOrk members, and the piece gradually transitions from tuned bell timbres to drums as the texture and density grows.

7. Thunderbird Suite in Eb Minor
Theo Beers, Janet Kim, Bixiao Zhao

listen: mp3 | stream

Undergraduate Composition major Janet Kim was born during a violent storm, and the terrifying sounds of that day have left her with permanent emotional scarring. This piece, an outlet for her psychosis, reflects Janet's ongoing struggle to conquer her debilitating fear of rain and thunder. Her innocent spirit is represented by the chirping of birds, and a dark, brooding bassline symbolizes the evil storm that wishes to fill her heart with terror. Will Janet overcome the forces of darkness trying to burrow their way into her soul? Where did Brian learn to play the air-turntables? Can Theo last 5 minutes without breaking anything? In all likelihood, none of these questions will be answered (with the possible exception of Theo exploding something -- that might actually happen).

8. The Prophecy of PLOrk: Battle of the Chosen
Zach "ree-tar-DAHN-doe" Marr on MaxMandolin, Moog, and Munger voice synth,
Anna "CelLO coNtRoL FreAK" Wittstruck on PLOrkified cello and Scrub voice synth,
Jason "dRuM MaSta" Yang on ChUck drum machine and soundscape

listen: mp3 | stream

A musical dialogue between Frodo Baggins and Harry Potter, this piece explores the similarities and subtle distinctions between formulaic, mainstream epics. Incorporating themes from Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings (both with soundtracks conveniently accessible on iTunes), this PLOrk journey travels from the safe havens of Hogwarts to the fires of Mordor. As to which short, curly-haired, chosen, and heavily armed protagonist will triumph, let your ear decide.

9. Cauchemar en PLOrque Mineure (or Space Ghost Does Paris)
R.W. Enoch de Labière, William Rounds de Tescassée

listen: mp3 | stream

This is a multi-part work that combines abstract and traditional musical ideas with theatrical parody. Based very loosely on “Space Ghost”, this piece opens on a nightmarish walk through a haunted mansion and later shifts to outer space, as a series of unfortunate events unfold on a commercial space flight. An out-of-this-world musical performance ensues.

10. The PLOrk Tree
Dan Trueman

listen: mp3 | stream

This piece is a quasi-improvisation based on a network tree. Locked to a common pulse, the plork members control a group texture by inheriting information from a network neighbor, and then making slight modifications to that information, which includes pitches, timbres, and text messages, which are then all sent on to another network neighbor, eventually feeding back through the tree. Ripples of data are sent through the network by the conductor, who defines the basic structure of the texture, but only has marginal control, given the subversive nature of most plorkers.

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