PLOrk @=> Spring 2011 Concerts
Taplin Auditorium in Fine Hall, Princeton University
92Y Tribeca, NYC
Princeton Laptop Orchestra (PLOrk) presents an evening of music
performed by members of the Spring 2011
| Ben Siegfried | Jeffrey A Snyder | Griffin Telljohann | Victoria Tan | Carl Thunman | Sherry Xu | Zeerak Ahmed | Bodo Buetzler | Alex Gerson | Christina Hummel | Adrienne Joy | Simon Krauss | John Morris | Karis Shneider
Visiting Director: Dan
Associate Director: Jeffrey O Snyder
In Line, by Jascha Narveson
In Line by Jascha Narveson, PLOrk Concerts 2011 from PLOrk on Vimeo.
In Line plays with different tempos, letting players move a
stream of pulses through faster and slower speeds. When players
intersect, interesting things happen.
Slip, by Michael Early
Slip by Michael Early, PLOrk 2011 Concerts from PLOrk on Vimeo.
Slip was originally inspired by karaoke, but I’m honestly not
quite sure how to describe what it’s turned into. The six laptop
performers in PLOrk see themselves and each of their fellow
performers on their screen as six differently colored spheres,
which they move around by sliding a joystick up, down, left, or
right. Their position controls the speed of their notes and
sounds, and they quality of the sound they produce. Each
performer receives text messages on their screen that give them
general instructions – including what pitches to set on their
computers and how to behave in relationship to their fellow
performers. Sometimes, for example, they are all instructed to
‘flock’ and follow one player’s sphere – red, yellow, etc. – as
one single-minded group. At other times, they must be ‘loners’
and avoid all contact with their neighbors.
Whac-A-Note, by Jeff Snyder
Whac-A-Note by Jeff Snyder, PLOrk Concerts 2011 from PLOrk on Vimeo.
Whac-A-Note is both a musical composition and a multi-player
video game. By playing the game, the performers create the
music. In the creation of the piece, I sought to balance game-
play design goals with musical intent and compositional
Each player in the game uses a Manta, a controller I designed.
The Manta has 48 hexagonal sensors which represent pitches. In
the normal mode of play, if a sensor lights up red, it is a note
that the player should hit. Correct hits produce pitches,
mistakes produce noise. The players receive a click track over
headphones for tempo information, and the score achieved by a
correct hit is based on how close to the beat the note was hit.
All notes must be played one at a time, creating an arpeggio
texture, and the direction the arpeggio should go is indicated
by LEDs on the Manta every time a collection of notes is
presented. Playing notes in the wrong direction scores no
There is also an alternate play mode, which I call the Noise
Race, which occurs occasionally in the piece. In this mode,
every sensor touch is worth 1 point, and the players race to get
as many points as they can. However, a soon as one player reaches a certain score, the race ends, and the game immediately
enters the normal mode of play.
There are two Power-Ups in the piece - Melody Notes and the
Slider Bonus. If a sensor lights up amber, that means that it's
a Melody Note, and the performer can touch it and hold it down
for at least 2 seconds to get a bonus. The Slider Bonus is a
power up that becomes available once in a while and passes
around the ensemble. If the Slider Bonus is available, it is
indicated by an LED on the Manta. This means the player has the
option of turning up a slider to receive five times the normal
score for any correct hits while the Slider Bonus LED remains
active. It also effects their sound, modulating it with another
oscillator of random frequency, to produce a more discordant
You can follow the "pole position" of the players by watching
the 3D video generated from the game data. You see a
representation of each player's Manta, and their position moves
to reflect their ranking based on their current score. The value
of the slider (used to collect the Slider Bonus) pushes their
image toward you in the z-axis.
Musical materials (chords, tonal centers, melodic pitches) are
generated on the fly by a server computer, and are dynamically
controlled by the actions of the players. Each performance of
the piece will be substantially different.
Schismatics, by Alex Ness
Schismatics by Alex Ness, PLOrk Concerts 2011 from PLOrk on Vimeo.
RUMOUR. Open your ears; 9r"5j5&?OWTY Z0d
–The Monkey Shakespeare Simulator
Lathyrus, by Paula Matthusen
Lathyrus by Paula Matthusen, PLOrk Concerts 2011 from PLOrk on Vimeo.
Lathyrus is a structured, improvisatory, game-like piece modeled
much like the choose-your-adventure books. The ensemble travels
down various musical ‘paths' in search of a suitable ending.
Multiple endings are possible. Some may be expected, others
sudden, and still others may be at times undesirable if not
dangerous. The performers self-organize, interrupting the
navigation of the score, until agreeing upon a path. Each
musical choice is negotiated, a balance between coherence and
In Space, by Blake Carrington
In Space by Blake Carrington, PLOrk Concerts 2011 from PLOrk on Vimeo.
Is Space is a composition made of smoothed-out loops of field
recordings that are converted to rhythmic beats. Each performer
chooses a source recording, then creates various complex rhythms
by manipulating a custom sequencer. The sound's timbre can also
be modified by expanding or shrinking the brief window through
which the source recording is heard.
The piece is structured in seven phases, each with particular
parameters. Within each phase the performer has control over the note-to-note details. The first few phases allow a small number
of active beats in each performer's sequencer, resulting in a
general sense of sparseness and non-rhythm. In phase 4, the
performers must then try to match one other person's sequence.
This initially results in a bit of a circular chase, since
Performer 01 might be trying to match Performer 05's sequence,
but Performer 05 might be trying to match Performer 02, and so
on. Eventually an equilibrium is reached. Phase 5 instructs the
performers to increase the number of active beats in their
sequencer, disregarding the sequences of their colleagues. This
results in the fullest and most polyrhythmic passage in the
composition. From here, in Phase 6, everyone comes back
together, shifting toward a single shared sequence.
Conceptually, the piece is grounded in a quote from philosopher
Henri Lefebvre: "people don't act in space, peoples' actions
24 Axes, by Daniel Iglesia
24 Axes by Daniel Iglesia, PLOrk Concerts 2011 from PLOrk on Vimeo.
24 Axes builds upon the composer’s solo performance work for a
single 3D oscilloscope. In that, the performer controlled three
audio signals; one which plotted on the X axis, one on the Y
axis, and one on the Z axis. Via the relative frequencies and
shapes of the three signals, various forms take shape. These
shapes are the literal representations of the sound, nothing
Now, each of the eight performers controls his/her own 3D
oscilloscope. They follow a score that is being broadcast in
real time to each laptop screen, with symbolic performance data
traveling towards the performer in 3D space.
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