One of the classics of early live electronic music, Cartridge Music asks the performers to amplify household objects with contact microphones (phonograph cartridges, originally). The score is created by the performers ahead of time; transparencies with intersecting line drawings are overlaid to calculate when sounds will occur.
Ghost Line (2016)
This piece came out of two ideas. The first idea was to create a work where any motion a performer made, even minor motions like blinking an eye, would create a sonic result. The second idea was to try to do a very literal translation between image and sound – scanning through an array of image pixels and treating the brightness values as points to build an audio waveform. My experiments with putting these concepts into practice led down a very curvy path, but eventually to the piece you’ll hear tonight.
Ice Blocks was initially developed as part of a workshop teaching middle and high school musicians in NYC about creating graphic notation, scores that use symbolism outside of the Western notational conventions. A notation example that I made for the workshop proved inspiring to use in performance, and PLOrk played a piece based on it this past fall for a performance at Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ.
Blågeten (after Hans Dalfors)
arranged by PLOrk
Noah Fishman, a longtime PLOrk member, took a trip to Sweden last summer to study the folk music there. He returned with a repertoire of great tunes, and PLOrk decided to work up an arrangement of one of them.
Devil's Music (1985)
Nicolas Collins, an American musician who has been a pioneer in the use of hardware hacking for musical purposes, created Devil’s Music in 1985. He began performing with a rig that included an input from live radio, passed through several delay effects pedals. The result was a site-specific piece, which could take on the local color of the city or country in which it was performed through the serendipitous selections of sounds coming over the radio. We’ll be performing an updated version which instead uses our own iTunes collections as material for the system, making the piece more personal and performer-specific than site-specific.
Credo in Us (1942)
Before he made Cartridge Music, Cage experimented with very early electronic music by incorporating the sounds of live radio into an acoustic composition, Credo in Us. In this performance, Sō Percussion will join us for the acoustic parts, and PLOrk’s Devil’s Music performance will become the “radio” for the Cage.
Human Modular (2016)
Chris Douthitt and PLOrk
This piece grew out of the meeting at the beginning of the semester about what kinds of crazy ideas people had. Josh Becker brought up the idea of a Human Modular Synthesizer, where PLOrk members send signals to each other as though each member is a single “module” that can process the audio in a particular way. Through experimentation, we wound up with a system that has more in common with the old game of “telephone”, where a message gets passed down the line, corrupted and transformed along the way. Chris Douthitt created the arrangement to organize the various ideas of how this system might become a full performance piece. It’s really fun to play; it’s very satisfying to all be a link in this strange musical chain.