Ensemble Performance and Teamwork While Live Coding

By Travis Lee

For this write-up I decided to take a closer look at my group performance with Cameron at this semester’s concert for the Integra Contemporary and Electroacoustics Ensemble. I will first talk about our ideas and the decisions we made regarding our piece leading up to the date of the concert. After that I will discuss the thoughts and reflections I have about the piece and the performance we gave. Through this review I hope to pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses of our performance so that I may take that information and apply it to any future performances.

For our group performance piece, Cameron and I decided to repurpose our midterm performance, but not without a bit of retooling. Our changes and additions to the piece were largely based on the feedback we received from the class after our midterm, the main points being to use explore more diverse sample libraries and to incorporate a bass voice into the piece. In an effort to act upon those recommendations, we replaced the “bd” sample with a one from the “hardkick” library and added a line that played samples from “jungbass”. These changes also ended up giving the piece a slightly more electronic texture than before. We also wanted to change the format from ABA, as we felt we needed more breathing room. The original intention was to play the first two sections and end it there, however in the rehearsal we found that there still wasn’t enough time to end the piece comfortably. So, we decided to just use the A section and then supplement it by adding additional effects to shape the sound. This in of itself provided us with a pseudo AB format, one where the musical material is added in the A section and the texture/rhythmic structure is varied in the B section.

After both the rehearsal and the concert performance, one major problem with our method became clear. As with our midterm performance, we used only one channel in our piece and used the stack function to layer multiple voices over top of each other within that channel. There were certain advantages to this format that proved useful to us, chief among them was the fact that it allowed us to add effects to individual voices as well as globally. However, using this format required us to effectively work in stages, since having one channel meant that we could only execute through one of the boxes. To expedite the process and to help prevent us from executing unfinished code, one person would write his code into another box and then copy and paste the code from that box to the primary one. Unfortunately, this was not enough of a fix to counteract the regression in productivity that this problem caused, and in retrospect it was the primary reason why we had to scale down the piece. For subsequent group performances of this nature I plan on returning to the multi-channel method that was used by the rest of the performances, though I would still consider using this format for solo performances if I were to do such a performance.

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Author: dndrew

Orchestral, chamber and interactive music composer Digital musical instrumentalist Real-time software systems designer Computer music educator

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