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I live in Brooklyn, NY and I love it here.  I came here for my career in 2009 and haven't once looked back. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Fertile Ground and my electronic music mission statement...

This Thursday evening, Februrary 9th, Tania and I are performing an excerpt of my piece, "Moon, Tides, Cycles"at the National Black Theater in Harlem as part of a concert put on by a group called Fertile Ground.   The 2nd Thursday of every month they put on an artist's showcase.  Here's a link to this Thursday night's concert.  Kinda psyched to be a part of it.

Meanwhile, I have to show up for the dress rehearsal without Tania so that should be interesting.  Bringing the usual setup of Macbook, Audio Kontrol 1 interface, microphone, M Audio Axiom controller and all the cables I need to pull this off.  Should be in and out of there hopefully rather quick.  Since we won't be able to perform the piece in full without Tania there, the aim will just be to get sound out of the speakers and make sure there are no issues.

The amount of times I've performed this piece now, you'd think it'd go more smoothly each time.  But, it seems each time, I run across a new problem and have to troubleshoot on the fly.  Still, it's a far cry from a year ago when I first started imagining how I would pull off performing the piece when I hadn't even transcribed it.  It seemed a monumental task back then but now that I've streamlined the process, and done it a few times, it doesn't seem so gargantuan. I've even thought of things like making sure the night before that the audio preferences in Mainstage are set up so that the audio interface is the main output instead of the speakers on the Macbook.  This burned me last time and ate some of our time on stage, because I couldn't get audio out of the speakers and started to freak out a little until I realized what I had done. 

It's good also that I've gotten so much use out of this one piece.  When I think of the amount of work that went into realizing it,  I can't imagine if I had only performed it once.  Now the piece has had many different lives, starting out as accompaniment to a dance piece that was never performed again with the music as far as I know, it became my first attempt at live electronic music with a classical performer, and my first use of my laptop to perform music.  In many ways, it's going to be a stepping stone to some of the ideas I have for electronic music.

I was doing a little research these past few days and stumbled on something on Ableton's website, with a guy who had looped piano and I started to get a little pissed because that's literally my next move, looping, sampling and tweaking.  But then I watched the video and realized that there was nothing terribly special about this guy's music (no offense to him).  It was nothing like what I'm intending to do.  He was just playing choppy Latin sounding rhythms on the piano and looping and layering them while a DJ spun some beats behind him.

My plan?  Oh so much more.  I'm going to have the pianist play an odd rhythmic chordal ostinato, which I will then loop and run through some effects while she performs a second piano part over top of it.   Meanwhile, I will be taking samples of her performance of the first part of the piece and mangling them, slicing them and creating ethereal soundscapes with them.

In all honesty, my work with piano and electronics is in a far different genre.  In fact, any time I think of electronic music, I have no inclination to mimic the bass thumping, beat driven stuff that's out there.  My main motive is to take all the software is out there and do something unique that pushes the envelope of what can be done live.  The question is, "why do something that I can do without software if I just had more performers playing with me?"  The software is not just there to allow me to realize a song without a band, but also so that I can do things that no one can do without software.

How's that for a mission statement?  On that note, I'd better go because I have a long night ahead of me (reaching the last stretch though) and another music project to work on for a friend's narrative cinematography reel.  And this week is proving to be a busy one as per usual.  Luckily, I'm taking the day of the concert off from NY1.  Wish me luck.  And come see the show!

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