Seriously - an interactive graphic notation piece for A/B Duo

January 5, 2018 update: Video from the November 15, 2017 performance at UC Riverside has been added to the end of this post.

"Seriously" Interactive graphic score hanging at the Light Club Lamp Shop in Burlington, VT, right before our show.

"Seriously" Interactive graphic score hanging at the Light Club Lamp Shop in Burlington, VT, right before our show.

I designed and constructed an interactive graphic notation piece for A/B Duo (my flute and percussion duo with Chris Jones). I created one other graphic notation piece in the past (more about Blueprint here) so I didn't want to do exactly the same thing again. This time I wanted to make sure that the audience could see the score even if we were at a venue that didn't have image projection capabilities. It was premiered on October 24, 2017 at the Canterbury Parish House in Canterbury, NH. It was during an outreach concert organized by the Avaloch Farm Music Institute. I finished constructing Seriously while A/B Duo was in residence at Avaloch.

I bought a few yards of durable canvas-like cotton fabric and learned to use a sewing machine. There's fabric paint, metal studs, hand-embroidered bits, buttons, LEDs, conductive fabric and thread (instead of metal wire or solder), and a bit of copper tape that you can see on the front. On the back, there's an arduino board made by Bare Conductive, a few batteries, velcro, and tons of blue painters tape! 

Some of the buttons turn on LEDs while some of the buttons and the conductive textiles trigger mp3 sound files on the arduino board. I sampled and processed vibraphone, cello, and vocal sounds. I originally intended the thing to be a kind of instrument to be played by Chris as another percussion instrument but after a couple run throughs and performances, it seemed to work best if I triggered the sounds and the lights during the performance. 

Because of the nature of graphic notation scores, every performance can vary a lot so I don't want to post one recording of it right now. Unlike Blueprint, Seriously was meant to be performed more than once. I'll upload a few different versions after a few more performances. On October 27th, we performed Seriously with double bassist Gahlord Dewald in Burlington, VT. I don't know if we will have others join us in performing this piece in the future but it's definitely a possibility and it will create many more versions of the piece. 

Next performances of Seriously:

A/B Duo at San Francisco State University
7:30PM - Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Knuth Hall, Creative Arts Building (Corner of Holloway Ave and Tapia Dr.)
San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Ave., San Francisco, CA 94132

A/B Duo at the Outpost Concert Series at UC Riverside
7PM - Wednesday, November 15, 2017
Culver Center of the Arts
3834 Main Street Riverside, CA 92501

Premiere of  Seriously  in Canterbury, NH. You can see the LEDs in action in this photo.

Premiere of Seriously in Canterbury, NH. You can see the LEDs in action in this photo.

This piece took me a solid month of work to finish, including a handful of all-nighters. Hand embroidering is no joke and working with conductive thread is infuriating. I don't think I'll ever do this again....but now I know what works and what doesn't so maybe I'll end up incorporating some of the things I learned from constructing this thing in a future project!


November 15 2017 performance at the Outpost Concert Series, University of California at Riverside. 

Pre-order "Variety Show" - the A/B Duo album

My flute and percussion duo, A/B Duo, is one of my biggest ongoing projects. We have a Kickstarter project going on right now through July 20th to pay for our first full-length album. It includes music for contrabass flute by Ned McGowan, a piece that requires the Robert Dick Glissando Headjoint®, and lots of percussion, of course!  We just finished tracking the pieces this week. The rough mixes sound really great (even if I do say so myself!) and I'm so proud to share these recordings with the world.

I made a video game, last year.

My Video Game. (Click screenshot to go to game page)

My Video Game. (Click screenshot to go to game page)

I made a video game last Fall.

Making a video game is not that big of a deal these days, especially in Silicon Valley where I live. Nor is it particularly impressive if you consider that I did not code it from scratch using all original artwork. I used a couple tools that helped me make video game creation process much quicker and simpler than the "from scratch" method. The unique thing about this video game is that I made it to go with one of A/B Duo's recordings, in lieu of a music video. (Sometimes we play the music while a volunteer plays the game, live and projected above/behind us, while we perform. I think it's the coolest thing ever.)

This was a true labor of love. I did it purely because it would be a cool thing to do.

I am also a bad video game maker. Well, this was my first video game and my last, I am sure. 

This was another example of my "jack of all trades, master of nothing" persona. Another example of "I have no idea what I'm doing, but I'm doing it!"

I am writing about it here/now because it seems to be one of those projects that I LOVED SO MUCH and gave so many all-nighters to, but it got very little appreciation. [If I can geek out a bit: There are two versions, a Windows executable AND an HTML5 version. Cool, right?? They both work too! Yeah, it's a little buggy and I made the first level WAY too hard...but that's my first/last time video game making showing through.]

The point of this post is to say, if you didn't know about the video game I made for A/B Duo last year, please check it out:

2013: The "Make it Work" Year

My last meal in Brooklyn: Vegan pizza slices from Vinnie's Pizzeria.

My last meal in Brooklyn: Vegan pizza slices from Vinnie's Pizzeria.

I'm at JFK waiting to get on a flight back home after the 2nd A/B Duo tour of the year. I am pretty exhausted. It's been an eventful year. I'm tired but I can't be happier with how things turned out in 2013. So much has happened that I need to look at my calendar to see what I did January-June of this year. 



Photo by Steve Scap.

Photo by Steve Scap.

I closed my private teaching studio and said goodbye to my fantastic students. (I hope they are all doing well with their new teachers.) I flew to Chicago to rehearse with Chris Jones, my percussionist half of the A/B Duo, and to perform Flight of the Bleeper Bird at the Green Mill in Chicago. Also took A/B Duo promo photos during one of the coldest weeks of the Chicago winter.



Started a day job in IT auditing with some ex-coworkers from KPMG (an old day job) who started their own boutique firm. Performed at Rockage2.0 (a music and video gaming show) in San Jose.  It was the first time I've played a rock show as part of the main act (not in a backing orchestra) in about 10 years and it was beyond exhilarating! A few days later I flew to Jacksonville, FL for the first A/B Duo mini-tour.



My 2nd album. Listen to all of it  here .

My 2nd album. Listen to all of it here.

Spent all my time (the tiny bit of time I had left after the day job and personal time) dealing with the release of my second solo album: designing the album artwork, managing the CD manufacturing and distribution, and dealing with PR. My album was released on April 4th. It was so much hard work but artistically very rewarding. Got some great reviews over the year from: 

Tiny Cartridge

Sequenza 21

The Flute View


It also made the Avant Music News "Pick of the Week" alongside new albums by Pat Metheny and Anthony Braxton!



Much needed vacation sandwiched in between more day job madness. 



Performed "To Committee" in Daniel Felsenfeld's chamber music show at the Cornelia Street Cafe in New York City. Then a trip to Iowa State University for the Andover Educators conference. 




By July it became clear to me that Lucy my dog no longer saw me as her primary caretaker. She started favoring my husband over me and I barely saw my husband and dog between day job and travel/practice.  A minor but lingering health issue also complicated matters.  Then came the life changing time at the Bang on a Can Summer Festival.



Right after "Banglewood" I flew to Chicago for A/B Duo rehearsals and business. Took a 30 hour trip to New Orleans to premiere (with pianist Erica Sipes) Daniel Felsenfeld's "The Low Chamber" for contrabass flute and piano at the National Flute Association's Annual Convention.  



I quit my day job. I had to prioritize the important things in my life: my family and performing music. Money and IT auditing didn't make my list of important things so I had to quit my day job even though I loved my coworkers and my firm. The new season of A/B Duo activities started with a whirlwind weekend of a concert in San Francisco and recording our first EP. 



A trip to Chicago to play with the Anaphora Ensemble: a concert at UW Oshkosh and live radio broadcast from WFMT. Mixing, artwork, mastering, distribution and general preparation for the A/B Duo EP release.  



Spent some time going to more concerts in San Francisco and started to meet more local musicians in person.  Tried to figure out what to do with my life so that every day can be the way it was at the Bang on a Can Summer Festival: rehearsing, performing or listening to great music every day. 



A/B Duo tour to Chicago, Rochester and Brooklyn. Spent a few extra days in NYC to eat awesome vegan pizza, meet with old friends, and go to the Bang on a Can holiday party.

First thing I'm going to do when I get home: buy a used drum kit. I had to learn some rudimentary drum kit skills to play the 4th movement of Ivan Trevino's "Things We Dream About" and now I'm hooked. I always fantasized about becoming a rock guitarist or even playing bass in a rock band in my next life but I never even imagined that I could play the drums. I may never play drums with a rock band but at least I will have a great time by myself! 

This is the piece that made me want to learn to play the drums for real. (Disclaimer, although I play drums on this movement in live performances, all drums on the recording - and the audio in this video - are performed by Chris Jones.)

Next year, much like this year, is going to be a combination of opportunities I make for myself, luck, and an insane amount of hard work. Can't wait!