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