In Circles Premiere

One of my new compositions for solo cello, Leap Motion and hemispherical speaker was recently premiered at the Yale University Art Gallery as part of the IGIGI Gallery + Music concert series. The concert took place in the Ancient Art wing of the Art gallery and the concert revolved around the themes of “colour, fading and memory”.

I was particularly drawn to the word “memory” and how our memories are dynamic, never static. Our memories change with time, the way we perceive these memories and the emotions we attach to them also change with time. Events in the present can affect our interpretations of memories. At the same time, memories can also exert influence on decisions and emotions in the present. The present is constantly interacting with the memories in the past.

How can I get a solo cello to play a duet with a memory of itself? I tried to embody this philosophy by using the Leap Motion granular synthesizer I developed as part of the performance. I am able to capture the cellist’s audio in real time and store this as a sonic memory of the instrument. However, rather than just “play back” the cello, I am able to trigger the audio in very specific locations. I am able to respond to the cellist and dynamically modulate the volume, sample location and length of the recorded audio. This is supposed to be a cello “playing a duet with a memory of itself”.

This conversation between live cello and the memory of the cello takes place over a drone made from plucked open strings. Each of the plucks are sampled and purposely left un-quantized. As the piece progresses, these plucked drones drift in and out of phase.

For the future, I hope to eliminate the need to look at the computer. I want to implement some kind of projection of the granular synthesizer interface. This way the audience can see me dynamically scrub through the audio and trigger the different colored play heads. I also plan to include more harmonic variation in the drone and also a way to “sync” the plucks at specific points in the music.

Cellist: Phillip Wilkinson ’15

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