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Ben L. Robertson, J. Leek, J. Ellsworth, L. Brockman, J. Gilman - 11 Limit Matrix (Graduate Recital)

Aphonia Recordings on September 14, 2011 09:14

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Performed by Ben L. Robertson (live algorithms), Jessie Leek (saxophone), Dr. Jane Ellsworth (clarinet), Luke Brockman (trombone), Jordan Gilman (saxophone) (Throughout the course of its two-year developmental evolution, the notion of composition as a generative process has informed every stage in the creation of 11 Limit Matrix. This tenant reflects the composer’s overarching desire to compose or, perhaps more accurately, initiate works that are capable of continuously generating new and innovative aural content. Simply stated, the composer does not wish to create a single piece of music, committed to print or otherwise. Instead, the culmination of his labor has been directed towards the construction of a semi-autonomous performance environment capable of translating variable harmonic and melodic preconditions, as defined by a user, into a multiplicity of distinctive musical incarnations.
To support this intent, the composer has developed (through object-based programming) a software-based application for the algorithmic generation of musical content and facilitation of intra-performer communication. As a viable alternative to the printed score, detailed instructions are presented to each musician in the form of dynamic visual projections. Through light, color, motion, and evolving imagery, microtonal variations in pitch are manifested in the form of continuously shifting tone clusters, whose contents are derived, in real-time, from a series of harmonic and melodic preconditions and thresholds. By combining standard notation and color-coded meters, each musician may compare his or her current, performed pitch with a “target pitch” derived from a predetermined microtonal scale structure. This constantly evolving score is projected before the musicians and a virtual system of “call-and-response” between software and performer is repeated as each unique performance emerges.
Charged with a humble recognition of the improvising performer’s unmatched knowledge and intrinsic understanding of the tonal characteristics, potentials, and constraints of his or her respective instrument(s), the composer has also sought to integrate this experiential database into the performance environment by purposefully embracing elements of indeterminacy and improvisatory practices. Consequently, all processes applied are to be aimed at enhancing a performer’s ability to contribute as an equal partner towards the successful cohesion of a given generative instance. An implicit goal of this process is to prevent the potentially stifling influence of the composer; particularly in relation to decisions regarding subtle elements of rhythm, dynamics, and tone color. Herein lies the composer’s mantra against unnecessary intervention regarding decisions best left to the performer: “How dare I?”

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