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open end for vibraphone and electronics

program notes

Open end is one in a series of pieces that I have written addressing intimate relationships between electronic and acoustic sound. Relationships which, I hope, evoke our knowledge and experience of an instrument, bringing its acoustic identity into focus by engaging restrained pallets of sound and gesture. Many of the electronic gestures unfold gradually to gain the trust of the listener — so that the belief might exist, if only temporarily, that the sounds coming from the speakers are acutely indebted to the mechanics of the instrument which spawns them.

Open End uses speakers which are placed underneath the vibraphone to create explicit patterns of 'beating' between the acoustic and electronic signals. This beating gradually permeates into other aspects of sound-experience; gestural, timbral and spatial.

performance notes



speaker configuration
The outputs of the pure data patch used in this piece should be routed to the following locations (see image). The speakers in the interior of the vibraphone are to be placed underneath the bars, in between the resonators. Position them so that the cones are as close to the bottom of the bars as possible. Close proximity will help to ensure significant amplitude modulation from the interaction between the vibraphone and electronic signals.

electronic cues
Electronic events are coordinated through a series of cues taken from the vibraphone in live performance. This structure provides a flexible framework in which the performer can take liberties with the tempo and the electronics will adapt. I use this system for two reasons: (1) to make coordination with the electronics easier so that the performers can focus on other musical tasks and (2) to permit variation in successive performances.
Each electronic cue is shown in the score as a number inside of a circle. A vertical arrow extends from the circle to show which acoustic event ``triggers'' the next electronic segment.

aluminum foil preparation
One note on the vibraphone, F4, should be prepared with aluminum foil before the start of the piece. This should be done so that, when bowed, the note buzzes at many different frequencies. This seems to be rather hard to achieve; if the foil is too tight, the buzz will be mono-dimensional and only reinforce the fundamental frequency. Conversely, if the foil is too loose, the buzzing will be mostly noisy, unpitched rattling. Also, care must be taken to make sure that the tin foil does not obstruct the motor flaps.



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