For the fourth workshop of 2010TCW, I travelled to Hamilton, Ontario, on 28 September to work with composer David Ogborn. I actually arrived a couple of days earlier and had the opportunity of participating in an informal rehearsal of David’s Cybernetic (laptop) Orchestra, during Canada’s Culture Days celebration (24 to 26 September). On this occasion, the orchestra met in the recently opened Lyons New Media Centre – an impressively equipped (new media) centre for students at McMaster. I remained in Hamilton afterward. This gave David and I the opportunity to nurture some of this t-stick ideas over a few days; and I was also treated to the chef’s fine cooking.
Once we got down to work, we began by playing the t-stick. I should say here that David had already mentioned his interest in drawing from the style of the frenetic, fast paced electronic music referred to as breakcore. So, I watched his playing carefully, looking for signs of the physical gestures he had in mind. I noticed from David’s movements (strong thrusts and swings, slapping against his hand and some ‘cradling’) that he was testing the robustness of the controller. I wondered if these snappy movements reflected his interest in creating an edgy and twitchy sonic palette. The playing time was followed by our trying to summarise, generally speaking, the different sound layers that make up a prototypical breakcore track (e.g., several tracks from Apex Twin’s Drukqs). This led to some programming. David started work on his own synthesis engine, which is based on the sonification of electronic glitch, in an effort to bring out the sort of breaks he wanted. In the meantime, I got to work on gesture extraction, dreaming of gestural counterparts – or at least, convincing gestures – for the frantic breakcore layer, as well as for the animated, almost off-kilter bass drive typical of this music. We closed the workshop with some simple testing of our sounds and gestures.