My session with Bryan Jacobs at the Electronic Music Foundation Institute in New York, on 10 December, 2010, kicked off the second round of the T-Stick Composition Workshops. For this second meeting with Bryan, it was wonderful to be in his current home town. In addition, the EMF provided us with a perfect studio environment in which to work.
I was content to see/hear Bryan’s progress and to find out that he’s being consistent in his compositional project, which explores the separation of the human performer from his instrument amid a soundscape of vocal utterances. I’m wondering what the final theatrical effect of his composition will be. For example, how will the audience perceive the clearly vocal sounds in relation to the stick? Will the t-stick appear to declaim – a ‘talking stick’?
Bryan started the workshop by showing me his approach to synthesis. He has been designing a synthesis engine in Max/MSP. It combines two sets of tools for granular synthesis (the Granular Toolkit 1.49X and Smooth Overlap Granular Synthesis or sogs~), in addition to a groove~ playback generator. Next, we wrote up the necessary XML document for the DOT Mapper. That is to say, because I am using the mapper to convey t-stick gesture extraction data to synthesis parameters, it was necessary to generate an XML document that declares the synthesis parameters of Bryan’s patch to the mapper. After that, we explored gesture-to-sound mapping strategies for creating some basic playing functionality:
– Initiating a sound, emitting a vocal utterance
– Articulating a vocal utterance, short staccato or long sustained sounds
– Modulating the loudness of an utterance
– Modulating pitch and grain quality
With some preliminary mappings in place, Bryan played the t-stick while I recorded datastreams coming from the instrument. These streams will permit him to replicate playing gestures, via my Datastream Max patch, without having a stick.
We’re still roughing out the staging for the composition. Bryan’s initial idea was to present the t-stick as a table object – placed on a table. As I understand the theatrical concept, Bryan wants the possibility of rolling the stick on the table and also letting it passively rest in place without any manipulation by the performer. We are running into some physical constants, though. My own t-stick has curved end caps that interfere with rolling.