Workshop with Luna Pearl Woolf – woolf (2)

The second workshop session with Luna took place at the matralab, on 4 March. I was pleased to see that the conception of her new t-stick piece appears to be almost complete. Luna presented me with a very clear line in terms of the structure of the composition; she had excellent descriptions of both gesture and sound over the course of the composition. Due to the strong theatrical direction in her conception, we have had very interesting talks about the role and presence of the t-stick. In particular, our talks have led to a rethinking of the t-stick as an agent of mediation between human performer and theatrical gesture. I find myself relying less on my usual modes of exciting sound (e.g., framing and fingering, thrusting) and more on using the t-stick as an instrument capable of measuring effort and, thus, a mediator between performer and performer expressivity – effort being one aspect of expressivity.

I proposed that we device at least one ‘effort’ gesture continuum. At one end of the continuum, we have a physical gesture that appears to require little energy exertion while at the other end we have a gesture of great vigour and energy. In between these extremes, we have numerous gestures, each one requiring more effort than the next.

I followed these steps while developing a possible continuum.

1.  I chose physical gestures that required the least and most effort based on musical and theatrical concepts required for Luna’s composition.

Least effort:  horizontal stick / cradling / no movement / no pressure (no squeezing)
Most effort:  continually changing angularity / alternating wide grip and baseball bat position / kayak and  lasso like movements / pulsating squeezes

2.  I categorised the different components of these two gestures (the least and most effort gestures) into four fields:

(1)  Angularity, orientation and position of stick
(2)  Touch or contact
(3)  Expanse of movement, activity
(4)  Squeezing

3.  I looked at these four fields and considered the sensing mechanisms involved in each. For instance, angularity is about measuring tilt via the accelerometers. Squeezing involves the pressure sensor. Measuring the expanse of, say, a lasso gesture requires a reading of combined gyroscope data.

4.  Next, I programmed ‘two’ different algorithms for extracting gesture in each field (e.g., two methods of measuring effort in relation to changes in angularity).  The two algorithms are designed to respond with different sensitivity so that one method is more representative of effort that is exerted in short bursts while the other method indicates a longer energy accumulation, as long as the gesture is repeated/maintained.

A preliminary ‘effort’ gesture continuum is listed here, from least to most effort exertion. One performance goal may be to combine all of these and so, as each gesture is added, there is an accumulation of movements and also exerted effort.

(1) Rolling slowly
(2) Tilting slowly
(3) Movement along the frontal plane (forward and backward motion)
(4) Changing hand position (widening and narrowing) and brushing
(5) Squeezing with a sustained degree of force and/or rapid pulsating squeezes
(6) Spinning: lasso, fan, airplane, majorette
(7) Concentrated and highly vigorous spinning
(8) Throwing


About dndrew

Orchestral, chamber and interactive music composer Digital musical instrumentalist Real-time software systems designer Computer music educator
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