2 TENOR 2023 Commissions by DigiScore partner Sandeep Bhagwati
Works by Kitty Xiao and Ingrid Laubrock
Performed by Cullithumpian Consort
Data set: http://doi.org/10.17639/nott.7320
The DigiScore project supported two commissions through the University of Concordia in Canada: Tendons for Transformation by Kitty Xiao and Path/Fields by Ingrid Laubrock. Both works employed digital scores with a degree of openness, allowing for structured improvisation and performers’ agency. In Tendons of Transformation, Kitty Xiao aimed to create interconnectedness among performers using transducers and contact mics. She incorporated generative algorithms in Touch Design to create video scores for each performer, allowing real-time reactions to the changing electronic sounds, images, and videos. In Path/Fields, Ingrid Laubrock combined notated fragments, graphic notation, and improvisation. Generative algorithms determined which fragments appeared on each performer’s screen, and symbol modifiers suggested responses to the score. The piece aimed to integrate improvisation and interpretation closely, fostering exploration and unpredictability.
- In Tendons of Transformation, Kitty aimed to provide an inclusive environment for performers to engage with sound, movement, and gestures using AI-generated video scores.
- In Path/Fields, Ingrid sought to experiment with a digital score that encouraged exploration and mutation, using algorithms to challenge performers and create non-linear music with modular elements.
Overall, the aim of both commissions explored the possibilities of digital scoring and improvisation, fostering innovative and interactive musical experiences for the performers.
- The digital scores in both Ingrid Laubrock’s and Kitty Xiao’s pieces used different materials.
- Ingrid’s piece incorporated fragments of traditional notation, text, and symbols, while Kitty’s combined tactile materials (transducers), contact mics, and video score.
- Despite their openness, both works had specific musical identities.
- Improvisation and interpretation were required from the performers in both pieces, where they were trusted as improvisers in Ingrid’s work and responded to the video materials in an improvised manner in Kitty’s.
- Algorithmic probability was used in both works to determine the digital score content. Kitty utilized touch design and Runway ML to generate the video score, while Ingrid used generative algorithms in Max/MSP to randomize visual elements within a timeline.
- Both works involved physical and visual interaction: through the unpredictability of visual materials appearing on each performer’s screen, through the tactility of touch and movement when interacting with transducers and each other’s sound world while also responding to the video score
- In Kitty’s piece, performers had to conceptualize their interpretation more, as there was no traditional notation or direct instructions for the video score or response to transducer sounds.
- In Ingrid’s piece, different levels of specificity were present, from completely notated sections to symbol modifiers and entirely free sections.
- Composers’ feedback guided the interpretations in both works.
Form and Navigation
- The environment in Tendons of Transformations allows performers to explore and interpret touch, sound, and visual information.
- The use of electronic feedback and transducers creates surprises during performances, making each rendition unique and unpredictable.
- Path/Fields includes planned and random algorithmic procedures, as well as symbol modifiers, which challenge performers and introduce an element of surprise.
- Path/Fields bridges the gap between notated music and improvisation, providing opportunities for both structured and spontaneous performance.
- Performers have agency and creative choice in interpreting the digital scores, allowing for openness and flexibility in performance.
- The required skill set for the piece is not drastically different from traditional performances, making it accessible for the musicians.
- Setting up transducers and contact mics on their instruments may be the only technical challenge.
- Composers found the open environment conducive to experimenting with new digital scores.
- The experience of working with digital scoring was positive and enjoyable for performers, with an interested and receptive audience.
- The pieces allowed for a balance of strict parameters and artistic freedom, creating a unique experience for the ensemble.
Overall, the use of digital elements in the composition and performance process allowed for a dynamic and immersive experience for both composers and performers. The combination of structure and unpredictability in the digital scores added a layer of excitement and exploration to the artistic process.