Sunday, November 16, 2014


A friend of mine by the name of Bob Williams, an instructor at the Santa Rosa Jr. College came to me with an interesting project. It seems that Bob was also the conductor for the Santa Rosa Jr Symphony and he had a featured pianist at the symphony's spring performance that had an unusual request. The pianist wanted to perform Pachelbels Cannon in D on the piano with the full Jr Symphony as well as an entire electronic version of the same composition in a featured segment to create an alternative symphonic electronic performance. Since I was going to assist on stage during the show by running the computer and a few keyboards and sound modules I was invited to add my own solo twist to this already unusual variation.

I could see it in their eyes as we started the piece, the Jr symphony stopped and it was our turn to pick up the melody and run with it... I pushed start on the Mac and we were off. I wish I could recall the name of our young featured artist but I do recall his interest and perseverance during our long recording sessions. He was to play the grand piano over the back track of symphony voices that we had programed and sampled like oboes, bassoons and cellos and I was mixing those instruments live to the house mix. As I looked out into the audience what I noticed most was what I would call "slack jawed with awe" expressions... one big question mark, which is exactly what I aim for in most for all of my personal performances! They were smiling and nodding and even one or two purists who were outraged at the spectacle, but the spectral had only just begun, it was time for my twist!
I had been experimenting with a new software by a company called "Jam Factory" and "M" by David Zicarelli and Intelligent Music, They were an interactive algorithmic compositional tools that allowed me to record and play back intelligent variations on my programed input. With this software I could direct four different MIDI players (or MIDI channels) at one time to do four different interactive algorithmic variations all based on the original input. It gave a very flowing... where's it going... feel to the piece of music or rhythm rather than the repetitive loop or sequence feel of electronic music.

My twist was just this... when it came to a certain part of Pachebel I was to switch the incoming information from the sequencer into the input of Jam Factory and therefore throwing the entire composition into an Interactive Algorithmic spin! All of the notes that we know to be Pachebels Cannon in D were now rearranged and in some cases upside down. The performance never lost a beat or even felt wrong, it just rearranged itself into another familiar cannon... same notes, same tempo... what just happened? We didn't hold that algorithmic variational change very long, maybe 15 seconds, but it left a memorable impression! As we concluded the piece and gave each other a big smile of accomplishment, I couldn't help but hear over the audiences clapping and cheering a few select Boos... I knew I had reached people, for better or worse they listened and it affected them!

These stories consist of rough drafts that will be proof read and finalized
before being included in "Another Day Another Decibel"

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