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MUSC485 Spring 2007 - Morris - Technology in Performance

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  • Week 2
    • Fill in bios, profiles, and proposals
    • Schedule rehearsal times
  • Week 3
    • Complete profiles (all five), adding more links and discussion, as in sample.
    • Add project schedule to your proposals below with weekly deliverable goals, planning to be ready to perform by spring break
    • Begin logging the focus and outcomes of rehearsals in the Journal section below
    • Jacob: Pick a model result song, describe how your project would work to realize it, then make a mockup patch that can do something similar.
    • Ben: Build Max side of interface
    • Both: continue thinking about the aesthetic material of songs (lyrics, timbres, pitch structure, etc.)
  • Week 4
    • Jacob:
      • Look at stutter~ and experiment with rapidly changing delays for chorus and word development
      • Pick the text and get it recorded
      • Develop tape techniques
    • Ben:
      • Complete Max side of interface
      • Figure how to interface with other applications (MIDI? VST?)
      • Develop song: get lyrics, graph form, or collect samples to be used

Artist bios

List your relevant background, skills, and interests

Jacob Alford

I'm a computer science major specializing in electronic music. I have a musical background in classical piano and performance. I have varied skills in programs such as Lightwave Max/msp and Protools. My interests lie in study and exploration of POP culture, and the Internet. I am also interested in creating electronic instruments.

Ben Love

Ben is a business major who will graduate with a minor in music and film studies. He has played the bass guitar for eight years, and has been experimenting with computers and music for four. He has a small home studio in Bryan where we is able to experiment with many styles of recording. In the past year Ben has started utilizing computers in a live set via Ableton Liveand Propellerheads Reason. He has recently started studying Max/MSP and hopes to become very proficient in it.

Prior work profiles

Describe five varying examples of using technology in performance. Consider the role of the technology in the artistic product and the relationships among the performer, audience, and technology. See the Resources section below for artists and works that may be worth profiling.


Laurie Anderson (b. 1947, USA) is a performance artist well known for her large scale productions in performance. Her musical style uses familiar sounds and pitch structure, but the atmospheres she creates are effective and compelling experiences. Many of her works, or "acts," use extensive theatrical technology such as large screens for projection of images or shadows and using lasers with fog. However, she also uses technology more creatively in the instruments she performs with. Her tape-bow violin is one famous example, which has magnetic tape with pre-recorded sound stretched along a violin bow (instead of horse hair) that she glides along a tape playback head embedded in a violin-like body. It looks like playing the violin, but sounds more like a turntable or sampler (although it predates the use of turntables for scratching). This gives her a very direct control of the sounds coming from her technology, instead of relying on pushbuttons or automated processes. A MIDI version of this instrument can be seen in her filmed performance, Home of the Brave during the number, "Late Show." Anderson has also famously used two microphones to speak into, one for ordinary sound reinforcement, and the other with an effects processor on it to change her voice into something larger and more foreign sounding. This is not sophisticated technology, but a creative use of existing things.

By Jacob

Nullsleep|8bitpeoples Jeremiah Johnson uses programs like LittleSoundDJ to work with the sound card in the original Gameboy. His music is an array of bit-y sounds. All of the sounds are self composed. He performs impromptu and composed pieces. He performs both on the street and laserlight venues. He at times runs mutliple Gameboys quickly shifting between them and editing their loops as he reaches for the next. Johnson also edits videos that go in stride with his music using clips and sequences from existing games.

The Ghettoblaster Ensemble This is a group of 8 performers. Each performer is equipped with a boombox of varying sort. They have pre-recorded music playing through their boomboxes and are all in sync with the help of a 9th member, the conductor. Their music is very electronic and incorporates a very noise flavored sound. They take good use of physical movement during their piece. Emphasis is placed in location in relationship to one another, direction of speakers, and choreographed formations. Formation Example

Daan Brinkmann Instillation artist and performer. Built the Skinstrument, and during performing really involves the audience to become part of his instrument. He is very forward in involving others, creating an at times comedic, or emotional reaction with his gestures and movements. It is an instrument that plays off a circuit and it's connectivity between two nodes. While he can play the Instrument by himself, he creates much more interesting sounds with the help and use of others, transforming the audience into the instrument. Video

ADACHI TOMOMI Japanese performer, composer, and installation artist. Builds his own instruments, piezo pick up instruments, synthesizers and oscillators. All have a playful look and feel to them, which is shown in the way he plays with them.

VeejayZane a VJ that dwells on the importance of emotion. Live improve use of visuals that contribute to a live music performance is an interesting way to touch on audiences other senses.

By Ben

The Postal Service is an American electronic indie pop band composed of vocalist Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie and producer Jimmy Tamborello of Dntel, Headset and Figurine. The Postal Service utilizes mainly computers, synths (both hard and soft) and many other forms of electronic instruments. Their live performance utilizes all of the aspects of their recorded material, showcasing Gibbard's vocal and guitar skills and Tamborello's electronic skills with such equipment as Korg Microkorg, Electron Mono Machine Synth and Machine Drum, the Vermona Retro Verb, DRMII MKII Vermona Drum Machine, and many more.

Bjork is a multitalented singer-songwriter, composer, and producer from Iceland. Her style of music is noted as being inventive, eccentric, and unique, as well as spanning many genres. Her relation to this project is simply in her experimental notions when it comes to Electronic Music. She has taken the relatively new technology of the Reactable and brought it to a Rock/Pop stage to a large audience world wide.

The Secret Handshake is the music of Luis Dubac, a resident of Dallas, TX. The Secret Handshake is an electronica indie group that uses Synths, vocoders, and MIDI based instruments live. His live show is small (typically just Luis and a drummer) but is very energetic and showcases his talents and equipment very well. Video of Live Show

David Crowder Band is a band from Waco, TX. They got there start at the University Baptist Church in Waco and have since become a key name in the "Christian Music Market." The drummer, Bwack, is an avid circuit bender and computer programmer and has brought these skills into the live scene. Bwack is the host of Beepcon, an electronic music festival each year in Waco. It is here that Bwack and other musicians showcase their latest ventures in Computer Music and learn from each other. Bwack was one of the first people to spark my interest in turning a guitar hero controller into a musical instrument after he turned it into a sampler for one of their tours. His forum is a place where computer music fans can meet and discuss techniques for using software and hardware in the electronic music scene.

Imogen Heap is a singer-songwrite from London, England with a big interest in electronic music. Imogen uses many different instruments, including computers, to create a unique sound. Imogen uses Ableton Live, the sequencing program we will be using for this project, to create, produce, and perform many of her songs. Her use of loop stations and vocoders live is very impressive and shows a lot of talent. Her work has brought the electronic scene in the main stream market with appearances in films such as Garden State (as Frou Frou) and shows like The O.C.

Project proposals

Propose a project to focus on this semester, for performance during Aural Tick (late March). It must make use of other ensemble members, but you will be responsible for the development of tools and composing or adapting the music to be played. List all equipment that you expect to be involved and mark whether you or the department will provide it. Explain the roles of each performer, and the aesthetic goal of the work. If you have other ideas for group repertoire, list them in the Others section below. See the Resources section below for scores that may be useful to adapt for your projects.


I will be building a sound controller using the casings of a boombox for the interface. The input sound will be coming from the tape deck of the boombox, and run through a max patch on the computer, and then output the sound back out of the speakers. The music on the tapes will be composed by Ben and I. We intend to use our instruments and other prerecorded sounds to play live performances interweaving Indie rock, and oldschool rap, (and perhaps a few other genres) creating a live band type sound.


The main focus of my project this year will be utilizing a XBOX 360 Guitar Hero control as a full fledged musical controller. The controller will be transformed into a controller that will interface with any VST, turning it into a synth, drum machine, piano, etc... See the attached photo as a mock up of the controller mappings.

Guitar Hero Photo


Weekly Schedule:

Week 4-

  • Working versions of patches
  • Begin Composition of first piece

Week 5-

  • Finished patches
  • Functional Instruments

Week 6-

  • Ready for recording studio for 1st piece
  • Begin rehearsal for live performance



Art Blogs

Other Resources


Wednesday, 2/20/08

  • Recorded vocal part for Jacob's piece. This will be chopped up into different phrases and will be used as the main content
  • Decided we will name this piece No Gratitude From The Wicked, and will also name our group The Woodman and The Serpent.
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