Monday, October 10, 2011

Curry Filled Content Festival!

New recordings:
Lawn Mower

Lawn Mower by giraffebasedempire
Lawn Mower is an exploration of the potential of impulses. Most of the sounds in this piece are derived from small "click" sounds which are sped up to audio rate, much like the maddening buzz of the two stroke motors available in most chainsaws, weed eaters, and lawn mowers.

Glass Tuna Entrails

Glasstunaentrails by giraffebasedempire

Glass Tuna entrails is an improvisation in Super Collider. It involves masses of loosely sequenced notes and randomly generated waveforms. This is a sketch for a larger piece, and the final sound is the computer crashing as I attempt to force Super Collider to play back the patterns at 100 times the normal tempo. 

Game Pieces:

Dilation Blindness:

A small number of performers who are willing to
perform using their voices. The performers must
dress in street clothes and do their best to blend
with the audience.

Before the performance the performers gather
and perform pregame set up. Each performer suggests
10 audience "reactions". The reactions are mixed
and each performer is assigned one reaction.

There are several rules for picking proper reactions:
1) Reactions must be in the form of audience members
gestures or speech. "Cause the audience member
to leave" would not be an appropriate reaction because
it is not a gesture or a spoken phrase.
2)Reactions must be general enough to be acomplished
with undue specificity. Suggestions for a " Make the audience
member sing amazing grace reaction" might be apropriate
but suggestions for a "make the audience member recite the
first digits of Pi" reaction might not be.

Some examples of reactions:

1) the audience member demands to know what is going on.
2) the audience member asks you if this is the piece.
3) the audience member looks away for a moment.
4)the audience member tells you about a fishing trip
5)the audience member joins in
6)the audience member sings a song

The performers must each pick randomly from these attributes.
Each performer should end up with two.
1)Speak gibberish in tuplet rhythms.
2)sing every word
3)speak with great enthusiasm about dinosaurs.
4)copy the audience members words.
5)Ask questions about someone named Steve.
6)Hum with urgency and great volume.

During what appears to be set up time the performers
melt into the room and sit among the audience.
The performers form a loose square around a
small group of audience members.
The performers wait approximately three minutes,
or until the audience has relaxed and has started
to speak among themselves.

At this point each performer should pick a few audience members
to converse with. Several group members are allowed to pick the
same audience member.  The players must alternate between
their two selected modes of communication and attempts
to illicit the required response. If the response is given, then
the player flamboyantly rips up the sheet up paper with
the instructions, and raises his voice a little.

The piece should form a general crescendo of insanity
as the players run out of commands, and the audience realizes
it has been played. Once all instructions are met the piece

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Osmotic Shock

Written for Brooklyn College's Contempo contemporary ensemble:

Osmotic Shock for Chamber Ensemble
Required Materials:
1 Score Card
Stop Watches for all players
1 Flute
Alto Flute
1 Tuba
2 Pianos
2 Singers
2 Electric Guitars
1 Bass
1 viola

  Osmotic Shock is a game piece that replicates the survival strategies of microscopic single celled life forms. On the microscopic scale, life is at the whim of osmotic pressures. Osmosis, the force of water moving from areas of high pressure to low pressure, has the power to imbue some life forms with life giving force and favorable pressure conditions, or desiccate others by sucking the very life force from their cellular membranes.
    Each player in the ensemble is imbued with special abilities which allow him to survive in certain situations and force him to perish in others. This piece is a contest for the survival of the fittest where some players will be able to survive by sheer heft while others will have to think on their feet to survive. Collusion is possible, by ultimately there will be only enough resources for a single player to survive.

The players sit in a rough semicircle so that all participants may see one another. In addition to the performers there is a conductor and referee who stand side by side in the conductors position. The bass is positioned centrally so that it may be observed and listened to by all players. It is preferable that the conductor and referee be situated so as to clear the view of the audience to the players.

Throughout the coarse of the piece the role of the conductor and the bass is relatively constant. For the duration of the piece, the piece is an AB form between the conductor and the bassist. During the A sections the conductor sits idle while the bassist performs gradually accelerating glissandi over the range of his instrument.  During the B sections the conductor takes control of the bass and guides him through his range in order help destroy targeted players. The A and B sections should be in a telescoping form, with each section being shorter than the preceding section. Ultimately the movements should become violent enough to vanquish all players. By this method the ultimate duration of the piece is scaled by the conductor and bassist, though it is always possible for the players to murder one another prematurely.

It is the referee's job to monitor the health and progress of all players. He keeps track of damage to player's health and via hand signal declares certain players deceased. The referee must be intimately familiar with health characteristics of each player, and watch carefully for changes. It is also the referees job to make sure the music progressing well, and that the game isn't ending prematurely. Some creative oversight is often required, and a rather holistic application of damage values is wholly acceptable. The referee should communicate to a damaged player that he or she is damaged by flashing fingers correlating to the amount of remaining health of the player in one hand, while pointing to the specific player with the other. Dead players are signaled by a thumbs up in their general direction. It is essential that players be seated so that they can interpret the referees hand gestures with accuracy.

The players interact through the use of glissandi. Each player may move through his or her range step wise from top to bottom, skipping no notes. If a player is able to stay in phase and maintain a unison with another player, than this is considered an attack and will result in a loss of health. Some players have methods of retaliation against attacks, others simply have thick skin. Under normal circumstances damage is transferred to the attacker, defined here as the 2nd player to play the note. If there is a mass glissandi, then damage is transferred to the lowest pitched (and therefore hardier) player.

Each player has a fixed maximum speed, but no fixed minimum speed. Each player his a maximum density and a minimum density to mimic the need to conserve energy, and to prevent the players from "turtling" or retracting from game play in order to avoid competition until the final phases of the game.

The bass acts to dynamically change circumstances, tipping the power balance from some animals to other animals. When the bass is playing in it's highest registers the higher instruments deal double damage, and when the bass is playing in it's lowest registers the bass instruments deal double damage.

Once dead, players play whatever sort of unpitched noise is available on their instrument at a pianissimo dynamic. At the end of the piece the noise decrescendos to nothing.

It is essential to the proper functioning of the game that notes be interpreted as legato as possible. This provides sustained notes for potential predators to lock on to. However, players are free to improvise dynamics and articulations as they see fit.

The Organisms:
Flute: The flute is the fastest and can move with the greatest density. It may play as many as 10 notes a second, and must play at least once a second. The flute can only withstand one attack.

Alto Flute:
The alto flute cannot move as fast as the flute. It may play 7 notes a second, and most play once a second. The alto flute can withstand two attacks.

The Pianos have the advantage of selecting range to fit circumstances. Pianos can act as both high instruments or low instruments, should they happen to be in the correct range. Pianos may play up to five notes a second, and must play play at least twice a second. Pianos can only withstand three attacks. Pianos may deploy a smokescreen of three chords chords to confuse potential attacks once every 10 seconds.

Singers must may play up 5 notes a second, and must play at least once every two seconds. Singers should use their micro-tonal abilities to confuse predators looking for easy chromatic scale based prey. Once every 10 seconds singers are able to emit a hard shell of "S" based noised, allowing them to retune their next note without being caught. Any syllable is fine for singers, although maximum variation of syllables will go far to distract potential predators. The singers will be considered "high" instruments". Singers may withstand up to 5 attacks.
Electric Guitars:
Electric Guitars may play up to four notes a second. The must play at least once every three seconds. Electric guitars may play non-fretted "clicks" to deal double damage once every five seconds, as either an offensive or defensive maneuver. The guitar is considered a mid-range instrument, and therefore derives no benefit from bass swells. Electric Guitars can withstand up to 4 attacks.
The viola may play up to three notes a second and must play at least once every 6 seconds. The viola can withstand up to 3 attacks.
Tuba is the apex predator of the ecosystem. The Tuba may play up to two notes a second, and must play once every 8 seconds. The Tuba can withstand up to 12 attacks. Every 5 seconds the tubas may emit a loud flutter tongue effect during which any player attacking the tuba will be dealt double damage. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Perforated Kidney Enhanced Joy

Jaundiced Liver

forces: four musicians of any instrumentation.

The liver filters our blood. As it fails it filters blood with
less and less efficiency. Besides filtering our blood, it synthesizes
various compounds in the body. The liver is a mysterious place.
Our liver is thought to be responsible for over 500 functions.

Jaudiced Liver is an exorcise in filtering, and ear training.
the piece is meant to test the qualitative decision making
properties of a group of diverse musicians. For optimal
results the musicians should be different backgrounds,
and would disagree on matters of interpretation and


Four musicians sit in a square. One musician is designated the starter. The starter links to the second musician, and the second to the third, and the third to the fourth, and the fourth back to the starter so that a full circuit is formed.

The starter improvises freely, with each layer succeeding him filtering the previous layer's music to his or her taste. The general feeling of the starter's music should be kept in each generation, but radical edits may be made to each member's material.

The starter may start a new motive exactly four times. After this the final cell of the piece can start. The final cell of the piece may mutate much faster, and radically than the previous cells.

The starter signals the end of the piece by ceasing to play, therefore ending the cycle.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Didjeri do that? hash, and tare.

Today I bring you two new text based works. These two are examples of my varying scientific, linguistic, and organizational, and aesthetic interests.The first piece mixes performance art, automated poetry, formalized logic, and game music ideas. It is partially inspired by my recent explorations in the realm of computer programming. In programming languages abstract ideas are juxtaposed, each with a warren of nested symbolic meaning stretching back to a deep syntax that seems to defy the surface's seemingly arbitrary nature.   
        The second two pieces are attempts at bringing the logic of my randomized pure data creations to a concert music situation divorced from highly visible electronic music technology. Both pieces share an semi-improvisatory structure that symbolizes semi chaotic processes in chemistry where macro processes are well understood, but objects on the micro act is far more unpredictable ways.

These pieces, for me, pose important questions:
1) What are some less obvious, and perhaps more absurd ways of perusing "nested" organization? Can self similarity and complexity be reconciled with a music piece that is narrative oriented and referential?
2) Can a sense of narrative be maintained in a piece that is based upon random unit generation? How do loose narratives of this kind affect the audience? The players?
3) How can classical composers break the fourth wall, and enter a space that is unguarded by the highly reverent atmosphere of the concert hall, while at the same time maintaining their dignity, and sense of purpose?

#1. Meditations on Hydration on the Back of the World Tortoise who is also Eating a Ham Sandwich which Happens to Resemble Abraham Lincoln

Required Materials:
1 Abraham Lincoln Suit
3 microphones (preferably cheap microphones in case they become ruined by water)
1 Wine Bottle
3 Turkey Basters
3 buckets, of preferably clear material holding around 5 gallons each
a set of hard mallets for each performer 
a sack of marbles, a few hundred if possible. 
3 texts of Lincoln's Defense of "Duff" Armstrong (can be found here)
3 Pencils
3 Highlighters
3 metrenomes with earbud headphones



This piece requires exactly three performers. Although it is not essential that the performers be percussionists, percussionists may be preferable because of their experience striking glass vessels. One performer must be willing to don an Abraham Lincoln suit - it is not essential that he be male, but it is essential that the Abraham Lincoln costume is portrayed with at least moderate accuracy.

Set Up:

NB: As this piece uses water it may be advisable to lay a tarp over the stage and take precautions to protect any sensitive electronics.

1. Take the three buckets and lay them on the stage in a triangular shape. The Triangle should be have the point facing the audience. The "nodes" of the triangle should be relatively close to each other - no more than four feet should separate them.

2. Fill the bucket nearest the audience 1/4 full of water, and the buckets further from the audience 1/2 full of water.

3. set up the microphone so that one is accessible from each bucket (use your own discretion - read performance details below.)

Performance Instructions:

The Piece is played in 4 sections and 3 interruptions.

     Each Player has a cycle of activities and an distinguishing number. Player ones distinguishing number is 5, player two's distinguishing number is 7 and Abraham Lincoln's distinguishing number is 13. If I reference a formula such as 5d+3, this would be interpreted as five times your distinguishing number plus 3. A prototypical activity might be something like " check the time on your wrist watch 10!d and tap the shoulder of next player". Notice that I am using mathematical notation in this example and that I mean 10 radical d and not a 10 with enthusiasm.  Activities are to be executed in order simultaneously by the three players unless specifically counter indicated in the text. 
Section 0: Preamble
.   Proceedings:
    Two players, clad in black, and Abraham Lincoln step on stage. The players set down in a position of meditation in front of their respective buckets. Abraham Lincoln receives the middle bucket, and possesses the wine bottle.

Activity 1: Place a line underneath every dth syllable in the printed text. This must be done strictly in time against a beat of d10 bpm, making marks once every 2 beats. You start this process after d beats of silence. Every dth sylable you must highlight d consecutive words from your current position. You are not  to move linearly through the text but alternate between the start of the text, going foward, and its end going backward. The activity ends when you reach the middle of the document. The scraping pen strokes should be loud, and the microphones should be placed to properly amplify their presence.

Activity 2: The pieces of paper are folded d times and places in pockets.

Activity 3: Each bucket is struck with the mallet d times

Section 1:  The Balsemic Vinegrette of Time 
 Overview: This section is an extended process where water is transferred between buckets beginning with the middle bucket being 1/2 full and ending with each of the periphery buckets being 1/4 full and the middle bucket being a little less than 3/4 full

Activity 1:  Complete the cycle d! cycle moves. I.e each time you move to a new movement in the cycle this counts as a move. One move must be accomplished by the end of 3 beats at d10 beats per minute. You should only read the syllables that marked in the preamble, and read them in the exact order that you marked them.
1. Retrieve water from your water into baster. Read d syllables from the text.
2. Pour water into main bucket (or your wine bottle). Read d syllables from the text.
3. Hit your bucket d times with the hard mallet. Read d syllables from the text.
4. Retrieve water from your own bucket and squirt it back in slowly. Read d syllables from the text
5. turn your metronome up 10 Bpm

Section 2: Provider of both drum sticks and kitchen wares 
Overview: This section is series of short games where the "short sounds" interact.

set metronomes to 3d, cycling every 3 beats

Activity 1: Cycle
rule: between moments of concentration observe your fellow performers. Precisely d  times in the piece you may stop your cycle and imitate one gestures of your neighbors. If you catch a neighbor "mocking" you, you may mock him back, initiating a mock fight which may last at most d turns (naturally this will be restricted to which ever player his the lowest number for d)
1. Play a rudiment (roll) with an accent every dth beat, in time, louder than your neighbor.
2. Play same roll softer than your neighbor
3. drop d marbles into the water from a height of d inches
4. make eye contact with the audience, if the audience member blinks hit the floor d times forte with the palm of your hand.

Activity 2: cycle

1. Drop d marbles into the water (successively) from d inches.
2. Read d syllables from the text.
3. Hit the bucket d! times with each shorter iteration of ! being slower. i.e 5x4x3x2x1 such that 4 is slower than 5 and 3 is slower than 4. Grouping accents are appropriate here.

Section 3:  Object Oriented Loft Loss (mental garbage collection)
Overview: This section 
set metronomes to d

Activity 1: Pour water from your baster from your own bucket, into the main bucket for d beats d times
Activity 2: Read 1 syllable every 2 beats. When you are not reading try and complete the other players syllables with words
Activity 3:Hit the bucket every dth beat d times doing a decresendo from fortissimo.

Each player must instigate a total of d interruptions. Interruptions may be played at any time and processes must be restarted from where they are left off.

1. Leave the stage and shake hands vigorously with one audience member, making deep, meaningful eye contact, and mouthing the words "please help me, I have intentions". Please make this interaction as awkward as possible
2. Stroke Abe's beard several times.
3. sit silently for d beats

2011 John Dunlap

#2: Alchemical Retort 
Required Materials:
1 Random number generators.
indeterminate number of performers with easily carried instruments

A number of performers stand backstage. A conductor sits with his random number generator. Each performer is assigned a number. At his own discretion the conductor picks numbers from the random number generator. This first number pick will choose the performer.

The second pick chooses a key (0-12)
Third pick chooses a length in seconds 10-30
Fourth pick determines conjunct vs. disjunct
Fifth pick picks a location
 1) Front center stage
 2)Stage left
 3)Stage right
 4)Back of the house left
 5)Back of the house right
 6)Center of the audience
Within these parameters the performers may improvise original music as they wish. Obvious quotations are strictly forbidden.
It is the responsibility of the conductor (who remains back stage for the duration of the piece) to choose dynamics for the piece and decide when it should end.

2011 John Dunlap

# 3 Snyder Column

materials: 1 random number generator
performers: indeterminate, with easily transportable instruments

Snyder Column's are the modern equivalent to the Alchemical Retort and therefore this piece starts with similar instructions

A number of performers stand backstage. A conductor sits with his random number generator. Each performer is assigned a number. At his own discretion the conductor picks numbers from the random number generator. The first pick (1-number of players) chooses the number of players in a player group. The following picks fill out a group of the that size.

for each player a single note is picked (0-12)
for each player a dynamic curve is picked
    1) slow decrescendo to crescendo
    2) fast decrescendo to crescendo
    3) slow forte to piano subito changes
    4) fast forte to piano subito changes
for each player a final destination is picked
    1) Front center stage
 2)Stage left
 3)Stage right
 4)Back of the house left
 5)Back of the house right
 6)Center of the audience
for each player a rate of movement is picked
1) 1 step per second
2) 2 steps per second
3) 3 steps per second
4)  1 step every 4 seconds

The conductor may release the players at his discretion, in groups indicated by the random number generator. All players start center stage, and make their way to their final destinations at their given speed. Once final destinations are reached a gradual decrescendo is evoked by each player at his own pace. The player left at center stage should be the last one playing, and if no player is picked for center stage the piece will continue until one is.

2011 John Dunlap

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Brain mod - definition conversion - bood honeys!

You know, it's obvious that awkward is an artistic statement these days. I kind of like that idea - it makes me think that history isn't so linear. We used to have the theater of the absurd, now we have the theater of the awkward.

This concert with Scott was a last minute date, and we decided to do something extra spontaneous, and start the concert with an awkward-fest. Our paraplegic gandy words and gibbet scratched the mastodon, francophone. But you knew that already....

Today Joel and I were mesmorized by a video by Brian Bress.

His videos have a rhythm to them.... Something deliberate in the cutting that appeals to me. I wish the video I saw at CAM had been posted on his youtube account. It was very psychological - his various "characters" had a metaphorical conversation with an old, creepily stoic woman who seems to be driving through a living dream scape. It reminds me of all the questions you ask yourself when you've forgotten that you're in a nightmare.

If you're adventurous you should try this...

{, 10000, 1) ,0,,1),0.1) }.scope(1, zoom: 4);

{, 10000, 1) + 30 ,0,,1),0.1) }.scope(1, zoom: 4);

{`[ {exprand(400, 2000)}.dup(64), nil, nil ], 1, 0) * 0.01 }.scope(1);

As they say, you know where to stick it.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Jumbe juice generator /; "igneous" persnips.ini

I've been serving the night shift at Circle K.
It's been taxing.
My will power waxing.
a stripper was crying on the floor last night.
She had goldfish in her shoes...
and a burn mark on her forehead.

My first game piece in its full youtube glory. Notice the performer's confident saunter. They know full well the piece's goofy powers.

The influence for this was John Zorn's "Cobra"

What I admire in Zorn's Piece, that was sort of absent in mine was the relative fluidity between "scenes". Zorn does a great job of minimizing the sometimes awkward silences that tend to occur while game mechanics happen. Although in a way, the silences seem to scream "Hey this is a game piece!" I feel the constant stop/start can kind of distract from the music.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

N'yet bah bah scree!

I am slowly building up a repertoire of text based performance pieces.

The latest sampling:


a group of musicians gathers. The players are assigned notes from the harmonic series. A large prism is suspended in the air so that the stage lights shine through the prism on to the stage floor. The prism is periodically turned so that the colors shift. As the prism turns the players play their respective notes as they are revealed by prism. If the player can see his note dimly, he will play soft, if it is clear than he will play loud.

2011 John Dunlap.

I'm working toward releasing a collection of 100 of these.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Pious Patrician Porridge

I just want to take a post to express my extreme joy for being accepted into graduate school. I was really in doubt, and the support of everyone in my life will be remembered for helping me out through out my undergraduate experience.

In short: Thanks everybody!

This weekend I will be appearing at Taste Cafe in Clear Water with Joel Kruger and Scott Smith. It might be a little late for most of you to make it, but make sure and check out the videos we will be posting later.

On that note: Next week we will be playing at Lab Music 3 in Gainesville. If any one wants to ride and out see the show we have exactly one extra seat.

Here is last week's show in all of it's glory:

Thanks to Hal McGee for the upload. Hal is a great asset to the scene here, and we are more than fortunate to know him.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pernicious Porcupine Squalor

Continuing in the spirit of last week's discovery I found this piece:

This piece has encouraged me to reconsider my feelings about our often abused friend, the glissando. I think I may write a piece that is all glissandi. Madness!

Make sure and check out Michael Levinas. Michael studied with Messiaen, and though his music is often simply described as "spectral" it has unique lilt all Its own.

I've been busy with several new projects including a string quartet, a collection of description pieces, and another lengthy free improv set. Look for video and audio from those projects this weekend.

I'm going to be playing at Lab Music 3 in Gainesville this weekend. This time around the theme is randomly picked duos. If you can't make it out to the Lab this weekend, wish me luck on a good improv partner.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Attack of the Spectral Guitar!

I always feel great when I find a new composer:

but I'm happier when I find some guitar writing I really love:

I have a major taste for fast guitar, and this really hits the spot, while at the same time being a really well constructed piece of music.  The theatrical flair of tuning the E string down in the middle of playing only adds to the effect.

Up until recently I'd found it hard to track down recent classical guitar pieces I liked. This one is a definite candidate - I'd actually like to learn it when I get a chance.

Evil Idea: Spectral/Flamenco/Jazz Guitar?
is it possible?

Here's another classic that I'd like to tackle someday. I say someday with the same wistful expression that one might say neverland. someday.

and yet another great one - this time Elliot Carter.

Monday, February 21, 2011

February Content Round Up

Sycom did a wonderful show last weekend:

February has been a great month for creative output in general.

Joel and I put out a nice free improv set:

Yeswedohaveyard by giraffebasedempire

Talonscar by giraffebasedempire

Berniehasflatwear by giraffebasedempire

Abcess by giraffebasedempire

Twas a good month indeed.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Inglorious Frontal Structures

Glorious weekend tis' been:  The stockings are large, the trash has a dorsal fin.
        Let's start from the start! Just past the weekend's oral sphicter, somewhere around the pharynx,  (read:Saturday) Scott from Nequiem Sonitus stopped by, with theramin in tow, for an all night electro-acoustic jam session with Joel and me.
       There were mouth piece sounds ; There was blood.
      I'm mastering the results of those jams this week, and should have them up in the next three days or so. To tell you the trout-like truth, I'm quite proud of the results.
      Sunday night we went to the INC pre-show at FUBAR in St. Pete. I hadn't been to that venue since it was the now vanquished "uptown bar". The place still retains it's semi-gritty feel, and it seemed more than appropriate for a night of harsh noise. I was glad to see my fellow sycomrade Aaron Hucheson (check out his page - he's got free music!) there playing a suitcase filled with 1/8th inch style analog synth equipment. Of course Nequiem Sonitus played, and I was floored to see them incorporate Ben's Theramin into the set. Scott went the extra mile and spent a good 30 minutes after his set playing around outside in the Nequiem suit. We were amused until the Nequiem pulled out it's mating socket, then we were doubly amused. Whitey Alabastard played a kickin' set as well. I'll put it this way: he was wearing a penguin suit, had two turntables, a contact miked cymbal and a hammer. You do the math! The final act, Radio Shock, stole the show with a green skull that functioned as a photo-cell-Theramin. He also had lots of kitsch toys, and a guitar strap made out of duct tape. Sensational. The guy was nice as could be, and even gave me and Joel tips on our quest to move to New York City. It was a good night. No snails were harmed.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Fried Conch-Shell Matress system [SIC]

The partials were broken by a duck call.
but I don't know why.
and captain murdoch wants to heal his steal.

and for.
and to.

but, for a duck, I saw salvation in a guirro.