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

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