Last fall, I was excited to be chosen as one of the musicians to accompany modern dance classes for UW-Milwaukee’s Peck School of the Arts. This is something that I’ve wanted to do for some time, but until last fall there were no openings. I had previously attended a handful of classes on a voluntary basis, joining my friend Seth Warren-Crow on percussion and electronics, and thoroughly enjoyed the process of improvising for dancers. After all, music for dance has been one of my primary artistic outlets over the last few years, and to have the opportunity to practice this craft on a weekly basis is most welcome.
I’m now into my second semester of accompaniment and am developing more methods and techniques to use in the class. While I continue to bring my saxophones (alto/tenor) for a strong physical/acoustic presence, most of my development involves my laptop set up. This is a somewhat obvious statement for me, as the laptop work provides the primary foundation, while the saxophone embellishes the laptops pitch-based material and aids sectional structure through phrase development. Also, I’ve been playing the saxophone for decades, and have become quite comfortable in a variety of improvisational settings; the laptop environment provides me with new challenges and opportunities.
From my experiences with Seth, I observed that the rhythmic/pulse needs of the class can suddenly change. This requires a dynamic response on the accompanists behalf; moving from a strong pulse to ambient and back. Some of my previous work with Max For Live patches was certainly going to be beneficial. I spent the previous semester fine tuning how I use my primary rhythmic M4L patch, C8 Sequencer; adjusting instances used, chance to trigger a sound, polyrhythmic complexity, and how this all is impacted by tempo. I learned a lot about controlling all of this in real time and will be making some changes to exactly how this is all controlled. For the time though, I’ve put together a demonstration/example of what’s been done so far and posted it to my SoundCloud account. I imagine there will be similar posts in the future.
It’s been way to long since I’ve posted anything here. Not to say I haven’t been doing anything, I’ve just been neglecting my internet presence. Seems to be pretty standard for me as I’ve never been great at keeping up with a website and I struggle to embrace modern blog methods in my routine. None the less, sharing patches with others in the field of electronic music is important, and I need to do a better job of it. Being that I’m often observing what others are creating, sometimes downloading and using them, other times I pass it on to those who I think will find it’s uses beneficial for their work, I would like to continue to share my own with the community.
One of the last times I worked on this site, I put together a software patch page to have one location for downloads. It’s nothing fancy, but it gets the job of sharing done. The most recent patch was something that I had wanted to create for some time; the C8 Sequencer. It’s my take on a stochastic rhythm machine and was inspired by many of the complex rhythms I hear in computerized music. I use Live for much of my electronic performance material and the whole M4L patch world has exploded with possibilities. I took the full C8 Sequencer and made it into a version for Live that’s condensed, being that you can have many instances of it through out your Live project’s tracks. Here’s a screen shot.
Max For Live patch: C8 Sequencer Limb
The controls are very simple and straight-forward, just make sure to place it before your plug-in instrument/sound. It’s tied directly to the transport of Live, so it will only function when the transport is playing. Add more instances if only two “branches” (midi note triggers) of the sequencer limb are not enough. One control that proved to be invaluable, and missing from the stand-alone application, is the offset control. To me, this is the key to getting just the right rhythm and will be added to the Max/MSP patch as soon as I can. I think I’ll also change C8’s awful color scheme. Sorry for having offended anyone else’s eyes besides my own. I don’t know what I was thinking with that one.