Racer Sessions

Sundays, 8-10pm at Cafe Racer in Seattle, WA

Brandon Lucia - November 20th, 2011


I will be presenting two new pieces of music this week.

No Air, Movement 3: Light and Motion


When I last curated the Racer Sessions about 6 months ago, I presented a piece called No Air.  No Air was written for the Chango, which is a program that I made for making music.  In my first performance, I manipulated the Chango using the mouse and keyboard of my computer.  A simple linear function of the position of the mouse cursor dictated how loud each of a fixed grid of tones should be. While this interface was adequate, it did not feel especially expressive.  I started my last performance with a caveat that the piece I was about to play was missing a movement because I had not had time to make the software that I needed to play that movement.  So to start this week, I am going to finish playing No Air.

In conversations with people about a year ago, when I first got the idea for the Chango, I thought it would be interesting to make an interface based on light and motion.  So for this movement of No Air, I am using video, rather than using linear interpolation from a single point to determine the amplitude of each tone.  In effect, the amount of light in each part of the video determines how loud tones in that part of the grid should be.  The instrument can be played in a darkened environment, using a light (I prefer a headlamp). As an alternative to using light, I have also made an interface that detects which parts of the video show motion.  Points in the image with more motion make tones in their part of the grid louder.

Using the new interfaces to the Chango, I have written the third movement to No Air, entitled “Light and Motion”.  You can download and run the original mouse-based Chango or the new light-and-motion-based Chango on your Mac from here.

The Internet is an Apt Mother Fucker 



Apt Mother Fucker is a piece of computer music that I originally wrote as a tribute to Julius Eastman.  His music is generally many-layered, repetitive with minor variation over long time scales, and punctuated with references to elements of modern culture.  He is also known for giving his pieces deliberately inflammatory titles, such as Evil Nigger, for the purpose of making a political or cultural statement.  The linked piece is one of my favorites.  The score is here and really sheds light on his process for creating the piece.

The Piece:

Apt Mother Fucker is about The Internet.  The Internet is awesome.  I love The Internet.  The Internet has a lot of stuff, though.  Most of it is noise.  Some of it is intelligible, but redundant or unclear.  And some is actually information, put there by another real person.

Apt Mother Fucker is based on algorithmic manipulation of the main theme from Evil Nigger.  The theme is deeply layered and perturbed in time by a duration  drawn from a probability distribution. 

The piece also relies on computer synthesized "mumbling" derived from a statistical model I built from text on the internet (Wikipedia).  The model, and a tool to build models from arbitrary text are available here. I will be improvising with this speech synthesis model during the performance. 

My friend Tony Fader made a system that listens to questions, finds answers to them on the internet, and recites carefully chosen answers back to you.  Tony will be improvisationally conversing with the internet during the performance.

There isn’t a theme for the improvisations this week, but it would be cool to hear things that are inspired by the ideas in Julius Eastman’s work, light, motion, or The Internet.