PLOrk : Listen! Watch!

PLOrk @=> Spring 2010 Concert
with special guests:
Anders Åstrand
Van Stiefel

Taplin Auditorium in Fine Hall, Princeton University

The Princeton Laptop Orchestra (PLOrk) presents an evening of music performed by members of the Spring 2010 PLOrk seminar and ensemble:

Thomas Abend | Atrish Bagchi | Hannah Barudin | Mark Cerqueira | Julie Chang | Flannery Cunningham | Nick DiBerardino | Nick Donald | Dana Eitches | Mary Fan | Eden Full | Matthew Goff | Julianne Grasso | Andrew Gross | Gabe Greenwood | Mark Grobaker | Dave Holtz | Chris Jacoby | Tom Ledford | Andrew Li | Hayk Martirosyan | Edward Matteo | Sean Murphy | Emi Nakamura | Rebecca Pottenger | Yujie Song | Peter Toshev | Aaron Trippe | Mia Tsui | Andrew Weintraub | Raymond Weitekamp

Directed by Dan Trueman
Associate Director Jeffrey Snyder
Assistant Directors Cameron Britt and Rebecca Fiebrink
Visiting Director Daniel Iglesia

1. Clapping Machine Music Variations
Dan Trueman

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At the core of Clapping Machine Music Variations is a pair of laptop-based Drum Machinists. Surrounding this duo is an assortment of other instruments, some clearly defined laptop-based instruments, others more variable and traditional in type. CMMV takes specific inspiration from works by Steve Reich, Györgi Ligeti and Björk. In particular, the drum-machine algorithm was initially designed to mimic certain rhythmic processes in the Ligeti Études pour Piano, processes which also coincidentally generate the rhythmic pattern for Reich's Clapping Music (this should come as no surprise, as both composers were deeply influenced by traditional African rhythms); this algorithm is then used to generate variations on the original Clapping Music pattern, variations that are explored over the course of CMMV. More generally inspiring are pieces like Riley's In C,and Andriessen's Worker's Union, where some things are specified, other things are not, and anyone can join the party.

2. G
Raymond Weitekamp

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G is an experiment in on-the-fly gestural machine learning, which utilizes Rebecca Fiebrink's 'Wekinator' to translate motion into music. The performers first train their laptops to distinguish between different hitting gestures of their choosing. This learning system is then employed as an individualized controller for the duration of the piece, classifying the laptop's physical state into different sonic events.

3. Now, Scream
Lainie Fefferman

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Imagine if PLOrk went camping...

4. alskdjalskdjalskdj
Konrad Kaczmarek

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With each performer synced to a common tempo, I wanted to allow the orchestra to build up at first simple rhythms and then ultimately denser textures by adding individual pulses one note at a time. Players choose their own scale degree, rhythmic duration, and then most importantly they place these notes anywhere they choose within the overall beat. The results vary from elegantly hocketed melodies to asymmetric lopsided pulses, and everything in between. Although it is an improvised piece, with the players carefully crafting their parts in real time in response to the sound of the ensemble as a whole, the conductor does have a certain degree to control, such as re-syncing individual players, sending cues suggesting how to create individual pulses, and setting the overall tonality and tempo.

5. Middle Passage
Anne Hege

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This piece was influenced by the book Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti by Maya Deren and specifically by the ritual of reclamation. "The gros-bon-ange [soul of a person], as the repository of a man's history, his form and his force, the final resultant of his ability, intelligence and experience, is a precious accumulation. If, after his death, his descendants were able to provide this disembodied soul with some other means of manifestation to substitute for the flesh which perished, they could salvage this valuable legacy. One of the major Voudoun rituals is the ceremony of retirer d'en bas de l'eau, the reclamation of the soul of the deceased from the waters of the abyss, the world of les Invisibles [described as a vast body of water]." p. 27

Akito Van Troyer and Jason Freeman

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In LOLC, the musicians in the laptop orchestra use a live-coding language, developed specifically for this piece, to create and share rhythmic motives based on a collection of recorded sounds. The language encourages musicians to share their code with each other, developing an improvisational conversation over time as material is looped, borrowed, and transformed. LOLC is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation as part of a larger research project on musical improvisation in performance and education (NSF CreativeIT #0855758). Special thanks to Jeff Snyder, Dan Trueman, and PLOrk for all of their work in putting this performance together.

7. Melancholy Science
Van Stiefel

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Melancholy Science explores representations of control and freedom given a soloist-orchestra model in which an improvising soloist can turn "off" or "on" a certain control over the voice of a group as well as a virtual version of itself (since the soloist also controls a laptop). The group, nevertheless, through its sheer number and sonic presence remains the determining factor terms of the overall context--it remains something like a chorus judging the actions of a flawed hero.

8. Äntligen
N. Cameron Britt

featuring Anders Åstrand, vibraphone

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Äntligen is conceived both as a vehicle to showcase the talents of Swedish vibraphone virtuoso Anders Åstrand and as a framework to engage the laptop performers' musicality. The laptop instruments respond to and augment the acoustic sounds created by the laptop performers providing a sonic environment for Åstrand's improvised solo part. The form of the piece is fairly loose, giving the soloist and laptop ensemble time and space to explore the various textures at their own pace. I'm very excited to be collaborating with my dear friend and mentor Anders Åstrand again on this project. I'm equally excited that the PLOrkers have this opportunity to work with him. The title of the piece means "at last" in Swedish.

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