PLOrk : Listen!

PLOrk: Live at Richardson Auditorium
with special guests
Zakir Hussain, Pauline Oliveros, and So Percussion
Richardson Auditorium, Princeton University

p r o g r a m - n o t e s

1. In/Still
Curtis Bahn and Tomie Hahn

listen: mp3 | stream | quicktime

Connected, how do we continue?
Playful encounters of movement, sound, and gaze
instill a flow between us.

2. Idle Swamp
Brad Garton

listen: mp3 | stream

When Dan Trueman approached me to write a piece for the Laptop Orchestra, I saw an opportunity to accomplish two things at once (oh, the productivity increase!). The first was to have fun imagining what could be done with this kind of ensemble. I chose as a model one of my favorite listening experiences: sitting on the back porch enjoying the symphony of summer frogs and insects that inhabit central New Jersey.

The second was to honor one of those 'important people' in my life. Paul Lansky was my teacher during graduate studies at Princeton in the 1980s, and he has been a true mentor ever since. Two years ago Paul celebrated his 60th birthday. Being the astounding procrastinator that I am, it has taken until now for me to produce something to contribute to the festivities. To generate the sounds in the piece, I am using a digital synthesis technique called "LPC"; Paul pioneered the musical use of this technique. In dedicating "Idle Swamp" to Paul, I also figured it gave me free license to ransack his music and steal ideas, especially from his landmark piece "Idle Chatter" -- hence the name of my piece. I hope you enjoy listening as much as I did creating the music, and Happy [belated] Birthday, Paul!

3. Sound Scatter
Pauline Oliveros, Scott Smallwood, and Seth Cluett

listen: mp3 | stream

In Sound Scatter, Pauline Oliveros performs with her accordion through her system of multiple echoes. These signals are sent throughout the laptop orchestra, where performers capture her sound and further process the signals, grabbing pitches, pieces, rhythms, and sculpting it into a mixture of icy drones and sparkles.

4. More Specific Gamelan Djembe Fusion
Perry Cook and Ge Wang

listen: mp3 | stream | quicktime

This piece is an experiment in human controlled, but machine synchronized percussion ensemble performance. Various percussive sounds are temporally positioned by PLOrk members, and the piece gradually transitions from tuned bell timbres to drums as the texture and density grows. Actual drums and bells compliment the machine controlled percussion sounds.

5. A Guy Walks into a Modal Bar
Paul Lansky

listen: mvt. 1-2 (stream) | mvt. 3 (stream)

"A Guy Walks Into a Modal Bar" is a set of short textural and procedural studies. (The Modal Bar bit refers to the use of Perry Cook's Modal Bar physical model for some of the sounds). At the time of this writing we are working on four movements: Farben Fantasie is based on a famous chord progression; Chris' Chords is based on a chord progression by Chris Douthitt; and Slick Space Odyssey is sci-fi-city. (We may or may not play all of these movements on the concert). We are only using five machines for this piece, because we wouldn't know what to do with ten more...

6. On The Floor
Scott Smallwood

listen: mp3 | stream

On the Floor is a piece whose sound is a side-effect of the process of turning the ensemble into a group of individual gamers. The first in a series of pieces to explore gaming and individual representations of similar sounds, this piece recreates the soundscape of a casino. Written entirely in ChucK, each instrument is a virtual slot machine. Each player begins with a certain number of credits, and simply plays the game until he or she is out of money. The program emulates the sound of a slot machine, but after a threshold is reached, the sound world changes, becoming more abstract. So, as players begin to lose money, the soundscape changes from being a specific place to being a sonic abstraction of that space. Strategies exist for staying in the game longer by betting more or less credits. If more credits are bet each round, the odds are slightly less, but the payoff can be much more. The conductor has the ability to monitor the group, and to affect the odds of any specific player. In this way, the conductor may extend or shorten the length of the piece by keeping tabs on players who are winning or losing too much.

7. PLahara
Dan Trueman, with Zakir Hussain and So Percussion

listen: basic laraha | more laraha | Zakir + So | rockin' out
stream: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

In North-Indian classical music, the lahara is a tune that is repeated over and over again, providing a time framework for percussionists to perform within. The lahara is typically played by a single melody instrument. In PLahara, the tune is introduced by such an instrument (the Norwegian Hardanger fiddle, performed by Dan) and then taken over by the Laptop Orchestra. PLOrk also at times assumes the traditional role of the drone, a role that itself gets swept up unto the lahara. The percussion soloists, rather than all playing "real" percussion instruments, take the virtuosic playing of Ustad Zakir Hussain into their laptops, delaying, filtering and transposing his playing in their own percussive manner. PLahara is an improvisational, open-form piece.

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