Sunday, 18 January 2009

Rehearsals comments

I think now is time to cover all that happened since the last time I wrote in this blogg.
Few things from the last update:

1. I had to decide about the artistic outcome of the project since my previous idea (about the audience interaction) did not work.
2. Problems with the performers or to be more precise, I didn’t know if they would show up since I had never worked with any of them in the past to know them and trust them.
3. The piece needed to be polished and ready for the performance

Since the last update 8/12/08 I had 3 rehearsals and the performance on the 6th of January. The three rehearsal was at the 16th and 20th of December and on the 5th of January.
I will start with describing what happened in the rehearsals:

16 December 08-Rehearsal 1 14:00-17:00

This rehearsal, as the other two and the performance, happened in the recital hall at Birmingham conservatoire. I had only three hours on my disposal so I thought that the best rehearsal would be to test if all the equipment works without the performers. We took all the equipment (me and Julia) laptops, soundcards, cables and more cables and tried to put everything together. Julia is the other MA student that she had a film installation performance on that day, 6th January 2009. After three hours and with a lot of help from the conservatoire technician (Matthew O'Malley) everything worked. The 8-channel setup was ready. I had to write down most of the setup configurations (cables, soundcards inputs outputs etc) because we had to unplug everything by the end of the rehearsal. This rehearsal was very important to found out if the technology works and any possible problems.

20 December 08- Rehearsal 2 10:00 -16:00

That day only the saxophone player came and that made me worried more about the other performers. After setting up again all the equipment I had to make sure that everything works. Even though I had done the same thing few days earlier I had still a few things that did not worked as planed. I was though confident because everything had worked the first time, and I had plenty of time to found out how. Again this rehearsal was more about testing the equipment rather a piece rehearsal. What I have gain from all this, is that technology and equipment need to be performed without the performers in advance. I believe this is something that electronic composers and performers start now to realise (at least I did).
Since the piece was not even close to any traditional performance I knew that writing down (on paper, notes) the whole performance would not worked. The 4 Wii players had to move in the three-dimensional axis, in space, and push different buttons on the Wii. For that reason I tried to approach this composition with a different technique. Instead of writing what they had to do, I saw what they could do and then wrote it down on paper.
At the rehearsal I had worked the way the saxophone and the Wii remote could work as one. What I did eventually was to allow the Wii remote to manipulate the sounds of the saxophone by controlling the amount of different effects (from Abelton Live) through the Wii remote. After knowing what the saxophonist could do I wrote a twelve bar melody in 3 different keys. The saxophone player could choose to play for any number of times any of the twelve bars. The Wii performer had all the twelve bars(sound files) pre-recorded and stored in advance so that he could recall randomly any of them. There are more details that I am not going discuss now.

5th January 09_Rehearsal 3 10:00- 17:00

The same process was done in this rehearsal as well. Set up everything, make sure that everything works and finish the composition. All the performers finally showed up ☺. I had to explain them what I have done in Max and how it worked with the Wii remote. I tried to do this as simple as possible for the reason I explained above, if it was too complicated then the performers could not play with it. Since the Wii remote is a new instrument that you can control and manipulate sound, I had to approach it in a way that could feel right and logical from the first time. Same thing happened with the actual Wii remote for gamming; it felt right from the very beginning. The piece was actually composed on that rehearsal, the setup, the sections, and everything else was decided with the performers at that day. For example the idea of the 3 performers sitting in the audience and then coming on stage was decided because the performers were very interested in doing this. Bass and saxophone player decided what they wanted to do as a group, change of keys, tempo etc. Finally this was the idea from the very begging, how group see themselves in other groups and other individuals in a group.

I had 7 groups.

1. The bass player
2. The Sax and the Wii that controls the sax sound
3. 1 and 2 together
4. The 3 Wii players
5. The Sax Wii and the 3 other Wii players
6. 1, 2, 4 together
7. 1, 2, 4 and me the Conductor

I can go further by saying that also the audience form a group since the 3 Wii performers were sitting in the audience.
I will post soon some picture and videos form the rehearsals. I will also comment of the actual performance soon.

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