about 2001 I have been working with the object-oriented program
MaxMSP. I have been using this application primarily to build
interfaces for live, interactive music and improvisation. I
have also been utilizing MaxMSP to teach the basics of digital
audio to my students at Syracuse University.
I have composed 2 pieces that use MaxMSP as an interface for
linking a performer with a computer. In 2003 I composed Schism,
a series of three improvisatory pieces for saxophone and computer
(see the list of works link). In 2006,
I composed Shadowed, a piece for soprano saxophone
and computer, using a very similar interface, though this time
the saxophone music is completely written out, and the computer,
using MaxMSP, follows the saxophonist during the performance.
Next, I would like to incorporate more than one instrument and
computer. Future projects include a piece for saxophone quartet
(each instrument with a separate mic) and computer that is being
proposed to be premiered at a future North American Saxophone
is a series of improvisational works for saxophone and interactive
computer. The major difference between “Interplay”
and many traditional works that combine live instruments with
electronics is the fact that in these works the computer and
the performer interact with one another in real time. Each piece
consists of a collection of pitch materials and special effects
that the saxophonist improvises freely with. The computer reacts
to the saxophonist producing a series of sounds based on what
the saxophonist plays. The computer is also capable of creating
random elements throughout a work, thus allowing the saxophonist
to react to the computer. The interactive computer environment
is designed to maximize flexibility in performance to generate,
layer, and route musical material with the same improvisational
freedom that one might develop in a purely acoustic environment.
The technical setup for “inter-sax-tive” is relatively
simple. One needs a saxophone, a microphone, a computer capable
of running MAX/MSP, an audio interface with input and stereo
output, a MIDI foot controller, and a pair of speakers.
I recently purchased a pair of hemispherical speakers from Stephan
Moore. To find out more about these speakers, please go to his
Other performers who use similar speakers include Dan Trueman,
Curtis Bahn, and Steve Mackie (to name but a few).
Many of the sounds generated by the computer come directly from
digital signal processing algorithms that manipulate the live
sound from the saxophone. The saxophonist controls the sequence
of events during the improvisation via MIDI foot pedals as well
as from the saxophone itself. The saxophone sound (signal) is
sent directly into the computer, where pitch, amplitude, and
overtones are detected by the computer interface. Specified
orders of pitches and/or extended techniques then determine
the types of sounds that the computer will produce.
At the core of these pieces is the interface that I developed
using the MAX/MSP environment. This interface coordinates MIDI
continuous control messages from several foot pedals, as well
as raw signal data from the saxophone (pitch, amplitude, and
overtone detection) - mapping them into real-time performance
processes. The interface encompasses numerous palettes of sampled
sounds, interactive compositional and mixing algorithms, and
live digital signal processing algorithms for harmonization,
modulation, comb filtering, various delays, granular synthesis,
and physical modeling. Many of these digital signal processes
draw heavily on the PeRColate, a collection of MSP externals
by Dan Trueman and Luke DuBois, with additional credit to Miller
Puckette for his pitch and attack detection externals.
For information on past and future performance, please visit
the news section of this webpage.
for saxophone and interactive computer
-- excerpts --
improvisation that involves a variety of granular synthesis
techniques (utilizes Dan Trueman's munger~ object, with
a bunch of delayed effects)
bunch of chorus and flange effects applied in real-time
to a "slap-happy-sax"
accelerometer (X and Y axis) attached to the base of the
saxophone determines pitch and grain duration of a sampled
sound (granular synthesis)
page is a work in progress....
...more information, sound clips and pictures will be added
in the near future...