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WEBLOG | Featured Work: Petals for solo e-cello and real-time effects by Kaija Saariaho. >>
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Featured Work: Shadows & Light for solo e-cello and real-time effects by Ken Steen.
There are many creative ways to broaden the use of amplification and digital effects in performance. Performers and composers can use electronics traditionally meant for the recording studio in new expressive ways. Real-time effects add a new dimension to performance greatly expanding composition and the sound of the instrument by enabling the performer to change the sound gradually over time with a pedal. For example, modulating a digital effect such as reverb in real-time gives the illusion that the performer is expanding and contracting the acoustical space. An illusion such as this makes the repertoire for the instrument absolutely idiomatic and non-transferable.
A work which incorporates the expansion and contraction of acoustical space into performance is Shadows & Light (1989) by Ken Steen. The work was conceived as an artistic response to the AIDS epidemic and was among my first collaborations for the instrument (see artist statement page for more information). The score has instructions with settings that are simply programmed into a multi-effects processor such as an Alesis Quadraverb. The performer must control the percentage of reverb and dry signal of the instrument with two separate MIDI pedals as the work progresses. The pedals are notated directly under the musical staff in the cello part adding an additional integral layer of expressivity.
Now there is digital audio software such as MAX/MSP by Cycling ‘74 that eliminates the need for bulky multi-effects processor hardware. A computer and digital audio interface is necessary. A computer patch is created embedded with effects plugins that can be modulated with MIDI pedals. The MIDI pedals modulate the reverb mix and the direct signal of the instrument. I am currently testing MIDI processors made by MIDI Solutions, Inc. which allow a volume pedal such as the Yamaha FC-7 to be converted to MIDI. Two pedals can be daisy chained and connected to the MIDI in and out of the digital audio interface. This is a very elegant and powerful set-up and makes travel very light.
The following is how a patch might look in MAX/MSP.
Cycling ‘74 MAX/MSP software patches are available from Jeffrey Krieger at firstname.lastname@example.org
Music published by Ken Steen email@example.com
Recorded by CRI NIGHT CHAINS CD 680 (currently not available)
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