hardware:   Apple MacBook Pro, Steinway piano
software:   Apple Logic Pro X, RTcmix, Max/MSP

George Lewis asked me to present some of my recent work to our weekly graduate composition seminar at Columbia. I was scheduled for the end of November, right after the Thanksgiving break. I wanted to contextualize my work with a discussion of "process", or "processing" and how it represented a different approach to the doing of music than was normally discussed in the seminar.

I thought a good way to show what I meant was to show the development of a particular processing technique, and how it played into my compositional work. I've always loved the 'after-resonance' in a piano; the sound of it after the initial hammer-strike on the strings. I built a small DSP patch that essentially damped the ampitude at the hammer strike, and then faded up to capture that resonance. I added a bit of delays and other processing, using the my laptop as an improvisational system (like I do with the PGT work).

I tried it out three different times before my talk, knowing that I would only have about 5 minutes to set up in the seminar room. Even with the trial runs, the class-version was a little rough. It's not too bad, though, just a touch of feedback and distortion in a few places. Hey, it was meant to be!

My talk itself took a very expansive view of 'processing', getting into some areas of social and cultural activism that I haven't talked about much in the past decade or so. Now is the time, again, though.

Oh, one thing. The "Just-For" in the individual piece titles came from a dictaphone tape of Vladimir Ussachevsky we found in the CMC archives. He was brainstorming about names for what became the Electronic Music Center. The opening line was: "Just for the purposes of playing around..." followed by a range of different possible names. Some were very entertaining.

These pieces were all improvised, live.