At our house, I invited a few friends over (several from far-flung places loke Wisconsin and Colorado) for a folk/laptop "supergroup":
Technical Description: My performance with "PGTGTr" at the Roosevelt event uses an approach probably best described as 'process improvisation'. Much of my work with digital machines and music has involved manipulation of algorithmic music-creating processes. Basically I'm a lazy guy, and letting the computer do my musical work for me is a very attractive way for me to "compose" or "perform". I use a music language called RTcmix to build and manipulate sets of these musical algorithms. The language is imbedded inside max/msp, as this gives me easy access to real-time control and signal-processing capabilities that don't exist in other environments. My performance patch consists of about 50 discrete [rtcmix~] objects loaded with different algorithmic scripts I have written, some with sliders or number-boxes attached to alter the RTcmix script parameters. Often I edit the scripts to modify them while performing. I guess the trendy way to describe this is a type of 'live-coding', but I tend to think of it as more involved with overall musical trajectories instead of the just-in-time crafting of individual sound objects typically associated with live-coding. My contribution to the music is to bend and steer unfolding sonic processes in response to the sounds I hear. I also take audio inputs from the acoustic performers in the group -- at the Roosevelt event it was Terry Pender's mandolin and Dan Trueman's hardanger fiddle -- and route them through various plugins and RTcmix processing. I generally use a program like Digital Performer or Logic to mix all the signals together before sending out a stereo feed to the main PA system. Although I have a few keyboard-multisliders augmenting my [rtcmix~] objects, I don't use any external controllers for performing. After years of lugging around various DEC, SGI, Sun, NeXT computers (with heavy monitors!), I made a conscious decision to go with as minimal a set-up as possible. Everything I do runs entirely on my MacBook laptop. Commentary on the Afternoon: The Roosevelt event was particularly special to me. First of all, Roosevelt is where we (my family) live, and the town's unique character and history make it an appealing place to engage community/artistic events. I've also been a long-time advocate for re-imagining how our work as composers can situate itself in society (one of my more widely-read youthful polemics was titled "Why I Hate Concerts"). The "house tour/sound installations" afternoon was a perfect example of how an expanded concept of artistic presentation can make for a genuinely wonderful experience. By pairing artists with homeowners in town, we were able to promote a collaborative creative ethos that endowed the entire show with a profound feeling of sharing and fun. I often get discouraged with the all-too-facile acceptance of standard paradigms for presenting and performing music (and thereby defining creative success), especially among younger composers. The Roosevelt event reminded me how terrific an alternative approach to musical presentation can be. And within this alternative context, the chance to make music I really enjoy with good friends and musicians I truly respect and admire -- heck, right in my own back yard! -- well, this is what life should be.