Last April I had a chance play at the Flute Festival of Krakow’s Academy of Music, organized by the wonderful Wiesiek Suruło. There I premiered a piece of my own, and had the added bonus of sharing the stage with stellar flutists like Wiesiek, Anna Garzuly-Wahlgren and Sarah Louvion.
I want to tell a little about this new piece, Thunder and Lightning, because it was an experiment in graphic notation for improvisers that actually worked. Plug a laptop or tablet into a sound system and the score and visual information of the soundtrack scroll by as the soundtrack plays. You can play along with a video format such as mp4 or run it from the free, cross-platform software I will tell you about. It’s mega-simple and you can get great coordination with the soundtrack. If you are interested in performing this work (it doesn’t have to be on piccolo), let me know, and I can send you a video score with which you can perform. And if you are interested in collaborating with me on a new piece with this notational format, I would welcome the opportunity!
Since the summer of 2016 I have been experimenting with electronics in order to create an extension of my own improvisation practice. As I am not adept (yet) at live processing, I have been focusing on fixed media (soundtracks). It is also a goal of mine to generate easily-accessible works with electronics for players who want an easy set-up and have little or no technical support.
How to coordinate music with soundtracks has been a topic that our ensemble has struggled with since day one. (You can read some of my insights on that topic here.) Even if you are improvising, it really helps to know what is ahead of you on the soundtrack. I considered playing with the scrolling spectrograph available through Audacity, but that program doesn’t have the capability to add graphics. So when I came across the acousmographe, I knew I had found something with potential for performers. Since it was created for analyzing the spectra of electronic sounds, there are extended graphic possibilities.
However, the graphics I used in Thunder and Lightning are bare-bones. I could have gone to town with musical staves and added fingerings to create a very elegant looking score, but decided to keep it simple for the first trial. Besides, the piece is improvised, so I wanted to keep it as free as possible. But you can find suggested melodic material and the multiphonic fingerings I used as well as the links and instructions for the software here (if you need it):