Things That

for electric double-bass, MIDI percussion and computer




Detailed Description

Things That Don't Belong In Houses is a four-movement work exploring the use of computer technology to expand the performance capabilities of MIDI percussion and electronic double-bass. The composer's interactive computer program, FollowPlay, is used to coordinate the computer with the two musicians. During Things That Don't Belong In Houses, the program "listens” to the music played by the percussionist, detecting tempo, dynamics, and large musical gestures. Through phrasing and other musical gestures, then, the percussionist directly influences the music produced by the computer,  no two performances are alike. Digital technology is also used to develop musical material played by the bass through the use of two signal processors that produce digital delays, transpositions and other effects. Thus, the range of possible outcomes for every performance of Things That Don't Belong In Houses changes subtly according to the expressive interpretation of the performers.

The first movement is a set of variations influenced by the great tradition of American drum set solo playing and its roots in African drumming. The MIDI drum set is comprised of sixteen pads that communicate directly to the computer. Sometimes, these pads trigger typical samples of drums sounds, while at other times, the MIDI drums are transformed into melodic instruments, triggering synthesizer sounds. The quiet second movement is in two parts, beginning with a highly decorated melody played on a MIDI mallet instrument, and ending with a two-part bass solo, with long notes suspended by a signal processor, and sparse accompanied by the computer. The short third movement features a semi-improvisational call and response, with solos traded off between the drums, computer and bass. The computer records the percussionist's phrases, playing back melodies generated with the same rhythm and tempo “captured” from the performer. The bass also imitates the drum rhythms. The last movement begins with material related to the second and third movements, emphasizing drumming and the melodies which the computer creates from the drum patterns.

Things That Don't Belong In Houses was written and performed by the group Basso Bongo: Amy Knoles, percussion, and Robert Black, bass.