Digital Labor

"In C" Performance

Sun, November 16
12:00 PM - 12:30 PM
Wollman Hall (500)
65 W 11th St., 5th Floor


Musical Performance

InC Performance
“In C” is a landmark composition – it and works by Steve Reich and LaMonte Young basically invented Minimalist music. “In C” consists of 53 short repeating melodies played by 11 to 35 performers and one eighth note pulse. Written by Terry Riley in 1964, 2014 is the 50th anniversary of this piece. I have contacted Terry Riley and he has given me his blessing and support. I have designed software (written by Matt Ingalls) that will allow a user to perform all 11 parts at once, as well as control their pitch center, volume, and tempo. The timbre would be controlled using synthesizers via MIDI, but the software has a built in set of General MIDI tones. By using this software to control the speed, volume, and timbre of multiple virtual instruments, I can do the work of a large ensemble, and be able to push the limits of the piece – I can do things in an improvisational manner than no ensemble could hope to accomplish. (for example, I could have all my “instruments” decelerando in perfect unison and then stop/start perfectly at different volumes, in unison…this could be done with significant rehearsal, but not in as an improvisation and certainly not with this level of precision.) In using the software as a MIDI generator, I divorced the note data of In C from its timbres. A melody could turn into a drum beat or a jack hammer, or a flute or any set of sounds. This would command both minimalist compositional practice and my own texturalist audio practice into a single object. As the app is downloadable free of charge at the iTunes App Store, it could be performed by anyone with an iOS device; thusly democratizing the music. Riley concluded his liner notes for A Rainbow in Curved Air with “The concept of work was forgotten.” As a free concert of free software, I am contributing to the commons of the conference, as a gift – for a moment, the concept of work is forgotten.