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Manifold Voices live at ISSUE Project Room

2009 May 5
by Tedb0t

Last Tuesday at ISSUE Project Room I performed a new experimental music piece titled “Manifold Voices:”

Thanks so much to my players: Jessie Shaffer, Henry Bigelow, and Matt Boyle.  Read on for lots more information on the piece.

“Manifold Voices” is a musical work for violins and function generators. The function generators—electronic lab equipment for generating simple signals—utilize a graphic score that Matt and I interpreted live.  Here are the first three pages:

manifold-voices-p1_web manifold-voices-p2_web manifold-voices-p3_web

The score for the function generators consists of a curve denoting amplitude over time. Pitches are indicated numerically in Hertz, and occasionally arrows indicate glissandi. As you can see, it was continuously revised during rehearsals.  The function generators drove two independent speakers, which were mic’d and run into guitar pedals (an Akai Headrush and a multi-effects bank, respectively), then into Ableton Live on a laptop for delay and reverb, and then into the house mixer.

“Manifold Voices” grew out of two intersecting developments: drone music I had been working on with the function generators (the technological side) and research in musical tuning systems (the theoretical side).  Since the function generators afford the use of specific frequency values, I decided to attempt to write this piece using a Pythagorean tuning system, where the fifth interval is a perfect 3/2 harmonic ratio.  Toward this end I developed a simple PureData patch to automatically generate the frequency values for the diatonic scale.  The violins were tuned down to match note values derived from a fundamental frequency of 250hz.  More details to come…

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