short ride in a fast chihuahua

Here’s a nice recording of Short Ride in a Fast Chihuhua, performed live (by a toy chihuahua) at the Qubit Machine Music festival in February.

And here’s a video of another performance (also recorded at Qubit).

Short Ride in a Fast Chihuahua from ranjit on Vimeo.

About Short Ride in a Fast Chihuahua:

My toy dog always barks 26 times in a row. I asked composers to contribute microscores for piano, each 26 beats long, to be synchronized to the chihuahua’s voice. Fifteen composers wrote about sixty scores, which were performed by the mechanical dog at the Qubit Machine Music festival at the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center in New York in February 2014.

Composers: Ranjit Bhatnagar, Jason Charney, RP Collier, Langdon Crawford, Christi Denton, Rachael Forsyth, Ben Houge, Lem Jay Ignacio, Bryan Jacobs, James Joslin, Ari Lacenski, Tony Marasco, Kala Pierson, Erik Satie (adapted by Ranjit Bhatnagar), Isaac Schankler, and Schuyler Thum.

qubit machine music this week in nyc

Machine Music is Qubit’s focal point of the 2014 season, highlighting the interstices of a variety of contemporary currents, including cutting-edge computer technologies, improvisatory instrumental practice and experimental sound installations.

This festival of music played by and with machines is coming to NYC this Wednesday through Friday, February 12-14. Come join us! All the details at qubitmusic.com/machine-music.html.

Last month I sent out a call for microscores, 26 beats long, to be played on Disklavier robot piano under the control of my little toy dog. I’ve received almost 40 scores for Short Ride in a Fast Chihuahua, and there’s still room for more, if you’d like to send some of your own. Kala Pierson explained the rules better than I ever did, here. Come to the Machine Music festival to see the chihuahua in action!

uncaged toy piano festival dec 12-14

The 2013 UnCaged Toy Piano Festival, organized by the brilliant toy pianist and composer Phyllis Chen, is coming to New York on December 12, 13 & 14. Visit uncagedtoypiano.org for all the details!

I’ll be participating in two of the three nights of the festival: On Thursday the 12th, Margaret Leng Tan and I will present the first public performance on Speak-and-Play, a new instrument, with selections from John Cage’s Indeterminacy. On Saturday the 14th, my toy piano robot Vexbot will continue its important work of playing Satie’s Vexations over and over so that human pianists don’t have to.

Selections from Indeterminacy by John Cage
Adapted for Speak-and-Play by Margaret Leng Tan and Ranjit Bhatnagar

Margaret Leng Tan: Speak-and-Play, vocals
Ranjit Bhatnagar: Sound objects, vocals

Speak-and-Play is a musical instrument created by Ranjit Bhatnagar which turns language into music and music into language. Each key on the keyboard corresponds to one of 40 fundamental sounds in the English language. A computer program converts English text into a piano score which can then be played to speak the original text which generated it. The same score can also be interpreted as melody, giving every word and phrase its own unique note pattern. With practice, a pianist can say anything in English entirely through the Speak-and-Play keyboard.

We will perform five selections from John Cage’s Indeterminacy. Each is an anecdote intended to be read in exactly one minute, along with auxilliary sounds and an unspecified musical accompaniment. For this Indeterminacy performance, Cage’s words will at times be heard through Speak-and-Play along with the music that encodes the language; at other times, just the music generated by the text will accompany the live human narration.

Here’s a video showing how Speak-and-Play works:

Still Space at Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center


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My new sound installation Still Space (video) opened Friday September 14th at the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. It was commissioned for the Asian American Arts Alliance’s Locating the Sacred Festival.

Still Space is part of the festival exhibition The Space Within. You can see it daily between 3:30 and 7pm until Sunday, September 23.

Update: Steven Speliotis made this nice video of the installation: vimeo.com/49657504

MoMA John Cage Day this Thursday

This Thursday, August 9th, is John Cage Day at the Museum of Modern Art. Lots of great stuff going on – all the info is here: http://www.moma.org/visit/calendar/events/15360

My toy piano robot will be playing Satie’s Vexations throughout the day, trying to reach 840 repetitions. Here’s a teaser video:


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I hope you can come to John Cage Day!

Other stuff: My sound sculpture for the BWAC Outdoor Sculpture Show is up at East River State Park for another month or so. Here’s a video:

Coming up in September: a sound installation at the Asian American Artists Alliance festival. No video yet, maybe soon…

(mailing list archive) Spring update

Things are happening!

* My robot toy piano has a couple of gigs coming up:

This coming Wednesday, June 6, at Roulette in Brooklyn:
SATIEfaction!
Satie and Satie-inspired music from John Cage, Federico Mompou, Toby Twining and Milos Raickovich
Margaret Leng Tan, piano and toy piano
Roberto Rossi, narrator
Ranjit Bhatnagar, sound artist
http://roulette.org/events/margaret-leng-tan-6/

And then on Thursday, August 9, at the Museum of Modern Art’s John Cage Day:
Celebrate the centenary of legendary artist, composer, philosopher, and writer John Cage with a series of readings, performances, musical compositions, and personal reflections by poets, writers, musicians, and scholars. Participants include writer and editor Richard Kostelantez; Joan Retallack, John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Professor of Humanities, Bard College; pianist and toy-piano virtuoso Margaret Leng Tan; and poet, editor, and curator Roger van Voorhees.
http://www.moma.org/visit/calendar/events/15360

* The Music Box, the sound sculpture shantytown I worked on in New Orleans last year, is open to visitors again this summer, and the final performances there are happening soon. If you’re going to be in New Orleans, check it out: http://www.dithyrambalina.com

* My wind-powered sound sculpture, “Trumpet Marine”, will be hanging out in Williamsburg’s East River Park this summer as part of BWAC’s Outdoor Sculpture Show, probably starting in July. More on that soon! Meanwhile, here’s a video of the thing at the Figment Festival last year: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ranjit/5840234686/

* I made a little algorithm that uses Twitter’s Streaming API to read millions of tweets per day (about 500 per second!) in search of the tiny fraction that happen to be in iambic pentameter. Out of those, it selects rhymed couplets and retweets them in an endless crowdsourced sonnet. You can follow it at http://twitter.com/pentametron and http://pentametron.com
Pentametron got some nice coverage from the Poetry Foundation -
http://www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet/2012/04/some-conceptual-literature-on-twitter/
http://www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet/2012/05/algorithm-turns-tweets-into-poetry/
And this interview in Gawker explains how it works: http://gawker.com/pentametron/
It even got a tweet from the Globe Theater! https://twitter.com/The_Globe/status/202377080820871168

* In September I’ll have an installation in the Asian American Arts Alliance’s “Locating the Sacred” Festival, and I’ll be doing a residency at Albuquerque Open Space as part of the ISEA electronic arts festival.

* …and I discovered that Electric Violin Lutherie has created a real violin inspired by my amateur 8-bit violin. That’s the kind of thing that makes me love open source design. http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:23103

(mailing list archive) toy piano fest tomorrow — and more

Tomorrow is the first day of the Uncaged Toy Piano Festival, organized and curated by Phyllis Chen. I don’t know how I can share a stage with heroes of toy piano like Phyllis and Margaret Leng Tan, but I’ll be doing a few pieces with toy player pianos that I developed at the Queens Museum Sound Art Residency this summer. I’ll also be bringing my robot toy piano to perform Satie’s “Vexations“, and demoing the Resistor JelTone, a working toy piano made of Jello. The festival runs tomorrow (Tuesday 11/29), Thursday (12/1) and Saturday (12/3) at three different venues in Manhattan, and you can get all the details at uncagedtoypiano.org.

In a week or so I’ll be going back to New Orleans to see a performance at the sound sculpture shantytown I worked on in September. The New Orleans Airlift brought a bunch of artists to build a little village of musical instruments out of the wreckage of an 18th century house, and invited local musicians to perform with/on/in them! There’s a teaser video from the first performance — you can hear & see my piece, a set of amplified squeaky floorboards, providing the bass line starting at about 1:22. The project was covered in the New York Times last week, and you can read all about it at dithyrambalina.com. Next week will be my first chance to hear and see the completed shantytown!

In October I set up a show of my greenmarket scanography images at the Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Library at Grand Army Plaza, along with two amazing photographers in the (Un)Still Life exhibit. There’s just one week left before the show comes down after this weekend, so please visit if you’re in Brooklyn. I had some of my images printed huge for the first time – more than 5 feet tall for one of them! And I had fun putting together a grid of almost 200 little tiny prints – check out the installation timelapse. By the way, all the prints are for sale, and a portion goes to benefit the library.

…and then I went to Europe, to talk about my work at VU Amsterdam’s lecture series with the Metamatic Research Initiative, and to show a piece I made for Artbots in Gent, Belgium. I haven’t really had time to collect my thoughts – or my photos – since I got back, but you can see a recording of my talk at metamaticresearch.info, and I have a silly video demonstrating the Voice Extruder, an installation which translates visitors’ voices into little sculptures, which are immediately fabricated for the visitor to take home. The Voice Extruder is an offshoot of my work for Metamatic, about which I’ll have much more to say soon! The day after I got back from Europe, I took the Voice Extruder to Baltimore for the Exploratorium’s Tinkerers’ Ball.

And what are you up to? Keep in touch!

* shantytown photo by Mellissa Strkyer — see lots more photos from the New Orleans project at the dithyrambalina blog.