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.
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!
My little toy piano robot survived about 20 straight hours of playing “Vexations” (see previous coverage). Though I did find a few retaining nuts in the bottom of the case that had been shaken loose by all the vexing. You can see & hear an excerpt from the performance on ustream.
I spent a few hours listening to the audio streams from both the robot performance and the human Vexations marathon in Seattle. It was kind of eerie and kind of comforting. What was it like? Like this: [19 minute mp3]
The human and robot performances were mentioned in Seattle’s weekly, The Stranger, here and here.
“In order to play the theme 840 times in succession, it would be advisable to prepare oneself beforehand, and in the deepest silence, by serious immobilities.”
In the 1890s, Erik Satie wrote a very short piece called Vexations, with a note suggesting that it should be played 840 times in a row. That’s a challenge, right? Jack Straw Productions in Seattle is putting on a Vexations marathon this weekend, starting Saturday at 4pm Pacific time, with more than 30 pianists playing non-stop through the night until they reach #840, and you can listen in on Hollow Earth Radio. It’s a great idea, but we have machines to do our dirty work for us, so the robot toy piano is going to play Vexations at NYC Resistor 840 times, or until it falls apart. It’ll start at 7PM (Eastern time) this Saturday, and you can watch and listen online, or in person on Saturday at the Halfway-to-Halloween Party, or on Sunday at the Vexations Meetup & Jam Session.
Yes, on Sunday (May 16) from 3-6PM, join other music nerds to jam along to Vexations until your head explodes, or we reach #840, whichever comes first. Bring instruments if you want. (Bring your own 1/4″ cables, if your instrument is electronic. Inputs are limited so if you can bring a small mixer to share, that would help!) Feel free to bring vexing drinks or snacks to share. NYC Resistor is at 87 3rd Avenue, 4th Floor, in Brooklyn.
As long as you’re in the neighborhood on Sunday, consider going to Share at ISSUE Project Room (3rd Av & 3rd St), a weekly open jam session for experimental music! When we get sick of Vexations, we’ll take a dinner break and head over there.
Here’s an excerpt from last night’s performance of Zachary James Watkins’ composition “Moveable” for augmented piano. (I built the piano-tickling monster for this performance.) This is just a low quality recording – a much better one will be available later. The full piece is about 75 minutes long; the excerpt is 8 minutes.