|GlassyGranite by Dan Senn
A Description of an Ableton Live Set for live improvisation and performance
GlassyGranite2.0 is constructed from an 8-octave soundfont comprised of recordings made of a glass ashtray making contact with a piece of granite as shown in the photo to the left. The recordings were made at Waterhouse Studio in Watertown, WI, in 2013, using the articles depicted in the photo to the left which had just arrived from our home in Sydney, Australia. The granite was cut from leftover kitchen counter material from another home in Canberra, since been razed for asbestos contamination. The ashtray, a really good one, is now used to burn incense. Irrelevant but interesting facts, aye?!
Improvisation using this Set: Narcissist's Camp (8:30)
GG2.0 is most effective as a live performance instrument using the LaunchPad Pro in the Note Mode adjusted to a chromatic scale. In the green column titled "Full", the soundfont containing original samples may be sounded when triggerd. In the two medium blue columns to the right, about 3/4ths of the file is available within all 8 octaves (the first 1/4 is jumped over/edited out). In the next two sky blue columns, approximatedly half the file is jumped over and in the final steel blue columns, about 3/4ths of the file is jumped over. Therefore, when the same MIDI file is played over any of these variations in the original soundfont, the start point will be different yielding a related but distinctly different outcome. Also, beside the velocity of the MIDI note controlling volume, the duration of the note will drastically effect the sound. For example, using the full file version of the font with very short/staccato durations wll sound only the beginning of the file. Therefore, the duration in which a note is pressed, as well as the velocity, can turned this 8-octave sound font into a very versatile and powerful performance instrument which is build on "creative samples." (I draw a distinction between "creative sampling" and, say, that of a piano keyboard which has been designed for conformity over its pitch range and therefore impinges less on the performance results.)
Within GG2.0 I have included various pre-performed MIDI files which were realized using a traditional keyboard instrument. The white colored buttons throughout the instrument represent one 6'15" improvisation which covers the entire range of the instrument. The white buttons with "Or" or "O" refer to the original sequence live sequence. The white bottons with "R" refer to the same file reversed. "I" denotes an inversion of the original and "RI" and as a reversed-inversion. The first leftmost 8 columns of this the GG2.0 Set places the same file atop each of 4 versions of the soundfont explained above as means of extracting results already explained. These can be use as standalone works for live performance, as accompaniment to live interactions with any one of the soundfont versions, or recombined with other variation.
The purpose of placing the same file, for example, in column one and two, with the only apparent difference being that one is routed to the front speakers and two to the rear is that something very complex and nuanced can be realized while using 4 distinct, discrete playback channels. (A similar, though not so spatially powerful, can be realized using on channel going to a dry stereo output and a second going to a wet stereo output.) The instrument has been setup to randomly distribute sounds upon each trigger to a new point within the stereo field. If both white files, for example, in position 1,1 and 1,2 are triggered at the same time, each will be placed (except in rare instances) in discretely different positions within the stereo field either the front or back speakers. Because the events are sound at the same time, their location will be percieved at an interpolated point. For example, if the sound is placed in the far left side in the front speaker and far right speaker in the rear speaker, the sound will be percieved as occuring in the center of the performance space, perhaps, slightly attenuated. In this way, by using this simple set up, sounds will seem to be dancing throughout the performance space, an effect which is only enhanced with various degree of reverberation if added to the mix.
In the columns to the far right are audio files. The only white file button in this area will play a 6'15" stereo piece that I have called "Three Quarters Inn" (accompanied live) made using the "O" version of the white MIDI files in columns 7-8 (this is a stereo version). The other files include a squeaky door performance at the Canberra School of Music made in 1984; recordings of crickets after a rain storm in Canberra in about 1982 at 11 Wise Street outside a double brick house which has been since razed due to pure greed; cicadas recorded near Goulburn, Australia in about 1981; and then some geese, many actually, making a racket on the Rock River in Watertown, WI in 2015 just below a shopping mall, the concrete floor for which I assisted in forming and pouring in 1969 as I raised money to go to university. I still sport a 3" scar on my right fore arm caused by a runaway and curling piece of 6" rusty mesh which had been released by mistake by a co-worker. "Better your arm than your eye" my good mother said. Irrelevant but interesting facts, aye?!
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