4GamLycon, Ableton Live Set by Dan Senn for live performance
HeavyRail2.2 by Dan Senn
A description of an Ableton Live Set for live improvisation and performance.
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HeavyRail2.2 is constructed from the sounds of a sculptural instrument of mine called a Too Flutter (assembly data), a variation on the Flutter Harp which I made in 1990 while teaching at Ball State University in Muncie, IN. I toured throughout the US and Europe with this and other instruments from the late 80's through the 90s and in 2008 I recorded the Too Flutter, stem-by-stem, at my Waterhouse Studio in Beaverton, OR, constructing an 8 octave soundfont. Using this recording, in 2008-9, I wrote "Mass for Heavy Rail" for prerecorded Too Flutter and SSAATTBB choir which was performed in  part at Marshall University in West Virginia in 2014.

The sounds for the Too Flutter are generated using groups of metal washers, aka "moths," dropped down threaded rods when the performer releases a paper clip clamp holding groups of moths, 1-4m using long nylon lines. As the moths spin down the rails of the threaded rod, "fluttering like moths," they produce sounds colored by metal resonators attached at three points in each stem. These are each miked using an embedded piezo contact microphone, 1 for each of the 12 stems . Rhythms are produced by rods which are twisted either clockwise (produces rhythms as the moths jump rails) or counterclockwise (causes moths to skid around the curve before catching the rail again). Live performances are especially effective because of the rich sounds generated and the beauty of the falling moths. Image to the left is from a related instrument operated using a pine dowel system. Click to enlarge.

The Ableton Live Set above is comprised of two variations on the original soundfont, and then a second starting about half way into the original sound file, slightly detuned, and initiated with a brief crescendo. It also includes pre-performance MIDI files, all of the sound track files from the Mass for Heavy Rail, and then open MIDI columns for live soundfont performance using the LaunchPad Pro. This set, as presented above is arranged for 4-channel playbackx.

Stereo sound example: Mass for Heavy Rail
NOTE: Use headphones or an external sound system to listen to this piece.

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