THE HUB is a computer music band whose members are all designers and builders of their own hardware and software instruments. The group electronically coordinates the activity of their individual systems through a central micro-computer, The Hub itself, as well as manually through ears, eyes, and hands.
THE HUB IS: JOHN BISCHOFF, TIM PERKIS, CHRIS BROWN, SCOT GRESHAM-LANCASTER, MARK TRAYLE, PHIL STONE
* PERRY MASON IN EAST GERMANY (5'13") _1988 John Bischoff * FARABI (6'21") _1988 Tim Perkis * ROL'EM (7'48") _1988 Chris Brown * IS IT BORROWING OR STEALING (7'23") _1987 Phil Stone * WHACKERS (3'06") _1988 Scot Gresham-Lancaster * HOT PIG (8'49") _1988 C. Brown, T. Perkis, P. Stone * DOVETAIL (5'05") _1988 J.(?JH), T. Perkis, M. Trayle * THE MINISTER OF PITCH (6'42") _1988 Tim Perkis * SIMPLE DEGRADATION (7'53") _1987 Mark Trayle
The Hub originally came about as a way to clean up a mess. John Bischoff, Jim Horton and myself played for several years in a group called The League of Automatic Music Composers, the first microcomputer network band. Every time we rehearsed, a complicated set of ad-hoc connections between computers had to be made. This made for a system with rich and varied behavior, but it was prone to failure, and bringing in other players was difficult.
Later we sought a way to open the process up, to make it easier for other musicians to play in the network situation. The result was the Hub, a small computer dedicated to passing messages between players. It serves as a common memory, keeping information about each player's activity that is accessible to the other players' computers. I see the aesthetic informing this work perhaps counter to other trends in computer music: instead of attempting to gain more complete control over every aspect of the music, we seek more surprise through the lively and unpredictable response of the systems, and hope to encourage an active response to surprise in the playing. And instead of trying to eliminate the imperfect human performer, we try to use the electronic tools available to enhance the social aspect of music making.
PERRY MASON IN EAST GERMANY (5'13") _1988 John Bischoff composer: John Bischoff performers: John Bischoff, Tim Perkis, Mark Trayle recorded at Fylkingen, Stockholm 9/27/88 engineer: Paul Pignon
Each of the six players runs a program of his own design which constitutes a self sustaining musical process. Each program is configured so that it can send three changing variables important to its operation out to the Hub and also to receive three variables from other players. Each player reads the variables put out by three different performers, and sends out for use by three different performers as well. This relationship of mutual influence results in a network structure that often yields a special kind of musical coherence; the persistent diversity of the parts is complemented by moments of change that appear to propagate from one part to the next. These linked motions can, in turn, affect global changes in the music, giving the music structure beyond any individual's planning.
FARABI (6'21") _1988 Tim Perkis composer: Tim Perkis performers: Tim Perkis, Scot Gresham-Lancaster recorded at New Langton Arts, San Francisco 11/5/88 engineer: Philip Perkins
FARABI is an homage to the Arabic musician and philosopher Abu Nasr Al-Farabi (c. 850-950). It is a live performance piece written for microcomputer system with 5 analog performer inputs and midi. The midi sound generating device is tuned to 31-equal temperament, a system of dividing the octave into 31 equally spaced steps instead of usual twelve. The performer's actions regulate tempo, rhythmic regularity, mode, tessitura, and midi key velocity, which controls both sound volume and timbral intensity. In this performance the midi data stream is also sent to Scot's computer/synthesizer system, where it is used to rhythmically coordinate his free analog synthesizer playing.
ROL'EM (7'48") _1988 Chris Brown composer: Chris Brown performers: Chris Brown, Scot Gresham-Lancaster, Phil Stone, Tim Perkis, Mark Trayle, John Bischoff. Recorded at Mills College 5/13/88.
A conductor/computer selects descriptions of musical textures and sends different text messages to each player which are instructions for his part in realizing the current texture. A common clock transmitted through the Hub helps players in coordinating transitions between sections. The sounds made by each player are also being mixed and processed by an electronic system designed by the composer and under the control of the conductor/computer.
IS IT BORROWING OR STEALING (7'23") _1987 Phil Stone composer: Phil Stone performers: Chris Brown, Scot Gresham-Lancaster, Phil Stone, Tim Perkis, Mark Trayle, John Bischoff recorded at The Lab, San Francisco 11/3/87.
Hub memory is sliced into six areas which contain the melodies currently being played by the performers. Players borrow or steal melodies from each other at will, sometimes transforming them with transpositions, inversions, time deformations, etc., and always reporting what they are doing to their area of the Hub. The changing melodic texture is the result of the borrowing or stealing process. The title reflects on the question: is information (and software) free to be borrowed, or owned to be stolen?
WHACKERS (3'06") _1988 Scot Gresham-Lancaster composer: Scot Gresham-Lancaster performers: Scot Gresham-Lancaster, Tim Perkis recorded at San Francisco Art Commission Gallery 10/15/88 engineer: Philip Perkins
The whackers are a number of individual solenoids or relays that have the capability of whacking or (?JH)string objects in their proximity when told to do so by a computer. In this case they were arranged next to an entire gallery, the San Francisco Art Commission Gallery, full of large sound sculpture objects designed by Tom Nunn and Bob B. Hobbs. These sculptural objects were things such as large suspended sheets of steel with brass rods welded to them, a piano harp, a suspended automobile fuel tank, a circular sheet of steel suspended on balloons, and others. The development of the whackers grew out of the notion that some visceral aspect of the act of making and listening to music is inherently missing when the loudspeaker is used exclusively. Rhythm and amplitude to a certain extent were controlled by Tim's manipulation of real time parameters and partly by the characteristics of the objects themselves. In the mean time as"Whackmeister" Perkis madly twiddled knobs, I ran around trying to make sure my little whackers were hitting their mark.
HOT PIG (8'49") _1988 C. Brown, T. Perkis, P. Stone composer/performers: Chris Brown, Tim Perkis, Phil Stone recorded at New Langton 11/5/88 engineer: Philip Perkins
HOT PIG is a structured improvisation by Chris, Tim and Phil. All players are using unusual home built electro-acoustic instruments: Chris is playing his "gazamba", a prepared electric piano enhanced with home built electronic effects; Phil his "axe-thing," a guitar like device controlling the processing and playback of sampled sounds; and Tim his "mouse-guitar", a home-built unconventional synthesizer controller.
DOVETAIL (5'05") _1988 J. Bischoff, T. Perkis, M. Trayle composer/performers: John Bischoff, Tim Perkis, Mark Trayle. Recorded at Fylkingen, Stockholm 9/22/88 engineer: Paul Pignon
As in the Minister of Pitch, musical responsibility is apportioned in an unconventional way. John provides a master rhythmic process, which is being computed live and transmitted to other players. The others search for patterns in this input, and play phrases determined by this analysis.
THE MINISTER OF PITCH (6'42") _1988 Tim Perkis composer: Tim Perkis performers: John Bischoff, Scot Gresham-Lancaster, Phil Stone, Chris Brown, Tim Perkis. recorded at Mills College 5/13/88
In most ensemble playing, the player of each instrument has some sort of responsibility for a particular aspect of the music: a bass line, keeping a rhythm, playing a main melody, etc. Using the capabilities offered when data is continuously exchanged between players, I organized responsibilities differently: one player's actions control the pitches played by all the players, another controls timing, and another is responsible for setting an overall timbre.
SIMPLE DEGRADATION (7'53") _1987 Mark Trayle composer: Mark Trayle performers: John Bischoff, Scot Gresham-Lancaster, Phil Stone, Chris Brown, Tim Perkis, Mark Trayle. Recorded at The Lab 11/4/87 engineers: Jim McKee and Barney Jones.
SIMPLE DEGRADATION comes in two flavors-- solo and HUB. One performer generates and processes a waveform, simulating the response of a plucked string. This waveform is then broadcast on the computer network, the other performers using it for amplitude modulation (loudness variation). The rate at which the waveform is played back by the performers is determined by the performer who generated the waveform. In the Hub version, the performers are free to choose whatever timbres and pitches they wish.
Special thanks to Jim Horton, Paul Pignon. Design: Michael Sumner Production Assistance: Leslie Barton Cover: comics 8/17/89
This work was made possible in part by grants from Meet the Composer/California, the National Endowment for the Arts and California Arts Council.
All selections are live performances with no multitracking or overdubbing.
ARTIFACT RECORDINGS is a project of Ubu, Incorporated, an artist-run,non-profit organization supporting experimental and electronic music and performance based in the San Francisco Bay Area. For more information about our releases and other activities write: ARTIFACT RECORDINGS, 1374 Francisco Street Berkeley, CA 94702 U.S.A
A R T 1 0 0 2 _1989 by THE HUB (BMI). All rights reserved. ARTIFACT RECORDINGS, 1374 Francisco Street Berkeley, CA 94702 U.S.A.