received from chris brown on aug 16 1995 copyright 515w


Free Improvisation 3 over 2 Hall of Mirrors


Quartet with Shadows (excerpt) Snakecharmer Still Dance

performed by ROOM: Larry Ochs, sopranino & tenor saxophones William Winant, percussion Chris Brown, piano & electronics Scot Gresham-Lancaster, electronics


ROOM creates its music with a sound world combining extended, acoustic instrumental techniques and new electronic technology. This technology is always used in interaction with acoustic performers, in response to a live instrumentalist's gesture, so that the electronic component is a part instead of the dictator of musical flow. ROOM explores a means for extending the vocabulary of traditional instruments, and the language of spontaneous musical forms.

Hall of Mirrors (1987) by Chris Brown, explores the interaction between acoustic instrumentalists and live electronic signal processing, which is controlled by the pianist from an electronic piano/keyboard. The music is structured by a rhythmically changing series of software "patches" which relate the pitch, loudness, and duration of the electronic piano sounds to changes in the electronic modulation. The modulations are multiple, reflected images of sounds from the acoustic instruments. The piece specifies solo, duo, and trio combinations of instruments, as well as different mixtures of electronically altered and unaltered sounds. The improvisation is based on musical materials from a tune, heard once fully at the end (instead of a "head", a "tail").

Quartet With Shadows (1989) was written on commission from the Rova Saxophone Quartet made possible by a grant from the Reader's Digest Commissioning Program of Meet the Composer, Inc. The piece is structured around a four voice harmonizer (the Roland VP-70), which can create four voice chords as an output from a single instrument's input. These chords, which are defined in the computer by a MIDI sequence, are "shadows" of the source: without the original voice they produce no sound of their own. The excerpt performed today was written for Larry Ochs, playing tenor saxophone; it is one of the original four sections of the piece in which each section uses a different member of the saxophone family (and of the quartet) as the shadow source.

Snakecharmer (1987) by Chris Brown, arises from a feedback network in which a synthesizer attempts to follow its own sound, guided and cajoled by intonations of the saxophonist, and accompanied by electronic percussion of two different kinds: a prepared electroacoustic piano (using the amplified sounds of springs, twisted wires, and strings), and percussion samples played with hand-held MIDI controllers called AIRDRUMS.

Still Dance by Larry Ochs was written for ROOM, and is a structure for improvisation that combines sections written in standard musical and in simple graphic notation, connected to each other by improvised sections. The improvisations are collective compositions developed by the group, taking off from the musical ideas in one section and leading into those of the next. They are thus used compositionally as a method which takes advantage of the compositional creativity of each member of the group, varying in detail and duration while remaining formally similar from one performance to the next.