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April 26, 2005



One Instrument, Many Parts

The HUB, a group of composer/performers, were among the first to practice network music. The Hub is a computer network band. Six individual composer/performers connect separate computer-controlled music synthesizers into a network. Individual composers design pieces for the network, in most cases just specifying the nature of the data which is to be exchanged between players in the piece, but leaving implementation details to the individual players, and leaving the actual sequence of music to the emergent behavior of the network.

Each player writes a computer program which make musical decisions in keeping with the character of the piece, in response to messages from the other computers in the network and control actions of the player himself. The result is a kind of enhanced improvisation, wherein players and computers share the responsibility for the music's evolution, with no one able to determine the exact outcome, but everyone having influence in setting the direction.

The Javanese think of their gamelan orchestras as being one musical instrument with many parts; this is probably also a good way to think of The Hub ensemble, with all its many computers and synthesizers interconnected to form one complex musical instrument. In essence, each piece is a reconfiguration of this network into a new instrument. (Perkis)

The Hub, formed in 1984 in and around San Francisco, by Tim Perkis, John Bischoff, Scot Gresham-Lancaster, Phil Stone, Chris Brown, and Mark Trayle, used a network approach to improvisation, where each player controlled an aspect of the same compostion.

Posted by jo at April 26, 2005 09:30 AM