Networked_Music_Review

NMR Commission: “The Telephone Game: Oil/Water/Ether” by PLOrk

nc_icon_wide.jpgThe Telephone Game: Oil/Water/Ether by the Princeton Laptop Orchestra (PLOrk) is an exploration of a real-time collaborative composition local network. All of the performers have identical performance/composition programs — a custom flexible step-sequencer — that invite play with rhythmic cycles of various lengths and timbres. The real fun starts, however, when the players begin spying on their neighbors, secretly, via the network, and stealing their ideas with the click of the mouse. Unplanned structures begin to emerge, like oil on water, as riffs propagate and evolve, sometimes returning unrecognizable to their creators.

The Telephone Game: Oil/Water/Ether is a 2007 commission of New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc., for Networked Music Review. It was made possible with funding from the New York State Music Fund, established by the New York State Attorney General at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.

BIOGRAPHY

The Princeton Laptop Orchestra (PLOrk) is a newly established ensemble of computer-based musical meta-instruments. Each instrument consists of a laptop, a multi-channel hemispherical speaker, and a variety of control devices (keyboards, graphics tablets, sensors, etc…). The students who make up the ensemble act as performers, researchers, composers, and software developers. The challenges are many: what kinds of sounds can they create?; how can they physically control these sounds?; how do they compose with these sounds? There are also social questions with musical and technical ramifications: how do they organize a dozen players in this context? with a conductor? via a wireless network?

In its first year of PLOrk’s existence, composers and performers from Princeton and elsewhere developed new pieces for this unprecedented ensemble, including Paul Lansky (Professor of Music at Princeton), Brad Garton (Director of the Columbia Computer Music Center), PLOrk co-founders Dan Trueman and Perry Cook, and several graduate students. They have made extensive use of a new music programming language created by Princeton graduate student (now assistant professor at Stanford University|CCRMA) Ge Wang, called ChucK, which allows the performers to develop new code in performance. In their first major performance (April 2006, Richardson Auditorium) we were joined by the renowned tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain, legendary accordianist and composer Pauline Oliveros, and the exciting young percussion quartet from New York City, So Percussion. PLOrk was featured in the April issues of the MIT Press Technology Review and Wired Magazine, and performed at the Dartmouth College “Orchestras of Sameness” festival in May 2006.


May 5, 2008
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Networked_Music_Review (NMR) is a research blog that focuses on emerging networked musical explorations.

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