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Performing with live improvised visuals, drums and electronics

October 9, 2012

photo: Harald Lassen

What:

I will analyze and discuss a performance I did together with Sigurd Ytre-Arne (live visuals).

Why:

I want to become more aware of how I work.

How:

I will analyze a video of the performance and discuss some thoughts I have on improvising together with a VJ.

——–

Preface:

I was invited to perform at “Musikkbaren”, a stage where students at my academy can present what they are working on. I intended to bring the project “Sound Picking“, but since the dancer was not available at that date, I had to find something else to present. For a while I considered just doing a solo performance, but I decided I wanted to take advantage of the situation and bring in another element to challenge my self. As stated in my project description, I want to:

Look into how I can make video react on sound or controllers using the MaxMsp extensions Jitter and Vizzie.

The perfect man to help me with this was my friend Sigurd Ytre-Arne

Since I trust him as a person and enjoy his work as an artist, I decided we would not rehearse, we would just meet at the venue for some hours before the performance and share thoughts. He challenged me in advance to gather some video clips that he should use so that I would have more impact on the overall outcome of the performance, at this task I completely failed.

I suggested massive and intense videos such as:

But he humbly rejected them and after getting to know his approach both trough this performance and another that I will write about soon, I realized that the beauty of his work lies in the trivial and minimalistic shades of daily life.

Video:

Analysis:

  • 00:06: Nice and clear start, I like that Sigurd wait with the visuals so that the audience can start focusing on one element at the time.
  • 00:23: It is good that you already can see the connection between the audio and the video, that it is triggered.
  • 00:38: I like that I work with the texture in the drum
  • 01:14: I make a lot of open space and keep the ideas clear. Good.
  • 01:29: Could have waited longer with the low frequencies.
  • 02:00: I should try to avoid hitting the cymbals by accident, but hey, it was an accident …
  • 02:04: Nice sudden change in texture. Would have been better if what was before the change was higher in pitch.
  • 03:07: I should have been more clear about using that sample, sound like I didn’t mean to do it … Maybe I didn’t …
  • 03:23: I’m glad I just used that repeater once. But it was quite a messy build-up, maybe I should start making clearer ideas in advance and rather improvise the transition between them.
  • 03:34: Nice drop.
  • 04:22: Could have stayed in that idea longer.
  • 04:22 – 04:53: I Like that I take my time with this idea.
  • 04:57: Elegant transit, well done by Sigurd Ytre-Arne.
  • 05:47: I like the part until here, but now it got too loud.
  • 05:58: The looping process goes almost undetected, good.
  • 06:07: The reversing of the sound destroyed the flow …
  • 06:07 – 06:39: Too messy part, didn’t like it, not clear enough.
  • 06:57: The video clearly get’s the focus as I just let the loop go, nice part even though I’m quite tired of that sound.
  • 07:41: Sigurd leads me into a new part by changing the video drastically, I should probably have presented a clearer change than just continuing with the slow and large sound I had already done for quite some time …
  • 07:51: Should have stopped the loop.
  • 08:18: I start to like it, the drums are so clear that they act as a soloist on top of the loop.
  • 08:18 – 09:19: I like this part.
  • 09:22: Should have stopped the resonating loop as I was clearly moving somewhere new …
  • 09:40: Sigurd is with me though, bringing more red to the set.
  • 10:03: Nice beat repeat.
  • 10:06: The loop that had been going on for so long was cut in a way that it seemed like it was an mistake, not cool! But it’s at least good that I choose to stop it.
  • 10:07: Cool new room, both auditive and visually. I had been going with long and strong sounds for ten minutes now, it was nice to change texture.
  • 11:24: Should not have moved, seemed like I was done, I should have trusted that I know what I am doing …
  • 11:38: Nice new element, and very fitting visuals.
  • 12:22: As we see someone walking by in the background on the visuals, I feel it somehow destroys the illusion that we tried to create for the audience to step into. Bad luck.
  • 12:40: Talking/blowing into the microphone … That was not cool and a bad idea in this context … I’m not trying to make the soundtrack for star wars here …
  • 13:03: Cool visuals! Blending in different movie clips with the live video-feed of me enhances the illusion that we try to create …
  • 13:37: I don’t think the poem fitted into this context either, too “epic”.
  • 14:22: I like that I start presenting higher pitches again, but still in a floating form.
  • 15:36: Should have kept it going instead of going to the common “fast playing on the side of the drums in abrupt patterns”.
  • 15:48: It definitely helps with some delay.
  • 15:58: Nice place to cut the loop with the low frequencies.
  • 15:58 – 16:37: I like this space.
  • 16:37 – 16:54: I like this space even better, should have kept it for longer …
  • 16:54: Well played by Sigurd keeping the picture frozen. Could have kept it like that even longer.
  • 17:43: Nice visuals, I feel they directly reflect the music. I probably stayed longer in this musical room since I saw Sigurd was with me on it. Good interaction.
  • 18:48: Yeah! Cool minimalistic music and video. Could have kept it going.
  • 19:50: Apparently I felt like I was in a hurry and didn’t know where to go since I had to fall back to this, an idea I definitely use way too much. But it was a nice and clear change. Could have had more high end though.
  • 20:35: I don’t hit the kick hard enough so the sample isn’t triggered, but it sounds good and I manage to work with it and the video response is nice and clear.
  • 21:14: Same thing happens, probably because I learned from before that it was cool.
  • 21:23: The transition from being played to being looped seems quite subtile on the recurring, but I fear that the loss of the direct sound from the kick in the room probably decreased the intensity of the flow in a negative way.
  • 21:50: I think it starts to get boring.
  • 21:52: I feel that the visuals bring new life to the musical flow by taking focus, good job Sigurd!
  • 22:50: You see only visible audience member gets interested in understanding the relevance between what is going on at the canvas and what is happening in realtime. A good proof that the visuals are in focus.
  • 19:50 – 23:00: This part, as mentioned is somehow my safe place and I am starting to get extremely bored with it. I’ll try avoiding it at all costs from now on. But still I hope the audience enjoyed it since. It is a clear and strong musical room.
  • 23:00: Nice with a change in pitch.
  • 23:57: Apparently  I suddenly decide to play in time, since that is such a strong statement in this context I should have done it much clearer. Too much hihat.
  • 24:22: Using my voice here is a strong statement that I like and is how I should have started the previous phrase.
  • 24:22 – 25:30: I think I like this part. It’s good because it is on one side something different from the rest as it is in time and still it keep the “native” touch the whole piece has (hard to avoid when just using drums). The aspect I don’t like about it is that it sounds quite messy and I feel it’s starting to be a “clich’e” to play drums with delay.
  • 25:48: Here I present another comfort sone of mine, it has nice musical impact, but I’m tired of it …
  • 27:27: It’s not good that the volume drops when I turn on the reverb.
  • 28:37: Should have kept the cymbal-thing going for a little longer …
  • 30:02: Nice long fade-out and we managed to keep the audience silent together with us for a while.

Summary:

I remember feeling quite good about this performance and I believe it was due to the calm and slow evolving nature of the piece. In hindsight, as stated, I fell that it was maybe too slow. But still a nice piece with good structure.

Regarding the interaction between Sigurd and I, I think we had a fairly good interaction (see analysis). The clearest moments of interaction where of course those where the video and music where mirroring each other (eg glitchy music and glitchy video), Other interesting moments, that might not have been as clear, were when the video inspired the music to take new directions and vice versa. Another concept of interplay that was present from time to time was contrasts, that one stood still and the other moved or that one was choppy and the other floating. These are concepts that we could pursuit in the future through rehearsal techniques similar to those I have been doing in Sound Picking and Dancer.

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From → ALL, Sigurd Ytre-Arne

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