The Improvising Composer

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William Fowler Collins, Martin Back, Philip Mantione, James Brody, J.A. Deane, David Forlano (front left), photo by Alysse Stepanian

The Improvising Composer
– music, technology and gesture –

The Improvising Composer was an event I organized that took place at the Santa Fe Complex in March 2010. The day-long event included workshops in interactive audio software, a panel discussion and concert. Featured composers were Martin Back, James Brody, William Fowler Collins, J.A. Deane, Philip Mantione and Christian Pincock. The panel discussion was moderated by long-time music critic and writer, Craig Smith.

In the workshops, composers discussed their use of software such as MAX/Msp, LiSa, Nodal, Plogue Bidule, Super Collider, AudioMulch, Kontakt3, Artwonk and Ableton Live. There were demonstrations of custom built instruments and the use of micro-controllers such as the MIDITRON and Arduino to control external devices and capture sensor data.

Craig Smith moderated a panel discussion with the six participating composers. Topics included improvisational systems such as Cobra, Conduction and Soundpainting, approaches to solo versus group improvisation, and the influence of technology on live improvised performance.

The evening featured a series of six solo performances by each composer and a premiere performance of these musicians as a group. The six participating composers covered a wide breadth of experience and came from diverse backgrounds.

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