Mark Coniglio (troika@panix.com)
Thu, 15 May 1997 11:42:09 -0400

>The issue of "polyphony" could be translated directly into dance/technology
>I am wondering whether you have thought about this in terms of composition
>and reception, whether a dance/performance could be in-between the
>represented/representer, as Susan suggests in her strong reponse to the last

This question of multimedia (or muchomedia as we used to call it on the
Well out of spite for the commercially appropriated word multimedia) and
how to combine the various mediums is an important one.

My current feeling is that, at any given moment in time, one of the media
must dominate the others, that is if your hope is to have the audience take
meaning from that media. There is also an aeshthetic of bombardment, where
all of the media is given equal (and usually high) energy, where the idea
that is proposed by the artist is the inescapeablilty of information or
some such, but that is what I am speaking of here.

When creating pieces that use multiple media, I think often reference my
training as composer, particularly regarding orchestration of a large
ensemble or chamber group. If the creator views the media like the members
of the orchestra, we can use ideas like

counterpoint - where two thematic ideas interplay with one and other, and
our attention alternates between both. I am interested in the idea of
counterpoint between media, a carefully orchestrated back and forth
movement between media that are expressing related ideas.

accompaniment - where some dominant media (the melody) is performed in
conjunction with a harmonious/dissonent background that supports, or
increases density, but does not overwhelm.

monody - where different intsruments play the same melody simultaneously --
can we do this with, for instance, video and music and text? Perhaps...

ground - in music, a ground is a phrase is repeated again and againunder a
melody or other main idea. The ground is different from accompaniment in
that it may hold considerable interest the first and second time through
because it is, potent aesthetically. But upon repitition it moves towards
the function of an accompaniment.

mannheim raketen or "rocket" - "extended crescendos and unexpected fortes
and forissimos" - a technique used in the very early orchestras, mostly to
show off what a big band could do. The idea of looking at the media as a
whole, and making an "information crescendo" is appealing. (p.s., I guess
the German "raketen" is the soure of the word "racket"... funny)

I could go on, and perhaps all of this is obvious and old-fahsioned. But I
have always thought forms of the past when building our new works because,
though we may not be able to use the actual languages of the past (18th
Cent. Harmony, dance a la Martha Graham) because their ability to convey
meaning has been decimated by time and overexposure, the core notions of
these combinatorial forms and techniques still work and are not yet
rendered cliche. I think that this is true only because these forms that
have been heard again and again, for instance the classical Sonata, are
still not known or perceived by many listeners.

Of course my thinking is, as usual, along practical lines. Perhaps we
should now begin our work invent a theory on the methodology for combining

-- Mark Coniglio

Mark Coniglio, Artistic Co-Director | troika@panix.com
Troika Ranch | http://www.art.net/~troika