Re: Troika Performs

Mark Coniglio (
Sun, 19 Oct 1997 09:52:02 -0500

>are you using max patches to work with the input<>output?
>what kinds of sensors are you using on the prop pieces?
>what is the flow-chart from sensor activation to output?
>is all of the music/soundscape midi-controlled?
>kinda curious ain't i?
>ps. are you using a suits as well?

No suits in this piece. But here is run-down of how the piece works:

The set, which are similar to cubes but have a big slant cut out of one
side, pieces have piezo transducers attached to various surfaces. These
sensors are attached to an Alesis D-4, which is a designed to be used to
sense strikes on a drum pad and turn them into midi note on/off events. The
Alesis has turned out to be a very handy tool, as it will accept all kinds
of inputs: the piezos, microphones, even a signal from an audio mixer if it
is very soft.The net effect in this piece is that when a dancer steps on a
particular surface of a set piece, a specific midi note will be produced.

These notes are fed into software called Interactor that I created with my
teacher Mort Subotnick. Interactor is similar to MAX, but I won't go into
the differences here. (If you are curious, check out the page at to see a description and to
download a demo of the program.) Interactor has a sequence running which it
modulates in various ways in response to the incoming notes. For instance,
one surface changes the velocity of the notes in the sequence so that, when
a midi note arrives, it gets very loud and then decays over a period of
time -- a simple Attack-Decay envelope for the Elec. Musicians out there.
Another surface changes the pattern of attacks in the sequence, etc. One
surface simply plays notes from a pre-assigned list of notes in a melody.

We had previously used a LaserDisc to play the video. I have created a MIDI
interface for the LaserDisc that allows me to control all of its
parameters. The LaserDisc is interesting because it is full bandwidth video
(very beautiful) and you can locate almost instantly to another frame, play
in slow or fast motion, freeze, etc. The bummer is that it costs $300 to
make a disc, money that we that is hard for us to come by. Previously, when
we have performed this piece, we used a commercial laser disc of a film
that had imagery similar to what we wanted. For this performance, I am
going to try to import video I shot recently into Director in the form of
Quicktime Movies, and to control them via MIDI. MIDI Input is not built
into Director, but there are ways of getting the information into the
program. The problems with this approach are: low bandwidth = low quality,
less than immediate response, doesn't play backward well -- all the
problems that you would expect with digital video. But, it seems worth an
experiment if we can at least have the exact video images that we want to

Basically, MIDI commands will be sent to director to recall the specific
images that we want for a particular part of the piece. I am actually off
to implement this right now, so we will see how it goes.

Hopefully that answers your question. (Perhaps more than you wanted to
know, but I have just had my coffee and I am talkative.)


Mark Coniglio, Artistic Co-Director |
Troika Ranch |