Re: Introduction

Nick Rothwell (
Sat, 3 Jan 1998 12:43:50 +0000

>> I've never really been tempted
>> to get dancers involved in the triggering and performance of music, which
>> seems to surprise people.
>Being like you a musician interested and dance, but one who WAS tempted,
>I found your remarks very interesting.

I suspect I'm in the minority here...

>Are you not tempted because you are sceptical about the results ?

Part of comes down to comments made on this list earlier about form versus
content. I'm skeptical, yes, perhaps about the amount of effort required to
deliver good results, and the degree to which that effort deflects from the
effort needed to compose, and perform, music.

Then again, since I'm into process and control systems for music
performance, I really should have a go at this. I think I've mostly been
put off by the expense, and the lack of financial support for this kind of

>Or are you not tempted because you are intimidated by the technology
>itself (which is hard to imagine given your other interests) ?

I'm not intimidated by the technology per se; perhaps it's more accurate to
say I'm intimidated by the effort required to get the technology to work in
a satisfactory manner. (Oh, and all the pragmatics associated with setup,
maintenance, rehearsal, material development and so on.)

>I'd love
>you to expand on this matter; in order to get funding and support these
>devices MUST above all be tempting !

Interesting comment: I have no evidence here in the UK that one gets any
kind of funding or support for working in this area, certainly not enough
to recompense the expenses. Certainly, I've *never* seen any kind of
projects of this kind in the UK in the last five years. ("Technology" tends
to mean digital projection and mixed media, not motion sensing.)

>But these devices don't use choreography AND a sound score; the
>choreography IS the sound score.

Surely the choreography is the gestural performance. Any performance can
yield one of an infinite number of scores, depending on the musical system
which is interpreting the gestures.

>If you attempt to "integrate" them
>you will be disappointed.

What I mean is: design a performance system which will deliver an
acceptable sound score given the kinds of choreographic gesture that the
dancer(s) might deliver.

>The first thing I realised with my device is that one must "compose"
>through motion (although maybe this is just my style; although I compose
>music in my head too, I mostly let my fingers inspire me a lot on
>keyboards. Others might prefer to "choreograph" in advance.)

Agreed. With composition, a lot of the creative process involves getting
the brain out of the way.

>The moment you see the music/light/motion as separate
>entities you introduce INCOHERENCE.

I see that as a risk but I'm not sure it's inevitable. (This is assuming
that incoherence is a bad thing, of course; I've always been interested in
conflicting imageries in dance and score.)

>The notion of respective disciplines
>is only useful to the extent that people with strong backgrounds in
>various disciplines will now work together very closely.

I think that's true. Also, funding bodies tend to think in terms of
separate disciplines, with (in my experience) a tendency to over-emphasise
form when it comes to crossover projects.

>And even that
>will be less so in 20 years time, simply by virtue of the fact that many
>will have by then spent most of their time working ONLY with dance and
>music united.

An interesting prediction; I think my predictions would be a lot more

Nick Rothwell, CASSIEL contemporary dance projects music synthesis and control

years, passing by, VCO, VCF, and again, and again