Choreography vs. Composition (and environments)

Darren Kelly (
Mon, 5 Jan 1998 13:01:59 +0100 (MET)

I'm starting a new thread on motion/signal triggering.

This is from Nick Rothwell's "introduction" thread:

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

Nick replied:

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.


OK, let's break down the possibilities a bit. I can see at least three possibilities, all of which I've tried:

(1) LIVE: The performer hears/sees the result of translation of sensor signals immediately. This is the traditional "feedback" composition approach, and lends itself to improvisation.

(2) REMIX: As above, except the signals are then replayed and the sounds and lighting are remapped; this can be just fine retuning of the result or can be used to generate completely different output.

(3) POSTPROCESSED: One performs motions (or records other signals) in the complete absence of output, and one postprocesses the results using different music and light mappings, effects, whatever.

So far I've had the best experience with (1), although maybe that's because it will take a long time to understand the required motions enough to carry out predictable choreography enabling (3).

I have a MIDI musician colleague who never records with live effects. He samples everything, plays back many lines at once, and introduces effects one at a time, carefully adjusting effects parameters until he's happy. Needless to say he has a lovely looking studio with knobs and buttons and mice and screens and ...

I do exactly the opposite. I record and play with effects live, sometimes very strong ones, and adjust my _performance_ to the effects. To me they are inseparable, as anyone who has sung with strong reverb will understand. The effect makes you sing differently. In the same way dancing with live output stringly effects the way you move. So I tend to (1) (live).

When my friend first saw Drancing he didn't even understand at first that I wanted to use it live, he hadn't even IMAGINED that this was possible or useful. We talked at cross purposes for ages until I realised he was assuming (2) and (3) (remix/postprocessed) whereas I emphasise (1); if you can achieve (1) convincingly, the others are a cinch.

It will take an awful lot of experience on the part of choreographers - and awful lot of insight into the relationship between signals and dance motions - before one can predictable choreograph for these methods. Further, for every single Signal-To-Sense mapping (control configuration) A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT SET of dance motions is required.

This is where workshops will come in.

Perhaps eventually performers and choreographers will settle on favourite control configurations (performance paradigms); maybe not. The interesting thing is that there is no one right way of doing it, no one set of sensors that are best, no "correct" dance motions.


PS Hope rowntree3d is listening in ! The "perfect" environment is the one enabling control over these infinities.

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