Re: News release, upcoming Palindrome premiere

Robert Wechsler (
Mon, 16 Feb 1998 10:55:24 +0100

Hi group,

Robert Wechsler here, answering Nick Rothwell's letter of 2-3.

Nick, and all for that matter, a video would answer many of your questions.
A video of our interactive work is available to anyone for the cost of
shipping plus 15 DM. (10$) to cover the cost of the video stock and copying.

>Hmm. Interesting, since I now seem to be involved in a similar
>venture, revolving around the notion of a musical score which will be
>> The Minotaur involves four dancers playing a composed musical score (by
>> bay-area composer Erling Wold, who is flying out extra for the event)
>> entirely by their movements in 3-D space.
>This doesn't make clear whether the score is completely predetermined
>(which would require determinism on the part of the dancers, to
>deliver reproducible sequences of gestures) or not.

It is predetermined.

>> Five different kinds of note lines are used in "Happenings": 1)
>> single notes, 2) permanent notes =96 which play until an
>> "off-switch", or "off-switching" note is played, 3) repetitive notes
>> =96 which pulse or trill as long as they are activated, 4) chords,
>> or combinations of notes, and, 5) sequences, pre-programmed sets of
>> notes.
>So how do these musical components relate to the notion of a "composed
>musical score"? Are the components preset?

I'm not sure i understand your Q. the lines are "programmed", encoded, each
with one or more of these kinds of sounds. There are ca. 250 such lines used
in the piece.

We began with a largely completed score. We then reverse-engineered it, so
to speak, to find ways to realize it through dancers' movements. We
designed "virtual instruments" which seemed to make sense in terms of the
qualities of the sounds. (eg. higher notes played by moving a bodypart
higher, etc. etc.)

>Where is it decided which notes get triggered by particular dancers
>and/or gestures: is that semantically part of the score?

Yes. (if i understood the question) The choreography is fixed. Only the
subtleties of our interpretation of the score, as musician-dancers, and our
interaction with one another change from performance to performance.

>How long are the sequences? Are they rhythmic or pulse-based? If so,
>what synchronisation is provided between simultaneous sequences?

ca. 30 sec. yes they are rhythmic. There are only two short sequences used
in the score. Although in other pieces we do use beat-synchronized
simultaneous sequences. What you may be getting at is "how do we keep them
in beat?" A very good Q. Something into which we have put a lot of study.
I can tell you more about it later.

>Lots of questions, I know, but I'm trying to come up with a set of
>abstractions for modulating timbral components via dance so I'm
>curious what your starting points are, and what abstractions you've
>actually identified and worked with.
>> Most of the sounds used in the piece are generated on a Proteus 2
>> synthesizer, though some are also sampled.
>I'm not sure I understand this sentence. The Proteus 2 is (ROM) sample
>based, and is not a particularly powerful synthesiser when it comes to
>timbral design; and yet the suggestion here is that the synthesised
>sounds from the P2 are distinct from the sampled sounds.

You seem to know more about this area than I. I mention the P2 to say that
the sounds, the raw material of our music, is "traditional" classical
instruments. In other pieces we use samples which we recorded ourselves
(voices of children, for example).

You should see our video. I think it would answer a lot of your questions.

> Nick Rothwell, CASSIEL contemporary dance projects
> music synthesis and control
> NOTICE - vessel has triple screws - keep clear of blades

Robert Wechsler and Helena Zwiauer Phone: (49) 911-397472
Palindrome Dance Company Fax: (49) 911-397472
Johannisstr. 42 / 90419 Nčrnberg