PLOrk fall2007

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General Information

this is not *just* a " PLOrk seminar"; we're calling it "Tech Band" and addressing more general issues facing composers and performers integrating technology into performance, and also how technology can create new performance paradigms. PLOrk will, however, remain a resource and constant point of reference. Hands-on with both:

  • hardware (basic electronics, speakers and so on, inspired by Nic Collins' workshop last year; also sensor and microcontroller stuff, etc...)
  • coding (ChucK and Max/MSP).

projects from members of the seminar will likely drive things as we proceed, and we will undoubtedly form a band ourselves, do some improvising and composing together, and, if there is interest, put on a performance and/or "house 'o sound" after the semester.

  • primary meeting time: Th 1:30-4:20, McAlpin and/or Studio B; assistance setting up may be requested for many of these meetings

Important Dates

  • November 7 (tentative) and 8 (definite); performances in DC area.
    • Not everyone will be involved, and this is a PLOrk-specific performance.
  • November 9 we may do a short performance in Richardson as part of the Arts Initiative fund raising
  • November 16 (also tentative); possible telematic performance with Stanford, UCSD, RPI, others...

Basic Resources

books and other readings

campus stuff

  • if you haven't visited Perry's soundlab do so!
  • Perry's Human-Computer Interfacing course is also relevant.
  • there is a machine shop class offered in the Engineering Quad; useful primarily for metal-working, though wood and plastic is also possible. contact Larry McIntyre about taking this 5-week course to get access to the shop and learn your way around.

microcontroller stuff

places to get stuff


Tentative Schedule

Week 1: 9/20 -- lotso laptops, no electronics

  • PLOrkino (6-8 players) Pieces
    • Network Sequencer (dan)
    • SMS Droner (dan)
    • others? prc, rebecca, seth, ??

Week 2: 9/27 -- lotso electronics, no laptops

  • electronics in ensembles
    • piezos
    • embedding and powering cheap-ass mics (eToobs, others); circuit diagrams
    • dan will talk about some of these things in the context of Five (and-a-half) Gardens
    • basic electronics as needed
  • speakers and amplifiers
    • basic design issues
    • aesthetic issues

Week 3: 10/4 -- lotso electronics AND laptops

  • custom controllers
    • using the Arduino and maybe the Basic Stamp microcontrollers
    • BoSSA and various PRC creations as examples
    • mapping issues
  • prefab (more-or-less) options
    • wii
    • teabox
    • graphics tablets
    • trigger finger, keyboards, etc...

Week 4: 10/11 -- more AND: programming

  • comparative coding in ChucK and Max/MSP
  • various synthesis and signal processing approaches
  • networking:
    • technical issues and "conductor" strategies
  • (no PRC this week)

Week 5: 10/18 -- let's play

  • everyone bring something they've made/modified to play with
    • software and/or hardware.
    • could be as simple as something you've attached a pickup to, to a ChucK or Max/MSP patch, to something super ambitious
    • step outside of your comfort zone; should not be your normal instrument, or it should be somehow different than what you usually do
    • group improvisations, from duos to the whole band
  • project development brainstorming session (if time, otherwise postpone to next week)
    • everyone bring in proposals/ideas for something(s) they'd like to build/create/compose over the rest of the semester

Week 6: 10/25 -- DC prep and project development session

  • prepare for DC performance(s)?
  • project development brainstorming session continued


Week 7: 11/8: performance in DC

  • PLOrk has been invited to perform at the National Academy of Sciences Museum.
    • will bring small ensemble (6-8).
    • there won't be a regular meeting
    • pieces from week 1, and others as they develop

Weeks 8-: project development, playing sessions, etc...

  • will work this out as it comes. can use sessions to:
    • work on particular problems motivated by seminar projects
    • more electronics, interfacing as needed
    • more programming as needed
      • be good to dig into spectral stuff (upchucking), live sampling (LiSa), etc...
    • improvise in various combinations
    • compose together, work on pieces by individuals for the group
    • etc....
  • NOTE: on friday 11/16 we may do a "telematic performance" over the network with folks from Stanford, UCSD, RPI, and elsewhere

Class Notes

we'll put up notes from each weekly meeting as needed


Other Stuff