[PD] Pd performance at TED

Onyx Ashanti onyxashanti at gmail.com
Wed Jun 22 16:09:36 CEST 2011

> Thanks, it's a great pleasure to have you here.


>> Every single note you hear, is being played, as in one at a time, as a
>> horn
>> player does, into a looper which I use to layer everything very quickly
>> into
>> an arrangement then deconstruct and reconstruct on a musically relevant
>> trajectory. There was nothing pre recorded or preconceived. Simply a
>> controller, a database of synthesizers and a looper with effects. I am
>> playing every single solitary note. If that sounds like it is hard to do,
>> you're right.
> I'm sure about it and I can imagine the training you needed to undertake,
> possibly in the same way other complex gestural control require.
> But, that's not a constrain, right?
> Things don't need to be difficult to be relevant (?)

things "can be" very easy.  but easy was never a goal.  my goal was to
create a system to express "myself" the way i express myself.  i love
movement, i love sound. blending the two was eventually going to happen but
now i am getting into the mechanics of it and learning as i go.  so its not
easy but the difficult parts are not something i would shy away from either.

>> I would like an elaboration on how the system is "clunky" if you don't
>> mind.
>> First off, I feel that it is pretty streamlined for a first prototype made
>> of cardboard that is only 3 months old. Two wireless hand units and a
>> mouth
>> unit. If you have suggestions as to how I might improve it at this stage,
>> before my next stage or dev, I would love to hear it.
> Sure. First, I think the video and its text on TED are misleading.
> I understood that the work was a finished one and you were demonstrating
> it.
> It's important to know it's only three months prototype.

> About the clunkyness.
> I'm also designing a wearable biosensor so I'm happy to share my vision
> (strictly subjective though).
> Imho, the box connected to the mouthpiece which presently is hanging from
> the front side, could be placed on your belt.
> Increase the lenght of the cable, put the cable under your shirt and you're
> done.
> two reasons that not optimal.  first being that i have a distinct dislike
of belt packs.  the internals of the box around my neck are to be included
in a carbon fiber helmet which will also house the mic, various sensors and
the actual heads up display that the iphone is standing in for. and two, the
length of the breath tube would be inefficient at that length.  the shorter
the better because the tube must also be vented.

> As for the phone as headup display.
> Something that works very good is haptic feedback.
> You can have the Pd system send small pulses to a tiny speaker stuck to
> your skin.
> These could represent key points in a timeline, pattern changes, instrument
> changes, behaviour of your sensor, or even the bpm.
> Pulses can also have different lenghts so that you can have an array of
> signals.

there are haptics in the the app i use in the phone.  TouchOSC responds to a
[vibrate< message.  the units use lilypad buzzers but i must reprogram my
firmata to react more quickly.  my haptics are mainly used for transposition
points, accelerometer positioning and functions and a wonderful "wrap-it-up"
button that allows the promoter at my gigs, to click it and it
metronomically buzzes my iphone so that i know that its time to "wrap it up"
and can end my set in a musically satisfying manner.  they love that!  i get
emails because of that button!

> That would be invisible, and reliable.

invisible is a definite no no.  people need to see things.  and besides.  to
me, that reactive touchOSC display is HOT!  its my favorite part of the
aesthetic.  i'll tell you a secret.  I dont even need it most of the time!
I've got all of my functions memorized so far.  i just love the way it
looks.  thats my sci fi geek coming out.  and there are WAAAY  more
superfluous aethetically usefully yet not neccessary fourishes coming.

>> @marco, how would you
>> make this concept more "beautiful" or "efficient"? I am always a willing
>> student in these regards.
> see what I meant above.
>> Do you have any examples of said efficiency? Being
>> an instructor, I would have expected that you would have seen the blog
>> link
>> on the Ted profile and researched your position before simply asserting
>> that
>> my concept has no value.
> Oh wait, nobody said your work had no value :)
> No time to fire it up.
> I expressed my respect for your work since the first post, and I kept doing
> it in later posts too.
> I only said that I couldn't agree with the bold claims "we make the future"
> and making the music of the future.
> Now, of course, you have to promote yourself, but I felt that was not
> coherent.

what do you see as the future?  have you ever thought about it?  is anyone
doing it, it being your particular idea of the future?  then you have an
opportunity to do so.  in the future i see, i envision musicians like super
heroes/jazz giant hybrids.  one guy is an unbelievable tap-dancer like
musician...another is stands completely still and uses his muscle twitches
to control a performing android in realtime.  and i can see a thousand more.
 so that is the trajectory toward the future that i decided to take and if i
can make it happen beyond just myself, i will make it my lifes work.  if
someone thinks they can do this better than me, all of my notes are online,
the project is in Make Mag in Oct. and i wll answer any questions. show me!
 come to one of my shows and teach me a lesson!  i am not joking or being
confrontational...it is a dream for someone to do this better than me.  that
doesnt mean i'm gonna sit here and be "the old guy" and let someone show me
up at my own show, but i find this type of musical debate invigorating.  the
type of thing that makes one get  up in the morning and practice.  but with
sensor networks and computer augmentation, its almost to exciting for these
words to adequately describe!

> I argue about the innovative character of the work (please note, I refer to
> the whole work not to the system only).
> And I also do not mean that it is not innovative at all.
> It's a great system, but it lacks of directness, as Andy pointed out in a
> beautiful way.
> And I believe that, if you are interested in this topic, your performance
> would greatly benefit of a more direct performative outcome.

how much more direct does it need to be? i press a note, a sound comes out.
i move my hand, somethng changes.  you want to know what sound i might be
playing, watch the, noteably underpowered, lights ( i have some other high
powered LEDs that require a different power supply and transistors.  v2).
 then, as if that is not enough, the goal is to create a narrative that
combines motion and all of the above.   sorry, but that is about as direct
as my limited cognitive abilites can muster at this point.  please show me a
better one.

> The audience will clap their hands anyway after your show.
> However, if they don't need to ask themselves "what the heck he's doing?"
> because your interaction with the system is transparent, their overall
> perception of your work would be ten times greater.
> A successful performance is something to be achieved in two: performer and
> audience.
> A performer alone (or isolated in his own world) is only rehearsing.
> the audience at TED actually stood.  so they werent simply being nice to
me.  and my presentation had about 60% more slides that they removed from
the online video so people could concentrate on the performance.  when you
come to one of my shows, you know what i am doing because i spend a minute
at the beginning just making noises with each instrument so as to calibrate
the AUDIENCE (ie., i show that red=drums and play drums, blue=bass and play
bass, etc).  this is a language that is being constructed that currently,
using language as a metaphor, only has about 3-4 phenomes.  check with me in
6 months ;-)

> As someone said already, a violin player do not need to demonstrate
> transparency because instrumental musical performance is something intrinsic
> in our culture.
> We, as creators of new instruments or systems, still struggle to prove that
> we can control machines in a creative way.
> Perhaps, this happen because the technological knowledge of the majority of
> people is still very basic.
> Although children today play with iPhones, they have no idea how that thing
> works. And most of them will never know it. They just assume it does work,
> somehow.
> This is the capitalistic approach to tech culture.
> A general consumer do not need to know too much, otherwise she/he can start
> producing.

I have no problem playing badly.  i love it.  a welcome change from playing
systems that make it hard to screw up.  in fact my best sets ever have been
after a mistake of some sort where the loops were off or i just didnt like
the groove.  i just stop.  i tell the audience that i'm gonna go in a new
direction and thats when they are like "whoa...he's actually playing" and
then they give you leeway to go where you are going and come with you.  at
that point it becomes important to take them on a fullfilling sonic journey
and to remember that YOU are the artist, not them so dont be afraid to go
somewhere they havent gone.  people who come to see me, know this.  if they
want house music or dubstep in its purity, there are better places to get
it.  this is beatjazz.

on the iphone reference.  kids today should definitely know how their
technology works or they risk being a tool of the machine rather than the
other way around.  hence this being an open source project as well as
(hopefully soon) a commercial venture.

>> One thing that I and other alternative controller artists are realizing is
>> that we must be in the audience. Otherwise people can not see that you are
>> actually playing. That is why when I play clubs I play from the dance
>> floor
>> and currently monitor with the club sound system which is hard but allows
>> a
>> flow of ideas that doesn't come from separating ones self from the
>> audience.
>> And from there people can see your fingers and gestures carve the sound.
> I have to disagree.
> I would suggest to consider that a gestural controller in a dance party has
> a very different scope than one in an experimental performance.
> Secondly, there are many other ways to make the people understand that
> you're playing.
> We come back to the directness of a system.
> We could see in your video all the buttons you were pushing, but half of
> people who wrote was not aware of what you were doing anyway.
> Specially because the wider gesture of your body (like "dancing", keeping
> the rhythm as a dj does) were not affecting the music directly.

Well, i actually play from the room now and it works amazingly.  people come
up and dance with me. and every once in a while I shake my hand and start
swirling a big distorted delayed mnoster sound then BOOM! drop into some
crazy beat that even i wasnt expecting to cook up.  i think more people than
you think are way way WAY  more than ready to have their dance and their
experimental at the same time.  like i said above, in the future i see, i
see no distinction.  i see an ecosystem of musical perspectives, all
enhanced by technology.  as many genres as there are artists, the the point
that genres no longer apply and you can only describe an artists music by
his/her name.

>> This form of performance blends my desire to connect with my space my
>> music
>> and my movements as intimately but, it should be noted as well, this is a
>> 3
>> month old prototype so that people are discussing it and I have even moved
>> from beta stage yet, is encouraging.
> Indeed, such discussion prove that your work is very interesting.
> That's why I'm arguing so much about it :)
> And as Andy said, please, I would love to know in detail how your system
> works as I'm working on a similar, yet very different, gestural control
> system based on biophysical sensors.
> If you still don't hate me :P, I would love to write you in pv and share
> our experience.

i dont want you to get the idea that i hate you or anyone that doesnt like
some aspect of my concept.  if i were so thin skinned, i'd be playing RnB on
sax like i did 20 years ago.  i chose this path and in amongst critiques are
sometime valuable information that i, have and will, continue to
incorporate.  definitely lets chat!

cheers to you,

Germany+49 176 3543 7859
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