Spaces and Places: Samples and Final Touches

I’ll be in the Ferens Gallery, Hull this Wednesday performing the Wyndham Lewis as a Tyro composition! We had our first run through of the piece today, with two guitars, a lot of effects, and an Ableton-powered Launchpad and MidiMix.

It was a bit chaotic while we hammered down the structure, as I’d left the musical content quite open intentionally, but there are certain cues to quieten down, or get louder which have to be followed to keep us on track. What I’ve done is used the Wyndham Lewis samples I’m using (with permission from the Wyndham Lewis Memorial Trust), as a means to keep a strong timeline or narrative to the piece at all times. It is now organised chaos to a larger extent!

The samples are from recordings of Lewis reading his own work, and largely I have chosen an overarching theme of Lewis’ outlook on the world becoming more dangerous and unpredictable, as well as extracts from some of his more manifesto-like pieces with phrases such as “Hear Me” being used as a double meaning to double down on Lewis demanding attention from not just the painting the audience are looking at, but also to direct the audience’s attention. I have chosen to set the tone with a quote about how a “Sane World” would suit no one, to try and create this sound world as clearly abstract and in line with the Vorticist painting approach.

Some other samples have come from experiments with feedback loops my friend and I created, which are being started by music from a phone, and manipulated extensively. Lots of the others are pitched up and down so that the Launchpad is a melodic instrument to offset what the guitar is doing.

The Max patch I created works in Ableton seamlessly! I simplified it slightly to become a mono signal, but beyond that it just plugged in and worked! I found out by accidentally clicking Max for Live, and then when the box came up it looked familiar, so I just pasted my code in! It hadn’t crossed my mind that the two were that compatible, so it was a pleasant surprise. It’s a very basic patch, but it does everything I had hoped for, and has no noticeable impact on my computer during playback.

It’s taken a lot of planning, research and experimentation, so I’m thrilled it’s got off the ground, and is becoming a reality. We’ll be setting up tomorrow morning, bright and early, so fingers crossed that the next blog post will be discussing how much fun the event was!

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