Being in Time

Instrumentation:  Wind Ensemble, Conductor-controlled Electronics (kinect controller, computer running Max-MSP), Interactive Video (laptop running Max-MSP, projector) & stereo playback system. Also available for performance with either DVD or just CD playback.

Duration:  10:00

UVA Wind Ensemble
Paramount Theatre
Charlottesville, VA

Program Note

Being in Time, scored for Wind Ensemble, conductor-controlled electronics and interactive video, plays with our experience of flow, in music, in visuals, in time. Supported in part by a Faculty Research Grant for the Arts from the Office of the Provost & the Vice Provost for the Arts at the Univerisity of Virginia, the piece combines interactive technologies: a kinect controller reads the conductor’s gestures to play and shape the electronic sound; activity level, amplitude and frequency bands collected from two microphones control the visual elements. In order to make it accessible to many kinds of wind ensembles, the piece can also be performed without the interactive elements, with either a DVD for playback, or just a CD, with the electronic sounds.

The components for this complex of parts was created by a team at the University of Virginia led by myself. Team members also include Bill Pease, Director of Bands, together with the Wind Ensemble; Technical Directors Dave Topper and Travis Thatcher; composers Joe Adkins and Paul Turowski, both in the PhD program in the UVA Composition and Computing Technologies program; Nathan Grantham, who holds an MA from the UVA Engineering program; and Rachel Beaton, a graduate student in the Astronomy Department. Professor Ellen Bass, a former member of the Computer Science faculty, also contributed to the development of the project.

As I considered the concept of Being in Time, I thought about the relationship between time and place, and decided to make all the elements local in origin, in Charlottesville and the beautiful surrounding Blue Ridge region. I created the electronic music by processing recordings she made of wind ensemble members. Meanwhile, the interactive programming for the kinect controller that reads the conductor’s gestures and the programming for the interactive visuals were developed by Paul Turowski in consultation with me, while I worked on the background video with composer and animator Joe Adkins. The images came from photos of Charlottesville and its night skies taken by Ms. Beaton and of the night sky and blue ridge area round Charlottesville by filmmaker Alex Reshnikov.–JS