Instrumentation: Amplified flute, interactive electronics (Max-MSP (version 5 or higher), foot pedal and stereo playback)
Commission: Patricia Spencer and the Virginia Commission for the Arts
KAIROS is a Greek word signifying the most propitious moment for a new undertaking, as in Ulysses setting out on his journey. This meaning suggested a compositional journey on several levels: an adventure into a new medium, a shaping of the musical sojourn, and a particular relationship between the flute and its electronic reflections. The utterances of the flute take place through the medium of effects processing, which variously amplifies, distorts, contradicts, blurs, enhances, or transparently transmits them. The path that the flute traverses was inspired by that of Ulysses, from the heraldic opening and calling forth to the journey, through passages of arduous difficulty, tenacious movement, clear sailing, magical dreaming. The choice to limit the sound resources to overt transformations of the flute’s own sound can be understood both as an extension and transformation of the flute into a newly emergent instrument and as a comment on, a response to, its original voice.
Now available for amplified flute with interactive processing using Max-MSP, the original involved a variety of outboard peripherals. In both cases, there is real-time processing, controlling such parameters as reverberation, EQ, delay, pitch feedback, LFO depth and speed. The computer’s “score” is organized into sections which are triggered by the performer via foot switch at specified points. However, within sections the flutist has no control over these transformations. They can be understood not merely as mechanical transformations but as the uncontrollable fate to which the flutist/protagonist is subject. The composition of Kairos was supported by an individual composer’s fellowship from the Virginia Commission on the Arts. It was composed for and is dedicated to Patricia Spencer.
“…The works by Shatin are more challenging technically, but are worth the extra effort for their unusual and attractive atmospheres…. Kairos (1991) for flute, computer and effects processing. The relationship of the flute and its player’s singing voice to the electronic medium is unique to this work. Several extended techniques are used by the live performer, but even more exotic transformations are achieved by the manipulation of all the sound material ….This sets the music off on a Ulysses-like journey containing all the challenges and dream-sequences a true adventure should have.”
–Pan, The Journal of the British Flute Society
“Kairos, for flute, computer and effects processing… Shatin’s electronic effects conspire by and large in the creation of a preternatural space for the flute’s sentimental journey….If it’s a rapturous mood you’re after, this well produced Neuma provides it in high-quality abundance.”
– Mike Silverton, American Record Guide