Current Focus

Our current focus is get used to it man thats the way we live now, a work for solo piano and electronics by Matthias Kriesberg. The piece, in both concert and Installation/Performance versions, realizes our latest ideas on using performance analysis to mediate real-time sound transformation through virtuosic performance.

The electronic part of get used to it man ... is to an extent the product of data generated from comparing the current performance to both the score and to previous performances. The comparisons quantify the real-time decisions made by virtuoso musicians as they navigate the music. Analysis of this high dimensional data stream is then used to control real-time transformation of the sound of the piano itself.

We use computers for three essential elements of the music:

  • Real-time sound transformation
  • Performance analysis
  • Score processing

These elements are fully integrated as a suite of tools and technologies that create the computer-generated sound world which integrates with the live piano during performances of get used to it man ....

The real-time sound transformations developed for this piece are designed to leverage unique characteristics of the piano. The upshot is that they dramatically transform some aspects of the instrument's sound while leaving others unaltered. Listen to examples.

The performance analysis technology evaluates and measures in real time highly specific details of the performance. The resulting analysis data form the basis of secondary sound transformation ("fine tuning") and cross-player comparisons. Read more here.

The score processing programs allow completely machine-readable scores to be derived from MusicXML files exported from composition software such as Sibelius or Dorico. Machine-readable scores are an essential part of get used to it man ... because they allow the computer to compare how a pianist performs the work relative to the written score at all times.

Here in summary is how the above elements function together:

The electronic part for get used to it man ... is a real-time complex spectral transformation of the sound of the piano as the piece is performed. The transformation process is controlled based on data derived from an analysis of both (1) how an individual player interprets the score, and (2) how those musical decisions compare with those of other performances of the same passage in the piece.

The performance analysis measures the performance of numerous specific moments in the score. These evaluations - measurements against (1) the score as a notated set of precise instructions and (2) the precise same score location from other performances captured - yield a continuously evolving stream of performance-specific transformation information.

Development

Currawong Project is developing get used to it man ... in ongoing phases.

    PhaseStatus
    Tools and TechnologyLargely completed but always ongoing
    Workshop data collection and algorithm refinementCurrent
    Installation/Performance recordings and designFall 2021
    Installation/Performance and concert version planning2021 and beyond
    Concert versionsFirst complete performances TBD.

In the first phase, the underlying tools and technology were developed to (1) analyze piano performance and (2) electronically transform the sound of the piano.

This research phase of the Currawong Project was generously supported by the Qualcomm Institute at the University of California San Diego.

In the next phase, a number of pianists will record multiple MIDI performances of a typically challenging, complex section of the score (about 2 minutes) from which we will extract data on how their performances vary - both from one performance to another by the same pianist, and then also identifying differences between the pianists' overall approaches. We are doing this to vet our tools and technologies, and to discover more metrics to compare we may not have considered in phase one.

We expect the MIDI-captured performances of a given section to vary sometimes subtly, sometimes overtly. Because the electronics are generated through a combination of individual and group analysis, we want to accrue enough data that we can reach meaningful conclusions and implement course correction or new directions altogether.

In the Installation/Performance phase 15 pianists collectively record uniquely assigned sections of the entire piece (approximately 37 minutes) to prepare for public Installation/Performances hosted by museums and comparable venues. The pianists will also collaborate with a video artist to record the imagery that will appear on the video wall during the Installation/Performances.

The final phase will be ongoing as more and more performances take place, in both concert and Installation/Performance versions, of the full 37-minute piece. The overall goal is ongoing performances of both concert and Installation/Performance versions, by which the electronics continually evolve both in response to an immediate performance, and - over time, without limitation - as input from pianists around the world is from time to time uploaded to Currawong Project's platform, thereby influencing the electronic output of future performances of the piece. More info at Currawong Labs.

Updates will be posted on an ongoing basis.