Perpetual: For Alto Saxophone and Live Electronics
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“Perpetual” is a composition conceptualized around the idea of thought loops and the mental cacophony constructed through the accumulation of these echoing thoughts. “Perpetual” is comprised of four short movements inspired by an accumulation of some repetitive energy as interpretted through musical gesture - [A] Pulse, [B] Ripple, [C] Swirl, [D] Crash. These descriptors reflect the energy building up in the alto saxophone part in terms of pitch, timbre, and rhythmic intensity over the course of the piece. The saxophone part is a graphic score made up of short saxophone phrases and gestures connected using box notation. A single starting point at the beginning of each movement branches into a number of different possible progressions of gestures leading to a single endpoint in each movement. The means by which these gestures or phrases move between one another in the score is also inspired by the title of each movement, perhaps most clearly visible in [C] “Swirl”, in which gestures progress in several interlinked circular patterns. The electronic performer is responsible for triggering echos of various previously heard gestures in Ableton using a combination of manipulated MIDI playback, live audio capture, and audio effect. Pre-loaded MIDI clips correspond with gestures played by the saxophonist. These echoes accumulate, becoming more dense and cacaphonous over the course of the piece, culminating in a sea of echoes accompanying the frantic gestures and phrases in the saxophone that abruptly collapse into silence at the end of the piece. The varying paths available to the saxophonist encourage an interactive interplay between the saxophone and computer performance, as the saxophonist’s progression dictates which gestures can be echoed in the electronic accompaniment.