Panda Half-Life — 2010

Panda Half-Life is a 20-minute work for 6 voices, live audio processing / electronics, multi-channel sound and gestural controllers (Nintendo Wii and iPhones) — commissioned for Magic Names vocal ensemble by Jerome Commissioning Program (American Composers’ Forum) and with support from Harvestworks.

The work makes use of extended vocal technique percussive vocalizations as well as more traditional vocal writing, and spoken word.   It is influenced by Stockhausen, Meredith Monk, Ligeti, Trevor Wishart, and also many early music and non-western vocal ensemble traditions (i.e. use of phonemes and overtones,  abstract but very human vocal gestures and melody, clusters, and complex interwoven  rhythmic patterns).

I also wrote a custom computer program for the live audio processing components of the work, using Max/MSP.  The piece is fully scored using traditional and graphic notation, and includes a few aleatoric/improvisational sections.   I explore the musical and acoustic interaction of six voices with a variety of textures and structures.   With six separate live audio processes, I create a uniquely enhanced and interactive electronic vocal ensemble sound using polyrhythmic textures. aleatoric musical gestures, audio triggers, and Morse Code to create rhythmic structures out of text, all controlled via. live pitch tracking, envelope following, with live sampling and vocal processing.

Magic Names ensemble (with Gisburg, Peter Sciscioli, Robert Osborne, Daisy Press, Nick Hallett, Dafna Naphtali) formed in 2007 to perform Karlheinz Stockhausen’s seminal vocal  work, Stimmung.

In June 2010, Magic Names vocal ensemble premiered Panda Half-Life paired with an excerpt of Stimmung, at Issue Project Room  (Brooklyn). as part of the month long 2010 Darmstadt Institute series.  Both pieces made use of the venue’s unique 15-channel sound system to enhance and clarify the electronics and the pure and extended vocal sounds in both pieces.

In April 2011 we recorded Panda Half-Life at New York University’s Dolan Recording Studios and plan a repeat performance in the next season.