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.


Landmine – Disklavier / sound-processing

landmine (2000 rev. 2007/2017) is a composition and performance project created for pianist Kathleen Supové,, on Yamaha Disklavier Grand Piano and with live-audio processing by Dafna Naphtali.  Commissioned in 1999 by American Composers Forum for Supové, it premiered that year.  The various sections of the piece are named for Unix processes, each one related to the musical concepts for that section. The piece has been performed in NY, Florida and Australia, was finally recorded by Supové and Naphtali in 2017, and performed most recently in 2019 at Areté in Brooklyn, NY. in 2019, landmine was finally released on Supové’s critically acclaimed album “Eye to Ivory” (Starkland label).

The composition and performance of this piece rely heavily on programs Naphtali has written in Max/MSP:  The piano part is based on a real-time algorithmic compositional “toy” that she developed, inspired by the music of Nancarrow and Xenakis.  It was used to generate all the basic harmonic and rhythmic materials used in writing the piece. 

The live audio processing in the piece uses a program she’s been developing since 1993 to control an Eventide effects processor, and it is an extension of the computer-instrument she uses in composed and improvised performances. Finally, in two sections (most notably the last measures of :q! quit without saving), the pianist improvises with and against the same algorithm that was used to generate the raw material for the piano parts, as well as with a program that creates “piano for 14 hands”.  The title reflects the way the “toy” algorithm behaves — inserting chords and repetitions in unexpected places that could potentially overwhelm the performer.

landmine: {dafna naphtali} movements

xp swap
:sh invoke a shell
:q! quit without saving

Performance 2/25/19 at Areté Venue & Gallery in Greenpoint Brooklyn, NY.
Kathleen Supové, piano.  Dafna Naphtali, live electronics / processing.

See video of Kathleen Supové performing with Naphtali at NIME 2007 in NYC.

Landmine @ NIME conference 2007 from Dafna Naphtali on Vimeo.

A standalone installation version of Landmine 1999/2007/2019 using an algorithm in Max to control the Disklavier and and create the piano parts for the composition. The piano reacts to anyone who wishes to play along. This was recorded at Extended Piano Festival in NY 2011 (works for Disklavier)