Basic Tutorial

Prepare (prepare? there’s really no way to prepare for any of this!) by arranging your laptop/netbook/mobile device on a sturdy music stand or small table. Plug in earphones or earplugs if you want to follow the audible metronome, or else turn the sound off and simply follow the red and green dots (see below).

Select the part for your instrument (currently, string and brass parts are available), or select the generic treble and generic bass part, and just ignore the pitches outside your range (so, you may want to increase your density level to compensate, perhaps up one notch). When you open the link, you’ll see this main screen:

You’ll begin by selecting a density value (dV)—that’s how often events get generated. Solo (50 dV) and duo-to-quintet (128 dV) will generate notation events fairly quickly, about 37 and  26 times over a five minute period respectively. Small ensemble (378 dV) will be about 18 events, and large ensemble (1024 dV), 7 events over the same 5 minute period. The idea is that 80 performers each playing seven random events randomly over 5 minutes would result in a fairly interesting orchestral texture. The the longest possible time (in seconds) between events is very roughly, the dV number divided by 2pi (6.28—see? There is some math behind all this.). The shortest possible time between generated events is 1/2 second .

You can also type your own density value—type in a value between about 14 and 50 for more or less constant activity. A value of 1000 or more will generate notation events at a nearly glacial rate. After you enter a value, click on the button on the left:

Now, select a vocabulary. This is pretty self-explanatory, except that duplets/triplets and special effects will be more demanding for the performer—you need to read the notation, process it, and prepare to play it in the three count-down pulses before the green light. Try single pitches first, then work your way through other vocabularies:

The brass parts don’t currently have a ‘Special FX’ button. There’s also a ‘duplets + triplets Plus’ button, which allows repeats of figures. Vocabularies change as the project matures.

And finally, select a dynamic range:

When you select a dynamic range, you’ll go to the ‘ready’ state.

At this point, you can proceed with the performance, or return to the parameter settings to change them:

When you get the cue, press the ‘Begin’ button, notation events will be generated randomly, as often as the density range dictates, and with the selected vocabulary and dynamic range.

Pause takes you back to the ‘ready’ state.

Continue playing until you’re directed to do something else!

And, if you want a little more direction on how to perform in an actual ‘context’, check out the two scores I’m currently shopping around: The Sextet (2010), and the String Quartet with Digital Audio (2010). Enjoy!

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