“Biomuse Trio” (2008-10) by Eric Lyon, with interaction and interface design by Eric Lyon and R Benjamin Knapp. Featuring the Biomuse Trio: Gascia Ouzounian (violin), Eric Lyon (computer), R Benjamin Knapp (biosensors). Recorded in March 2010 at the Sonic Lab (Sonic Arts Research Centre, Belfast).
Programme Notes by Eric Lyon:
My first work for biomuse, the Biomuse Trio is scored for violin, laptop and Biomuse. This work was developed in close collaboration with biomuse inventor Ben Knapp and violinist Gascia Ouzounian, with frequent rehearsals during the course of composition. We initially explored performance interaction between the three instruments. However the division of labor that emerged soon favored interactions between violin and biomuse. It became clear that the musical gestures of violin and biomuse were simply much more interesting to watch than those on laptop. So the role of the laptop became primarily to capture and edit violin samples, and to manage the progression of the Max patch through each movement. As in my other computer chamber music, the computer sounds are all derived from acoustic sounds captured during performance. The initial violin chord is sampled by the laptop performer and quickly edited. Shortly thereafter, stacks of this chord are triggered using forearm EMG signals. This chord then serves as the source for most of the computer-generated sounds heard during the rest of the movement. An attraction of this approach is that the compositionally fixed harmonic and rhythmic patterns will vary sonically between performances, as differences in the quality of the performed chord and other live-sampled materials propagate through the various DSP processing schemes. Of course this happens naturally in successful acoustic instrumental performances; it does not happen to nearly the same degree in performance with the playback of prepared sound files. While this is attractive, the use of live sampling can introduce new problems: insufficient production value, enhanced flaws of the sound environment, and a critical danger from incorrectly played or (much worse) missed sampled sounds.