coLABoratory: Lab 2 – Dan Visconti Explains His Inspiration

ACO’s “Playing it Unsafe” initiative is just what’s most needed at a time when everything about America’s major orchestral organizations—from programming to performance practice—seems increasingly routine compared to the range of musical and visual possibilities available to composers working today.

Lowcountry from Simon Tarr on Vimeo.

This current project, Glitchscape, is a collaboration with experimental film artist Simon Tarr (check out his website Quark Nova Films here). Simon has previously produced a fantastic film to accompany my composition Low Country Haze, which premiered in Spring 2012 at South Carolina’s Indie Grits Film Festival—so it’s great to take our collaboration one step further by creating a piece that features live video that pulses and syncs to the music via audio input algorithms. 

George Manahan & Dan Visconti

In Glitchscape, we’re looking to contrast our previous exploration of the natural world by incorporating technology into the project—specifically, a bunch of offbeat noisemakers and electronic toys that have been circuit-bent in order to make all kinds glitched sounds. The theme of glitching as distortion within a system is one that I’m eager to explore, and it’s cool to be playing with (and often abusing past the point of sanity!) several toys from the early 1980s such as the Speak & Spell unit.

Technology has come so far that old technology must be one of the most dated things imaginable—a casualty of the speed at which we move today, something that has been replaced by something newer and shinier and more efficient. This project will be an exploration of the expressive power of obsolescence, and how old and broken things have a way of touching us by virtue of their imperfections.
ACO & George Manahan

This process of exploration is a time-consuming and labored one, and it’s easy to see why most major orchestras might shy away from the rehearsal commitment in exploring such strange and uncharted territory. That’s why Simon and I are so psyched to have this tremendous opportunity to try out our work at several stages of completion. For the workshop on December 11th, we’ll be syncing a mockup video to some sample music for the strings in order to determine which electronics setups are possible—a prerequisite to developing the larger composition and an exciting point for beginning our explorations.

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