Cohere tells the story of the rituals and habits that we miss from our pre-COVID world. ACF will commission an 8-minute sonic experience, which ACO premieres in Fall 2021. From there I will create a longer 50-minute work that includes film to premiere during the 2023 SONiC Festival. Additional funds will be secured by ACO for the larger commission.
I am creating a work that will have two types of audiences: 1.) a traditional in-person audience, watching a group of musicians or soloist play live in front of them, both in NYC and in locations around the world and 2.) an online virtual audience that can take multiple forms: individuals on a smartphone, households watching from their homes, or community groups gathered at their local church, community center, or recital hall. The result is 3 types of aural experiences: NYC Live, mini gatherings with soloists around the world, and virtual audiences.
I want the audience to experience the ways we are connected by creating a digital space for us to see, hear, and feel interactions with others, whether they are next door or around the world.
To achieve this experience, I am using Clean Feed, a new technology I’ve used with many digital projects to achieve low-latency performances. With it, I capture sound being played from different locations around the world and remove the latency effect by matching up the sounds into a single downbeat. I have illustrated how the system works in “Musical Telephone Around the World,” attached with this proposal.
The sonic experience begins with a welcoming ritual, with participants joining the audio from their own device. One at a time, they introduce themselves as they are let in; a simple greeting including a hello, their name, and their location. This will be recorded for use later in the piece. Instructions are given to inhale, then sing a note on exhale. After practicing this together we start the process freely with a harmonic from the viola and signal the end the same way, all lasting about a minute.
The recording of the audience’s greetings will be played back using granular synthesis; one greeting turning into many and being played simultaneously at different speeds. As the sound crescendos the orchestra enters, picking out the subtle melodies being played with the granular synthesizer that fades out as the viola takes its place, merging acoustic sound and live processing.
Next, imagine we are inside an empty subway car, looking closely at the metal bars we use to stabilize ourselves, the edges and rivets of the windows people used to run their fingers on. A voice narrates the scene speaking about these things and how being around large numbers of people used to feel safe though it was crowded - there was a comfort in numbers and the pressure and presence of others. The voices of musicians begin to fade in, sharing their pre-rehearsal and pre-performance rituals, the many sounds, musical and non-musical, that they miss: ordering a cup of coffee, the opening of a case, greeting their colleagues.
In the next section, we enter something similar to a zoom room: the orchestra at the bottom of the screen is spread out outside of the boxes and myself and musicians from around the world are in boxes with our locations and names.
I envision creating a global game of “Telephone,” which I will start in NYC. All our audio is routed in such a way that we play a melody one at a time, which is passed to artists performing from different locations live on network, gradually contributing to a round that we will play together simultaneously from our various locations. Once the round travels around the world I will then play the granular synthesizer of greetings from the audience and the round will fade out. We will end the piece as it began with breathing and singing, with the orchestra taking the lead.
Throughout the performance, the orchestra will function similarly to an opera orchestra, tying sections together and alternating between foreground and background.