Beacons is an improvisational work-in-progress, somewhere between a video game, a musical instrument, and a composition. It is based on a simple app I've written that allows users to interact with an elementary "configuration space" -- that is, a musical field in which the two dimensions are not pitch vs. time (as they are in a traditional musical score) but rather pitch vs. pitch. Every point on the screen thus refers to a pair of notes, with the x- and y-coordinates determining their positions in pitch space. (You could say that the screen is "a piano keyboard times a piano keyboard": in the lower-left part of the screen, the beacon corresponds to two low notes; in the upper-right, two high notes; the upper-left and lower-right have one high note and one low note.) Into this field, the performer can place blinking objects which alternate between two pitches, creating loops that can be either synchronized or rhythmically independent. The result is a kind of "sloppy minimalism." Beacons can also be copied, deleted, or given velocity, a very simple mechanism that leads to surprising complexity.

Peforming Beacons

I have performed the piece with my colleague Rudresh Mahanthappa, with Beacons providing the backdrop for improvisation. This adds a whole new dimension to the piece! Here's an early video of us performing, where the computer backdrop is a little hard to see.

Coming in a week or so: a simple explanatory video.

Coming this summer: a more polished, studio video, with more active and interesting electronics!

Coming later: an online version that others can use.