A Distance Up-close for piano, real-time sampling, and interactive graphics


Abstract / About the project


A Distance Up-close for piano, real-time sampling, and interactive graphics - 9:42.
Premiered 14 November 2017 at the Sonics Explorations concert, Cincinnati College-conservatory of Music.

This work continues Keyes' interest in using real-time, multi-channel signal processing towards more immersive concert experiences, as well as his continued interest in using interactive graphics towards the same end. The specific artistic challenge of this piece was to create the desired immersive effect while somehow bringing the audience closer to the performer. The solution was to use a webcam to capture, close-up, the movements of the pianists hands in a rather virtuosic work and to add real-time video processing of the image to make the resulting images more abstract and interesting.

The key technical question was how to processes the webcam’s incoming video stream to create emotive and spontaneous graphics at a rate fast enough to maintain fluency with the image of the pianist on stage. The solution employed was to use down-sampling of the incoming video as a unifying visual effect for all of the 12 sections of the piece, with changing parameters for each section.

The challenge of the real-time audio programming was to use a process analogous to the video processing. The solution was to use granular sampling, taking the incoming signal from microphones and transforming them into granular clouds, floating at a distance around the audience. Parameters of the DSP processes are, along with the video processing, changed with each of the 12 sections of the work and are triggered by the performer.

The compositional process included using a Yamaha Disklavier grand to playback versions of the piano part and thus adjust the parameters of the audio processing, while recording the hand movements from the webcam for later playback and processing tests. The results perhaps extend the genre of the virtuosic piano solo into the realm of intermedia, and immersive experiences.

Works are released on Blu-ray and DVD "A CONNOTATION OF INFINITY" by PARMA Records in February 2020 with digital distribution by NAXOS Records and others. Available in Stereo, 5.1 and 13.1 (3D audio) channel formats with video.