F(OUR) improVISatIONS on cummings for piano and interactive graphics


Abstract / About the project


Four Improvisations on Cummings for piano and interactive graphics

I - in Just-spring 4:29

II - a connotation of infinity 4:34

III - there is a moon sole in the blue 4:35

IV - always before your voice my soul 5:38

Throughout his career, Keyes has been keenly interested in utilizing new technologies to extend the capabilities of acoustic instruments in concerts, and in recordings. The aim has been towards more immersive concert experiences while retaining the versatility, sonic detail, and expressiveness of traditional acoustic instruments. The intention of creating these four improvisations was to simultaneously revive an older tradition of improvisation by keyboard composers (e.g. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, etc.) while extending the genre into decisively 21st-century practices. The solution they employ is the use of interactive graphics, transforming the improvisations into works of Intermedia (where the focus is on the interaction of the different media in the same piece). Specifically, software was written (by Keyes) to take data from a MIDI sensor just over the piano keys, and use it to trigger successive words in one of four poems by e. e. cummings. One question quickly arose; how to create visual unity of the projected text while maintaining enough diversity to hold interest over the duration of the four pieces. The unity was addressed by using the same typeface in all four pieces and using similar ‘rules’ for how the text would be projected. It was decided velocity would determine the size of the font, and frequency the position on the vertical axis. For diversity, each movement uses a unique visual processing of the text which also reflects the meaning of the poetry. The creative process was one of trying different playing techniques to see how they affected the graphics, and adjusting the graphics programming to better respond to the MIDI data and maximize the relationship between the meaning of the text and the graphics produced. The results are a much more immersive experience.

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.

Always before your voice my soul