Monday, August 18, 2008

Novus Ordo Seclorum

I was recently awarded a large award and commission for my proposal for a premiere celebrating "Constitution day".  I will post a video of the premiere, date TBD.  A summary of my proposal is listed below:

Name: Novus Ordo Seclorum
Instrumentation: 8 Instrumental Musicians, 20-30 Vocalists, Orator, Conductor, Projection
Time: Approx 6-8. minutes
Tech Requirements: Computer, Wireless Controller, Projector

The United States Constitution is often considered the single greatest force in sculpting the landscape of 20th and 21st century politics, locally and internationally. Without blueprint, or precedent, our founding fathers drafted the most significant document of young America, hewn from the hopes and dreams of a nation that craved equality, authority, and liberty. They created. They eschewed tradition. They functioned in wild bursts of imagination and horror. They were artists.

Novus Ordo Seclorum, from the Great Seal of the United States, translates to "new order for the ages". The proposed composition is an attempt to capture the ethos of the political culture at the time of the Philadelphia convention.  The thrill of uncertainty and the joy of human collaboration are embodied in a unique vision, developed by me.  Novus Ordo Seclorum features a set of live performers, underscoring a series of dramatic readings, where the music is generated, and notated, by a computer.

The notated music is a tribute to the beautiful new graphical interface of MAX 5.  The score is best described as "Riley's in C, but moving".  Repeated harmonic and melodic patterns writhe and undulate under a series of dramatic readings that transport the listener on a journey through the rich history of the American Constitution.  The procedural modulations are audibly, and visibly, apparent, as the generated music and text will be projected for the musicians as well as the audience to enjoy.  The projection is aesthetic and functional; there are no other scores available. All eyes are on the same target. Everyone looks together.

A conductor will be necessary, but (s)he is employed in a unique and unusual way.  (S)he will not control tempo - but will instead control dynamics, instrumentation, modulation, and the overall flow of the music.  This will be accomplished with the help of a wireless protocol, developed by Ewen, that allows communication between computer and a Nintendo "wii-mote" controller in the conductors hand.  Improvisatory changes are relayed to a computer which will be immediately displayed on the projection.  The remote allows for 11 unique buttons, as well as tracking pitch and roll data (the conductor will be able to make realistic hand gestures on stage).  There is also a force feedback system of vibration and 4 LED's that will allow the computer to relay subtle information to the conductor. The computer will choose from a bank of rhythms, pitches, and quotations and present them to the orchestra to play.

Please find enclosed copies of the necessary drivers and handlers for the wireless system.  The entire rig (drivers, handlers, UI, wireless interface, projection) has been successfully tested for 9 hours, at a distance of 45 feet, without failure.  The technical requirements of this performance are: a computer with bluetooth, wii-mote, and projector.

This project begs involvement. From collaborating musicians, to the wireless conductor, to the audience - everyone who experiences this music will feel exhilaration through uncertainty, civic pride through subject matter, and unity through collaboration.  Thank you for considering my proposal.  I hope you find it worthy of performance.