New Systems for Sequential Circus 17

I am very privileged to call Sequential Circus “home”. It is the ideal platform me for me to perform and experiment with new music and concepts, and October 2015’s Sequential Circus 17 was more of the same.

Not only did I perform using a newly-developed, hardware-based system which allowed for an entirely improvised set, I also debuted a new addition to the visual aspect of the live setup, the RGB Wedge.

This new live setup is very different from previous rigs: the aim was to be able to confidently build entirely improvised tracks, instead relying on pre-programmed material. I also sought to simplify the “human-to-machine interface” as much as possible. Notes input to the system come from either the MIDI keyboard (Nord Lead) or a drum controller (Alesis ControlPad) with a scale-quantized matrix of 8 pads. Using the drum sticks I can record a percussive pattern into Machinedrum, play a bassline in Monomachine, chop up sampled breaks or lay down pads in Ableton, and plenty more. I can do the same using MIDI Note data from the Nord Lead. Ableton Live allows me to translate, route and record this MIDI data, and the Machinedrum acts as the master clock and transport control. This allows me to manually beatmatch alongside DJs or other performers. It’s very versatile.

A new addition to the visual presentation, the RGB wedge is a 1/2” thick acrylic panel in the shape of a shield, with an array of individually addressable RGB LEDs lining the edge. Driven by a Heroic Robotics Pixel Pusher, Ableton Live running on a second laptop receives timing clock from the master laptop over ethernet, and sends pixel data to the wedge via a Max for Live patch and a Processing sketch. All communication within the system takes place over IP through a local wireless router. This allows the user, using any app capable of sending OSC messages across a network, to communicate with the system. In this case, a Lemur patch running on iPad, was given to the audience to allow them to intuitively shift through different colour fades and patterns, projecting them on to the wedge. As a proof of concept, this presents exciting potential moving forwards into more ambitious audience-controlled interaction.

I am a great believer in the power of systems designs, and I am really proud of this setup – I have a powerful and intuitive platform which allows for a very fluid expression of the technoes.