Tiny Wings Make Tidal Waves started in 2022 as an idea I had while participating in the Common Tone Arts Institute for Creativity. At its very core, I wanted to create an immersive experience for the audience to undertake in which they received an educational and factually backed look at the state of the planet and an inspirational look at how we as individuals can impact it for the better. I pair these goals with evocative trombone playing to activate personal feelings and convictions within participants.
In order to communicate my concept I worked in a visual programming language called MAX/MSP. With the greatly appreciated assistance of a past professor, Dr. Brian Penkrot, I built a patch that both creates a sonic space for me as the performer to interact within, and modifies said space through intentional (and sometimes randomized) programming.
Within the patch, I have pre-recorded 7 tones that creating looping drones. The base drone is D and it never changes. The 6 other tones (Bb, C, E, F, G, and A) modulate at specified times to specified intervals. For example, the Bb will modulate up or down an interval of a minor 3rd every 59 seconds.
Within the context of the sound, a simple change seems like it would be almost insignificant. However, each tonal shift alters the entire sonic space within which the live performer is playing. Therefore, if I play one phrase within one space, and then again when the space has changed, the phrase too will be changed.
The second aspect of the patch controls harmonizations, in other words, the way that MAX/MSP adds notes to the note that I am playing to create a chord. I programmed 16 different harmonizations that change the function of the chord (major, minor, diminished, augmented) and the function of my note within the chord (root, 3rd, 5th, 7th). I control the switch with the push of a button, and MAX picks the rest with a randomizer. In the same way as before, I could be playing the exact same phrase, but the simple shifts in chord quality and stacking will drastically change what you, the audience, perceive.
The third aspect (added in 2023) is the function for live recording and playing back. I can turn on the record function at any time, and the patch will capture my live performance. The patch then randomly selects my recorded clips to play them back in any order at any time. I can then chose to converse with the recordings, respond to the recordings, or otherwise interact with the recordings in a way to symbolize to the impact of an individual.
Through the sheer improvisatory and randomized nature of the piece it will be different every time it is performed. I will continue to evolve the patch and update the information in a constant search for applicability. In spite of the scientific facts presented and the compositional aspects discussed, this piece is designed to be relevant to any person with any background.
I fully believe that every action will have a result, either for the better or not. I believe that anything we as humanity can do with our planet in mind will have a positive impact on the planet. Thank you for joining me on this journey.
~ PLEASE NOTE: This page is for archival performances only, please visit the Tiny Wings Make Tidal Waves (Live) page to participate in an in-person experience. ~
Archival Recording No. 1
Common Tone Music Festival
June 18, 2022