By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Trying to keep track of Subotnick these days also demands a kind of virtuosity. Santa Fe is his home base; so is New York, and he has been known to look in on activities here as well. The best of his music has to do with combinations: computer-generated sounds interacting with live performers via ”intelligent“ software. His Key to Songs blends a live chamber ensemble into MIDI technology, and grabs at a Schubert melody for further leavening. His All My Hummingbirds Have Alibis, produced on a CD-ROM by the Voyager Company, surrounds one of Max Ernst‘s Surrealist collage works with a MIDI score and changes in sight and sound that the consumer can control at the computer. Two other computer programs produced for Voyager, Making Music and Making More Music, are ostensibly designed for children but have been known to enthrall certain older types as well (present company by no means excluded); you compose, you orchestrate, you mess around with harmonies, you work out convoluted counterpoints, you stay up late and miss deadlines.
You can think of these do-it-yourself programs, in fact, as a kind of return to the sense of those early LPs as a self-contained musical experience, but with a difference. Subotnick’s latest project is a software program whose working title is Gestures; the whole purpose of my words, in fact, is to get you to the bookstore at MOCA on Thursday, February 17, at 6:30 p.m., when he will be demonstrating his work-in-progress. ”Those early electronic pieces,“ he says, ”particularly Silver Apples, I see as a kind of chamber-music package for the home. Now I‘ll be getting back to that idea, but with all the extras that the computer allows. Now we can unwrap the package.
“Here’s how it works. The program will come on a DVD-ROM disc, which every computer will eventually be able to play, and which holds a fantastic amount of music, much more than a CD. You play the music, but you use your mouse to control what you‘re actually hearing. With your mouse you can change the location of the music in the space of the room. You can change the speed. You can change the relative intensity of the sounds, the way a conductor can change the emphasis of different instruments within a symphony orchestra. The computer can read your gestures, the way you’re actually using the mouse, and these gestures also affect the way the music occurs. On the screen, the animated story will also change as it relates to your own gestures. Every piece, therefore, and every image can become an infinite number of pieces and images.
”My God, I just realized,“ says Subotnick, ”the Wizard of Oz has become a mouse!“
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