Michael Edwards

segmentation fault beta 1.1

Programme Note

segmentation fault beta 1.1 is a composition for prepared, digitally processed piano and live, computer-mixed sound files. It uses software (Artimix) written by Michael Edwards to trigger and mix (in real time) sound files stored on the computer's hard disk. With this software, sounds are mapped to the keys of the computer keyboard and triggered at will during the performance. Each sound can also be mapped to a specific MIDI channel so that individual gain control can be applied to each sound in the mix through the use of a MIDI fader box. The computer part therefore consists of triggering prepared sounds and controlling their relative amplitudes.

This piece is a collaboration between the two performers: Marco Trevisani, prepared piano; Michael Edwards, computer. The sounds used were created by the composers using Common Lisp Music, the signal generating and processing software written by Bill Schottstaedt at Stanford University, California. They were realised with sample processing and manipulation of sounds from various sources, including piano, prepared piano and cello, as well as through direct synthesis using Frequency Modulation techniques.

As this was a collaboration between two composers, and also because it involved new technology unfamiliar to us, the process of composition was an investigative one. It involved a great deal of studio time, necessitated by the constant refining and redefining of our ideas and goals, the need to come to an agreement on how to proceed with our (often different) ideas, the fine tuning of the interaction between piano and computer, and our desire to take time to fully realise the potential that the software offered when used in conjunction with the piano. As such, the piece has no real score to date. Instead, because of the close collaboration between the work's two creators, all of the material has been memorised and is open to further interpretation as the need or desire arises. What is essential to the piece, however, is that the two sound sources interact with equal importance, that the palette of sounds remains cohesive and integrated across the two sources, and that the rhythm of the piece proceeds in an almost continuous, yet highly varied manner.