Barrel

Barrel is a piece composed by Mike Rotondo and I for the Stanford Laptop Orchestra. Unlike our duet work in Feedbørk, Barrel is meant for a larger ensemble. We call it Barrel mainly because the majority of the performers play instruments controlled by a 3D Gametrak Controller duct taped to a large central barrel (see diagram). When those performers duck down, they make no sound. Their volume increases as they rise and their pitch changes as they move closer or further from the barrel. Atop the barrel, the conductor stands and guides the performers to form different Reich-inspired chords, also cueing volume and swells appropriately.

In addition to the barrelists, a soloist stands out front playing another Gametrak Controller with a different interaction and a much different sound. The soloist instrument is a randomized diatonic arpeggiator with controls for speed, spread, detune, and volume mapped to its different dimensions. The soloist also has a foot pedal which will shift the key of everybody in the performance up by a minor third.

Watch the video to get a better sense of this experimental piece. There is a fairly long arc to the performance, so if you want to get to the heart of the piece I recommend skipping to 4:45 in the video.

Check out the academic paper on many-person musical instruments.

An excerpt from Barrel.

Transporting Barrel through Stanford Campus, trying not to look too suspicious.