Tag Archives: pd

Thea Musgrave’s Narcissus

5 Oct

A couple years ago, I put together a Pure Data patch for playing Thea Musgrave’s Narcissus with my friend Margaret Rowley, a great flute player and ethnomusicologist. This was one of my first times making a software solution for some piece of hardware that was either too hard to get a hold of, or didn’t exist anymore. Narcissus calls for a delay unit that has some pitch modulation too, with very specific instructions for delay time and feedback, so making a Pd patch to emulate it wasn’t so bad.

I went the route of programming the patch to be played by a separate performer, playing a separate computer part (every time I say that, it reminds me how my parents would make me stop playing the computer all the time growing up). I’ll probably post my part soon, but I guess I have to track it down first. 🙂 Anyhow, here is the patch:


All the controls can be controlled from the computer keyboard (no MIDI controller or other interface). I’ll post more detailed instructions later, with the computer part.

a to b equals c

25 Jul

I wrote this for my good friends Shawn Teichmer and Jamie Lewis.  They were very patient with me, and premiered it at the College where they teach, Spring Arbor University in Michigan, and at NASA in the Spring of 2010.

This piece explores three different relationships that can occur between musicians, those that are humans and those that are computers.

The first movement is acoustic, with the piano and saxophone developing some material.  All the while, the computer listens and remembers.

In the second movement, the computer drives.  It starts with a footswitch trigger, and goes.  The computer is making lots of sound, and continues to listen to the humans, and comments a little, but mostly doesn’t pay attention.

In the third movement, the computer and humans are supposed to play together, but the computer stops listening completely, like a crappy person in your chamber group.  It’s hard to play a 3/2 clave together when the rhythm section isn’t listening…

a->b=c mvt. 1 score

a->b=c mvt. 3 score

Impending Green

24 Jul

2008 – Alto Saxophone or Viola and Pure Data – Nate Bliton

I wrote this for my friend Shawn Teichmer and it has developed into what is my first fully-fledged piece for a separate performer and electronics.


With this piece, I wanted to take effects and compositional devices commonly found in classical and popular electronic music, and employing them in real time.  Maybe my favorite compositional device in electronic music, cutting up a recording and reassembling it, in a different order, in a rhythmic figure, or to create a new texture, is easy to do on a computer with audio editing software (if time-intensive), but it would be very difficult to move one’s mouse fast enough and with such accuracy to be able to “play the computer” along with another musician in a performance.  This Pure Data patch plays this part, sampling the musician’s playing through out the piece for later use, applying reverb and pitch-shifters, and taking turns following and leading the musician, as the score dictates.  The computer is listening for pitches and rests to know where in the score the musician is playing and how fast the musician is taking the piece, and accordingly follows a list of instructions dictating when to record, when and at which tempo to play back and when to apply different effects to the musician’s amplified sound.  All of the sounds played by the computer come from the performer over the course of the piece, and can be played by any instrument capable of playing the range of pitches dictated in the musician’s part of the score.

Alto Sax Version

Viola Version

Impending Green Instructions

Impending Green – Alto Sax Part

Human Language

8 Sep

A Human Language

This piece was partly about my slow acceptance of atonal music early in my undergrad. This PD patch generates tones at random frequencies within a specified set, the user also haveing control over the frequency and volume of their occurence.
Its second function is slicing up and sequencing an audio input which can be looped. The audio slicer will cut up conversation of the listening audience in a way that will render it recognizable as speech, but unintelligible as language. To me, this was what anything but the most tonally clear music was up my new education in college. So, in this I’m trying to draw the comparison of atonal music to the untrained ear to idle conversation to someone who doesn’t understand English.

For the piece, I control the recording, volume and frequency of occurence with a keyboard controller, so while the specific notes and rhythms are randomly generated by the computer, I have full control over the general direction of the piece.