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Improv:21:
Chris Brown & Tim Perkis - Machines and Others

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Item Type: Video Duration: 83 min
Event Type: Lecture and Panel Discussion Program Origin: ROVA

Recorded on April 9, 2007 at the San Francisco Performance Library, Derk Richardson engages Chris Brown and Tim Perkis in a discussion, before a live audience, about the processes and challenges of improvising electronic music. Both early pioneers of computer music, Brown and Perkis have been performing improvised electronic and electro-acoustic music since the late 1970s, and at various times have performed in such groups as the League of Automatic Music Composers, The Hub, Rova:Orkestrova, and The Natto Quartet. Both Perkis, a professional computer programer, and Chris Brown, a pianist and composer, describe how their initial interest in computer music came out of their early experiences with analog synthesizers, when people often built their own gear in the tradition of Harry Partch. From these humble beginnings they then relate how they began experimenting with a new form of improvisation by combining these innovative instruments into primitive networks and computerized ensembles that enabled them to explore the instruments characteristics and emergent behaviors. Through the years they have identified numerous challenges to improvising electro-acoustic performances, including the danger of the electronics overwhelming their acoustic counterparts; the difficulty of dealing with all that gear and the time it takes to set up; the uncertainty of what a particular electronic configuration will sound like; and how to manage the often overwhelming number of options that modern electronic instruments offer. Other insights include the importance of listening and not listening when improvising; the need to make each other sound good without resorting to mimicking each other; and the benefits of forming a relationship while preserving one’s own distinct sound and space. Over time their interest in computer music has evolved from one in which the discovery of new sounds was paramount to a point where it is now about building new relationships and structures with this ever expanding set of resources. To highlight many of the points they endeavor to make, Perkis and Brown present a number of recordings made over the past few decades, as well as performing two live improvisations. For anyone with an interest in electronic music, be it the early experimentation by David Tudor and John Cage, or the tech savvy sounds of a Laetitia Sonami and Pamela Z, this program is bound to offer new insights, novel sounds, and considerable enjoyment.

[This is ROVA: Arts un-edited camera footage.]

Musical Selections:  [live improvisation No. 1] (3:20) / Tim Perkis & Chris Brown -- Obedience School, for modified percussion keyboard and electronics [excerpt] (ca. 1985) (2:10) / Chris Brown -- [unidentified excerpt] (1:48) / Natto Quartet -- [live improvisation No. 2] (6:56) / Tim Perkis & Chris Brown
Performers:  Tim Perkis, electronics (improvisations)
Chris Brown, electronics ; keyboards (improvisations ; Obedience)
Natto Quartet: (unidentified)
Genre:  Electro-Acoustic / Electronic
Subject:  League of Automatic Music Composers ; Hub (Computer music group) ; Rova:Orkestrova; Electronic music; Electro-acoustic; Improvisation (Music); Computer music
People:  Richardson, Derk; Brown, Chris, 1953-; Perkis, Tim; Gelb, Philip ; Hikage, Shoko
Recording Date:  04/09/2007
 
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