I’ve found that of the main problems with performing Spiral in 2015 is that there just isn’t that much of a variety of interesting stuff being transmitted on shortwave radio. I get -zero- reception in western NY. Even when performing in Europe where there seems to be a greater number of transmissions, there is a real danger of spending an unmusical amount of time searching for useable material. On top of that, the performance spaces I’ve been in just do not allow acceptable radio reception, so finding appropriate improvisatory material suitable for Spiral is nearly impossible. In order to be able to play the piece reliably, I put together this Max/MSP patch that chooses random pre-recorded .aiff files. I’ve recorded about 50 different shortwave clips each about 5 minutes long, and use only about 8-10 per performance. The unpredictable “no two performances are alike” nature of the piece is maintained, and I don’t need to worry about improvising against 20 minutes of white noise. I’ve included in the patch some filtering and ring modulation effects that are user controlled and, when coupled with the MIDI knobs of an external controller, give a very satisfying analog/organic feel when adjusting the sound.
I can control the volume of the radio by pressing keys, and can trigger Gliederungen (segments) by pressing the number keys. Ambisonic spatialization is also incorporated, the way Stockhausen intended.
Please contact me if you’re interested is using this patch, or just exchanging ideas how to improve it.
Here’s an excerpt from June 2015, Münster Germany.