In this project we have established an ensemble for practical and artistic investigation of issues relating to communication and interplay, especially issues that emerge due to the use of free improvisation with technologically based instruments. The ensemble has been active in rehearsals, workshops, concerts and studio sessions. We have invited guest musicians and external workshop leaders to provide additional input to the process. The work has been extensively documented in audio and video recordings as well as in written form.
As part of the project we have investigated and reflected upon different listening/monitoring strategies, and we have developed new technology (instruments) for musical performance based on granular synthesis and convolution. In our practical musical work we have experienced how this has led to new modes of musical expression and interplay. Most significantly in the meeting point between a musician that processes sound from another and the musician that provides the signal to be processed. Personal reflections on these issues are presented in the chapter “T-EMP and I”. In this meeting point one can look at the production of timbre as a collaborative effort. Two or more performers are collaborating on creating one single musical timbre, or one single musical statement. This creates an even stronger than usual interdependency between performers. We have also reflected on the use of specific exercises and our chosen listening/monitoring strategy. Challenges relating to control intimacy, real time processing and interprocessing have gotten special consideration as we consider these essential to our mode of artistic development. We see this mode as an artistic-technological feedback loop: The musical ideas of the ensemble triggers specific technological research and development to produce instruments and tools that enhance the musical possibilities, which again leads to new musical ideas in an upward, creative spiral. Potential problems of control intimacy are crystallized in this mode of working, as the instrument design may change quite frequently. These problems are faced head on instead of resorting to strategies known from more traditional instruments.
Related to the work on internal communication within the ensemble is also the external communication of our musical expression, and we have included in the project some empirical investigations on how the audience experience T-EMP. These have been done on a relatively small population so the results can be seen as somewhat tentative. We can conclude that all the respondents have reported about meaningful experiences, albeit in quite different ways. The material suggests that 1) the groups internal communication is something that is also noticed by the audience, and that this is regarded as something positive, 2) audience member’s previous knowledge and experience of free improvisation and electronic/electroacoustic music has given rise to a higher degree of focus being directed towards the musicians, their actions and the subsequent consequences, including the degree to which single instruments can be identified. A differing degree of identification of which musician made a specific sound can also be seen.
The work with T-EMP as an ensemble has allowed us to establish an aesthetic and group method for future work. We see much unreleased potential in the ensemble, both in its current form and as a pool of musicians for flexible adaption to future projects. The further development of real time processing as an instrument is a promising field for us, as it embodies both new modes of interplay and new timbral potential. The actual close cooperation needed to produce a single musical statement from two or more performers still need further investigation, as our current research merely has explored the surface. Working with a larger selection of performers seems essential for getting a diverse creative and artistic input to this field. We can see a danger that we in our limited group can create tacit knowledge about how the interplay between performers work, and that this knowledge may be related to the characteristics of specific performers just as much as it is related to the specific working methods and instruments used. Working in duo constellations (drawn from a larger pool of performers) seems very productive for direct investigation of interplay with processing instrument, so this is one specific method that we will follow up. The field of interprocessing (where characteristics or features of one signal is used to process another signal) has barely been touched in this project and exploring the potential of this technique in live improvised interplay seems a very logical and very tempting next step. This could for instance be explored in trio constellations where two acoustic instrumentalists play together with one processor musician, using the signal from one acoustic instrument to inform and control the processing of the other acoustic instrument. How this would affect the interplay between the two still remains to be explored, and also how it would affect the performative role of the processing musician.
When exploring the borderline between musical performance and sound production it has become clear that there still is an existing gap between the instrumental and sound production aspect seen from a “traditional” sound production angle. This gap is not necessarily identifiable through the individual musicians' sound systems during performance, but in their reaction time and awareness to the total sound image at a given time. It could therefor be an idea to separate, and raise the sound production aspect of the ensembles expression for further investigation. One direction could be to look at established post production techniques and transfer them for use in real time situations.
These techniques could be investigated at an individual performer level, but also in terms of master effect control (giving the possibility for each performer to process the summed stereo signal). This could lead to more radical changes in the total output, and at the same time highlight the roles and power structure within the ensemble
As we have seen, our mode of artistic research demands a continuous technical development, and due to this development, our instrument designs are in constant flux. This means the problems of control intimacy will constantly be faced. It is our view that this can not be resolved by freezing the instrument design, as that would involve halting one half of our creative potential, effectively hindering development in the longer term. Perhaps we need to investigate methods for training adaptability to new instrument designs?