Last Night’s Gig

I showed up really late to the sound check because I under-estimated how long it would take to get there on Bart. It took twice as long as I expected. I was in an unhappy mood with being late and not really knowing what I was going to play. The show was booked as a duo with Polly but, obviously, she couldn’t make it. I realized that I had been looking forward to seeing Paul at the show and felt more sad.
There was a recording crew there who had set up a bunch of stuff for me. My computer wouldn’t boot when I got everything all plugged in. It does this every single time I go on stage. My computer has terrible stage fright. I couldn’t figure out if it was me being weird about how I was pushing the start button before shows or if something else was up, so I set Nicole to work on it while I ate something. I learned that my mac won’t start if there’s stuff plugged into the audio jacks on the side. This explains why the only time I have this problem is shows and rehearsals, and why I don’t have it at every rehearsal, only the ones that I’m stressed enough about to reboot before starting.
Sound check was a bit wonky, but I had faith the levels would be ok, given as I was sitting in front of a mixing board. I was kind of testy with the recording crew. I was excited about recording when I thought it would be a duo, but a solo is much less exciting and I hadn’t really worked out the best audio routing and it wasn’t coming to me then. I just sent them my stereo signal that went to the speakers, but now I wish I’d sent a separate feed of my synth. I also left the didj at home because there was a major storm and I didn’t want to take it on my bike in the rain. Also, it takes a lot of concentration to both play the didj and sample and process it at the same time and I don’t have a HID set up for that yet. I didn’t think I was mentally up to doing it without a flute to hide behind and while I was feeling so scattered.
Damon and Jen were up first. They played a really energetic set. It’s funny watching Jen on the trombone, because it’s not all that different from tuba, so I knew exactly how she was getting most every sond she got. There are some important differences though, what with the slide and the significantly higher pitch. She didn’t do silly slide glisses at all, but she used her voice in an interesting way. When you do voice multiphonics on tuba, you get an interesting sort of FM. The trombone appears to be different, or else she wasn’t doing multiphonics but interspersing voice with lip buzzing. Also different is that her voice was much closer to the trombone range than most people’s voices are to tuba.
I spent most of their set looking at Damon, because I don’t need to look at a brass instrument to know how it’s being played and I like to understand how sound is being made when I listen to it (ironic given that I’m a laptop guy). He had a whole bunch of bows and more or less attacked his instrument with them and also with a chopstick, his fingers and a large screw. The bass has a really fast response time in that when you hit a string it goes right away – unlike other low instruments where you have to wait for a sound to wend it’s way through a series of tubes. (A bass is more like a truck.) You can hit one string and it starts going right away and you can move very quickly to another string or even play multiple strings at the same time.
Damon and Jen sustained a frenetic pace through almost all of their set. they started fast and stayed fast. After the whole evening, Jen was jumping up and down. Matt D joked that she must be taking multivitamins. Their last piece, though was more subdued. Damon announced that they’d be playing Drescher’s Requiem in honor of Paul and Polly. That piece is largely made up of longer sounds which gradually rise in pitch. It’s subtle, but anguished. It was one of the better requiems that I’ve ever heard. Possibly the best.
Then it was my turn. I felt a lot better after eating a burrito and hearing Jen and Damon’s set. I played my minimodular synth and routed it though my simple looping program that I wrote for processing flutes. I had figured out how to gracefully add some extra features but hadn’t had an opportunity to code them in, so I was really playing with the flute version. Playing with my own synth is different than playing with another person in that I know ahead of time when the sound is going to change because I’m causing the changes. But, like with another person, I don’t know what the changes will be, really. There was some time where I had silence not because I thought it would be a graceful moment to add some, but because I had no idea where the sound went. The Evenfall minimodular is a tricky and subtle beast.
I did a lot of work to really get aligned timing when I wrote my sampling program, but I realized that it would be useful to allow for staggering the loop point. Or to divide by 3 or 5 sometimes instead of always by powers of 2. A (more or less) dead-on beat is perhaps most useful for flute, but with something I’m playing myself, allowing a syncopation could be valuable. I never got my p5 glove to work, alas. It seemed to be generating OSC. At the very least, the driver for it clearly was able to get data from the glove, but I couldn’t retrieve said data in SuperCollider. A glove interface would be really great for didj processing or tuba (if it were lefty).
So after the second time the sound died for reasons that were unknown to me, I thought maybe I should stop, but it turned out that people were actually digging my noodling. So I played a couple more. I’m looking forward to getting the recording.
I still have Polly’s mixing board because it didn’t occur to me to return it to Clyde. She’s probably not missing it yet. I’m going to take some advantage of it. Before, Christmas, I wandered into a gallery near my house, looking for art to give away. The most affordable thing in the gallery was $200. I explained that I liked it, but that was 10 commissions for me: 20 – 40 hours of work. (I work too hard on them.) The gallery owner asked me a bunch more questions about my project and then wrote me a check asking for one! I was quite surprised. I’m going to write it today. Tomorrow is Paul’s memorial service. I sent all my visa paperwork via express mail yesterday. It’s pretty much impossible that it will come back in time for me to get my flight tomorrow, so I’ll be going to the memorial. Actually, I’d probably go anyway. Maybe I should call the airline. It’s a non-refundable internet fare, but I know there are special cases sometimes.
I don’t think I’ll be playing again in CA before I head back to England, but if you want to get on my announcement list just in case – or for next time – I will be playing here again over the summer – you can get on the list very easily! Just send an email to (yes, that’s ). Or check this blog. Or the mailing list also has an rss feed: . It’s an announcement-only list which is really low traffic. I only post to it when I have a show coming up on the West Coast of North America.

Published by

Charles Céleste Hutchins

Supercolliding since 2003

One thought on “Last Night’s Gig”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.