machine learning panel

Panel discussion on neural stuff. Jan is speaking about self organizing maps, which is a talk he gave at brum last term.
He’s making snapshots for presets. It can be used to find similar presets. That are like ones he likes.
It creates a meta controller, which is more high level.
He can use it to make sound objects.
And it’s bewtween top down and bottom up appraoches.
He’s got a graph on how he uses it. He plays with it to make snapshots. The snapshots are fed into the som which generates simlar material, which he can use for a meta controller. He can make a map of material amd then make a path to traverse the map andthen control where he is on the the path with a slider.
Soms can be used to control anything, including each other.
A snapshot can be an array or an event. His examples use ron’s preset library.
it is an unsupervised neural network.
SynthDescLib lets you make a gui with preset. Or maybe this is jan’s code lib. There is a button to generate a som from presets in the gui. And a matrix comes up. Some of them are green, which are the ones he picked. The others are related. As you click on them it saves your path. There is a slider at the top that moves through the path. You can save your state.

now dan stowell is recapping and he has made soms as a ugen. He is showing the thng he did at the london sc meetup. It runs on the server and gets trained in advance by ana;yzing samples.

it imposes the eq of one sample onto another sample. Which works and is impressive. The som has a visua;izer. Pretty. It is not for download. I find his gui is set up kind of in reverse of how i’d think about it.

too much coffee for me. Pee break now. Ok back.

david has a flickr feed live from here

now nick collins is showing his work on the topic. He’s got an som implementation too. With a helpfile. He analyzes midi files. He breaks them up into little bits. He will release his files shortly.

now he’s talking of reenforcement learning, which is a way of considering an agent acting in the world. (See david’s photo of the slide) a state leads to an action, which in turn effects tje world which changes the state. Reenforcement learning looks at how effective actions are. So the program must have an idea of the world. This must also have a way of grading the reward of how good the world is. So you need to decide if something sounds good.

he has sc code to deal with this. LGDsarsa is on his website.

because machine learning is computationally expensive, it’s often farmed out to an external batch process. Or you can run in non rt mode. Dan has a nice ugen for this called Logger. Thete’s code examples on the mailing list. It creates data files which can then be used for machine learning.

he’s got a self similarities table for a pixies track.

ok, on to the more panelly part

how do you get the reward state in sarsa? Physiological monitoring is one way. Or you can ask the audience which has a delay, but propgate backwards. Or you can do it in a model.

jan is doing a project with thom which is similar but will generate full pieces. Nick reccomends tom mitchells book on machine learning.

why is a reward better than a rule? Why is it more interesting to train a net vs creating rules? Answer is that they can be used for different applications. Ron notes that rules are implicitly present in selection of training material and assumptions. Nick is talking about flexibility and creative machines. Dan says that ron is correct, but the number of possibi;itites in even a small data set is huge. Ron says constraints are cool. Te panel says that supercollider is cool

james, or leader, is talking about intent. What if we inverted rewards to make the audience unhappy? Nick points out it’s still hard to gauge cultural preferences.

there’s a question about specificity vs building an overly large tool. Jan agrees this is a trap. Nick says that specificity is more musically effective. He talks about hard coding. There’s too much variation sometimes.

performances with live evoluion. Using a human as a fitness fnction is slow. Nck talks abut a cmputer as an impovisor. His phd does this, whch you can download. He’s switced to midi becaus featurewards extraction is hard. Jan s talking abut having few slders.

neural network and machine learning

Live blogging the sc symposium
i showed up late for the talk on neural networks, which sucks, but i needed my coffee.
Tje speaker is demonstarting using a neural network to process gestural input from a wiimote. It makes 64 vectors describing the motion of the wimotes. He can train the neural net by making the same gesture over and over.
The auditorium speakers are making a high pitched squeal.
Now he’s talking about continious time recurrent nueral networks. These are used in robotics. They evolve instead of being trained. (Trained ones are called feet forward)
Ollie Brown did some code for this. He sugges that the smoothibg function be rep;aces with hyperbolic tans and become excitation functions and it does not reach equilibrium. You can use this for interactive evolution.
The 60 hz hum has just caused a problem with the demo. The power to the av thing has cut out. Ron is cursing. People in the audience are whistling difference tones to go with the squeal. Somebody od making multiphonics. Now somebody is playing a sine tone on their laptop. Somebody is sampling and granularizing the feedback. The talk has paused. I wish i’d been here for the start because it’s awesome, but without coffee, i’d still have missed it.
A grad student has just come sprinting in with a cable. And the squal has ceased! Applause!
And the source of the squeal was an uniterruptible power supply. Which is why the av input died. Ohhhhhh! We are nearly back online. I wish this disaster had been at the start so i could have seem the whole thing.
The presenter, by the way is Chris Kiefer. Who is now resuming.
He is using a ctrnn to control a synth. And it can be reinitialized and mutated. This sounds cool, but i don’t under stand how it differs from random numbers. Oh, you pick ones you like and evolve from there.
HTTP:// . . .

sc3 keynote

Live blogging sc symposium


as an aside, david has a tiny sc logo on his badge. Ha ha.

Ron has given an intro and now scott wilson and nick collins are talking about tje supercollider book, coming from mit press. It’s like the c sound book, but for supercollider.

The book is cool. You should buy it.

James McCartney is giving a keynote about single sample code synthesis. He did a 1 sample at a time server in 2001. Synthdefs were c functions. The code is lying around on his website. It doesn’t work and there are missing pieces and is not the same version that he’s talking about.

The current version does block processing. It does a bunch of samples at once. ChucK does single sample, but most do block.

The single sample version of sc has lower performance. And compiling synths took too long. This might not be the case today. It had the same architecture as the current version. There was no distinction between audio rate and control rate, since everything gets evaluated on every sample. You could do one sample feedback.

The whole thing was written in sc. It made c++ code for synthdefs, which was then compiled. He’s showing us what the code looks lile. It looks like c++. Actually, it looks like source for ugens now.

The sc code for ugens returns strings for code generation. This doesn’t need primatives, because the c code is in the sc class. But it’s still c code. This would really not be easier to write, since you wou;d need to know tje structure of the generated code. It would have been beyter to have meta code to describe how the ugen should work.

He’s showing us the source code for his project and now going to tell us why this is a bad idea. This is an unusual keynote. Now he’s telling us about memory issues and registers. Now he’s talking about vectorization and optimation. Now there’s a slid called ‘code pointer swapping.’ Now ‘instruction cacahe’

It might be ok to do single samples once in a while despite performance issues.

There’s a question about faust. He says its interesting and good.

Q: demand ugens can do single sample feedback as a hack, but its inefficient. Te solution is to write your own ugens in c because non block stuff is slow.

Another faust question. Functional programs parallelize better. But faust has no variable names but prefer not to. It makes me a bit dizzy, faust does.

Ron is asking a question about demand rate and jit code and other things that i don’t know how to use. Now ron is asking about synths that change rate on the fly. It’s hard.

Can you set the block size to 1 on sc now? Yes, but then you have chuck.


Apparently, the white house only offers audio archives of radio addresses delivered in the last year. (This one is very instructive: what we without a shadow of adoubt know, or rather, maybe didn’t know so well.) This gives me less material than I had wanted, since I was going to mine all the radio addresses since Sept 2001. I was thinking of writing to the whitehouse and asking them to send me a CD of the old addresses. I was trying to figure out how to phrase this so that they wouldn’t figure out that i had artistic designs on the material or am registered Green. Also, since the web archives are all in Real format, I’ve been capturing them with Audio Hijack, which is time consuming and has the low quality associated with Real streams. But now I’ve got all the available radio addresses that mention “terrorist” or “terrorism” (but not just “terror”) and it’s 930 Mb of data. That’s way more than a CD will hold and CDs are 74 minutes. Maybe I’ll just work with what I have. ANyway, the low-fi could be nice.

not so shy

my shrink points out that people are normally shy approaching strangers and doesn’t seem to think that there’s anything wrong with me. I think she’s going to cut me off soon. then i’ll have to go back to whining to my friends.

acoustic awesomeness

but i did pay a compliment to a stranger today. I saw Mark Dresser play this evening and told him that his was the best bass playing that I’d ever heard. It was completely awesome. He’s got a pickup behind the neck, fingerboard sort of part of the bass, you know that thingee that people press the strings against to play notes… (go music shcool terminology!) So it pickups both the note he’s playing and the anti-note of the string left over. and he was doing this super cool finger buzz thing, where he intentionally didn’t press the string hard enough and it made this great buzzing sound. His string tunings were toally wild. He started writing the piece by coming up with the tunings. Then he wrote themes in those tunings. then he played the score by improvising on those themes. I’m not sure whether he just ordered them in real time or played variations on them. When I grow up, I wanna play standup bass. this very morning, when Alvin‘s composition seminar was waffling about what ensemble we’ll write for, Alvin threatened us, saying he would make us all write for solo bass. I think I’d be fine with that. If we get a string quartet,, I think I’ll write a bass feature.
bass = good
and speaking of Alvin’s class, we had a pianist come in to talk about John Cage’s Music of Changes and play it. He played the third and the fourth books. Alas, his name is escaping me, but he is an excellent pianist. and I was thinking, as I was listening to it, about what made the piece what it was. Every moment in it is beautiful. It’s a lovely piece filled with lovely and discreete (meaning totally seperated) events, which somehow blends togther into monotony. (i’m going to be burned at the stake like Joan of Arc by the music department. It’s bad enough that I like Phillip Glass’ new stuff.)
I read this book once about cartoon theory, which I can’t remeber the name of or the writer, but it’s pretty influential so far as comic books about the theory of comics go. and in it, they talk about using a lot of colors. Usisng a lot of red, for example, makes a bold statement. Or a lot of blue. Or a lot of yellow. or green. or whatever. But if you start using all of the bright colors, it starts to blend together somehow into grey. Or if you play too many frequencies at the same time, instead of getting the groovy complexness, it sounds like white noise. so what I think happens with Music of Changes is that you have to stay very much right in the present to enjoy it, because it is what it is while it’s going on. Every moment is pointalistic and lovely. and i think if i try to perceive it in any way but on a moment-by-moment or event-by-event way, it’s too complicated rfor my little brain and gets white-noisy.
However, the moments in it are so darn wonderful. I thinking of writing a program to generate some brass stuff based on the approximate algorythm that Cage used. But I think his timings are very virtuosically complex and are perhaps overburdening the player, so I want to combine the results with a performance algorthm invented by the total complexity guy. He wrote some pieces in the 60’s that players could play at the same time, but not togther, so as to create complex textures but still be fun to play. Music of Changes is an amalgamation of 8 parts, with incredibly complicatred timing. In fact, the timing is integral to the structure of the piece. My poorly conceived knock-off would have N parts, but be much freer on the timing. because it would be neat to have something with so many beautious moments that doesn’t take months to learn. and I want to write a brass ensemble piece, possibly as the second movement to my symphonic thingee

the plan

I’m going to capture all of the bush radio addresses since september 11th and get samples from them of him saying “terrorist.” I want to get all of his public pronouncements of “terrorist.” since he’s so rarely unscripted, it may actually be possible to download all his public pronouncements, since he usually just gives speeches and the white house (probably) archives those. I’m going to be listening to a lot of bush. And then trying to assemble all of the audio. I bet you’re glad you’re not my housemate (unless you’re Aaron, in which case you are my housemate).

class today

I co-lead a TA session on recording stuff in the electronic music studios and the recording studio. actually, it was 9:00 am, so i let Jascha do as much of the talking as possible. I’ve been told the way to cure my shyness in approaching strangers is to pay a compliment to a stranger every day. this makes me not want to leave my house, so I think I’ll start by saying “hi,” to strangers. but I won’t take candy from them.
My visionaries class will be discussing Joan of Arc on wednesday. Some of the reading makes claims disputed by Regine Pernoud, former head of the Joan of Arc Centre in Orleans. I wish they offered a seminar just on Joan. That would be awesome. We’ve been reading all these visionaries and they’re just odd. there’s a whole lot of god talk, obviously. Some folks find Margery Kempe to be annoying because she’s extremely repetitive. She’s extremely trashy too. I don’t find the repetitiveness annoying. Is it because I’m a musician and music thrives on repitition? I don’t find the repititiveness annoying.
Wrote some stuff for my SuperCollider tutorial, which will hopefully constitute enough work to cover the two weeks that Ron was gone. If I may be so arrogant, I could put together the whole class project by myself in an afternoon (ok, a weekend), but I’m not sure how much flexibility is required or how much work I should do.

and then

I went to retrieve Xena from India House, but ended up staying for the evening and having my first encounter with what Connecticut terms “Chinese Food.” Oh dear, no no no no. The India House denizens were mocking me for my snobbishness in refusing to try local chinese food. I should not allow myself to be swayed so easily.
I’m starting to like the ice that’s everywhere. Yeah, it’s slippery, but it looks kind of cool and makes very nice cracking sounds when you step on it. Also, if it’s very cold out and you kick an ice formation, it makes a very satisfying shattering sound. Like breaking glass but lighter. And nobody cares if you break ice and it won’t cut anyone, but if you kick something too thick, it may hurt your foot. Last semester, an undergrad, Dan St. Clair, did a cool installation with sheets of ice shattering and I thought it was impressed, but only now do I get it. I’ve been trying to think of sonic things to do with ice, but Dan’s project covered everything that I can think of so far. He’s kind of brilliant.


I stayed up late the night before working on my symphony thingee, which nobody commented on, which must mean that you all hate it as much as i do. I’m thinking maybe i should move some of the brass stuff over to the bassoons or something, cuz brass is loud.

Got too early (well, actually, late, but it seemed too early), to go to the extra session of Ron’s Recoridng Culture seminar. He’s gone for two weeks, going to china to adopt his daughter and maybe do some skiing. Apparently she’s right next to China’s largest ski resort. Anyway, I crawled, slug-like to ron’s class and than aftwerwards met with Ron and Jascha to discuss TA duties for leading workshops in ron’s absence. I’m not at all clear, but I think Jascha is. Spacey normally, now spacey and tired. I think they’re supossed to do a mix of some sound file to come up with a CD that they could shuffle play in their room for 24 hours without being driven to suicide. Jascha and I gave them sound files of a german guy playing billiards and some Maggi Payne and Brenda Hutchinson sounds. Maggi’s sounds were BART, filtered BARt and something airplane-ish. Brenda’s sounds seemed to be a maybe a close miced vacuum cleaner, perhaps and what sounded like it could have been a field recording of the exploratorium, which would be logical, since she works there.
Then, after that and doing some other non-essential stuff, I took a nap from 2:00 pm till nearly 8:00. It took me a long time to wake up. My neighbor knocked on my front door to complain that there was dog poop “all over” the back yard. My front door is broken and will not open. I called the landlord a week ago. She called me back. I didn’t return her call. (ok, I just returned her call) Nor have I paid the heating bill, the phone or the electricity. I did however go out a few days ago and fix my cell phone and buy my textbooks. But I haven’t read the textbooks enough. I’m behind on my reading for last wednesday, for a class that I skipped. I’m so not on top of things.
[you may wish to skip this paragraph] So I went out to the backyard and found one small piece of neglected poop. Xena is evil. If you walk up to her while she’s pooping, she’ll stop and then wait until you aren’t looking and go someplace else. This is more than you needed to know about poop. As Renee once said, if you’re talking about poop, you’re a mom. So I went to pick it up and damned if wasn’t completely frozen to the ground. I’m not a fan of this “winter” thing. I dug it out with a snow shovel. I’ve been peering around the backyard today in the daylight, and I’m not sure about this “all over” claim, all though there are a lot of chunks of frozen mud wich might confuse you if you need glasses.

Gay Bar

[This paragraph is ok again] So I ate all the leftovers and some canned soup and then went to Angela’s house and then we went to the Polo Club in Hartford. The Polo Club was reccomended by Tom. He’s het, but his girlfriend is bi and he’s the only person I know who is actually from Connecticut and exists at all outside of the tiny grad community. He’d never been there. He’d go with me, he explained, but it was his 8 month anniversary with his gf and they had to have sex.

Male strippers

So angela and I show up and there’s thumping techno music and the guy charging us the cover explains that the drag shows and male strippers have three shows at 11:00, 12:00 and 1:00. oic. The woman checking IDs is clearly a dyke, but the bar is full of boys (duh) and the woman who gets us a table and beers (budweiser) is not a woman.
Gradually, the place begins to fill up and the percentage of females starts to increase. I look around and decide they’re either fag hags or straight girls who want to see naked gay boys. I go to pee and there’s a conversation about whether getting your stomach surgically reduced is a good diet strategy. “Yeah, but she looks great!”
Angela is getting increasingly excited. It’s her first drag show and mine too (unless you count Fairy Butch). Finally, the show starts and out comes a big, bitter, middle aged drag queen. “I’m in so much spandex that if it blows, it will take out the front two rows.” she explains. “Four rows!” somebody shouts. “fuck you.” she replies.
She starts making fun of the het boy in the audience and then turns to the women I had pegged as het. They’re not het. They’re all lesbians. I have no gaydar in CT. There were actually a lot of lesbians around. Who knew?
After mocking everyone who is not a gay man, she disappears and the first stripper comes out. He’s wearing a police shirt, dark blue pants with handcuffs on them (definitely not police pants, tho), designer sunglasses, and bright, white tennis shoes. He undulated for a while and finally stripped down to small black boxer briefs. Angela kept whispering to me that he was crappy dancer. then he disappeared. The next performer was a man in a gold sequined dress lip synching some song. Angela was so moved that she had tears in her eyes. Actually, I saw many people with tears in her eyes. People kept comming up and tucking dollar bills into her dress or handing them to her. (and by “her” i mean the man in a dress, not angela. pronouns are slippery in drag.)
Then a guy came out in tiny white boxer briefs with a big tub and sat in it and pretended to take a bath while the song “rubber ducky” played. Then her got out of his tub and started stretching and squeezing a big sponge over his head to “rinse off.” He removed his briefs and was wearing a white, not quite opaque, g-string. He was happy to see us. I shifted uncomfortably. Guys were stuffing dollars into his g-string, as this was a stripper sort of thing. He held up a towell to his waist and off came the g-string. He was sort of flapping his towel around, tittilatingly. la la la
Then the MC was back, in a blonde wig, wearing several layers of tutu, lip synching to Cindy’s Lauper’s Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. She strutted around and revealed her grandma underwear. She caught sight of me and jumped in my lap to give me a lap dance. I was a bit taken aback, so she ground my head into her fake breasts. ack. Angela was falling over laughing. I gave her a dollar afterwards. then the 11:00 show was over. angela wanted to leave to go to the grad party, so we left and did not see the subsequent shows, nor did I talk to any lesbians. alas.

Grad Party

We showed upa round midnight. Everyone was pretty drunk. this one guy was very drunk. I hadn’t talked to him since the start of the last semester. He went to wesleyan as an undergrad. Wes boys want to be sincere. They want to be your friend. So he touched my arm gently, perhaps to steady himself, and slurred that he was very sorry to hear of my recent breakup. I explained that I needed a beer right away and got a can of budweiser. It was a budweiser kind of night. I eventually caught up to the party’s level of inebraition and was dancing to Abba’s Dancing Queen and then It’s Raining Men. campiness was all around me, everywhere I went. So we danced to 2:30 in the morning and Deborah explained that one of the astronomy grads, who was not at the party, wants to sleep with me. I have my own pimp now or something.
Tom just emailed me today asking if I want to go to the Polo Club with him tongiht. I think I’ll say yes.

What happens next

Ok, so the HOA was vengeful. you can’t do stuff without asking first. However, Ellen has been encouraged to work with the design review comittee (which includes an architect), to come up with a shorter version of the shack which is not nailed into the wall (big sticking point due to water penetration issues, which are really very minor, but you know . . .). Her plan, she told me, is to tear down the old shack and re-use the materials to construct the new one, which will keep her busy for a quite a while and hopefully will not fxck up her upcoming gig in Seattle.

Somebody on the HOA wrote an angry letter about the shack, condeming it and attacking me, saying that I had been asked to attend the meeting, but had refused. Indeed. I told everyone that I talked to that I would have loved to attend, but classes were starting. I’m sure that any other person in my compound would have skipped registration day and the first day of classes and bought a last minute new plane ticket, so I feel like quite a slacker. But there was this class I wanted to add, for which I had emailed the professor asking for approval, but she didn’t write back. I felt like attending the first session was necessary to get the class. It was a hard choice for me, since the class isn’t offered every year. Finally, my education won out, mostly because I didn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on a new ticket and also have to pay late fees. Sharon would not beleive this, but so far, I have avoided all late fees. I have not even asked the grad office for mellon balls, although they often have cookies out and actually, one time they did give me mellon balls, now that I think about it. this is the difference that a big endowment makes.
anyway, I didn’t see this letter, since it went out after I left. But there have been many similar letters with neighbors denouncing each other during my time in that compound. I really like Berkeley. I live in nice area. I have neighbors that are actually very nice in social settings. Nevertheless, I’m very strongly thinking about selling after I finish with school. This would be after another 14 months at Wesleyan. a possible year in Germany after that (I hope) and maybe a PhD program, so not for a while. There’s some sinister similarities between homeowners associations and Maoism. The denunciation thing. It’s an exploitable part of human nature. I used to have a coworker at netscrape who said that the Stanford Prison Experiment showed that you didn’t have to train people to be concentration camp gaurds, you could just get them to do it automatically (I’m so glad I’m out of the software buisiness). I think that Maoist denunciations work the same way. You can exploit people’s natural tendencies to support your system. It’s prolly easier than capitalism, since it doesn’t require a gigantic media apparatus constructing rediculous myths and pounding people with them constantly.
I’m a good leftist. I want to beleive in a noble human character that would come out under a just economic system. People would farm in the mornings, code in the afternoons and write symphonies in the evenings, to paraphrase and mangle Marx. But there are people in the world (I’m no longer talking about my HOA, but more about political groups in Italy and the US) who are true beleivers in facism. There are people strongly dedicated to the other side. Some of these folks are paid by plutocrats. some of these folks are plutocrats. some are afraid of alien other. but there are some folks who just believe in facism. How do they get these ideas? How do you neutralize these ideas? How can you fight this tendency? Is it learned? Is it inborn? Is there some cultural meme that could be stamped out, thus leading to the utopian sisterhood of humans?


Anyway, this semester, I’m taking Mystic Voices, and undergraduate Medieval studies class that I didn’t know if I would get in to, Alvin Lucier’s composition seminar, a group tutorial in SuperCollider (taught by Ron Kuivila, my advisor), Colloqium, and Gamelan. Jessica told me that I have to take a different ensemble this semester and I can’t keep taking the same one. If this is the case, then I’m going to take Anthony Braxton’s ensemble, although I would need to ask him to waive the pre-req, which I think he would do. I plan to take his ensemble next fall, along with gamelan, and take fewer academic-type classes.
For the record, although I whine about back pain, I really like gamelan. The songs are groovy and the ensemble is low stress. We had our first meeting tonight. I played the gong, which is the most laid-back of all the instruments, since it only plays at the end of phrases that are 8, 16, 32, 64, or 128 notes long. Hypothetically, phrases could also be 256, 512, or 1024 notes long. There’s a cutoff somplace, the longest phrases ever actually written, but I can’t remeber if it is 256 or lower. I feel very ethnomusicologically-oriented when I play gamelan. Last semester, the ensemble was the grad student social club. this semester, there is a teem horde of undergrads and few grad students. There’s me and a small group of PhD students, but I feel good about it.
I’m sort of half TA-ing Ron’s Recording Culture class. I’m not officially assigned to the class and the last hour of it conflicts with the Mystic Voices class. Ron said this would be ok. There’s a parking garage in Middletown that plays loud Baroque music year-round in an unsuccessful bid to drive away youths from a coffee shop located in the first floow of the building. In the warm months, the youth hang around the coffee shop anyway. In the cold months, nobody would sit outside and get snowed on to drink coffee, but they leave the music on anyway. The parking garage is music is highly irritating. Somehow, Ron convinced the parking garage owner that his Recording Culture class should be allowed to do an installation there for 24 hours, where they use the Muzak system. He’s involved in curating a seperate event, called Rock’s Roll, at a museum where composers submitted stuff that’s supossed to be played on top of each other. Composer A’s tracks play at the same time as Composer B’s. Ron’s starting off his class by having them mix the submitted stuff, including things that were not picked for the museum. The submissions include works by Maggi Payne and Brenda Hutchinson (I think The Star Strangled Banner is among them). Maggi’s stuff sounds really cool. I haven’t listened to all the submissions yet.
I do not know if semi-TAs get to do anything for the parking garage, I’ll keep you posted. But personally, I think the owner should permanently cancell Muzak and let me install some SuperCollider patches. I could just stick a laptop in their PA system, which would not only be more economical than paying Muzak fees, but would also be much more interesting and just as likely to drive people away. I’m thinking about that thing I did a long time ago with virtual memory. I’m thinking about just intoned triads that might make people want to hurl themselves in front of trains. I’m thinking about fingernails on blackboard type sounds. Dubya talking backwards about terrorists.
I want to do more stuff with Dubya. I noticed a certain melodic quality when he said “In fact, what the terrorists have done is caused us to take an assesment of what’s important.” There’s interesting pitch material lurking there. It’s higher pitch than the rest of his speech. Insincere. Sing-songy, almost. I went to the WhiteHouse webpage and fired up AudioHijack and started capturing the State of the Union address. Only when he started tlaking about Hydrogen-powered cars, did I realize that I was grabbing the wrong year. If you can stand it, go listen to last year’s address. The text is very, very similar to this year’s. I didn’t get as far as weapons of mass destruction before I quit listening. For some reason, they haven’t posted this year’s address. I heard a rumor that Democrats applauded when he said that the Patriot Act was set to expire this year (thank god), so maybe they’re editting that out.
I don’t know what I’ll do for political audio-mangling if Dean wins in the fall. I guess I could use his Iowa roar thing.
So, except for Mondays, I have a much more relaxed schedule this term. I’m also only taking 4.25 units this semester, instead of 4.75. I might even have time to write music. I heard a rumor that Alvin will require us to write a string quartet. So I’ll be in the library with the score to Ruth Crawford Seeger’s String Quartet and the CD, trying to figure out how she did what she did.


Often hopeful (like right now), but with a tendency to slip in to anger or despair. In Berkeley, walking around often restored me to hope. Here, not so much. I’m speculating that it’s the cold + people often don’t bother shoveling their sidewalks, thus making the walks somewhat treacherous (what’s with my neighbors? they pile trash in their yards. they don’t shovel snow.). Also, in Berkeley, I felt a sense of belonging to a larger thing. I am a part of the universe, etc. Here, I feel rootless. I tell myself that I’m part of the universe, but I feel more like a Christmas tree, cut off from my roots and dragged to suburbia to eventually wind up being tipped over in the middle of the unshoveled sidewalk, next to garbage cans. I’ve got an appointment with Behavioral Health (aka: a shrink) on tuesday.

Let it snow!

So it snowed last week some time. I think I posted about this. It was very exciting when it happened, but then it started turning to slush and was a lot less endearing. I was told that the best time to make a snowperson is when it’s kind of warm, but I had a bit too much stuff to do. then thursday, it rained and all the now went away, for which i was glad.

Had a final concert wed night (which a lot more people would have attended had there been any pre-concert publicity), then a presentation on La Koro sutro on thursday evening. the three most important things about that piece are just intonation, limitted pitch material in the gamelan and other instruments, modality and drones. I guess that’s four things. alas. I was concerned that i would get off track and start talking about musical instruments in the time of Joan of Arc, but I did not. It worked out well in that I ran out of time just as I ran out of things to say. Aaron said it was a good presentation. then friday, I emailed in my joan of arc paper. There was a massive campus-wide toner shortage. So I gave up trying to find a printer.
Spent most of yesterday sleeping, but also went to the African Drumming and Dance concert, in which Aaron was playing, as he was the drum TA. It was a groovy concert. Woke up today in the afternoon (*yawn*) and snow was coming down like crazy. While slush is a bummer, snow is really pretty. So I went out and shoveled some of the driveway. then went out later and got a saucer sled and went sledding with Aaron and his gf Zoe. We came in when it started to sleet. Little sharp chuncks of ice fall from the sky when it sleets. but a saucer sled makes excellent head protection. Made my first snow angel. There’s a hill (called Foss Hill) that overlooks the school baseball field. It’s a prime sledding spot.
An internet search reveals that there is a musical instrument museum at Yale. Of course, they won’t have any 15th century clairons, but I want to go see it. Angela is still in town. Aaron is leaving tonight after Dan St. Clair’s concert. Dan was the CA for the course I TAed. (CAs are undergrad TAs, fwiw) He’s doing installations. They’re super cool. He’s doing grad-level work and consequently, has the respect of the grad composers. I dunno when Dan is leaving. Most everyone is gone already and those that aren’t are leaving very soon.
No more pencils, etc. Maybe I’ll get a chance to make a snow person.


Celeste Hutchins
Music 222
Final Project Notes


Program notes:

Researchers have discovered that if they take the syllables of a word and play them backwards, but in the correct order, people will be unable to hear the reversal. This piece explores how backwards things have to be, before you can hear it.
The male voice is George Bush. The female voice is Jessica Feldman reading text from Jeffner Allen, Lesbian Philosophy: Explorations (Palo Alto: Institute of Lesbian Studies, 1987)


I wanted to write something that could only be done with a computer, so granular synthesis seemed link an obvious choice. My friend posted about the syllable reversing thing in his blog several weeks ago, so I thought I should try that. I decided to use Bush, because everything he says is so very backwards. I searched for aiff files of Bush speaking and only found two good ones. One was him speaking about the ABM treaty, but my wife just wrote a piece using that one (also premiering 8:00 p.m. Dec 10th, but in Paris), and didn’t want me to use it. The other one is the one I am using, where he gives a speech about terrorism and destroying American culture. One of the students in MUSC 220 used the same audio clip for a different sort of tape project. I had been thinking about the subtext of the speech since hearing that project and about how to make Bush’s real message – his desire to destroy pop culture – clear. Repeated listening, which this piece contains, helps get people hear the real message behind the seeming non-sequiturs of the presidential speech. To make it clearer, I splatter key phrases, using the same reversal algorithm, out to any one of the 4 speakers. As the piece progresses, I add additional sound-bites, from the ABM treaty speech and from press conferences where Bush talks more about foreign policy.
After Bush winds down, I launch the contrary text from Allen’s book. I run the algorithm in the opposite direction, because I take the opposite view of the words. Allen also talks about violence, terrorism and victimhood, but unlike Bush, everything she says is true and real. Her words are ultimately empowering to her reader, giving her readers freedom instead of taking it away. Her viewpoint is equally extremist, but exists in reaction to the sort of evil that Bush proposes.
Also, I find that listening to Bush talk about destroying culture for 5 minutes makes me very tense and Jessica’s soothing voice talking about women uprising against men is an antidote to Bush’s evil rhetoric.


I put the splattering in a routine, because I found it hard to fight my impulse to send out bushisms in all directions as key words popped up. The texture was always too dense. and I thought it would better to not necessarily have the highlighted text match what was just said. Doing a computer implementation was much easier than teaching myself to play the piece. The Allen quotes at the end are still manually triggered, as it’s easier to manually put them in the right spot than to get the computer to do it.
I always have an instinct to generalize software that I’ve written so it could take any audio files and do the same piece, or make it very general so it could do a number of related pieces. This is not always a good instinct, although the reversing routine might come in useful. It is already stand-alone. The maxTimesThroughLoop variable may not be useful going in reverse. Would you want your loop to start from the largest possible grain and run N times? Or start from N loops from the smallest possible grain? My instinct is that the second case would be more useful, but the first case is what would happen currently.
The weighted averages of buf2 in the splatter routine are kludgy. While the splattering code works, I wouldn’t want to invite it to dinner parties. The three while loops are especially awful. If I want to do more with this piece, I would fix the splattering. But for now, it works. My old boss used to say, “worse is better,” as in, it was better to release something that worked than work forever to make the most pristine thing in the world. You could fix it later. He also used to go through and remove comments from code, saying that the code itself was truth and comments were distorting, so I don’t think he always gave the best advice on programming. If someone took out the comment around figuring out what number should reside in timesthroughLoop, for example, I would be hopelessly confused.

postmortem – blog comments

The concert was sparsely attended. only around 4 spectators came. my piece crashed right near the end of the George Bush section, so the radical feminist text was not played at all. Ron, the prof, said that Ashcroft had gotten in my computer. I was using a different computer than i had used to test and develop (and compile the intrepretter on) the piece, and i think that may have been a factor. so i’m going to get a laptop this week. as a student, i won’t have to pay for it for a long time. i think i can pay it off over a year with an interest free loan.
and christi did Working Girl instead of the ABM tresty piece, perhaps due to a shortage of elephant samples. I will be going to the library on monday to return my interlibrary loan books, so if i take my brain with me, i’ll check out some elephant tapes.

Musical Interludes in the Mystère du Siège d’Orléans





the spring of 1429, things looked bleak for Orléans. The English had nearly encircled the city. They held several defensive
fortifications, including a tower on the bridge, Tourelles. They had constructed several
fortifications called boulevards. Efforts to free the city, such as the Battle of the Herrings had ended
disastrously. The duc d’Orélans
was in an English prison, awaiting ransom. "By March 1429, Orleans seemed ready to fall at he next
serious push." (Pernoud 9) When the city of Orléans fell, the entirety of
the French loyalist side would collapse with it. It seemed only to be a matter of time before the English
were victorious over all of France.


April 29th of that year, supplies and troops were sent to the besieged
city. Among them was an unusual
young woman, known as the Pucelle. Only a few days later, on May 8th, the English withdrew from the city,
after a series of decisive battles. These victories were attributed to La Pucelle. Pernoud writes, "At the moment that the English were
raising the siege and withdrawing from Orléans, the inhabitants of the city
organizes solemn processions to thank god and the patron saints of the city,
Sts. Aignan and Euverte. This
spontaneous thanksgiving celebration became a procession that continues today,
every May 8." (p 243)


raising of the Siege of Orléans was the beginning of the end for the
English. By the end of 1453, the
hundred years war was finally over and Charles VII was king. Orléans continues to celebrate its part
in this victory through its annual festivities and La Pucelle who aided
them. Today, Orléans is home to
many statues and monuments of Jeanne d’Arc. The cathedral that she prayed at in between battles has an
altar dedicated to her and series of stained glass windows depicting scenes
from her life. There is a Rue d’
Jeanne d’Arc, a Jeanne d’Arc cafe, a Jean d’Arc Chocolatier, and the academic
Centre Jeanne d’Arc.


some point, a mystery play, Le Mistere du Siege d’Orléans, was composed about the raising of the siege.
Mystery plays are a genre depicting history. Knight writes,

The Mystery plays, taken as a
whole corpus, dramatized universal history from creation to doomsday . . ..
[T]he mystery plays were historical in sense that they were externally
referential and that their linear model of time had displaced the cyclical
model of time in the liturgy. They
were the collective memory of late medieval Christendom . . . (p 19)

to its genre, the Siege depicts
an actual historical event. However, Hamblin notes, “the creation of such a
play based on contemporary historical events still burning in the memory of the
participants and the spectators, represents a true departure from standard
subject matter.” (p 59-60) Bertrin writes in the Catholic Encyclopedia that the
Siege is only one of “only two
profane mysteries which have been preserved.” However, this is a modern
distinction. Knight writes, “the religious-profane dichotomy constitutes a
methodological error” (p 14) and that medieval people did not “make the same
distinction between religious and profane that we make today.” (p 14) The main generic differentiations
between dramas thus does not hinge on the holiness, but in this, case, on


play Le Mistere du Siege d’Orléans
has never been performed in its current form, according to the staff at the
Centre Jeanne d’Arc. Hamblin
writes that it “is nowhere mentioned in fifteenth-century writings.” (p v)
However, its roots may lie in the May 8th festivities, specifically
in 1435. Hamblin writes,
“Undoubtedly, some kind of dramatic presentation did occur in 1435 . . .. This
presentation . . . took place ‘durant la procession,’ as part of the
celebration.” (p 26) The 1435
presentation indicated “a growing secular interest in the celebration.” (p
27) This interest may have been
partially financed by Gilles de Laval, seigneur de Rais, otherwise known as
Bluebeard. “Depositions taken from his inheritors reveal that Rais financed
several mystères, one of which
was in Orléans, where he spent nearly the entire year of 1435.” (p 28-9) Hamblin goes on to note that Rais’
involvement with the play, could explain why “no more mention is made . . . of
any re-enactment of the Tourelles battle after 1439,” (p 29) as Rais was executed
in 1440.


authorship of the Siege is also
uncertain. Hamblin writes, “no
single author stands out as the most likely source of the Siege” and there is a “possibility that the work is
rather a compilation of the endeavors of several writers, and perhaps several
different time periods.” (p 16) Thus, the play possibly commissioned by Rais may have evolved into the Siege as it now exists. The writer or writers was probably a resident of
Orléans. “The author would have
had to be either native to Orléans or very familiar with and very dedicated to
this final stronghold of Loyalists in the Hundred Years’ War.” (p 10) The Siege names “locations which only local residents would
have recognized.” (p 46)


we have an obscure play with a processional background. It is not a small play, however. Hamblin writes, “It is a mystère of considerable length, involving more than 120
speaking roles in twenty different sites.” (p 4) Later, she says, “[In] order to recreate the Siege in its present form, we would need ships,
fortresses, tents, break-away towers, walls, a bridge with detachable parts, a
river and an ocean, a means for hovering saints above the stage, canons and
various dead bodies (one of which can lose its head at will).” (p 54) It’s no wonder that the present form of
the play has never been produced.


is only one extant copy of the Siege. It "is preserved in a single paper manuscript, now in the
Regina collection of the Vatican, but formerly in the library of Fleury."
(Frank 203) “There are no
embellishments or adornments whatsoever in the manuscript.” (Hamblin p 83)
Frank writes, "Our manuscript betrays much interest in the complicated
staging and music required by the play . . .. Detailed rubrics . . . also
indicate exactly which instruments are to be played during the
intermissions." (p 206) Despite this attention to musical detail, there is
no sheet music with the manuscript.


The Siege, however, does mention one chant by name, in folio 354r. Hamblin summarizes the action at this point
in the play:

On Saturday,
May 7, the French attack the defense line of the Tourelles. A heavy battle ensues, and the Pucelle
is wounded. She encourages the
soldiers, who go on to victory. Glasidas and others fall into the Loire and drown. The French enter Orléans victorious and
celebrate the English loss. (92)

This is the high point of action in the play and
the victory considered most miraculous. According to audio in the Maison de Jeanne d’Arc, the French forces were
about to quit the attack for the day, when a badly wounded Jeanne came rushing
back to the battle, waving her standard and leading the French to victory. She had also made a prediction that
“Glasidas” [sic] would die without bleeding. The day after this battle, in the play and historically, the
English retreat to the nearby town of Meung. Therefore it is the battle of Tourelles that raises the
siege. It is also the battle that
was re-enacted as a part of the annual thanksgiving procession. This may be the oldest part of the Mystère and if so, the author probably remembered the


In line 13638, the last line on the night of May
7th, La Pucelle orders the town to chant Te Deum laudamus: “Toute la nuit faites sonner Toutes vos cloches en tous lieux, Et à
forte voix sans reserve Chantez Te Deum laudamus.” (Gros 821) The people must
play their bells and chant in a strong voice and without reserve all through
the night. Te Deum was a widely known and a widely used chant in the
Middle Ages, “sung at the end of Matins on Sundays and feast days . . .. It has
also been used as a processional chant, the conclusion for a liturgical drama,
a song of thanksgiving on an occasion such as the consecration of a bishop, and
a hymn of victory on the battlefield.” (Steiner) This usage is clearly as a hymn of victory on the
battlefield as far as the rubrics of the play are concerned. However, since the play also has a
processional background, the chant is doubly appropriate. The Siege is certainly not a liturgical drama, but the
signing of Te Deum may still
have been recognized as a dramatic cue. The play does not end at this point,
but it lacks mentions of specific points to break off for the night. Perhaps this is a logical place to quit
until the next day. The usage of Te
thus arises not only
naturally out of the rubrics and out of history, but exists in other contexts
as well.


In actual fact, the historical document, the Journal
of the Siege of Orléans,
that “All the clergy and the people of Orléans devoutly sang Te Deum laudamus and rang all the city bells, very humbly thanking
Our Lord for this glorious divine consolation” (Pernoud p 48) Thus, the Mystére, as the name – and the genre – implies, presents
history as the writer and the intended actors would have remembered it.


The rubrics of the play in a pause immediately
below La Pucelle’s lines state, “Alors ici il y une grande pause et un grand
bruit dans la ville, de joie et de vif plaisir; toute la nuit sonnerie de
cloches, sonnerie de trompettes et cris: ‘Noël!'” (Gros 821) Here is a large pause and a great joyous noise in
the city: all night bells are rung, trumpets are sounded and people cry,
“Noël!” The play looks like a
historical document here, unless the playwright actually expected people to
blow trumpets all night, or perhaps, as speculated above, he was envisioning
putting a break for the night at this point.


The performance practice of Te Deum would have used the sort of instrumentation
contained in the rubrics of the play and recommended by La Pucelle. “[A]
festive performance of the Te Deum was
normally accompanied by instruments (in particular organ and bells), the normal
concomitant of which would be polyphony of some kind. Nevertheless, such
polyphony was essentially improvised . . .. 15th-century settings are rare.”
(Steiner) Although, she goes on, there is a setting by Binchois. Thus, historically, the bells of the
town were rung, but in the rubrics of the play cloches, defined by Pocket
Manual of Musical Terms
“chimes” (Baker p 56), were used to improvise polyphony. This is the only playing of cloches in
the play.


The bells of the village are indicated in the play
in other pauses. There is a typical usage after line 2414, “le beffroi de la
ville sonnera sans cesser durant l’assaut.” (Gros p 165) The bells of the village ring
unceasingly during the attack. The
beffroi always function in this play as indicators of battle. They need not indicate that a battle is
happening, but can also ring when a battle is about to occur, as a cue for the
army to assemble. For example, after line 5242, “Alors le beffroi de la ville
sonnera et ceux de la ville sortiront.” (Gros p 349) The bells, or belfry, of the city will sound and the
citizens will leave. They are
leaving, of course, to go fight a battle.


Another particular type of battle bell is the
tocsin, or the alarm bell. In the
pause after line 12174, “Et à
Saint-Loup une cloche sonnera le tocsin, et l’on criera: ‘Alarme!'” (Gros p 775) And in the fortress of
Saint-Loup an alarm bell will sound and someone will cry, “Alarm!” This is the only tocsin in the Siege. The
ringers of it are the English, who are occupying Saint-Loup and whom the French
are attacking.


Also linked to armies and battles is the clairon,
the instrument called for second most often. What sort of instrument is meant by “clairon” is not clear.
Non-musicians, when commenting on the Siege, translate this as bugle. This is a logical translation because
the clarions are so often associated with the army in the play. However, since the subject matter of
the play is a military victory, most things in it have at least some
association to the army. If this
was a bugle, then it was a signal horn, made out of a cow’s horn. (Baines) It would have played bugle calls, such as signals to attack,
retreat, assemble, etc. As a
natural horn, it only would have been able to play overtones of the fundamental
pitch, just as modern bugle calls only use harmonics.


Gros, when translating the Siege from Old French to modern French, leaves the old
French word clairon intact. The
modern French word clairon unequivocally refers to a bugle. The Old French word may have had a
different meaning. In fact, there
existed a separate term for bugles. Baines begins his bugle article with the entomology for the world
‘bugle’, “In the Middle Ages a not very common Old French word (also cor
buglèr, bugleret)
for a small
bovine signaling horn.” Thus there
existed, although not in wide usage, a term that specifically referred to


Another possible definition of clairon is “The high
register of a trumpet; in its variant forms, the term also designates a kind of
trumpet.” (Dahlqvist) The Pocket
Manual of Musical Terms
defines it
as “a small, shrill-toned trumpet.” (Baker p 55) This term has it’s own entomology. It comes “[f]rom the medieval Latin clario
and claro, the French form ‘claron’ was developed, and in
the 14th century such forms as ‘clairin’, ‘clarin’, ‘clerain’, ‘clerin’,
‘clairon’ (with the diminutives ‘claroncel’, ‘claronchiel’ etc.) began to appear.
‘Clairon’ became the most common of these.” (Dalhqvist) The term ‘clairon’ is
the one used by the playwright or the Siege.


There are reasons to believe that the rubrics of
the Siege could have been
intended to refer either to a short, shrill trumpet, or to the high register of
a normal trumpet. “During the
Middle Ages trumpeters played in the low register. Johannes de Grocheo wrote (De
musica, c1300
) that only the first
four partials of the harmonic series were used, a fact corroborated by the
earliest surviving trumpet music.” (Tarr, ‘Trumpet’) Thus, if the trumpets in the Siege are only playing in the low register, and the
playwright wanted a sound in the higher register, he would be able to so
indicate in the rubrics by specifically calling for a clairon sound. Or,
perhaps, it was a separate instrument, “Very often clairon and trompette (or
the like) are mentioned in pairs, suggesting two distinct instrument forms. In
1468, for example, Margaret of York was greeted ‘à son de trompes et de clarons’.”
(Dahlqvist) Similarly, “trompettes
et clairons” is oft repeated in the rubrics of the Siege. In
fact, the clairon is never mentioned without also calling for trumpets. Untangling exactly what instrument the
playwright intended to specify is probably impossible, or at least, beyond the
scope of this paper. Dahlqvist
states, “The precise meaning of these terms may never be understood


One example of the clairon being used as a
signaling instrument occurs in lines 5595-5. Talbot says, “Allons, trompettes et clairons, Sonnez pour
assembler l’armée.” (Gros p 371) Go trumpets and clarions, sound to assemble the army. Interestingly, the rubrics immediately
following Talbot’s speech call for trumpets to be played – but not clairons. “Alors
sonneront les trompettes des Anglais, et ils s’assembleront pour venir
assaillir Orléans.” (Gros p. 371) Then the trumpets of the English will sound and they will be assembled
to go attack Orléans. This may be
an error on the part of the copyist. Hamblin documents many copyist errors and notes that it is the nature of
hand-copied documents to contain errors. However, if it is not an error, it shows that trumpets alone are enough
to signal the army, and thus casts doubt on translating “clairon” to “bugle.”


A similar omission occurs around line 15907. La Pucelle says, “Allons! trompettes et
clairons! Pour donner courage et vigueur Aux Français très loyaux et bons . .
..” (Gros p 875) Go trumpets and
clairons! To give courage to the
very honest and good French . . .. The pause immediately below however calls
for ” . . . trompettes et d’autres instruments.” Trumpets and the other instruments. If clairons refer to army bugles, it is
perhaps unlikely that they would be played during an instrumental break, since
their function is to play signal calls. The “other instruments” could refer to
organs, stringed instruments, bells or other instruments not specifically
mentioned in the rubrics of the play. These might make an unlikely paring with bugles.


Clairons are also played during military
parades. For example, after line
12198, “Alors elle viendra à Orléans: une pause. – Et tous en bon ordre –
clairons, trompettes -, amènent foison de prisonniers avec les croix rouges,
ligotés;” (Gros p 777) Then La Pucelle will come to Orléans: a pause. And with trumpets and clairons playing,
bound English prisoners will enter in good order. Thus, the French are triumphantly marching English prisoners
(with red crosses) into Orléans. In a pause after line 12678, the French again march with clairons,
“Alors, ici une pause de trompettes, clairons. – Et tous, en ordre harmonieux,
leurs étendards déployés,
partent; ils iront, descendre de cheval au droit des Bouterons, et là se
rassembleront tous.” (Gros p 795) Then, here a pause of trumpets, bugles. – And all will leave, in harmonious
order, with their standards unfurled; they will go, down from their horses, to
the right of Bouterons, and will all gather there.


The English army also marches with clairons. The pause after line 8954 indicates,
“Alors ils arriveront joyeusement avec trompettes, clairons; Talbot et d’autres
vont au-devant d’eux.” (Gros p. 569) Then they will joyfully arrive with trumpets and clairons. Talbot and others will go ahead of
them. In addition, battles and
other military actions, such as gathering their arms or putting on armor also
call for clairons.


Because the clairon is never played without
trumpets, trumpets fill the same roles as the clairons. Trumpets alone may be specified in
contexts that in other pauses call for trumpets and clairons. For instance, sometimes trumpets alone
are played to assemble the army. Trumpets, however, are called for far more often than clairons,
sometimes in contexts where clairons are not used. No less than forty-seven pauses specifically indicate that
trumpets should play. As noted
above, trumpets were played in the low range. “Medieval trumpeters puffed out their cheeks when blowing
and produced a tone that was described as airy and trembling, not unlike the vibrato
produced by a boy soprano.” (Tarr, ‘Trumpet’) The trumpets of the time were sometimes straight and
sometimes folded. “Shortly before 1400 instrument makers learned to bend brass
tubing . . ..” (Tarr, ‘Slide Trumpet’) 
It is possible that, in order to get more pitch variety, the playwright
may have intended to use – or at
least not objected to – slide trumpets. “The single-slide trumpet seems to have
been introduced . . . – according to Polk (1997) between 1400
and 1420, probably first in Burgundy, then in the Cologne-Flanders area – and
was soon ubiquitous. It was used until the invention of the double slide around
1490.” (Tarr, ‘Slide Trumpet’) Of
course, the Burgundians sided with the English during the Hundred Years War,
making it tempting to speculate that the instrument may have been tainted by
this association. The playwright
simply calls for “trompettes,” but what other name he might have used to refer
to the new instrument is not clear to modern scholars. “Terminology and nomenclature in a
period of transition are always problematic. Early mentions of ‘pusun’, for
example in Basle in 1410, could refer to either the long straight trumpet or
perhaps the slide trumpet; ‘trompette saicqueboute’, in Burgundy in 1468,
probably meant a slide trumpet . . ..” (Tarr, ‘Slide Trumpet’) 


One place that trumpets are called for, but
clairons are not, is to play some specific signal calls to the army, such as
sounding a retreat. For example,
in the pause following line 2950, the rubrics indicate, “Ensuite ici les
trompettes des Français sonneront une retraite . . ..” (Gros p 197) Then, here, the French trumpets will sound a retreat. This use of trumpets and not clairons
to play a specific signal call is additional evidence that the clairons were
not bugles. This usage of trumpets
is part of the action of the play. Instead of providing a musical pause, the trumpet playing advances the
plot. There are other examples of
this sort of usage, for instance, heraldry. In line 15665, Lord John instructs his herald to quickly
take his trumpet and make an announcement to the town. “Héraut, prenez votre trompette Vite,
et veuillez écouter . . .” (Gros p 861) The following pause indicates that the
herald plays the trumpet and then makes the announcement. “Alors il sonnera la trompette; ensuite
il dit:” (Gros p 861)


For the most part, trumpets are played alone in the
same contexts that they are paired with clairons. That is, they are played during battles, marches, and to
assemble the army.  They also
appear in victory celebrations, for example, when the town chants Te Deum and during the plundering of the defeated town of
Jargeau in the pause after line 16642, “les trompettes sonneront, et la ville
de Jargeau sera pillée: vaisselle d’argent, étain, lits, meubles meublants,
draps, couvertures et tous autres ustensiles de ménage . . ..” The trumpets will sound and the town of
Jargeau will be plundered: silver plate, tin, furniture, cloths, covers and all
other household utensils. This
rubric, like one that calls for trumpets and clairons, also calls for prisoners
to be marched out by the army.


The third most-oft appearing musical instrument is
the organ. Unlike, bells,
clairons, and trumpets, the organ fills a purely musical role and is not part
of the action of the play. It is
first called for in folio 171. Hamblin summarizes the action at this point in
the play: 

kneels and prays to God that He have pity on France. Nostre Dame, Saints
Michel, Euvertre and Aignan convince God that Charles is sincere. He sends
Michel to Barrois, where a young girl will be given the mission of winning the
siege of Orléans. The French, because of their loss of faith, will have no
personal glory in the victory. (p

The pause occurs after God speaks on line 7066, ordering
St. Michel to go to La Pucelle. The rubrics say, “Pause d’orgues. Et il vient auprès de la Pucelle
occupée à garder les brebis de son père et à coudre du linge.” (Gros p 459) Pause of organs. And then he goes to the Pucelle, who is
occupied keeping her father’s ewes and sewing linen. Thus the organ plays while Michel descends from heaven,
possibly a separate stage from where La Pucelle is spinning wool, or, at the
very least, requiring a scene change. Gros attaches a footnote to “orgues,”
where he states, “Pour le première fois, dans le Mystére, ce sont les orgues
qui se font entendre durant la pause Aussi bien le ciel rend-il alors visite à
la terre: le veritable nature de la mission de Jeanne se précise.” (p 459) For
the first time in the play it is the organs which we hear in the pause. It is at this time that the heavens
visit the earth and reveal the precise nature of Jeanne’s mission. Thus Gros implies a connection between
the organ and themes of holiness.


As this scene was most likely not intended to be
performed in a church, the organ called for is a portative organ. These small, “easily transported
organ[s],” (Seay p 73) have “a keyboard of up to two octaves.” (Owen) Seay
describes the portative as, “[s]mall and capable of being worked by one man
without assistance, it carried none of the religious overtones associated with
its larger [church organ] brother.” (p 73) However, the rubrics only call for organs on four occasions,
all of which invoke God. The
playwright clearly intends his choice of instrument to convey religious
overtones, as Gros states.


Seay goes on to describe the performance practice
of the portative organ. “Since one
hand of the executant was occupied in building up the air pressure, its
position was not that of a polyphonic instrument, but one used in group
performance, as a member of chamber combinations.” (p 73) Hence, the playwright specifies
multiple organs for the pause.


Finally, string instruments are mentioned once in
the rubrics of the Siege. The pause after line 17614 says, “Pause
de trompettes, de musiciens jouant d’instruments à cordes, et d’autres
instruments. – Puis après,
le messager arrive devant le roi et dit:” (Gros p 911) Pause of trumpets,
musicians playing of string instruments, and other instruments. – Then after, the messenger arrives in
front of the king and speaks. In
her summary of the action in this folio, Hamblin writes, “A messenger reports
to Charles on the progress made by the French army.” (p 93) This scene takes place at court. The unique mention of strings and other
instruments helps distinguish court musically from outdoor scenes with the
army. Of course, the court scene
would be performed outdoors along with the rest of the play. The music helps provide cues to the
audience about the scene.


At the very end of the Siege, “Jehanne again admonishes the citizens to thank
God for these victories, and to conduct processions in memory of the victories
granted them for God.” (Hamblin p 93) Loyal to Jehanne’s wishes, the citizens of Orléans have not forgotten
the procession, but unfortunately, have neglected the play. The recent publication of Gros’
translation into modern French may spark popular interest. Perhaps the Siege, after so many centuries, will finally have a