Michael Young

co-improvisations between humans and machines
Computational systems able to collaborate with human improvisers are live algorithms: able to cooperate proactively, on an equal basis, with musicians in performance.

This is an ideal that raises fundamental questions about creativity and group interaction, how these might be computationally modelled. Can musicians and computers relate to one another,just as human musicians do? Can an audience recognize and appraise this relationship?

Live algorithms offer the prospect of a new understanding of real-time creative practice that differs from the established paradigms in live electronic music: computer as instrument and computer as proxy.

Drawing upon ideas from social psychology and pragmatics, collective music-making can be viewed as a special case of social cooperation, evidenced through sound.

oboe_,  piano_ and  flute_prosthesis, Trio for Two Players

for solo instrument and computer

_prosthesis are a developing series of pieces that bring together a specific instrument with a related (and transformed) library of samples and real-time manipulations. This the material that the machine can access and transform in performance in response to the musician's improv. The musical behaviours of the system, as well as its library of materials distinguish each version.

The musician's improvisation is encoded as statistical behaviours that the computer assimilates by training in real-time.

The system maps its judgements to a library of sonic materials and stochastic behaviours. This is the only ‘composed’ element of any performance. The live pitch content is developed through real-time chord multiplications.

Recurring aspects of the player’s performance can then be recognised and ‘appraised’ by the computer, which adapts to changes in the improvisation as it learns more about the player’s behaviour.

So, the machine expresses its recognition and creative response to the player by developing, and modifying, its own musical output, just as another player might. Both ‘musicians’ adapt to each other as the performance develops.

Score and Instructions for piano_prosthesis (pdf)

go to audio page

Chris Redgate's new double CD includes two verions of oboe_prosthesis

avatars (2008-10)

As part of Francis Silkstone's AHRC research project in intercultural composition, we conducted experiments in interactive improvisation with Dhrupad singer Amelia Cuni.   In this recording, Amelia focuses on pre-defined 'composed' tuning systems. The computer recognises each tuning system as it is sung, and responds differently to each.

go to audio page

au(or)a (2006-)

for solo instrument and Disklavier (controlled by NN Music) + optional live processing

This alludes to harmonic illuminations like an aurora borealis, It also refers to Walter Benjamin's term aura, a "unique phenomenon of a distance however close it may be" (Benjamin 1936), i.e that sense of uniqueness and permanence that is lost or extracted from a work by (technological) reproduction.

In au(or)a, perceptual distance is experienced between an imagined pianist and visual reality. There is a presumed, irreconcilable, distance between the human performer and machine, but intimate connections evidenced in the music itself as it emerges. Although the live music is perpetually reproducible it is also unique on each occurrence.

These performances feature Roger Redgate, violin. go to audio page

  last updated 01-02-2014