I was aiming to create a Junxion patch to play a counter part to my improvised solo clarinet playing using the Wii remote.
My idea was to trigger a software sampler with my playing gestures. The Wii Remote would be ideally somehow mounted on the clarinet and the x and y axis and the accelerometer would control the counter part that would be driven by the sampler in real time. I was especially interested in the interactive way of creating a second part which would actually have a life on its own, and not the alteration nor harmonization of my acoustic playing.
In my solo electro acoustic setup as a clarinetist I use Ableton Live on my Mac Laptop in combination with Pluggo from Cycling 74, Yamaha Tenori on and a Kaos Pad 3 as a touch pad MIDI controller. The Guitar Rig Kontrol Edition by Native Instruments also useful for me both as an audio interface and an integrated effects processor with foot controls.
I was looking forward to have some time with the people from Steim such as Robert and Frank to sort out ways to achieve my goal, and get some help to write my Juxion patch that suits my needs the best.
All the work was extremely useful. It was great to have a nice and well equipped studio with super nice people around. It was a real opportunity for me to really go deep into one single detail about how my electro acoustic setup works.
I was wonderful to work with Frank. He really took his time and helped me build my patch almost from scratch. We experimented on calibrating the patch according to my playing. It is quite difficult to actually really mount the controller itself on the instrument. I was hoping for maybe opening the controller, getting rid of the plastic enclosure and making it smaller. It is not really possible. Frank and I tried different ways to solve this problem. But I finally encountered a much different issue; The way the wii remote works is maybe does not really make it the best to suitable controller to be mounted on a real acoustic instrument. I had the feeling that the way it was designed as a game controller is quite like an instrument on its own. Especially when its accelerometer is inclined to be used in combination with the buttons. And the even it is possible to be fine tuned via junxion, the accelerometer rather works best with bigger gestures which are not quite in the natural way of playing an acoustic instrument, certainly not in my way of clarinet playing for sure. I found that I was forcing myself to get something out of the wii and was trying to move with much larger gestures and even trying sudden movements that would result in either over exaggerated body language or having things that are in the way of my well focussed improvised playing. This whole process led me though making a decision about how would I use the wii, or even if I should use it at all?
Since quite some time I had the idea to try to implement the basic idea that lies under LiSa to Ableton live which is playing a sample in a very very flexible way. Things like jumping to different points of the sample either very quickly or very slowly. Really playing just one sample and using it as the core of the performance instrument. So I combined this idea with my feeling about the wii being actually an instrument on its own.
Frank helped me write the patch for Junxion that enables me to use the wii in combination with the sampler instrument integrated in Ableton Live.
In this way I now have a totally unique instrument that I can perform with.
I am triggering midi notes with a button. The x, y axis’ control the pitch and velocity. I can control the randomness of the notes that are being triggered via another button if I want to.
Two main buttons of the wii enables two different stages that are to be configured as I want to. Such as the accelerometer controlling the sample position or loop length for very fine granulation in real time.
I may have come up with something different than my initial idea, but I am quite happy about the result. I can play this both as a solo instrument in my solo repertoire or I can also accompany and interact with other players with it.
What audience will this show the ‘results’?
I performed at the International Akbank Jazz Festival in Istanbul in October 2008 together with bass clarinetist Tobias Klein. Our project is an electro acoustic duo that combines written and improvised originals. We both use our live electronics setups to process our own playing. Akbank festival is one of the biggest international events in the country involving contemporary composed and improvised music.
I am also currently playing lots of solo performances in Istanbul. And I find it very refreshing to have at least one piece in my repertoire that I especially don’t play the clarinet. It creates a well balanced set when combined with pure solo acoustic and electro acoustic pieces.
Together with Tobias we continue to work and are planning to have a tour in the fall 2009 in the Netherlands.
Best thing I have seen/experienced while at STEIM;
As I said earlier, super nice people and a great environment to really go deep into the core of your topic without being distracted but influenced by lots of other people working on their own stuff in the same building