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Ping: Performance logistics: Signal generator
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Ping: Performance logistics: Signal generator
Work Type
Electronic instruments; Signal generators; Sound Devices
The category of Performance Logistics covers the non-standard elements necessary for a performance of Ping. For example, the majority of music in the Western tradition involves instruments/voices, musical scores, and individual parts (for more elaborate works). In the case of the multimedia work, Ping, both the visual and the auditory aspects of the work require non-standard elements. Sound logistics: Instrumentalists: The flutist must produce various extended techniques, especially multiphonics whose fingerings are specified in the score. The "percussionist" performs on a harmonium and also bows (probably with a contra-bass bow) both a large suspended cymbal and a tam-tam (cf. score for details). The pianist uses not only the piano keyboard but several novel means of excitation: a) Using the heavy base of a microphone (normally rounded on the top), one can rest the inverted base on the piano strings and start it in motion so as to rock back and forth upon the strings; b) small motors, their drive shafts fitted with small-diameter plastic gears, are powered by batteries in adapted flashlight cases. The gear, rotating rapidly, is then pressed firmly against designated piano strings in the low register, very close to the bridge. This results in the strings vibrating with rich and shifting harmonics of its fundamental pitch. Analog Technology: Contact microphones (or in the case of the flute a proximity mike) are used to transfer detected vibrations to a mixer. The mixer, in turn, allows for the various inputs (from piano, flute, harmonium, cymbal, and tam-tam) to be interactively ring-modulated – either directly with one another, or by the use of a carrier frequency provided by a custom made signal generator. There was also a tape recorder for playback of a 4-channel, pre-recorded sound material. [This component is now supplied with digital sound files.]. This material was of two types: an extended noise that culminates at a very high dynamic level and then fades out, and also periodic or occasional additional sound elements (related to the Timed Mixtures that the pianist-leader cues). The sound material on the original tape was pre-spatialized. But the spatialization of the ring modulated signals was accomplished originally with a device called a "photo cell sound distributor". This device (as was the case with the ring modulator and the signal generator) was custom-built by engineer Okuyama Junosuke [Japanese ordering]. Several sets of four photo cells were placed at the bottom of small-diameter, fairly short plastic tubes. A strong pen flashlight beam was then shown into one or more of these tubes at differing intensities. The light acted as a gating inpout that allowed sound materials to be disseminated from the loudspeakers associated with the various photo-cell receptors. Visual Logistics: Film (16mm film projected on a screen during performance) 160 35mm slides in two sets of 80 (Left and Right projectors). Two projectors were used so that the complete Beckett text could be continuously presented by image fields projected alternatively from Left 1, Right 1, L2, R2, ... etc. Visual effects: Two kinds of modification was utilized in relation to the projected slides: 1) formal distortion was introduced by the interposition between the projector lens and the beam of light falling on a projection surface: prisms, cubes, or spheres of transparent plastic. 2) Gradated colored filters (lighter density at the outer edge, and more strongly saturated colors as one moves inwards from the edge) were used to differentially color the projected texts slides during performance, in association with the visual distortions caused by the prismatic alterations.
Related Item
based on: Beckett, Samuel, 1906-1989. Ping
The function generator created different wave shapes at variable frequencies and allowed real-time ring modulation of signals from the instrumentalists to be created during performance. Signal generator designed and built (to Reynolds specifications) by Junosuke Okuyama.
Related Resource
Roger Reynolds Collection at the Library of Congress
UCSD DAMS Collection
Roger Reynolds Ping Collection;
UC Regents
UC Regents
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