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A new work for percussion and electronics using real-time analysis to control electronics, sound-synthesis, and spatialization.


For the past 9 years, I have been researching a means for new performative practices of live-electronics. The richness of instrumental performance through the vast amounts of repertoire created throughout the centuries has come down to the human level. In the context of the music of Bach, each performance can vary from performer to performer. In electro-acoustic music, this is the exact challenge we face. How can each artistic approach towards a piece of music in this genre be interpreted, challenged, and perfected? We are living in a particularly unique time period where research has resulted in new technologies to push the creative bounds of musical performance. With real-time spectral analysis techniques such as pitch tracking, amplitude, spectral flux in the forefront of musical timbre and touch, the performance is a unique opportunity for the performer to express musical independence by their impact on the sound result of the electronics. This develops an intimate relationship between the performer and the machine, acting in harmony or separating in suspension.

In today’s American percussion repertoire many basic live processing techniques are employed in electroacoustic works. These usually include: reverb, delay, harmonization, pitch shifting and looping. While these techniques are effective, they are often overused and exploited at the most rudimentary levels. Facilities such as IRCAM have cultivated and embraced far more complex ways of synthesizing, processing, and spatializing live sound. By broadening the compositional toolkit for live-electronics, new sound worlds and complexities are achieved. Most importantly this keeps new works sounding unique and less similar to what already exists. From 2014-2015, I had the opportunity to compose and study at IRCAM to learn their tools and techniques and employ them into my practice.

Expanding on these techniques, this new work for percussion and live-electronics will be a major contribution to the percussion repertoire and will be premiered and toured by Victor Pons, a percussionist who specializes in promoting and pushing the performance practice of technology integrated compositions. The set up for this piece consists of a vibraphone, a floor tom, found objects, and electronics. The performance gestures are analyzed in real-time to control sound synthesis, multi-effects (such as spectral freezes, stutter delays, and wavetable distortions), and spatialization. We will use an 8 channel audio interface consisting of 3 overhead microphones for an overall balance of the entire setup and 5 contact mics for localization of individual elements of the setup. Each audio signal and effect is mapped individually as a unique sound source to have independent analysis driven audio processing and spatialization trajectories allowing the audience to experience the sounds in a 3-dimensional space.

4 out of 10 minutes has been composed and demo’d by Victor Pons at PASIC 2016 (view demo). This piece will become one of Victor’s standard repertoire pieces that will be toured throughout the USA and internationally at festivals, conferences, lecture recitals, concerts halls, and his masterclass Ampere: Performing Intuitively with Electronics.

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Features: Preston Beebe

Unsounding Objects is a series of studies for the SpectraSurface (digital percussion instrument) developed by myself and 2 researchers (Ian Hatwick and Zachary Hale). The SpectraSurface is a set of 4 playing surfaces contained within a suitcase and equipped with contact microphones. Found objects such as bowls, pipes, or toys are placed on top of the surfaces and analyzed for their important audio features; these features are then used to drive sound synthesis. For more info, visit http://www.prestonbeebe.com/portfolio/unsounding-objects/

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Features: Preston Beebe

intakes is based on the state of being contaminated by unknowingly breathing in harmful particles. Often one does not know they are sick until it has already taken hold. If a malady results, what follows is a process of recovery which can result in an altered state, creating scars, physically or mentally. How do we react to these intakes? Does our body reject it or does it transform into a sickness? It is about the instabilities towards recovery. View Score – http://www.prestonbeebe.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/BEEBE_intakes_score.pdf

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Features: Victor Pons

By hacking the inner workings of payphones, building small electrical devices, or even whistling repeated tones at specific frequencies, phone phreaks were able to manipulate this analog technology to connect with others in far away places or simply listen in on the pops, clicks, and hums produced by the machinery of distant networks. All electronic sounds used in this piece come from these recordings and each movement is based upon the unique sonic qualities of calls from payphones in various locations in the US in the 1970’s.

Start and End Dates



Chicago, Illinois

Project Created By

Artistic Statement I have always been interested in nature and natural formations. Watching plants grow into prosperous nutrition we can ingest to create energy. How energy in turn creates motion. I am fascinated by sound and the microscopic features that make it living and have a personality, a trajectory, adapting or rejecting elements like an…


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