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The Space Between Us, for 8 strings, and robotic percussion instruments

8 string players surround the audience, robotic percussion hanging from the ceiling, controlled by a percussion soloist with a 3D sensor.

The Latest Update

Day 2 rehearsal

Posted on March 4, 2016 by David A Jaffe

Rehearsing section J, in which melodies gradually diverge and converge. Radiodrum is controlling convergence and divergence of robotic xylophones and piano, strings begin together and diverge, much the way a flock of birds may fly in the same general direction but not in lock-step unison. 

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Day 2 rehearsal

Posted on March 4, 2016 by David A Jaffe

Rehearsing section J, in which melodies gradually diverge and converge. Radiodrum is controlling convergence and divergence of robotic xylophones and piano, strings begin together and diverge, much the way a flock of birds may fly in the same general direction but not in lock-step unison. 

Rehearsals — day 1

Posted on March 4, 2016 by David A Jaffe

We had a nail-biting moment as we watched to see if the Yamaha Disklavier would fit in the elevator at the Good Shepherd Center, but it just squeezed in. Later, met with Trimpin to devise a mechanism for hanging the robotic chimes. Then we rehearsed with the Seattle/Lithuanian contingent packed into Schloss’ Living room. Here’s a photo, with the robotic xylophone and glockenspiel and Andrew Schloss behind the string players, who are, left to right, Steve Creswell, Brian Wharton, and Heather Bentley (Karen Bentley not in view.) Spent the night debugging an insidious problem with MaxMSP’s scheduler.  Friday, will be full rehearsal with everyone.

Concert Announcement

Posted on February 27, 2016 by David A Jaffe

My Fellow Humans,

If you find yourself in the upper left hand corner of the country, hope you can join us and our mechanical friends in…

“Music from the space between us,” a concert performed by humans and robots featuring…

  • Lafayette String Quartet      
  • Robotic instruments by Trimpin       
  • radiodrum soloist Andrew Schloss      
  • Luminaries from Seattle to Lithuania      
  • Computer-generated singers

with music by Dimitri Shostakovich, Rebecca Clarke and David A. Jaffe.

Chapel Performance Space, 7:30 PM, March 5th. $15 on-line, sliding scale at the door (free for robots). At the Historic Good Shepherd Center, 4649 Sunnyside Ave. N., 4th Floor, Seattle WA (corner of 50th St. in Wallingford)  

In The Space Between Us, violinists, violists and cellists surround the audience while robotic percussion instruments created by renowned Seattle artist Trimpin are played remotely via the Radiodrum, a 3D percussive controller, performed by soloist Andrew Schloss. The music literally hangs in the air, activating 18 robotic orchestra chimes, along with robotic piano (Disklavier), xylophones and glockenspiel. The music for this menagerie was created by San Francisco composer David A. Jaffe, protégé of the late spatial music pioneer, Henry Brant, to whom the work is dedicated, and whose instruments Jaffe inherited from Brant to create this work. This is the Seattle premiere of the work, which was commissioned by the San Francisco 2011 Other Minds Festival. 

Inter-continental space is traversed as well, with an American/Russian summit meeting in the form of Dimitri Shostakovich’s magnificent 9th quartet, performed by the Lafayette String Quartet, resident quartet at the University of Victoria. 

The concert is rounded out by the bluegrass virtuosity of Jaffe’s Cluck Old Hen Variations (also a Seattle premiere) and the eerie computerized-bird dialog of Jaffe’s Impossible Animals, as well as the haunting Poem by the early 20th century English composer, Rebecca Clarke. 

Performers: Andrew Schloss, Ann Elliott-Goldschmid, Karen Bentley Pollick, David A. Jaffe,  Heather Bentley, Steve Creswell, Brian Wharton, and the Lafayette String Quartet.

Presented by Nonsequitur. Thanks to Yamaha USA. The Space Between Us, for 8 strings, and robotic percussion instruments was supported by New Music USA. To follow the project as it unfolds, visit the project page:https://www.newmusicusa.org/projects/the-space-between-us-for-8-strings-and-robotic-percussion-instruments/



David A. Jaffe demonstrates radiodrum and Trimpn percussion

Posted on February 27, 2016 by Andrew Schloss

Video of the composer of “The Space Between Us” demonstrating use of the Radiodrum to control the Trimpin percussion and piano. Recorded in Trimpin’s studio in Seattle.


The Space Between Us, by David A. Jaffe, was commissioned by and premiered at  the 2011 Other Minds Festival in San Francisco, performed by Andrew Schloss, with instruments by the artist Trimpin. This performance will be the Seattle premiere of the work.  The concert will also include other works by Jaffe, along with repertoire performed by the Lafayette String Quartet.

An unproven theory says that all people on Earth are connected by six degrees of separation. Of equal, if not greater interest is the space between those connections. The Space Between Us  explores what can be communicated and what must remain unsaid as eight isolated string players embedded in the audience, and one percussionist alone on stage, reach out to one another.

While the violinists, violists and cellists move air through intimate coupling of bows, strings and bodies,  the percussionist silently induces electromagnetic waves that elicit reaction in remote robotic xylophones, bells, pianos and chimes. The piece is a memorial tribute to American composer and spatial music pioneer Henry Brant, a close personal friend of the composer, who referred to space as the Fourth Dimension of Music, after pitch, time and timbre. The work serves at once as a memorial to  Brant, and as a carrying on of the flame of acoustic spatial music.

The string players and percussion instruments surround the audience, drawing upon pre-WWII funky percussion instruments that Brant collected. These have been transformed by Trimpin especially for this piece, turning them into 21st century robotic sound contraptions that evoke Brant’s nuts and bolts spirit of adventure and experimentation, combined with a hand-crafted one-of a-kind aesthetic that harks back to earlier days.

The piece is purely acoustic, with no amplified sound. At the same time, it draws on interactive computer technology to create a “tele-presence” controller (called the “radiodrum” because mallets communicate with the instrument via radio waves), that maps 3 dimensional physical gestures to Trimpin’s fantastical remote control percussion and a Yamaha Disklavier piano, distributed throughout the hall. These are all performed by percussionist/composer Andrew Schloss, often in a precise synchronization that would be extremely difficult with multiple human players in a large space. At the same time, the music moves organically, with parts converging and diverging, reaching out across the space. Schloss brings to the piece his varied expertise as an African, Cuban, jazz and classical percussionist to contribute a virtuosic kaleidoscope of stylistic associations. As such, the piece celebrates Brant’s “maximalist” approach to musical material. With explicit references to African music, Latin music, bluegrass music, and other styles, these are layered, fractured, fused, and exploded, creating an ecstatic musical sea that surrounds and engulfs the audience, and refracts the heterogeneous, multi-cultural, expansive, and emotionally contradictory nature of modern life. 


Project Media

The Story of “The Space Between Us,” photos, reviews, etc.

This document describes the way “The Space Between Us” came into being, and includes photos and review from the premiere performance.

Score to The Space Between Us by David A. Jaffe

Performance score of “The Space Between Us.” Note that due to the flexible approach to instrumental coordination, the score often indicates only the entrance of each instrument, referring to the appendix for the full notation. In the score, the radiodrum part is indicated using a sparse graphic notation, with just enough information for the players to get a sense of the effect. A detailed radiodrum part is available separately and is a combination of notation and the computer program itself, written in the Max/MSP language.

Start and End Dates



Chapel Performance Space, Seattle, Washington

5 updates
Last update on March 4, 2016

Project Created By

Seattle, Washington
Composer, performer, researcher Andrew Schloss (Hartford CT 1952) began his musical career as a percussionist in the 1960’s studying with Alexander Lepak and later with Milford Graves. In the early 1970’s, he began performing in New York, originally with Yoshi Wada and Alison Knowles at the Kitchen. Since then, he has focused on electroacoustic and…

In Collaboration With

Berkeley, California
Sound sculptor
Seattle, Washington


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