Composing the now

‘Composing the now’ – notes for a lecture on engagement with sonic time through sensors, electronica, loudspeakers and ears.
“There is an opinion that the absence of direct manual intervention creates machine music with a quality more closely related or even elevated to our ‘mind processes’ and ‘nature’ and even the ‘cosmos’.
Others insist that the interaction of our physical body with electronic music instruments adds a musicality that goes beyond machine music; some even speak about the occurrence of musical magic caused by this physical interaction.
In my vision the magic lays in the engagement and the convergence of both our mind and body with electronic/physical instruments while interacting with other musicians preferably in the presence of an audience!
Physical engagement – touch – adds more data streams, back and forth between the performer and the instrument.
We do not understand the meaning of all these data streams and leaving out some of these streams has been empirically shown to lessen the perceived musical quality.
In my personal vision for electronic music instrument design I have almost always pragmatically opened as many as possible data channels and their feedback between my body and the instruments.
In the early eighties I formulated thoughts about the importance of forcing the performer to apply physical effort when playing sensor instruments. I assumed that also this effort factor was crucial in the transmission of musicality through electronic instruments.
Now I think the crucial aspect of perceived musicality is not the notion of effort itself, but what we feel and perceive of how the physical effort is managed by the performer.
This is also why laptop performance – where the performer is sort of hidden behind the screen is so un-engaging to the audience when played outside of a dance context.”