Have you ever heard or seen a Laptop Ensemble or even a Laptop Orchestra performance? Ok, you probably had to read that twice and do a sort of “double-take” because the words “Laptop” and “ensemble” or “orchestra” are newly paired words. They were for me too a few years ago and ever since, I’ve contemplated a bit more about the idea. I still prefer to see musicians actively playing a traditional instrument, but it’s not an easy task either to ‘perform music” on something that is not quite an “instrument.”
Well finally, I got the courage to actually program a piece for a contemporary music ensemble to perform Patchwork Pants by Zach Zubow. It was the great quote from John Cage that I kept “in my pocket” so to speak when trying to contemplate such an idea of “laptop ensembles” and such.
“The first question I ask myself when something doesn’t seem to be beautiful is why do I think it’s not beautiful. And very shortly you discover that there is no reason.” – John Cage
And now that I’ve been learning a bit about them: the variety of tools, the programming aspect, the music, and philosophies on the ideas of computer music, I’m finding that I enjoy them just the same as other types of music without out my pre-conceptions about what music IS. It’s been an interesting journey to say the least and I’ve grown as a musician, educator and composer.
I came across Mr. Zubow’s fun composition because he had submitted a work for percussion & electronics. I was really intimidated at first, but after a bit of perusing the files, practicing, and inquiring with the composer, I became comfortable with the challenge. Here is a video recording of the performance that was played during the Festival of New American Music in Sacramento back in November 2012.
I think the Contemporary Music Ensemble at Sac State will be taking a short break for the upcoming semester. However, I’m sure it will be back in the Fall for the next festival. 😉 Perhaps I can have my own laptop composition performed at that event? We’ll have to see as there’s lots to do already.