Gradual Prelude

presented at: Other Auralities, Presented in Open Space, Victoria, 2005

Aleksandra Dulic: interactive animation and perfomance
Kenneth Newby: music composition and perfomance

The visual component of Gradual Prelude is made up of live animation based on processing a video image of a violin. A variety of techniques is used such as frame capture, color processing, feedback, delay, image granulation, downsampling and image permutation. In contrast to the strictly deterministic, if emergent, form of the music, the animation is executed as a free improvisation in which the performer has complete freedom to evolve the visual flow in any direction desired. The space between these two interstices of determinism and freedom represents, for me, the place where creativity and emergence dwell.

The music is a process that gradually evolves a performance of the Preludio from Johan Sebastian Bach’s Partita No. 3 for solo violin. The original work is only 4 minutes long, while the process articulation of the work can work effectively anywhere from 20 to 80 minutes. The process is based on the principles of granular synthesis but with an important variation. In usual practice the grains of sound used in granular synthesis are very short, somewhere in the range of 30 – 60 milliseconds. This allows for the effective recomposition of sounds at the microsonic level. For the Gradual Prelude these grains are much larger—approximately nine seconds—and result in a recomposition of the original piece of music at an intermediate temporal level of macrosound. Phrase fragments of the original can be heard and seem to be repeating, but in fact are con- stantly evolving in a forward time vector towards the end of the work.