Technology and Improvisation at Johns Hopkins University
At Johns Hopkins University, a three-person team has developed a project to encourage collaboration between the improvising and non-improvising students at the Peabody Conservatory. The team was made up of Theron Feist, an Information Technology Specialist, Rose Hammer, a Graduate Student in Computer Music, and Michael Formanek, a Peabody Faculty member.
They used digital audio, digital video, and the Max/MSP Programming Environment to create an environment where musicians of all instruments and disciplines were recorded to build a music library of sampled material. The samples can then be put together digitally to create an ensemble that can be accompanied with musicians performing live. The project’s goal is to have the students learn to improvise with the technology as they would on their instruments, and also to be able to incorporate real-time music, either improvised or non-improvised, into the recorded music.
The project took place in several parts, beginning with the recording of the improvised music. Then two computer interfaces or patches were written in written in the graphical object-oriented languages Max/MSP and Pd. They were designed to enable the musicians to think musically rather than technologically. The ensemble began playing at the end of 2004.