“11 Points” – Federico Llach

"11 Points" - Federico Llach

“11 Points” – Federico Llach

Installation version of my concert piece “11 points”. While the participants play a ping-pong match to 11 points, the bounces of the ball both on the paddles and the table will trigger previously composed and recorded music, showcasing, as a result, the beauty of a music whose basic tempo is uneven and unpredictable.

The concert version is unique in having performers following an action that is steady but uneven. The installaton version is unique in that the elements of a sport trigger a sequencer or music box, acting as a MIDI controller. Also, the rules of the sport are – both in concert and installation version – the element that structure the form of the piece.

In previous works, I had been exploring different ways of feeling the rhythm, mainly by writing stemless notes and having the musicians play by following their spatial location in the score. This piece takes this attitude one level further by having the basic pulse altered, which is much more dramatic. In its concert version the piece is performed by 2 ping pong players and 5 musicians. By asking the musicians to do an impossible task – to follow the unpredictable bounces of a ping pong ball – the concert version stages human imperfection. The installation version leaves that layer of meaning out by having the sensors and software do the job in a much perfectionist fashion. However, it has the advantage of allowing the performance of subtle and “complex-contemporary” music to non-musicians: “Play a contemporary music piece: now you can!”.

Processing uses the input of the paddles and table to send MIDI notes to the sampler in ProTools, loaded with prerecorded sounds. The intensity of the strokes is routed to MIDI velocity values. Paddles are equiped with a piezo and Xbees that transmit through a receiver Xbee. For the table, a contact mic is used: Minim reads the input of the contact mike and sends a MIDI note each time the intensity rises above a given threshold.

The music score – taken from the original concert piece – is written in Processing in MIDI values. Music is written for each of the points in the piece.

Ping pong players use two buttons (up and down) attached to the table to keep the score. This tells Processing which music to trigger and the score to project. Also, one reset button at the side of the table restarts the game.

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