Clonal Colonies was commissioned by New York's Avian Orchestra for their botany-themed concert Vegetative States in 2011. The first movement, Fresh Runners, is a fast romp of densely interlocked textures, thrilling in the process of transformation itself. The second movement, Soft Strata, starts with an almost childlike simplicity, from which a series of gentle elaborations culminate in a not-so-gentle interjection. It returns to something akin to its original state, but impelled by evolution to exhibit greater richness and nuance.
A "clonal colony" is a group of genetically identical plants. Child plants are propagated by "runners" that emerge from a parent plant. Thus colony members may appear as individual plants above the ground, but are interconnected underground. The environment for each plant, which includes neighboring colony members, shapes the unique appearance of that plant. This is analogous to the computer algorithms used in the creation of the music. Each musical phrase can be thought of as the disposition of a single plant. All instrumental parts share the same underlying "genetic code". But each instrumental behavior influences and is influenced by the others'. This ecosystem, when tended with care by the composer-gardener, can give rise to engaging behavioral counterpoint, sometimes of surprising and hard-to-rationalize coherence. I trimmed and weeded the resulting acoustic garden while adding computer-rendered sound. The latter provides color settings, delineates boundaries, clarifies landmarks — and highlights the fundamental pulse of the landscape.
The video element extends my previous Brownian Doughnut Warper technique of algorithmic manipulation of points by adding Bézier splines between points, camera control, and post-processing routines. Complex patterns arising from the lines between points forms a further analogy to botanical clonal colonies.
I produced the sound for Clonal Colonies with the aid of my Variable-Coupled Networks (VCMN) algorithms technique (as described in the journal Organised Sound, 9(2), 2004), implemented in Max/MSP. The computer-realized sound was created primarily using SuperCollider, Max/MSP and Digital Performer.
I created the visual material with a custom plug-in for Apple’s Motion 4 video effects software, working in 1080p resolution. The connection between the sound and the image was created almost entirely manually — the relationship is not algorithmic.
Presentation Details and Materials
- Fresh Runners: 6:45
- Soft Strata: 8:45
- Technical Rider (PDF) - updated December 27, 2011
- Full Score [sized for A3 paper] (PDFs in ZIP file)
- Parts [ 9"x12"] (PDFs in ZIP file)
- Rehearsal Sequences
- Performance backing video and audio — by mail or (large) download. Contact me.
- Live Performances
- September, 2011 - The Cell, New York City, USA [The Avian Orchestra]
- September, 2011 - The Barn at Flint Woods, Greenville, Delaware, USA
[The Avian Orchestra]
- Screenings (fixed media)
- March, 2013 - Bulldog Bytes Concert Series, South Carolina State University, Orangeburg, South Carolina, USA
- January, 2013 - SoundImageSound 9, University of the Pacific, Stockton, California, USA
- December, 2012 - MADATAC IV, Madrid, Spain [Mvmt I]
- November, 2012 -Sacramento City College Festival of New American Music, Sacramento, California, USA
- July, 2012 - East End Film Festival, London, UK
- April, 2012 - Visible Bits Audible Bytes, Phoenix Digital, Leicester, UK