This is a brief introduction to some of the technology we use in our performances. First of all, we should make a small disclaimer: we really don't care that much about technology. In other words, if it makes music, we'll use it. Although all of us are deeply involved in music technology through our composing, research, and teaching, we've come to realize that it's the result that matters (amazing concept!). But in the search for creative tools we have come across some musical tools that take us further in our musical vision.
The Convolution Brothers, an electronic music-theater duo/trio formed in 1993, present partly precomposed, partly improvised performances using interactive real-time computer music systems in a dramatic setting.
These performances are collectively called Gandy Bridge. This title was chosen by the Brothers after each of them visited the Gandy Bridge separately. The bridge serves as a focal point for their work, combining the independent experiences and impressions of their visits. The bridge is a powerful metaphor for many things, but the Brothers grapple with life in the early 21st century.
Materials used in the Gandy Bridge series are reworked extensively from performance to performance, often gleaned from recent experiences. Paper, radio, TV, and the internet plow into our homes faster and faster and louder and louder. Our ID and credit cards have attached magnetic strips which only a computer can read. Data bases we can't access know where we live; how much money we have; how many dental fillings; which home security system. The phone rings late at night; the caller turns out to be a machine selling a religion or a cable TV system; our own answering machine takes the call.
Electronics are used to establish the theatrical context and animate the various personas created by the Brothers. Using a technique developed at Bell Laboratories and known as the vocoder, the Brothers can stamp the timbre of one sound onto the pitch or pitches present in another. One performer's voice inflection can be projected onto the other performer's articulation, rendering a new interpretation of text material. This resulting convolution (or "audio-morph") allows the Brothers to voice messages that augment or contradict their original meaning. Sampled sounds taken from all walks of life, from the pristine incantations of the high priest to the work songs of the field hand to the lullaby of the suckling infant, songs of human suffering and love (and their own anwering machine messages) are all raw material for the Brothers.
The Convolution Brothers have performed in Tokyo, New York,
and Paris; and have been featured at major festivals around the
world, including the International Symposium on the Electronic
Arts in Helsinki, the Emerging Voices Festival in San Diego, the
38ieme Rugissants Festivale in Grenoble, the El Callejon del Ruido in
Guanajuato, the realtim/non-realtime festival in Basel, the 1997 International
Computer Music Conference (ICMC) held in Saloniki, the 2002 ICMC
in Goteborg, the 2004 ICMC in Miami, and the 2005 ICMC in Barcelona.