On the Other Ocean
Figure in a Clearing
On the Other Ocean is an improvisation by Maggi Payne and Arthur Stidfole centered around six pitches which, when they are played, activate electronic pitch-sensing circuits connected to the “interrupt” line and input ports of a microcomputer, Kim-1. The microcomputer can sense the order and timing in which the six pitches are played and can react by sending harmony-changing messages to two handmade music synthesizers. The relationship between the two musicians and the computer is an interactive one, with the computer changing the electronically-produced harmonies in response to what the musicians play, and the musicians influenced in their improvising by what the computer does.
Figure in a Clearing, made a few months before On the Other Ocean, was the first piece of Behrman’s to use a computer for music. For Figure, the Kim-1 ran a program which varied the time intervals between chord changes. The time intervals were modelled on the motion of a satellite in falling elliptical orbit about a planet. David Gibson’s only “score’ was a list of six pitches to be used in performance, and a request that he not speed up when the computer-controlled rhythm did. The timbral richness and concentrated eloquence of his playing sprang from his own sources.
Charming booklet notes by David Behrman.