Atomic Crack : Deep Ice : Crack Horizon

Natasha Barrett, 2007

Percussion: Jonny Axelsson
Trumpet: Mathias Gunnarsson
Electric guitar: Stefan Ostersjo
Computer: Natasha Barrett

MaxMSP composition, design and programming: Natasha Barrett
Percussion tracking hardware and MaxMSP sensor interface: LaKicthen and Thomas Bouaziz.
Crack was commissioned as part of the Integra project.

Crack is one in a series of projects from recent years where I have explored ways to connect musical structure to phenomena found in nature. In these projects I intentionally avoid general abstractions such as fractal processes, and instead find ways to align the listeners perception of the process in the music to a general awareness and understanding of the process in nature.

Crack is scored for percussion, trumpet, electric guitar and computer. The electroacoustic part is substantial and requires extreme synchronisation and interaction by the performers. To achieve this interaction a series of sensors are connected to the percussionist arms and the output of these sensors used to calculate attack instance, attack velocity and motion direction for two arms in the vertical plane.

Atomic Crack begins at the atomic level of a crack process and is derived from the how a crack in silicon is initiated, how the crack tip propagates and becomes unstable. As Atomic Crack develops the perspective widens to take in the energy connected with the creation of crack clusters. In Atomic Crack it is the performers and their instruments creating both the material substance and the crack. All electroacoustic material is created live in performance through sampling, playback and transformation. There is no pre-made sound.

Deep Ice is the antithesis of Atomic Crack. The sound of ice cracking as it is submerged in water is recorded with high quality microphones at an extremely close proximity. The recording is slowed down by 128 semitones and data extracted from this transformation is used to create a framework for the instrumental part. In Deep Ice the electroacoustic part is dominated by pre-made acousmatic (non-instrumental) sound controlled moment by moment by the performers. Live sound transformation acts as the glue between pre-made and live sound elements.

Crack Horizon takes such a wide angle that the percussionist articulates points on a distant field and acts as a disturbance to the continuity of the sustaining instruments.