ISSUE Project Room’s Artist In Residence Duane Pitre presents Perfect/Imperfect, for Amplified String Quintet and Sine Tones.
For Amplified String Quintet & Electronic Sine Tones
A new work by Duane Pitre
March 8, 2009 • ISSUE Project Room • Brooklyn, NY
(The artist’s first of four presentations as
Spring 2009 Artist in Residence)
Duane Pitre – composition
Damon Holzborn – programming
Jesse Peterson – violin
Chris Otto – violin
Frantz Loriot – viola
Chris Welcome – cello
Emily Dufour – cello
Bow a violin (or instrument from the violin family) to match a predetermined electronic sine tone pitch as closely and steadily as possible, without vibrato.
This “pairing process” can be carried out once or multiple times, by a solo performer or by multiple performers, in the same pitch or in different pitches, and arranged however one chooses.
The amount of times that this process is carried out within a recording or live performance determines the (x numeral) in its title
The three paragraphs above comprise the score for Perfect/Imperfect, a composition with simplicity at its core. The score does not address a specific arrangement, performance length, or pitch choices, as these aesthetic-based decisions are not at the core of the piece; they are secondary and can be changed from performance to performance.
The piece came to me while I was walking home from work last summer. When I arrived home I typed out the score on an old typewriter and tucked it away to let it “germinate” (which I find is the best method for my works). After being invited to participate in the ISSUE Project Room Artist in Residence Program, I decided to return to this simple idea and create a special arrangement of it to premiere at ISSUE.
Tonight’s arrangement, titled Perfect/Imperfect (x5), utilizes an amplified string quintet (two violins, two cellos, and viola), is 50 minutes in length, and uses pitches calculated from ratios that adhere to the tuning system known as Just Intonation. These pitch relationships are found in nature’s own Harmonic Series.
It is worth noting that the title of this piece came to me immediately; it may have even started the thought that led to the score. The title possessed a certain strength and made me think about aspects of modern society in which perfection is expected from “imperfect” creatures. This spiraled into me asking myself what “perfect” even means. It is a term relative to the cultural context in which it is used, changing from country to country, village to village. These thoughts made the piece all the more interesting to me.
The most relevant topic, both for me and for the piece, centers on the interaction of computer technology and the human race — and the relationships that exist between the two. As we strive for “perfection” we look for the most efficient (in terms of time, money, etc.) ways to carry out various tasks — important ones, menial ones, and everything in between. Can a computer do the job better or can a human? What about a mixture of both? Automated 1’s and 0’s or human flesh operated? Is the computer output too cold? Does the human touch give, well, life?
As I began writing these program notes, it occurred to me that my initial choice to type out the score for this composition on an old typewriter is significant. It offers a contrast to the 50+ hours a week I spend working with computers, often keying out perfectly rendered typeface characters. It is this contrast between the computer-generated and the handmade that this composition seeks to explore.
My Perfect/Imperfect experiment intends to put its performers in a silent space (a vacuum of sorts) to enable them and the audience to focus on the differences between the tireless stability of pitch offered by the electronic sine tones and the human-generated pitches of the sustained bowed strings, which over time will inevitably fluctuate to some degree. On a theoretical level Perfect/Imperfect is my way of creating a balance within the computer/human relationship. On an aural level it is a focus-piece, a concentration-piece, for both performers and audience.
- Duane Pitre (February 2009)Mastered by James Corrigan.
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