CSO (Chicago Scratch Orchestra) at the Empty Bottle: call for scores

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“Solo Variations” out now on Pan y Rosas!


Get the record here.

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from the Pan Y Rosas Label Showcase at the Hideout

photo by Lara Dorsett

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Pan Y Rosas showcase at the Hideout

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Improvised Opera Workshop June 18-22 at High Concept Labs

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VV – The Singing Sands Studio Proximity Antennas

The proximity antennas sense the physical presence of one’s body and convert the ‘closeness’ of the person to each antenna into voltages that can be used to control synthesizers, computers, lights and even robotics. The design is based on ideas gleaned from Robert Moog, MIT, the Moskow State University and many other sources, then honed by my experience.

The two antenna sensing units each have a vertical 4.5 foot long copper pipe attached to a resonator that is enclosed in a shielded box. That box sits upon a marble base plate that has a conductive film applied underneath.  This plate radiates a high frequency sine wave signal from a master oscillator that is picked up by the copper antenna.

The antennas work on the principle of using body capacitance, as small as femtofarads, to change the frequency of a resonator built into the base of each antenna. As one approaches the antenna, the body capacitance effect increases as the distance decreases and so the frequency of the resonator falls. As the frequency of the antenna resonator gets closer to that of the sine wave radiator, the resonator produces more output voltage. This voltage is conditioned by outboard circuitry to produce a common analog control voltage, from zero to five volts. Thus, the closer one gets to the antenna, the more control voltage it produces.

The control voltages from each antenna are continuously monitored by an Arduino Uno to produce a gate or trigger votage for each antenna. Variable controls are provided so that the gate can be made to turn on when the person is at a certain fixed distance from each antenna. So if the distance threshold is set to be 2 feet, then anytime a person’s hand is within 2 feet of the antenna the gate or trigger will be active. This gate voltage was used for triggering synthesizers in our initial performances, but it can also trigger a sound file to be played, ring a bell or start a fountain.

It is important to note that the antennas are not Theremins. They are just general-purpose controllers that convert distance into control voltages. Their application is limited only by the imagination of the user.

-Gregory M. O’Drobinak, Singing Sands Studio

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Information about the Improvised Opera Workshop

In performance, both operas take the shape of an improvised collage that combine conduction (using hand cues), graphic scores, memory-based improvisational structures, and traditionally notated music. I, Norton is an open-ended project—a perpetual work-in-progress—with additions made for each performance.  Dissecting Adam is in a middle phase of development, adding flesh to a metaphorical skeleton.  For this workshop, elements and characters from both I, Norton and Dissecting Adam will be combined and juxtaposed, to reflect upon the larger whole.

I, Norton
The opera takes place during the Emperor’s final moments, as he lay dying on a rain-soaked street. The sound and images in each performance act as a metaphor for his life flashing before his eyes—events overlap and appear in fragments, often repeated and exaggerated. As a result, there is no linear storytelling involved; portions of the Emperor’s life are revealed through each realization of the piece.

Dissecting Adam
The opera relates the existence of 111 year old Evelyn, whose life spans three centuries, having been born in 1899 and dying in 2011. Her story is interpreted by an ensemble of solo female voices.  Generationally, the singers individually represent eras of Evelyn’s life, providing a skeletal frame for the exploration of the evolutionary archetype through her relationship to the male figures in her life (collectively known as “Adam”). Her lifetime provides the construct for artistic collaboration and exploration of other themes including (but not limited to) the word play on “adam” (human being, here translated as man) and the feminine “adamah” (ground, soil), and the ancient Chinese practice of using oracle bones for divination.

Organization and Rehearsals
The opera workshop will be structured over five days in June at High Concept Labs.  June18-23.
Monday – large group meeting/organizational rehearsal
Tuesday/Wednesday – small ensemble rehearsals/sectionals;  tech set up/construction
Thursday – run through
Friday – Performance

Many of the scores and concepts are in the current repertoire of the Chicago Scratch Orchestra.
Weekly organizational rehearsals through May/June will be occurring at High Concept Labs.


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Improvised Opera Workshop in June

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CSO review by Vern Hester

This is a nice article by Vern Hester about the Chicago Scratch Orchestra.  http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Van-Hunt-The-Chicago-Scratch-Orchestra/37064.html

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VV – dress rehearsal (video excerpt)

[vsw id="40562912" source="vimeo" width="425" height="344" autoplay="no"]

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