Turbulent Control: An update on Bruce Gremo’s Cilia flute controller

The Cilia is a new controller instrument. For the past 3 years, composer Bruce Gremo has been learning to play it and program for it. Currently based in Beijing, this return to trip to NYC is an opportunity to update those interested in its progress, and to engage those interested in controller design with some novel problems.

 

Turbulent Control: Categories of control in the Cilia flute controller

Performance and presentation by Bruce Gremo
Monday, July 12, 2010, 7pm

The Cilia is a new controller instrument. The prototype was originally developed by Bruce Gremo and Jeff Feddersen with the assistance of Harvestworks through the AIR program around 4 years ago. For the past 3 years, composer Bruce Gremo has been learning to play it and program for it. Currently based in Beijing, this return to trip to NYC is an opportunity to update those interested in its progress, and to engage those interested in controller design with some novel problems. It is possibly unprecedented being a ‘flute’ controller. No less unprecedented are its concepts of control. Direct control (discrete or continuous), dynamic control, and even networked control are familiar control design strategies. In the case of the Cilia, its performance gestures are inspired by the Japanese Shakuhachi. A reverse analysis of the control domain of the Shakuhachi using these familiar electronic media control categories suggests for the Cilia one kind of approach for further development. On the one hand, there is a ‘less-is-more’ proposition that can be concluded from the analysis of the Shakuhachi. In other words, smaller but very specifically nuanced control configurations yield ‘better’ musical results than quantitatively complex ones. On the other hand, and somewhat as a matter of design accident in the Cilia’s development, there is a novel control concept implemented in the the Cilia which is difficult to identify in any acoustic instrument paradigm at all. It is here called ‘heterophonous control.’ After all, the promise of electronic controllers is that they should be able to do more than acoustic instruments. As an end note, there is nevertheless a likely candidate for a natural precedent and paradigm. It is found in the natural phenomenon of turbulence. (Does that us back to Edo period Shakuhachi?!) On this occasion, Bruce Gremo will endeavor to speak less and play more Cilia. And incidentally, whatever its structural indebtedness,  the Cilia sounds little like the shakuhachi. Please visit the Cilia page at http://suddensite.net/.

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