The Aux-Cord Etudes are a series of pedagogical pieces for auxiliary percussion and live electronics by Andrew Gordon Bell. These etudes focus on exploring methods to teach undergraduate percussionists both the skills needed to play at a high level on triangle, tambourine, bass drum and cymbals, and the technological knowledge required to perform with live electronics. These topics are often overlooked as playing these instruments are seen as less musical by most percussionists and the technical knowledge to perform with electronics can seem daunting, discouraging students from even exploring that avenue. This leads to suboptimal results as although these instruments seem less important they still require practice to achieve technical facility, and by the time students realize they are interested in performing with technology they are so behind in terms of knowledge that it can be difficult to catch up. These pieces aim to alleviate this hurdle by giving students a more engaging way to practice auxiliary instruments while also introducing different aspects of performing with live electronics. Topics covered include live processing, hyperinstruments, fixed media, OSC, and more.
Click here to view slides presented at the University of Toronto 2023 Graduate Music Conference
MadLib is an electro-acoustic piece for open instrumentation with live electronics created using Max software. It was commissioned by Jonny Smith in 2021 from composer Louis Pino. The concept of this work was to create a piece that can be customized by the performer in a variety of ways thereby giving the performer greater creative agency and allowing for a wide array of potential musical outcomes. The concept of the piece is inspired by the word game, Mad Libs. In the game, the reader or group of readers is asked to think of and write down random words. These words are then used to fill in the blanks of a prewritten story, usually for comic effect. A core aspect of the piece is the performer uploading their own audio samples to then be manipulated by the patch in some preset and some personally customizable processes.
A study was held from October 4th to November 6th 2022, involving various TaPIR researchers learning, experimenting with, and recording their own versions of the piece. The goal of this experiment was to analyze how performers chose to perform and interact with the electronic accompaniment, and to evaluate the piece as a creative practical tool to aid in learning the Max software. MadLib premiered in April 2022 at The Space Between conference at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Both Smith and Pino performed their own versions of the piece in order to demonstrate how the piece can be shaped in a variety of ways by different performers.