Classical Music is Dead*

The Nouveau Classical Project

Patrick Grant x In & Around C

In & Around C is a participatory music and art installation. Guests walk onto an enlarged music staff as musicians read and interpret the “notes” on the staff. These “notes” consist of the heads of the guests, which are captured via a webcam and transmitted to a wall-mounted screen. The goal of In & Around C is to create a deeper level of engagement between art and the public through physical and aural immersion. Composers have created frameworks with varying styles to guide musicians in interpreting the still images of people on the staff.

We’ll be releasing one of these every couple of days. Here’s composer Patrick Grant’s framework. 

The key signature of the piece is C dorian throughout, playing a scale of C-D-Eb-F-G-A-Bb.

The time signature of the piece is x/8 where x=the number of note heads (people) on each image. 

The tempo of the piece is a steady-state 120 BPM.

From the above criteria, each player creates loop-able riffs. Rests are not encouraged though may be unavoidable. Some repeated notes are OK as long as each improvised riff has a definite shape.

The number of notes in each riff is also determined by the number of people (note heads) on the screen.

If, for example, the staff shows 5 people, the player loops an improvised riff of 5 notes from the scale as if in the time signature of 5/8.

If, for example, the staff shows 7 people, the player loops an improvised riff of 7 notes from the scale as if in the time signature of 7/8.

Odd numbered meters work best in this context when they are thought of as a repeated couplet i.e. 5+5+10 and the riff here would have more of a 5/4 feel, helping in its ensembleship yet retaining its feeling of an overall 5.

When the players see a change of staff, they should change as soon as possible. However, there are no strict bar lines for the ensembles as a whole. All that matters is that they lock into each others 8th notes.

The players can also, upon hearing the right moment, NOT play in order to create a variety of texture. This is best determined by the example below.

"The primary modes of improvising: to initiate, to respond, to do nothing. Examples of these: soloing, accompanying, tacit. Doing nothing, properly undertaken, provides a necessary field within which the action takes place. This particular role is generally overlooked and, when effective, is sometimes referred to as radical neutrality: the doing nothing that enables doing everything."

Dynamics and articulations are left up to the players. It is recommended that the urge to play louder when everybody is playing and softer when there are few be inverted whenever possible.

The desired effect is that off a vibrant, burbling, muti-layered whole were each part interlocks with the others as the cogs and gears in a watch. In spirit, as opposed to instructions alone, one good example of how this piece can be approached can be found here: