IMPI, Master Thesis

Shaping collective free improvisations in order to obtain solid and succinct works with surprising and synchronized events is not an easy task. This thesis is a proposal towards that goal. It presents the theoretical, philosophical and technical framework of the Improvisatory Music and Painting Interface (IMPI) system: a new computer program for the creation of audiovisual improvisations performed in real time by ensembles of acoustic musicians. The coordination of these improvisations is obtained using a graphical language. This language is employed by one “conductor” in order to generate musical scores and abstract visual animations in real time. Doodling on a digital tablet following the syntax of the language allows both the creation of musical material with different levels of improvisatory participation from the ensemble and also the manipulation of the projected graphics in coordination with the music. The generated musical information is displayed in several formats on multiple computer screens that members of the ensemble play from. The digital graphics are also projected on a screen to be seen by an audience. This system is intended for a non-tonal, non-rhythmic, and texture-oriented musical style, which means that strong emphasis is put on the control of timbral qualities and continuum transitions. One of the main goals of the system is the translation of planned compositional elements (such as precise structure and synchronization between instruments) into the improvisatory domain. The graphics that IMPI generates are organic, fluid, vivid, dynamic, and unified with the music. The concept of controlled improvisation as well as the paradigm of the relationships between acoustic and visual material are both analyzed from an aesthetic point of view. The theoretical section is accompanied by descriptions of historic and contemporary works that have influenced IMPI.

Thesis Supervisor: Tod Machover

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