Passing Thru

Brass Octet With Phasing Effects

Passing Thru was my first venture into synchronization using networked video. The piece was written for a brass octet composition contest in early 2004. Heretofore, phasing music had been the exclusive domain of string players, pianists and percussionists. With eight brass instrumentalists, I had enough players to stagger the parts and solve the breathing problems, which made this technique feasible. I used the 12/8 rhythmic pattern Steve Reich used for "Clapping Music", but greatly modified the method of accomplishing the available permutations:

I prepared a separate video demo for the judges just to explain the phasing and synchronization techniques, a copy of which can be found below. In the video demo, I used a split screen to show how the phasing effects were accomplished and introduced the intricacies of the synchronization system.

Obviously, I volunteered to provide all the required equipment and my expertise for the rehearsals and first performance to make sure the equipment worked correctly. I think this last requirement, along with my demo and a diagram of the seating arrangement for the octet was too much for the judges to digest, and I was eliminated probably during the first round. I couldn't blame them.


Passing Thru for Brass Octet - Presentation Demo

The various tempo ramps for the instruments are shown below and indicate a pretty conservative approach. For example, there are no nested ramps. Only five of the 8 instrumentalists actually have a part that contains a tempo ramp. The other members hold to the original tempo steadfastly throughout the composition. Most of the tempo ramps are only 12 measures in length. The 2nd and 3rd trumpet players are the most active ramp participants, and there's even a ramp for the tuba. The lower pitched instruments do not project ramps as easily as the higher pitched instruments, but in this case I use the tuba to disguise the downbeat.

2 French Horns Tempo Ramp - - - - - and - - - - 2 Trombones Tempo Ramp.

2nd Trumpet Tempo Ramp - - - - - and - - - - - 3rd Trumpet Tempo Ramp.

Tuba Tempo Ramp. - - - - - and - - - - 1st Trumpet Part Contains No Tempo Ramps.

At this point in the development of the video network synchronizing system, I had not included polytemporal parts in the performance menu. It was enough just to build the hardware, software, compute the math and write a composition for phasing effects. The incorporation of true polytemporal options came later.