[FISEA’93] Artists Statement: Zack Settel, Marita Link & Heather Barringer — HokPwah

Artists Statement

Hok Pwah is a 20 minute piece intended for live performance. It is for two soloists (voice and percussion) with live electronics The two main ideas behind the piece are: 1) to extend the role of the duet, giving the two soloists an extremely large instrumental and timbral range nonetheless based on (oor controlled by) their instrumental technique, 2) to explore the possibilities of working with electronically (live) processed text.

Expanding the timbre range involves combining the instruments’ acoustic sounds with similarly behaved electronic sounds, which tend to fuse with the fur111er. The computer runs software which coordinates the following: 1) real-time audio signal analysis, 2) signal processing of the soloists, 3) ”complementary”synthesis, which is meant to mix with the instruments’ natura timbres, and 4)real­ time sampling (recording and playback). Specialized interfaces incorporating envelope/pitch and spectrum followers are linked to audio signal processors, samplers and highly controllable sound generators, thus providing the players with direct control over the electronics based on their ‘natural’ playing technique.

In the case of the singer, spoken and sung text or articulations such as trills, staccato, accents, slurs are analyzed and recognized by the computer. From this analysis, various control signals are drived, which control the synthesizers, samplers and and signal processors. Outside of their normal musical role, these articulations, sung by the soloist, makeup the interface, through which the singer may control the electronics. Thus the singer, throught what and how she sings, can have subtle (expressive) control of the electronics based on her instrumental technique. The electronics include sound generation and processing gear which is ”patches’ or programmed to be extremely sensitive to continuous control. These patches are built and tuned around the particular kinds of control signals coming from the players This approach compares in certain ways to instrument building, and is a vital part of the piece.

Composition by Zack Settel
Marita Link, voice
Heather Barringer, percussion

  • Zack Settel was born in 1957 and raised in the New York area, USA. He received a BFA in Music Composition at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), where he continued in the MFA program. As an undergraduate he studied composition withLeonard Stein and Morton Subotnick, and the as a graduate student, with Mel Powell. For several years he has been involved in electro-acoustic music having pursued studies at MIT and elsewhere, in mathematics, computer science, digital signal processing and computer music. Since the fall of 1986 he has been living in Paris. He received a Fulbright grant to pursue Music Composition at the Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM), headed by Pierre Boulez, where he continued composing the following year with a grant for Music Composition from the French Government. In addition to composing, Zack works at IRCAM with the IRCAM Signal Processing Workstation (ISWP) Group, and does freelance computer music consulting for the Yamaha Corporation Japan, Vinko Globokar and Tempo Reale (in Italy with Luciano Berio). His compositions include chamber works, filmscores and live electro-acoustic pieces (chamber works with live electronics). His main interests are mainly focused on the latter and his music is performed regularly in North America and in Europe.
  • Marita Link, mezzo-soprano, was a native of Indiana (USA) before coming to St. Paul in 1990 with her husband, Brian and son Ben. She is a founding member of the Waltham Abbey Singers, a 15-voice early music ensemble now in its third season. In the Twin Cities she has also appeared with Ex Machina, the Lyra Concert and the Early Music Ensemble of St. Paul, and is currently the alto section leader for the choir at Unity Church Unitarian in St. Paul. Ms. Link began her work in voice at Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan. She spent a year at Westminster Choir College in New Jersey and holds a degree in voice performance from Indiana University where she studied with Paul Elliott and Thomas Binkley.
  • Heather Barringer is a member of the new music quartet, Zeitgeist, and a member of composer Mary Ellen Childs performing company, Swing Shift. In addition to these primary musical outlest she also freelances and teaches percussion. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls (USA) and attended the Cincinnati Conservatory where she studied with Allen Otte, founding member of the Cincinnati Percussion Group.