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Listening to art.
Playing with audio.
Sounding out technology.
Composing in code.

Duet for Harmonica and Computer (MP3)

A slow spatial work by Joo Won Park

“Harmonica30” is a duet by Joo Won Park for harmonica and computer. Notes are slowly intoned on the harmonica, and those sounds in turn trigger a series of halo effects.

The halos range from what could be compared to old-school Wurlitzer organ to something more along the lines of pixelated wind. In Park’s telling the shifts are as much about spacial experimentation as about harmonic development. Or, perhaps more to the point, they are about harmonic development as spatial development. This is from a brief note that accompanies the track on its SoundCloud page:

“The computer part is algorithmically generated so that the timing and the dynamics of the accompanying part varies from one performance to another. The harmonica sound gradually moves to a larger room as the piece progresses.”

There’s also a video on YouTube of the harmonica performance, which allows the processing gap, the space between what is physically played and what is heard, to be more apparent:

.

In an interview at thekey.xpn.org, Park talked about what “computer music” means to him:

“I think of it as trying to do something that’s unique with the computer, rather than imitating human performance. I try to make music that a computer can do better than a human, or that is too bothersome for a human to make. And I’m interested in creating a duo between the computer and me. A lot of times, I don’t know what the computer will spit out. When I make music on the stage, there is no pre-recorded sound. What I play goes straight to the computer, and the computer processes and changes what I play. The process the computer goes through is intentionally made so that the outcome is different every time.”

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/joowon. Thanks to Jane Shin for recommending that I check out Park’s work. More from Joo Won Park at joowonpark.net.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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