Pianist Jenny Q Chai integrates her scientific and artistic curiosity with her new project, Intimate Streams. She has partnered with intermedia composer Jaroslaw Kapuscinski on an all-Kapuscinski program in which the piano, in collaboration with the artificial intelligence program Antescofo, is used to control multimedia content. With new Artificial Intelligence technologies using the computer as an audiovisual canvas, it is possible to develop new music and musicians to perform with this technology. The composition process involves integrating visual ideas from the start and using music and imagery on a structural, emotive, and semantic levels. With Antescofo score technology, the computer can be turned into an intelligent and attentive co-performer. As the pianist plays, the computer listens and anticipates her actions. It can then play its own visual and audio parts as an accompanist would.
Chai and Kapuscinski use Antescofo to project both electronic sounds and visuals when synced with the keys of the piano. Predicting Chai’s playing, Antescofo transmits sounds and visuals in real-time as she plays. The precision with which Antescofo predicts the notes is almost duet-like. Chai can set up the program with just a laptop, making for a flexible and seamless concert experience for the presenter and audience. More traditional performances using the artificial intelligence often require a sound engineer and technician.
The newest piece, Intimate Streams, is the first piano/audiovisual piece that is solely written for Antescofo. While preparing the project, Chai and Kapuscinski met in Shanghai a number of times to film the visual components: a calligraphy master’s writing, a Gu Qin (a plucked instrument) playing, and the Gu Qin player teaching Chai how to play the instrument. By using these visuals, Chai will tell the story using the piano and Antescofo.
The program will include four of Kapuscinski’s works that resonate most closely with Chai’s performance aesthetic: Oli’s Dream, Juicy, Where is Chopin and Intimate Streams.
Oli’s Dream (2008) is a collaboration with poet Camille Norton, and an intermedia performance for MIDI piano with real time computer projection.
Oli’s Dream is a playful collaboration between music and writing, between a piano keyboard and a typewriter keyboard, and, above all, between a composer and a poet. An experiment in synesthesia it is an attempt to fuse the temporal modes of music with the spatial and temporal domains of words. In the process, the audience finds itself in the presence of a perceptive, purely aware being, Oli, who creates himself through encounter with words.
Juicy (2009) is a performance/installation for Disklavier piano and computer controlled image and sound.
Fruits and music have a lot in common. Both can be vividly colorful and structurally geometric but even in most formal settings they are never purely abstract. Music is anchored in the body and its emotions, while fruit evokes associations of taste and smell. Their expression is intense yet effortless. Even the simplest melodies or commonest of berries can be intense and sensuous.
Where is Chopin (2010) is a performance/installation that looks for traces of Chopin’s music in the minds and faces of people from around the world.
Where Is Chopin is a search for traces of music in faces of listeners from around the world. The process involved over 150 participants from 12 cities: Beijing, Buenos Aires, Helsinki, Istanbul, Jerusalem, Mexico City, San Francisco, Santiago, Seoul, Sydney, Tokyo and Wellington. Private sessions with individual volunteers for whom Kapuscinski performed Chopin’s Preludes Op. 28 were recorded with the help of local photographers. The work brings into focus essences of those experiences by editing, distillation and re-composition of videos capturing rich and fluid world of emotion and of Chopin’s music.
Intimate Streams (流) alludes to many aspects of life: the flow of connection, the flow of water, life, sound, strokes of calligraphy and ink, energy, direction, love, and interaction.
Intimate Streams was developed by Chai and Kapuscinski using an ancient Chinese tale of friendship. According to legend, in the Spring and Autumn Period there lived a lyricist Yu Boya, who was an extremely skilled musician. One day his performance in the open air was overheard by wood chopper Zhong Ziqi. He immediately understood that Yu Boya was depicting lofty mountains and turbulent running water with his performance. Amazed to have found someone with an understanding of his music, Yu Boya developed a close friendship with Zhong Ziqi. When Zhong Ziqi later died, Yu Boya was in such deep grief that he broke the strings of his musical instrument and stopped playing forever. Today, people in China still use the expression “Zhi Yin” (literally, “understanding music”) to refer to close friends, and the phrase “High Mountain and Running River” to mean close friendship or wonderful music. Chai and Kapuscinski have excerpted the “Running River” section for Intimate Streams.
- Lecture: Intimating the World through Music and Images
A talk by composer Jaroslaw Kapuscinski