SlipStick

SlipStick featured in a New York Times article on new musical controllers

We tend to use the word “friction” in a pejorative sense as in, “Your independent thinking is causing a lot of friction in the group.” But without friction, there would be no love, there would be no forward progress, there would be no vocal utterances, and there would be no music!

This piece is performed live from a Continuum fingerboard controlling Kyma. At the beginning, the control gestures and sounds are very direct and literal, but over the course of the piece, the mapping becomes more indirect and complex until, by the end, input from the Continuum is controlling the feedback in a Kyma emulation of the Left-Shift-Feedback-Registers of Salvatore Martirano’s Sal Mar Construction.

All sounds for the piece are generated in Kyma by a stick-slip algorithm modelling a mass at the end of a spring being dragged across a surface that has friction. You can hear it sticking in place for a while as the spring tension builds up and then suddenly slipping (and sometimes oscillating back and forth) when the tension overcomes the friction.
Part of the experiment was to create an instrument that would not make any sound without movement. No sound is generated unless you are moving your fingers across the Continuum fingerboard surface (sometimes heating up your fingertips). The door slams at the very end of the piece are convolved with the impulse response of the earth, obtained by speeding up a geophone recording of seismic displacement during an earthquake (another slipstick phenomenon).

The piece is always performed live so it’s a little different each time.

The score (it was just for me so it’s not very pretty)