Cargo Cult Nonet Using Tic-Tac-Toe Yin Yang Sonification Notation
I attended the Automatic Music Hackathon on December 7, and composed a game piece for improvising musicians that for now is known by the sturdy and workmanlike title “Cargo Cult Nonet using Tic-Tac-Toe Yin Yang Sonification Notation”.
While most projects at the hackathon used computer programs as the key implementation of their automation, I used a board game, Ultimate Tic Tac Toe. The automation occurs because, as the score says, “the game players are obligated only to the goal of winning the game, and must not act with intention to influence the music. The musicians must have a clear view of the gameboard, as it is their score and conductor.”
The piece was performed in the evening. It was an honor and a thrill to have nine musicians (Hunter, Linda, Nick, David, Travis, and 4 members of the Sensorium Saxophone Orchestra) and two game players (Cassie and Brady) ready and eager to give it a run-through, fresh out of the oven. Later on, I’ll share further documentation, including sound, video, and hopefully more comprehensive personnel credits.
For now, you can read score, reproduced below. I have some ideas for refining and extending it for future use, but even this initial draft should be pretty serviceable. It was a good day’s work!
Cargo Cult Nonet using Yin Yang Tic-Tac-Toe Sonification Notation
by Jason Das, December 7, 2013
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
The composition uses Ultimate Tic-Tac-Toe as a score/parameter generator for improvising musicians. Each move/turn in the game generates specific musical instructions. There are two game players and nine musical players. The game players are obligated only to the goal of winning the game, and must not act with intention to influence the music. The musicians must have a clear view of the gameboard, as it is their score and conductor.
In Ultimate Tic-Tac-Toe, the game board consists of nine smaller boards arranged into one larger board. Each smaller board can be won by a player or end in a draw. When three boards in a row are won by a player, that player wins and the game is over. (Complete game playing instructions are not included here, as they are not entirely necessary to the musicians.)
A blank game board:
Each small board within the larger game acts as a score for one of nine musicians. Assignment of musicians to squares may be determined by chance, consensus, or executive order.
A hypothetical assignment of musicians:
Key, Melody, Rhythmic Pattern, and Tempo are not determined by the game and may be freely negotiated by the musicians.
The game may begin in any square (and thus the piece may begin with any musician).
Each small board has 2 axes, and 2 possible values for each square (X, O).
As each turn is played, a single musician is activated or reoriented. Each musician continues to follow their most recent direction until they receive a new one. (Or until their square ends in a draw or the game ends.)
The vertical axis determines Harmonic Range: bottom = Low, top = High.
The horizontal axis determines Complexity: left = Simple, right = Ornate
The game player’s symbol, X or O, determines dynamics and timbre. O is Yin and X is Yang.
Yin (O): “slow, soft, yielding, diffuse, cold, wet, passive; associated with water, earth, the moon, femininity, nighttime”
Yang (X): “fast, hard, solid, focused, hot, dry, aggressive; associated with fire, sky, the sun, masculinity, daytime”
When a square is won, the musician plays continues playing the winning subsquare until the end of the game.
When a square ends in a draw/tie, the musician stops playing completely, and is out of the piece.
When the game is won, all musicians stop playing, and the piece is over.
Full Documentation of the Glass Bees’s “Unique Places of Death”
In September, 2012, Chris Williams and I, as the Glass Bees, created a fieldwork marathon and gallery installation in partnership with the Hart Island Project, called “Unique Places of Death”.
While we did the project over a year ago, we only completed the documentation recently, and you should really check it out.
There’s a giant sound collage, zoomable photos of our never-to-be-recreated wall-mounted assemblages, several videos, never-before-seen pictures of sleep-deprived artists hard at work, and much more. Go see.
Praying With Our Feet
Thirteen of my paintings have just been published in a book Praying With our Feet: Faith-based Activism to Stop Shootings and Killings in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and Beyond. The book was produced by the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center who do amazing work against gun violence in (and beyond!) my neighborhood. It’s a very small-run book, but you can order or browse a copy on Blurb.
There will be a book launch event on Tuesday, November 12, from 6pm-8pm at the Mediation Center at 256 Kingston Avenue. My thirteen paintings from the book are on the walls there for the event. (They may also be viewable before or after by appointment; let me know, or get in touch with the Mediation Center, if you would like to try to see them another time.)
I made seventeen paintings in all for the project. The four extras are two buildings that ended up not being part of the final draft, one abortive attempt at a cover painting (at the top of this post), and a rained-out attempt which I preserved (rather than painting over) because I kind of like it. That particular rainstorm also made one of the best rainbows I’ve ever seen.
My contribution was paintings of the places (mostly churches) where the members of the Save Our Streets Clergy Action Network are based. They are distributed throughout Crown Heights, Bed Stuy, East Flatbush, Brownsville, and Park Slope. Here’s a map:
I made all the paintings on location, with very slight touch-ups afterwards. Working on location in these areas was a great experience. Most of these blocks don’t see many plein air painters! Any passersby who were artists (of any type and style) were ready to chat, and a lot of kids were also really into watching me paint and haging out to chat. The book’s layout demanded a vertical format, and obviously each painting needed to feature a given building. This is different from many of the urban landscape paintings I’ve done in the past; which tend to be horizontal and focus more on a scene or juxtaposition of buildings. As illustrations, I am happy enough with them all. As paintings taken on their own merits, some are more successful than others. Here they are:
Paul Auster, Art Spigelman, Bill Kartalopoulos, David Mazzucchelli, Paul Karasik talking “City of Glass” at Comic Arts Brooklyn
2013 Creative Time Summit, Day 2
Just like I did on the first day of the 2013 Creative Time Summit, I sketched all the presenters on the second day as well. To find out more about who these people are, what they do, and why they are important, the Summit website. It looks like they’ve also posted video of all the presentations, too.
Raúl Cárdenas Osuna:
Ana María Míllan:
Elizabeth K. Sorensen:
Khaled Hourani & Sally Tallant:
Darrell Cannon, Reginald “Akkeem” Berry, Sr., Brenda Townsend, Laurie Jo Reynolds, and John Forte:
Pedro Reyes & Antanas Mockus Šivickas:
Chen Shaoxiong: (and his uncredited translator)
Invincible: (not sure who the vioinlist was; she was good)
2013 Creative Time Summit, Day 1
I’m attending the Creative Time Summit this year. The theme is “Art, Place, and Dislocation in the 21st Century” and it’s chock full of material I’m very interested in. For an event that mostly consists of sitting in an auditorium and watching lots of people give quick presentations, I really can’t imagine better. (And the end of the day is beer, conversation, and copious Legos, which is pretty perfect.)
There are many, many really remarkable artists, thinkers, and activists in the line-up. It’s educational and inspiring, and much cheaper and faster than graduate school. I’ll be back for Saturday. I sketched all the presenters on Friday, because I was
dumb smart enough to start sketching without thinking through what I was committing to. I would have liked to have written a bit about each presenter, or at least provide links, but instead I am going to get some sleep tonight and you’ll have to do your own research. (The Summit schedule may help.) And, oh, the three musicians—playing kora, hammered dulcimer, and saw—acted as the time keepers, keeping the speakers strictly to schedule.
Mario Ybarra, Jr.:
Anne Gadwa Nicodemus:
Rick Lowe & Nato Thompson:
Steve “ESPO” Powers:
Rylee Eterginoso & Elissa Blount-Moorhead:
Judith Leemann & Kenneth Bailey:
Mary Jane Jacob: