a multisensory work for two performers and a game system
composed in 2017
The sense of touch is the focus of this work for two performers and a game system. The title refers to the tympanic skin of the human ear. A guiding idea during the composition of the work was the question, how the sensation of touch can be transported through sound. The sounds produced by the musicians are largely realized with nine different materials (c.f. Fig.1), three of which are cardboards of different thicknesses and textures, three sorts of textiles, and three different sorts of sandpaper. Two samples of each material have been cut to small rectangles, approximately the size of the palm. Most sounds are produced by the musicians by rubbing two samples of the same material against each other, thereby making its haptic texture audible.
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Often, I have been asked why I decided to use such a relatively intricate game-system which I am at the same time not making transparent to the audience. The reason why I hid it is because I think that the audience’s attention would be too much drawn to the game progress rather than to what is my main interest if this piece, namely the haptic quality of the materials that has been translated to sound qualities. Then, of course, the question follows, why I included the game system in the first place, if it is not sensible for the audience. The reason is that I believe that the game-system strongly affects the way how the performers play together. I like to compare the use of game systems in musical situation as a form of chamber music. The similarity I see is that chamber musicians usually have a strong awareness of how each person in a group is playing. Similarly, game systems, especially competitive ones, create a situation where the opponent’s actions are carefully followed and reacted upon. In the case of “Tympanic Touch” I therefore believe that the game system strongly affects how the musicians perform together. Even if the game system is not recognized as such by the audience, it is still affecting the overall musical result.