PhD Thesis:
Live Electronics In Live Performance:
A Performance Practice Emerging from the piano+ used in Free Improvisation.

completed September 2012 at Goldsmiths College, University of London

This thesis explores a performance practice within free improvisation. This is not a theory based improvisation – performances do not require specific preparation and the music refrains from repetition of musical structures. It engages in investigative and experimental approaches emerging from holistic considerations of acoustics, interaction and instrument, and also philosophy, psychology, sociopolitics and technology. The performance practice explores modes and approaches to working with the given potentiality of an electronically augmented acoustic instrument and involves the development of a suitably flexible computerised performance system, the piano+, combining extended techniques and real-time electroacoustic processes, which has the acoustic piano at its core. Contingencies of acoustic events and performance gestures – captured by audio analysis and sensors and combined to control the parameter space of computer processes – manipulate the fundamental properties of sound, timbre and time. Spherical abstractions, developed under consideration of Agamben’s potentiality and Sloterdijk’s philosophical theory of spheres, allow a shared metaphor for technical, instrumental, personal, and interpersonal concerns. This facilitates a theoretical approach for heuristic and investigative improvisation where performance is considered ‘Ereignis’ (an event) for sociopolitically aware activities that draw on the situational potentiality and present themselves in fragile and context dependent forms. Ever new relationships can be found and developed, but can equally be lost. Sloterdijk supplied the concept of knowledge resulting from equipping our ‘inner space’, an image suiting non-linearity of thought that transpires from Kuhl’s psychological PSI-theory to explain human motivation and behaviour.
The role of technology – diversion and subversion of sound and activity – creates a space between performer and instrument that retains a fundamental pianism but defies expectation and anticipation. Responsibility for one’s actions is required to deal with the unexpected without resorting to preliminary strategies restricting potential discourses, particularly within ensemble situations. This type of performance embraces the ‘Ereignis’.

The piano+ is the amalgamation of a spontaneous performance system with the acoustic piano. Click here for more details.

Following recordings are from a concert given as part of the PhD at Goldsmiths, University of London, on the 23rd March 2009.

Sebastian Lexer - solo (piano+)
Frederic Blondy (pno), John Edwards (db) & Sebastian Lexer (piano+) plus 'audience participant'
Frédéric Blondy (pno), John Edwards (db) & Sebastian Lexer (piano+)

recordings by Rick Campion