The NuRoque Movement & Aesthetic
NuRoque is modeled on the 1600’s evolution of Baroque music and art. Baroque is French for Bizarre. This period saw an explosion of technology combined with a desire to create new beauty.
The demands of evolving musical styles during the Baroque were so profound that it required the very pitches of the notes to be changed, providing composers freedom of key modulation. The result was an enduring school of music that explored beauty and complexity using original formal compositional structures. These same pieces often demanded improvisation by the soloist to help bind the music to the moment.
For anything to be new, by definition, requires that it has not been done before. The esthetic for the 21st century will be built on evolved instruments that are familiar yet extended beyond their original function. This provides a path that will offer a baseline inclusion of repertoire and musicians to act as a spring-board, as well as an avenue for the transfer of much needed virtuosity as a carry over from present instrumentation. In addition, new controllers will be needed for functions not easily covered by the extended instrument.
What will be unique and required is the meta component – how the musicians, their gestures, the score, synthesis, audio processing and other structures are allowed to interact and modify themselves and other components in performance. This is a network, a new intelligence designed to augment and control the compositional structure of relationships beyond notes and transitions. It is a system that can unite, challenge, and delight musicians and audiences. With advances present in today’s technology, such a platform is now possible.
In NuRoque, knowledge and control is distributed among the musicians and guided by the composition. All these new instruments supply the network with superior discrete audio along with the coincident pitches, timing, dynamics and performance gestures of the musicians. Direction to the performers is conveyed through an array of graphic windows on a display that replaces the traditional score and music stand. These windows indicate direction, notation, present state, and pending actions suggested by changes determined by the score, which is also malleable.
For example: One moment a fixed score determines all events. Later, in the same piece, data taken from the violinist’s improvisation influences the harmonic constraints and timbre of the other two performers. During play, the guitarist’s tempo and phrasing are extracted, recognized and used to conduct changes in the dynamics and density of the synthetic accompaniment. These transitions and dependencies are easily created and modified within the NuRoque world.
Broadly stated, sometimes you follow the score, other times the score follows you. Imagine a space with two axes. One axis is defined by the endpoints - composition and improvisation, the second axis relates the instrumentalist to conductor. In NuRoque, participants can move easily in these domains.
Large sweeping transitions happen effortlessly while, simultaneously, there is almost infinite control over subtle musical elements such as textural relationships, harmonic development and rhythmic microstructure. NuRoque allows the curious to explore relationships and take chances. Concepts are easily turned into conditions that generate change under the guidance of a score or gestures of a performer. Such opportunity will invite the creation of new structures along with the rise of computer-assisted ornamentation and improvisation.
While many of these concepts have been explored individually, never has a refined integrated approach been evenly and fully applied across all the components that comprise such a musical entity. Refinement and scope are the test of any new musical idea. A cigar box, broomstick and rubber bands can meet the basic requirements of a violin, but the lasting beauty of an instrument lies in its reworked evolution to yield a true creative enabler instead of a simple proof of concept.
The role of computers in Arts and Entertainment has elicited both fear and acceptance. Yes, computers can do accounting and control rockets, but early people held firmly to the belief that a computer could never beat a man at chess. This required “human-only” qualities like strategy, aggressiveness, and a willingness to sacrifice. With spooky accuracy, Ray Kurzweil predicted 10 years in advance when a computer would beat the grand master. The general public reaction was to redefine what a Human is by not including chess playing and those associated qualities.
Can computers, and more accurately, computer networks extend the reach of musicians and composers? So far, they have proved their utility in slicing up sounds in the studio and regurgitating beats at raves. But true creative partners? This is the challenge and the joy of our venture