David Wessel


Enaction in Computer Music Performance  

Experimental computer music performance practices designed from an enactive view of musical perception, cognition, and motor control are described. The enactive view emphasizes the role of sensory-motor engagement in musical experience.  The enabling elements required for the approach include, rich and precise gestural interfaces, connectivity devices, real-time gesture analysis and mapping software, richly controlled sound synthesis and processing, and the composition of musical worlds in the form of generative algorithms worthy of extensive exploration.  These practices in human-instrument symbiosis require a commitment on the part of musicians to develop both  refined motor skills and  engagement in the development and refinement of  real-time software. 



David Wessel began performing professionally as jazz drummer in high school.  He studied a mixture of mathematics and experimental psychology and holds a PhD in mathematical psychology from Stanford. During his university years he was aligned with the jazz avant-garde and began working in the electronic medium. His research in music perception and cognition led to a position at IRCAM in Paris where he worked with a number of composers including Berio, Boulez, and Stockhausen. His computer music research at IRCAM was oriented towards live performance and from the early 80's onward he insisted on the use of personal computers and the development of a live performance computer music practice.  

In tonight's performance he is using a tactile controller developed by Don Buchla and interactive software he has written in the Max/MSP programming environment. David Wessel joined the music faculty at the University of California Berkeley in 1988 and is co-director with Edmund Campion of the the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT). Frances-Marie Uitti and I will perform solos and duos. Among them will be works dedicated to James Tenney and Steve Lacy. 

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