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Monday, June 4 • 11:30am - 12:15pm
Keynote Talk with R. Benjamin Knapp: Transference

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by R. Benjamin Knapp (Gesture choreography and performance), Eric Lyon (Sound design and spatial orchestration) & Ariana Wyatt (Soprano)

Transference was created by Ben Knapp and Eric Lyon during 2018 for the NIME 2018 Conference. The composition Transference is tightly coupled with Ben’s NIME keynote talk, which directly precedes the piece, both in the music examples and the concepts presented during the talk. Transference transfers the ideas of the talk into the experiential domain of musical performance.

Transference was inspired by a conversation between Ben and Eric that took place in 2009, when both were working at the Sonic Arts Research Centre of Queen’s University Belfast. While working with the Biomuse, a NIME that was designed by Ben, they predicted that this bespoke hardware would eventually be replaced by industrially produced equipment. This “transference” would be bittersweet, since it would validate the ideas underlying the Biomuse, while rendering it obsolete. 

In preparing Transference, the creators discovered the Myo, which replicates much of the functionality of the Biomuse. Two Myos are used in the performance, along with a 24-camera Qualisys motion capture system. Live sound synthesis to a 124-channel loudspeaker array is achieved with Max/MSP and SuperCollider.

Transference begins with a spatialized cacophony of sounds derived from media appearances of Ben discussing the Biomuse. This cacophony transfers first to a texture of sounds from the band d’Cuckoo performing on the Biomuse, which then transfers to a texture based on Ben’s voice. All of these transfers are controlled by the spatial location of Ben within the Cube. From this point forward, all sounds heard in the composition are based exclusively on voice. Textures based on Ben’s voice are eventually transferred to a texture based on Ariana Wyatt’s performance of a fragment from the traditional Irish song Johnny Seoighe. This song was used in Transference as an homage to Ben’s earlier incorporation of Johnny Seoighe in his composition The Reluctant Shaman, created in 2008 for the Belfast ICMC. 

Johnny Seoighe, composed during the Great Famine, is deceptive in its musical beauty and the text’s flattery of the listener. Digging deeper, the song reveals itself to be a satiric indictment of the human costs of political oppression. Its multiple layers of meaning complement the multiple layers of technological history that undergirds Transference


Ariana Wyatt

Ariana Wyatt’s recent opera engagements include appearances with Gotham Chamber Opera, Opera on the James, Opera Omaha, Opera Roanoke, Glimmerglass Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Santa Fe Opera, the Juilliard Opera Center, and the Aspen Opera Theater.  Symphonic highlights include... Read More →
avatar for Eric Lyon

Eric Lyon

Eric Lyon’s work focuses on articulated noise, chaos music, spatial orchestration, and computer chamber music. His software includes FFTease and LyonPotpourri, collections of externals for Max/MSP and Pd. He authored “Designing Audio Objects for Max/MSP and Pd.” His music has... Read More →
avatar for R. Benjamin Knapp

R. Benjamin Knapp

Scholar | Researcher | Performer
R. Benjamin Knapp is the Founding Director for the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT) and Professor of Computer Science at Virginia Tech. ICAT seeks to promote research and education at the nexus of art, design, engineering, and science. For more than 25 years... Read More →

Monday June 4, 2018 11:30am - 12:15pm EDT
Moss Arts Center - The Cube
  Talk, Keynote