behind the light
création avec le Chiara Quartet
This composition uses an iPhone or iPod touch to play back the prepared sounds.
The iPod should be positioned on an extra music stand, next to the first violin. It’s mini jack output is connected to two small, high quality loudspeakers, placed on the floor in front of the quartet. Depending on the hall acoustics, these speakers should be angled slightly outwards to enhance the stereo image. There is no need for microphones nor additional loudspeakers in the concert hall. The first violinist controls the electronics without the need of a technician or assistant.
The speakers on the floor should be angled by approximately 45 degree so that the sound is not pointed directly to the audience but rather first bounces off reflective surfaces in the hall and therefore mixes more naturally with the sound of the string quartet. It should not give the impression that the sounds are coming straight out of the speakers and a hight degree of sonic fusion with the live quartet should be obtained.
In smaller venues these Fostex 6301B Monitors have been proven to be a good solution.
The mini-jack output of the iPhone is connected to the Fostex monitors with a cable TRS 1/8 inch – TRS 1/4 inch.
the iPhone interface
The main interface page contains the upper white progress bar, an area for the visual metronome, volume controls for the electronics and the audible metronome, buttons to choose a different event during rehearsals, a touch button to start events and a settings button.
Pressing the settings button, brings up the settings dialogue. The loudspeaker test should be performed to check that the cabling of the speakers is performed correctly and that both speakers are working. The two switches underneath choose, whether the audible and visual metronomes are activated. Switching on the tuning sound gives the possibility to tune the iPod to the quartets pitch if desired.
These settings present a common choice for performance with the visual metronome enabled but the audible metronom switched off.
The four metronomes are for rehearsal purposes and provide the four used tempi.
update events from the internet: see paragraph at the end of the technical description. (The remote switch is for remote monitoring with a second device and was mainly used during the development of the piece.)
Once the settings have been made, press the done button, which switches back to the main screen. All settings are stored and automatically recalled at the next application start.
rehearsals and concert
The only interaction with the device for the performance is at the beginning of the piece. The first violinist presses the touch button and counts the 6/4 bar. At the beginning of bar 2 the electronics start to play. The white progress bar is always advancing in 1/8th notes and indicates, where we are within an event. Once it reaches the far right of the screen, the next event is automatically started.
The application can play and visualize the bar and beat structure for all events. The audible metronome is obviously only for rehearsals. It’s volume and the volume for the electronics can be controlled with the faders. The quartet can rehearse certain passages only with the metronome by turning down the volume for the electonics.
The big white square indicates the first beat of a bar.
The small black rectangle indicates the other beats. The stop button can be used during rehearsals to stop the electronics. Navigating to adjacent events can be performed with the help of theprevious and next buttons. The small number on the right side of theprepare button indicates the prepared event. The big number above the touch button indicates the current event. To navigate to events, one can also use the prepare button.
It brings up a scroll menu with all events. Choosing one, switches back the main screen.
To activate the event, press the touch button. A four beat pre-counter provides the time to get ready to play.
update events from the internet
The electronic score is stored as a database on the device independent of the sound files. Each event is marked in the musical score with a number. Each event contains the information as to which sound file to play, volume, durations etc. If an update (corrections) to this electronic score becomes necessary, I shall upload a new database. This provides a possibility for small corrections, whithout downloading the entire application and sounds anew.
The button “update events from the internet” can be used to download the updated version. The location of this updated file is known to the application, thus no further information is necessary. Just press the button and wait for the confirmation message.
For the update to work you need obviously a connection to the internet – through the phone provider or WIFI. After the update process you press done to return to the main screen.
summary of technical requirements
• iPhone or iPod touch device (possible models iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPod touch)
• two small, high quality active monitors
• one cable to connect the output of the iPhones to the monitors
• electricity for the powered monitors
Instead of the Fostex speakers, other small high quality nearfield monitors can be used.
Using small computer or gaming speakers is not recommended as they are unable to reproduce the required sound quality.