Brian House and Megan Metcalf 2003
megan in performance
megan in performance
megan in performance
megan in performance
megan in performance
in rehearsal at prentis
performance interface
Computer Music and Motion
Williamsburg Art NeXus, Brooklyn
2003 April 6

Works & Process Inter-Arts Festival
Columbia University, New York
2002 May 6
A narrative of movement and thought through realtime sound processing, voice and dance.

The genesis of Monologue lies in a long-entertained idea that Megan's internal, yet verbal, struggles while dancing hold some peculiar interest of their own. This unceasing chatter includes the names of the steps and the desperate attempts at counting them, but also the cerebral flotsam of worries about school, grocery lists, etc. The words and sounds have volume, texture, and urgency which often occlude the music she's supposed to be dancing to. While struggling with a piece this voice is insistent and persistent; when she catches the current, they just encouragingly guide her along.

Such an interior voice, by virtue of Megan's process of unfolding a piece, or maybe enfolding into it, is itself inherently musical. In Monologue, Megan forgets all restraint and externalizes her sounds into a small cordless microphone, where Brian can sample them. By manipulating her words, breaths, and shouts, he recreates and interprets the textures of her mental condition, feeding it back to her and to the audience.

Whether voice reflects dance or dance reflects music becomes increasingly confused; both evolve symbiotically to a point, hopefully, where the divisions are indistinguishable. Monologue takes over, the process and the result at once.

A few notes on the musical system:

Drawing from the premise that musical sound emerges from the chaotic and may return to it, the parameter of 'width' describes the degree to which initially unorganized source material is compelled to sound within composed parameters. The raw material of each voice are half-second buffers of sound recorded live from Megan's microphone whenever she produces volume above a certain threshold. Decay, speed, tone/ring (via abuse of comb filters), and rhythmic and harmonic adherence to a sequenced track are the definable constraints of each of six voices in the piece.

In performance, by switching between composed sequences and target values while riding the width parameter of each voice (in addition to mixing and applying basic reverb effects), the full range of sound heard in Monologue emerges with Megan's live vocals as the sole sound source. The software was realized with Max/MSP; Monologue itself is a structured improvisation based on myriad experiments with the system.
Concept, composition, electronics, software
Brian House, 
Concept, choreography
Megan Metcalf
Thanks to
Douglas Repetto,  Paul Hogan,  Luke DuBois and the CMC,  Marina Cashdan,  Marissa and WAX,  Tristan Perich,  Travis DiRuzza,  Eugene Kim,  David Currie,  Jesse Shapins,  Justin Wall