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Wherever We Are

Laptop Orchestra piece by Bruno Ruviaro

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For eight laptop performers. Created for SCLOrk in 2013, second version in 2014.

Seven players type excerpts of a quote from John Cage, projected onto a screen visible to the audience. Each letter triggers a sample of prepared piano. Samples are ordered according to the beginning phrases (or variations) of selected Sonatas and Interludes by Cage. When a typo occurs, samples of rain and trucks are played.

An eighth player (the "projection" player) controls the fade time of the letters on screen. The projection player's laptop is connected to a projector receiving OSC messages from the other players.

Each letter typed by a player flashes on screen for a few seconds, then fades out. The randomized appearance of letters on screen gives the audience the chance to read Cage's quote, not all at once, but put together as pieces of a puzzle. The projection player controls fade time of these letters.

The full quote is:

Wherever we are, what we hear is mostly noise. When we ignore it, it disturbs us. When we listen to it, we find it fascinating. The sound of a truck at fifty mph. Static between the stations. Rain. We want to capture and control these sounds, to use them, not as sound effects, but as musical instruments.

Preliminary set-up

  1. DO ONCE: Players open file "Where_We_Are_PLAYER.scd" to pick their unique player number (from 1 to 7). This is assigned to the variable ~player. In addition, players have to specify the IP address of the computer that will be projecting letters on the screen. This is assigned to the variable ~destination. Assuming IP address and player numbers won't change, there is no need to open this file again in rehearsals and concert.

  2. DO ONCE: The Wherever-We-Are folder (clone of this github folder) should contain all scd files, plus a single subfolder with all the samples. This subfolder must be called "samples" (all lowercase), and can be downloaded from:

  3. DO ONCE: Configure proper screen resolution for the projection in the file "Wherever_We_Are_SCREEN_RESOLUTIONS.scd". Two common resolutions are included by default (1024 x 768 and 1366 x 768). New resolutions can be easily created here to adapt for specific needs depending on the equipment used. Make sure only the desired resolution is commented out in the code. Occasionally, it might be necessary to tweak font size, margin, gap between letters, etc so that the full screen projection shows the full quote evenly distributed on the screen. This file will eventually be loaded automatically, so you don't have to open it every time.

  4. Laptops need to be connected to a local network to exchange OSC messages.

Getting ready to play



Example: assuming the Wherever-We-Are folder was saved under Music/SuperCollider/, the two terminal commands would be:

cd Music/SuperCollider/Wherever-We-Are/
sclang Wherever_We_Are_PLAYER.scd

The advantage of starting up the program via terminal (as opposed to actually opening the file) is that you avoid accidentally introducing a typo into the code, which might cause errors and inevitable panic just before a performance.

How to play

Sparse beginning

Progression towards revealing the full text

Break, then sparse ending

Final comments