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Wherever We Are

Laptop Orchestra piece by Bruno Ruviaro

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Piece for laptop orchestra. Created for SCLOrk in 2013, second version in 2014.


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Sound example

Live concert recording from June 2, 2016 - Santa Clara Laptop Orchestra (SCLOrk). Music Recital Hall, Santa Clara University.


For a minimum of 8 players.

Players 1-6 type excerpts of a quote from John Cage. Each letter plays a sample of prepared piano. When a typo occurs samples of rain and trucks are played. Text is displayed on projection to the audience.

Player 7 types any letters in any order, erasing letters from the projection screen. Player 7 produces sounds similar to players 1-6, but slightly processed.

Player 8 is the “projection” player. It receives OSC messages from the other players. This laptop is connected to a projector. The player controls fade time of letters on projection screen.

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 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 their respective file (01-PLAYER.scd, 02-PLAYER.scd, etc.). They have to specify the IP address of the computer that will be projecting letters on the screen. This should be written (assigned) to the variable ~destination as a string (that is, between double quotes): for example, “”. Instead of finding and typing an IP address, you can also try to address the destination computer directly by name: for example “sclork-01.local” (this is how we do it in SCLOrk). 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) contains all needed SuperCollider (*.scd) files. In addition, all players need to download a folder with samples from here: - This folder must be copied inside the main Wherever-We-Are folder, and must be called “samples” (all lowercase).

  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 (wifi OK) to exchange OSC messages.

Getting ready to play


PLAYERS 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 (TYPING PLAYERS)

Example: assuming the Wherever-We-Are folder was saved under Music/SuperCollider/, the two terminal commands for Player 1 would be:

cd Music/SuperCollider/Wherever-We-Are/
sclang 01-PLAYER.scd

The advantage of starting up the program via terminal (as opposed to actually opening the file in the SuperCollider IDE) 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