Shane Byrne: Kinesia (The third law)

One of my main goals as a composer of electroacoustic music is to try and introduce a performative element to the music that I create. For me, that means moving away from the usual methods of interacting  and interfacing with the devices that I use to compose electronic music. The basic form of communication with such devices is through the use of a QWERTY keyboard, a mouse or a trackpad. For me, these don’t allow for a meaningful relationship between physical and musical gestures. This is the thinking behind the direction of the composition that I will now talk about.


In this composition I wanted to incorporate a performer that was essentially an alien other in terms of this specific compositional process. By this I mean that the person performing the material was someone other than myself and was also someone that didn’t have in-depth knowledge of how the technology worked. This was an important avenue for me to explore as I felt that these concepts and techniques should be available to people that don’t necessarily have the technological know how to create such interactive systems but still wish to utilise them.

I had previously met a contemporary dancer that had expressed interest in being involved with future projects of mine so I decided that this would be a perfect opportunity to work together. The idea behind this piece therefore was to create an environment that would allow a dancer to create music with their movements, turning the reactionary paradigm of dance and music on it’s head. I enjoyed the synergy I created between performer and machine in my previous composition so some of the aforementioned methods of interaction/reaction were also utilised here.
The dancer’s movements were mapped using the infra red camera inside the Xbox Kinect. This data was then sent to Csound, which is an audio and sound synthesis engine for audio processing.

The piece was structured into three movements; the first being one in which the dancer had complete control of which sound events would be triggered and when they took place. Subsequently the dancer, through various physical gestures, could then manipulate these sound events.

Shane montage

The second movement consisted of various sound events that were “chosen” by the software through various deterministic operations and then sonically altered by the dancer.

The third movement was a marriage of the two previous movements with the sound events being triggered both by the dancer and the software. The transition between these movements was dictated by the dancer, who could instigate the change through a special move that was pre determined. This method created an environment that facilitated a discourse between the free improvisatory nature of the dance and the deterministic structure provided by the software.

This piece was first performed at the SMC 2015, which was held in Maynooth in August and I have since submitted it to be performed at various upcoming events. The structure and the technology I have used in this composition is quite plastic and adaptable which means, like any instrument, there is cialis generique scope for many differing compositions to be completed using these methods and I intend to continue composing through this medium and working with different solo and ensemble dancers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *