PARTITA for Synthesizer





"The computer has a choice at various stages in the procedure, and the piece therefore comes out different every time it's played. The performance you are about to hear is therefore unique and unrepeatable…the computer is started and will carry out the performance unattended." 

—Introduction to the performance of Peter Zinovieff's
Partita for Computer (1968), Queen Elizabeth Hall, London


This is a sound project that interprets the mechanisms by which dance music operates. I used a graphical programming language to generate notes that are sent to electronic instruments. The computer is programmed with a set of rules to select pitch, loudness, and duration, and to repeat the notes at specific intervals. When several notes are layered together and directed to the proper instruments, they create the effect of music. The form of the music reflects the structures of contemporary dance music, in which I am interested both sonically and as a social phenomenon. 

The resulting composition is an automated hypertext: it is nonlinear, it can cycle through itself infinitely according to its own simple rules. Once initiated, the program can play continuously, constantly changing and evolving. As the operator of the program, my role is most active at the beginning and ending of the performance. During the performance, I can alter the character of the sounds produced by the drum machine or synthesizers, but the computer is playing the instruments. My role is straddling the divide between artist and viewer, producer and consumer.