by Bruce Christian Bennett
Hear Fracture: Fracture.ra (RealAudio) or Fracture.mp3 (MP3)
Fracture, a piece for tenor saxophone and four-channel signal processing, was composed for my friend and colleague, Michael F. Zbyszynski during the Fall of 1995. The signal processor used in this work is the ensoniq DP/4, controlled by a Macintosh computer running MAX software. I programmed MAX to change presets on the DP/4, to cross-fade between presets, and to control various parameters of the signal processing and the midi mixer in real time. At several points in the piece the four-channel spatialization of the sound is controlled by a Lorenz attractor. The performer uses a midi-foot switch to trigger the events stored in the computer. Most of the musical material of FRACTURE is derived from the opening measure; my intention was to fragment and elaborate the opening gesture over the course of the work in a way that is interactive with the electronics. The signal processing is carefully prepared to respond dynamically to the performer's playing. However, I was not interested in merely composing a piece for saxophone and electronic accompaniment; rather, I hoped to effectively allow the electronics to influence the musical material of the saxophone itself. For example, nearly two-thirds of the way into the piece, the saxophone line dissolves into noise and an exploration of harmonics; also, at various points throughout the piece the opening motif fragments and is offset by fractions of the beat in play with digital delays spatialized across all four channels. In this manner I hope to have more fully integrated the saxophone and its electronic complement into a more unified whole--a meta-instrument.