Silent Screen

for amplified steel-string acoustic guitar and live electronics, 2011

Clicks, pops, and scratches; stiff, jerky motions; and a hint of slap-stick humor are some of the images suggested by the title Silent Screen written for Kobe Van Cauwenberghe.  The steel-string guitar — an instrument associated with the American frontier rather than European refinement — is mounted on a table, prepared with a knitting needle, and manipulated with pick, slide and electric motor.  The resulting near-silent sound world is projected toward the listener with close amplification.  The computer analyzes this flickering image and matches timbral features to a database of pre-recorded samples, like a foley artist syncing sound effect to screen.  Perhaps these are the early years of interactive computer music, recalling the beginnings of silent film a century ago.