Concertos No.2 (2009)
Conceived by Ai Chinen, Kay Festa, and You Nakai
Premiere: 31 July & 7 August 2009,
Campus Plaza, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo
Performed by Yuko Asaoka, Midori Kubota, You Nakai and Hikaru Toho,
+ several illicit performers
All flyers are printed on light-sensitive paper which gradually darkens its color when exposed to light (sight), thereby rendering the printed information less and less intelligible as time goes by. They are each placed inside a closed envelope so that the process of deterioration starts only when somebody opens it On the front of each flyer is one of 26 different starting times (with a minimum difference of six minutes between them) and ending times, and different entrance fees depending on how long the performance lasts. On the back is a map to the venue. The type of the flyer is indicated on the envelope using the letters of the alphabet (a to z), though the correspondence would remain unknown to most people.
The performance takes place in two adjacent rooms inside a building where other musicians are rehearsing (unrelated to this piece). Thus, the environment is filled with fragments of unrelated music.
A sensor is attached to the door of each room, which triggers a six minute provision of electricity to the room every time the door is opened. Consequently, the music goes on as long as the audience keeps coming in, but halts every time the flow of audience stops for more than six minutes.
All instruments used in the performance require electricity in one way or another (electric guitar, electric bass, microphones, drum pad and keyboards at the premiere). A balance should be established between pitched and non-pitched instruments.
All equipment and cables connecting them are dispersed as widely as possible in each room, making any movement difficult and heightening the risk of physically interfering with the set up (and consequently with the sounds produced).
All sounds produced in one room is delayed for the variable length of 0-12 minutes and transmitted to the speakers of the other room. The length of delay is changed frequently following a graphic score.
There are two performers in each room. All performers wear headphones.
Every six minutes, one performer in either of the two rooms leaves to pick up an audience member or a group (who are instructed through the flyer to wait in front of the building). S/he then guides the audience into the building, wearing binaural microphones in his/her ear, which pick up all the sounds s/he (along with the audience) hears while moving around, in addition to the predetermined “guide speech” s/he must give to the audience. All the sounds picked up are transmitted to the headphones of other performers in their respective rooms. Before going back to the room, the guide performer spends at least six minutes guiding the audience through different parts of the building, searching for, and picking up sounds.
The performers in the room imitate the sound they hear through their headphones (the degree of imitation will vary according to capacity of the instrument (pitched/non-pitched) and individual technique of each performer). A performer may also use his/her voice to whistle, hum or sing the pitch name (do-re-mi) of the heard sound.
Upon returning to his/her room, the guide performer covers his/her ear in order to prevent feedback between the binaural microphone and the speakers in the room. S/he then spends the next six minutes “mixing” the sound in the room by moving around the space and controlling the dispersed equipments. The proximity between him/her and speaker creates feedback, which can be controlled through: a) the pressure of his/her hands covering the ears, or, b) direct manipulation of speaker’s volume. “mixing” includes the opening and closing of windows.
During the last thirty minutes of the performance, performers gradually pack their equipment (in turns), following a predetermined step which ensures that music never halts during this process.
After everything is packed, two performers wear binaural microphones, transmitting the sounds they pick up to the two mini amplifiers carried by the other two performers. all performers leave the building with their packed equipments, conversing with the remaining audiences, while keeping a necessary distance between each other to prevent feedback. The conversation within each group is transmitted to one another through the microphones and mini amplifiers.
The performance ends when all microphones and mini amplifiers run out of battery.
Tokyo, 9 February - 7 August 2009