The Music of Ellen C. Covito

First Concert 24 May 2012, Vaudeville Park, Brooklyn, New York
Co-curated with Panoply Performance Laboratory
Performed by Akiva Zamcheck, Aliza Simons, Brian McCorkle, Catherine Provenzano, Corinne Cappelletti, Diana Crum, Esther Neff, Gelsey Bell, Ivan Naranjo, Kaia Gilge, LJ Leach, Lindsey Drury, Maria Stankova, Masami Tomihisa, Sean Ali, Travis Just, and You Nakai Second Concert 19 September 2012, Koen-dori Classics, Shibuya, Tokyo
Co-curated with Ensemble of Experimental Music and Theater
Performed by Hikaru Toho, Hiroshi Yokoshima, Masuhisa Nakamura, Motoharu Kawashima, Satoko Inoue, Satoko Kouno, Takuma Nishihama, Takumi Ikeda, Tomoki Tai, Tomoko Hojo, and You Nakai All photos and film stills by Esther Neff, Shu Nakagawa, and/or You Nakai Program Notes (PDF) Composed Improvisation E (2010)
Composed Improvisation J (2009)*
Composed Improvisation B (2012)
Composed Improvisation T (2011)*
Improvised Composition F (2011)*
Improvised Composition M (2011)
Composed Improvisation G (2009)
Composed Improvisation L (2010)
Composed Improvisation S (2012)
Composed Improvisation M (2010) * Only performed at the first concert
Composed Improvisation
E For any number of performers, but not less than four. Write a score in the form of an eye-chart, so that the size of notes gradually decrease as they proceed. Use the Snellen chart as model, and arrange them in eleven vertical rows. The exact number of notes in each row may not follow the Snellen chart, but should increase as their size decreases. The size of the notes should follow the Snellen chart but with the following modifications: the standard optotype size should be vertically divided to accommodate three notes (four staves). The fifth staff should be added keeping the same interval. So a note on the topmost row (20/200) should be sized 29.6mm (88.7 mm/3) tall, the eight row (20/20) should be sized 2.96 mm tall, and so on. The intervals between the rows should be arranged to accommodate the note stems and the use of ledger lines. When written instruction is used, the size of a letter should follow the Snellen chart. The green and red blocks usually inserted respectively after the sixth, and eighth rows, in the Snellen chart, may or may not be used. At the performance, all the performers stand twenty feet away from the score and perform, maintaining a unison. Each performer drops out when s/he can read no more. The piece ends when the last performer drops out.
Composed Improvisation
J An exploration of the primordial contact between the score as text and performer as viewer/reader. Write a musical score which entails not only musical notes but also jokes. Compose the relationship between the notes and jokes contrapuntally. The performer performs from sight‐reading. In addition to performing the notes correctly, he reads all the jokes, which may trigger unintentional sonic (or expressive) responses, or not. Composed Improvisation
For any number of duos. If there are more than one pair, a score which is written for the given number of instrumentalists should be found or composed. The instrumentalist plays, reading from the score. His/her partner stands behind him/her. At any given moment, the partner can cover the eyes of the instrumentalist with his/her hands. Whenever this occurs, the instrumentalist should try as much as s/he can to continue playing as if nothing has happened. 
Composed Improvisation
T Gather as many performers as possible. All performers wear a T-shirt with fragments of scores printed. The score can be newly composed, or can be a "found score." No clef signs should be used to provide maximum flexibility for the available instruments. There are two special T-shirts with barlines for the beginning and ending of the piece. Each performer starts playing after s/he sees the T-shirt with the beginning barline. During the performance, the performers constantly move around and play whatever fragment of score (on the T-shirts of other performers) that they see. They each stop playing when they see the T-shirt with the final barline. The performer with the final barline T-shirt may choose to hide from the other performers for as long as s/he sees fit.
Improvised Composition
F A piece for equal number of choreographer-dancers and dancers. All dancers and choreographer-dancers appear on stage; the latter is also free to move around. Each choreographer-dancer chooses one dancer to pair with, which once decided, may not change. The choreographer-dancers choreographs in real-time, and transmits the movement verbally or gesturally to his/her dancer throughout the performance. The pairing is, however, never discussed neither among the choreographers, nor with the dancers themselves. So any dancer may potentially react to any instruction from any choreographer. Contact Improvisation will, at last, be interesting. The ending is also instructed by the choreographer-dancer.
Improvised Composition
M A piece for equal number of composer-performers and performers. All performers and composer-performers appear on stage; the latter sit at tables. The composer-performers compose in real-time. As soon as he/she finishes a fragment of any length, it is passed to a performer (or performers) who immediately perform(s) it. The performer plays the fragment until the end, or until another fragment is passed on to him/her. If no new fragment appears by the end of the given one, the performer repeats the same fragment again, until a new one is given. The composer-performers may not collaborate. The performance proceeds on a first-come, first-served basis, so the composer who writes his/her fragment most quickly, and to the most number of performers, gets to be performed the most. However, reasons to decide otherwise may exist: a) one wants to have his/her fragment repeated (à la minimal music) over and over again, b) one likes what the other composer composed and decides to listen, or c) one prefers to work on a single performer rather than dealing with the whole group. How these desires and interests differ and are adjusted or not between the composer-performers should not be decided in advance, but left to be improvised. The ending is also composed by the composer-performer.
Composed Improvisation
G Write or find a notated score of at least three pages, preferably longer. The performer(s) may choose to rehearse or not. Stick all the pages of the score together with glue or any other adhesive before the concert. At the concert, the performer must proceed by ripping each page open, and playing whatever note(s) that show up. The performer may choose to collaborate with a page turner.
Composed Improvisation
L For any number of performers, but no more than four. If more than two performers participate, they should be positioned as far away as possible from each other. The performer selects an instrument that s/he either doesn’t know how to play, or can only play poorly. S/he practices this instrument until s/he is able to perform it sight-reading from a given score (preferably an introductory textbook for the chosen instrument), but only very erratically. When this state is attained, practice no more. The performer writes a score, or transcribes a “found score,” using a luminous (glow-in-the-dark) marker. If possible, the “found score” should be taken from an unpracticed section of the introductory textbook. In the performance, the lighting of the venue is set as dark as possible making the reading of the score possible, but reducing the visibility of the instrument.
Composed Improvisation
S A musical exploration of quasi-ESP exercises (after Vito Acconci). The composer writes the score in a state of sensory deprivation: blindfolded and ear-plugged. At the concert, the performer plays the score in the same state of sensory deprivation, while attempting to read the score with the utmost concentration. The composer sits in the audience seat and shouts out directions and suggestions to the performer.
For as many number of performers as possible. To be performed in a venue with no risers, nor separate stage space. Prepare a score that is the same size as the floor of the concert venue (so the score must be build specifically for each new venue). Use a paper or a fabric. In case of paper, let the movement of the audience upon it cause tears and rips. The score can be newly composed, or a “found score“ can be used. Write the first section (in the case of a “found score,” the first page) on one side of the score. Fold the score in half, and write the second section. Fold the score again in half, and write the third section, and so on. The size of the notes should be modified accordingly in relation to the size of the given space. The performance starts with the score covering the floor of the venue. The performers must find a position/location from which they can read the entire score. Each performer may start playing as soon as s/he secures an adequate position. When all the performers finish playing the section, the score is folded in half, and the performers reposition themselves accordingly (so at the beginning they must be as far away as possible, somehow positioning themselves on a higher place by piling up chairs or climbing on pillars, etc; towards the end they must be as close to the score as possible until they squash themselves). The piece ends when the score can be folded no further. Duration is not specified but the performers should never dilly-dally.
Composed Improvisation