BEAM’s mission is to create the conditions that will spark a new music movement- the NuRoque (from Neo-Baroque). NuRoque is inspired by the revolution in music that new instruments and esthetics caused in Europe in the 1600’s. Four hundred years later we are at a similar inflection point.
Based on the concept of enhanced instruments coupled through an intelligent network, NuRoque encourages formal structures that are reactive to improvisation while modifying timbral detail and ornamentation resulting in a new complexity and intimacy.
While of significant scope and necessity, several obstructions prevent new music from occurring:
1: The absence of a consistent unified music technology
2: The need for a new esthetic that is of our time
3: The lack of intelligently deployed money for the Arts
BEAM plans to address each of these.
Technology inspires new art. Refinement, expansion and acceptance of new art requires vision, guidance and persistence. BEAM consists of people who have crafted the future of new music and have demonstrated leadership, financial competence and a fierce dedication to these goals. Support for these efforts in today’s environment must come from enlightened individuals interested in causing the artistic movements that will form the human counter pose to present technology.
Just as the piano changed western music and the electric guitar created rock ‘n’ roll, new powerful instruments will once again lead the way. But this time no single innovation can cause the shift. In fact, it demands a complete re-definition of how music is created and performed. This requires integrating musicians, computers, composers & instruments in an effective way that yields the same intimacy and responsiveness that traditional instruments share by their coupled moving of air.
J.S. Bach made his money as an organ tuner who worked closely with Gottfried Silversmith to perfect and exploit the multirank multi voice organ. New tools equal new music. This same period, the Baroque (French for “bizarre”) saw the perfection of the violin from the viola de gamba, and the mighty piano replaced the harpsichord thanks to technical advances in metallurgy and mechanical design.
The first incarnation of a technology for this new musical style (the NuRoque) has been completed and represents the culmination of a quarter century of development based on ideas from leading researchers, technologists, educators and composers. The result is a successful re-forging of the musical chain. Instruments, structure, composition, notation, conducting and the way musicians interact in performance are all moderated and enhanced by a responsive and informed computer network.
So what is needed to encourage and elicit a new music movement? A study of history will show that the integration and refinement of new instruments with an enthusiastic exploration of these tools by composers and musicians driven by the need for expression is an excellent starting point.
The demands of evolving musical styles during the Baroque were so profound that it required the very pitches of the notes to be changed, providing composers freedom of key modulation. The result was an enduring school of music that explored beauty and complexity using original formal compositional structures. These same pieces often demanded improvisation by the soloist to help bind the music to the moment.
For anything to be new, by definition, requires that it has not been done before. The esthetic for the 21st century will be built on evolved instruments that are familiar yet extended beyond their original function. This provides a path that will offer a baseline inclusion of repertoire and musicians to act as a spring-board, as well as an avenue for the transfer of much needed virtuosity as a carry over from present instrumentation. In addition, new controllers will be needed for functions not easily covered by the extended instrument.
What will be unique and required is the meta component – how the musicians, their gestures, the score, synthesis, audio processing and other structures are allowed to interact and modify themselves and other components in performance. This is a network, a new intelligence to augment and control the compositional structure of relationships beyond notes and transitions that can unite, challenge, and delight musicians and audiences. With advances present in today’s technology, such a platform is now possible.
BEAM will explore and refine these methods, challenge composers, educators, inventors and listeners in the hopes of creating a movement that marvels at beauty and seeks the joy of a new complexity, a neo-Baroque we call the NuRoque.
There is very little money available for the Arts and it is, by design, distributed to already established “low risk” composers and ensembles. There is no “seed” money for new ideas or artistic upstarts. There are no resources for experimentation, refinement or performance. BEAM is controlling a well-managed fund that will be carefully deployed and focused specifically on expanding this esthetic with new works, expanding awareness through education, and supporting fresh instruments and technology.
Operations to date and the first moneys have been donated by one of the founders. The funds from the endowment’s investments plus revenues will cover composers’ commissions, research, academic presentations and papers, performances, general education, media awareness, and related overhead.
Current activities include the commissioning of several new pieces in the NuRoque style using the MAPPS system to be performed by TrioMetrik and others. Successful shows in Spring of 2006 have garnered positive response. A fall season is planned with shows scheduled throughout the west coast.
Expansion of the system to accommodate operatic and theatric works is also underway. A theatre piece “AbDuCeD” is in development for 2007. See more information in Repertoire.
Refining, generalizing and documenting these systems will allow BEAM to place source code and related intellectual property in the public domain to encourage adoption and adaptation of these methods by others. BEAM will lead with an orchestrated commitment of consistent influence to explore and expand the NuRoque tools and esthetic.