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Chasing Chords

Conference paper
Authors Per Anders Nilsson
Published in Musikkteknologidagarna 2017
Publication year 2017
Published at Academy of Music and Drama
Language en
Keywords music, improvisation, gaming, electroacoustic music, music software
Subject categories Arts


The Chasing Chords is software made in Max for drums and piano that mediates the creation of a musical texture that consists of virtual and live bass drums and piano chords. For the drummer, the instruction is to try to hit the next computer-generated bass drum sound as it appears, and for the piano player the task is to hit the right chord, out of three possible four- note piano chords. The resulting musical outcome when playing with the Chasing Chords software is a combination of two random processes. On the one hand the generation of chords and bass drum in the software, and the participating players struggling to hit them on the other. Combined, it creates a pseudo periodic texture that function as foundation and inspiration for group improvisation. The interest Chasing Chords may create is the perceived uncertainty when the next event will occur, and whether any of the players will succeed to hit them. Solving the task is meaningless in itself however, the software rather functions as a way to move and to change the player’s attention and playing intention, from expressing something to solve the given task. To play, or rather to interact with the Chasing Chords, reminds of playing a simple FPS video game, which is intentional. The audible outcome shows a musical identity however, which, I will argue, would not be possible to achieve without the software. A recent update of Chasing Chords features implementation of a listener that counts hits, and first to achieve a fixed number of hits, e.g. five, is declared winner, and play is terminated. This feature risks to drain the musical quality of the software, which rather is to act as a starting point for improvisation, than becoming a game by its own means.

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