Zones of Influence


David Rosenboom, composition and electronics; William Winant, percussion

Zones of Influence is a propositional cosmology activated in music. This release of his Zones of Influence (1984-85) documents for the first time the complete version of a major composition for percussion and computer/electronics that introduced new virtuoso performance techniques along with significant developments in real-time algorithmic composition and advanced interactive linking of percussion instruments with software. Few solo percussion works exist with the scope of this composition. Though the work has been performed extensively, it was never been fully recorded for public release until this double-CD with accompanying booklet containing an article about the work and its history was released by Pogus Productions, (#CD 21074-2, Chester, NY). Zones of Influence was written for William Winant in 1984-1985.

Zones of Influence is a five-part cycle of works, each of which is inspired by a model for the dynamics we have observed in some part of our living universe. In Zones of Influence, these models become instruments that can be played—(see the diagram image below). This creative process involves transforming the percussionist's performance in special ways. These ways involve not just processing the percussion instruments' sounds on an acoustic level, but activating transformations of the complex patternings manifested in the percussionist's performance. This constitutes real-time algorithmic processing or algorithmic composition driven by the musical structure of both what and how the percussionist plays. For its time, Zones of Influence introduced historically innovative approaches to how real-time compositional algorithms may be considered as key components of a score. It also introduced a technique for making sequences of continuously evolving variations in musical materials, called morphological transformations. These transformations, in turn, outline evolutionary trajectories or pathways through musical forms, each exhibiting its own, particular musical qualities. From all this, a new system of multi-part counterpoint emerged for melodic lines, timbres, rhythms and more. All the musical materials for Zones of Influence were generated by applying these tools to the musical features contained in two 60-note, melodies, called the "origin melody" and "target melody". These melodies were freely composed in advance and provided musical DNA for the unfolding of forms inside Zones of Influence.

Each of the five works in this set involves entirely different percussion setups, written scores, and computer algorithms that activate the propositional models. Since the piece was composed before the proliferation of MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface), special interface electronics were constructed to connect the percussion instruments to a computer assisted digital instrument known as the Touché . This innovative, computer instrument was collaboratively designed by Donald Buchla and David Rosenboom in Berkeley, California, in 1979-1980. Zones of Influence was written in 1984-1985 for percussionist, William Winant and the Touché. This new recording features a new, software-based instrument, called Touché II, which Rosenboom created in collaboration with Martijn Zwartjes, and which expands the concepts of the original Touché. Rosenboom also plays auxiliary keyboard and glissando instrument parts.

Zones of Influence, Part I excerpt
Zones of Influence, Part V excerpt