Mark Ballora: Singularity

  • ©,







    Interactive music for performer and computer


Artist Statement:

    The music I most admire embodies mythos as the Greeks meant it. Contrary to our current parlance, in which the word “myth” means “something untrue,” mythos seeks to tap into powerful truths about our world.

    Singularity grew out of extended reflection that came to me after reading Stephen Hawking’s descriptions of black holes. I was taken with his descriptions of how they absorb and recycle the universe’s matter and I started comparing black holes to mythical traditions that explore the nature of birth, death, and rebirth; added to the mix was the tension inherent in the human character between the need for peace and freedom on the one hand, and the need for structure and companionship on the other. The piece attempts to come to a mythic understanding of how these forces may interact. The use of live audio processing is meant to take the sounds of a virtuoso flute performance and broaden it, suggesting a broader perceptual scope than the immediately tangible, a presence in the context of a reality that contains the physical/earth plus much more.

Technical Information:

    A flute microphone delivers an audio signal of the performance into an audio converter, which digitizes the signal and allows the computer to manipulate the signal. The software synthesis pro­gram SuperCollider ( has been programmed to apply a set of preset “states” to the audio that are activated by simple keystrokes on the computer keyboard. A variety of process­ing is done to the flute, adding echoes, reverberation, or distortion. A looping function sends audio to a buffer and plays it repeatedly. The software also produces algorithmically generated electroacoustic textures. Thus, the sound of the flute performance is expanded and placed in a variety of sonic contexts. The 43-tone Just scale devised by Harry Partch is explored in many of the textures, with its qualita­tive subtleties complementing the ethereal nature of much of the audio processing.