FLASHBACK: Greg Schiemer at the Space Time Concerto competition 2012 - premiere performance of Transposed Dekany, music for iPhones and the Satellite Gamelan app. Musicians in Linz, Beijing, Singapore and Newcastle performed concert venues linked via internet.
FLASHBACK: Greg Schiemer at the Space Time Concerto competition 2012 - premiere performance of Transposed Dekany, music for iPhones and the Satellite Gamelan app. Musicians in Linz, Beijing, Singapore and Newcastle performed concert venues linked via internet. contributed

Music maestro heading to LA

A MARYBOROUGH music professor will take his latest app overseas later this month to the leading international festival of experimental microtonal music.

Greg Schiemer will travel to Los Angeles to co-ordinate the performance of his latest work in a festival called LA MicroFest.

The concert takes place on Sunday, April 22 at Lyman Hall, Pomona College Claremont as part of the 2018 MicroFest.

"I am involved in a festival in Los Angeles which is dedicated to an area of music to do with new instruments and new tunings systems," Greg said.

"They are including my work for mobile phones, which has been developed for a number of years, and the work I have been doing began before the iPhone was actually invented."

 

Phone screen shot of the Satellite Gamelan app.
Phone screen shot of the Satellite Gamelan app. contributed

MicroFest concerts now combine experimental and traditional instruments like Indonesian gamelan instruments.

This year's MicroFest will feature a microtonal work called Transposed Dekany composed by Greg for a large consort of 80 iPhones.

The work uses an app called the Satellite Gamelan, that embodies both the musical score and the set of software instruments that musicians use to play the music.

These instruments are distributed via TestFlight to players taking part. In order to download the app and start rehearsing, players register on satellitegamelan.net.

Greg's journey to creating the app started when he was building a lot of electronic instruments in the 1970s.

"One of the first mobile instruments I built was used in a performance at the northern boardwalk at the Sydney Opera House in 1980," he said.

"It was the original instrument - like a small transistor oscillator and amplifier in a Tupperware container."

 

Microcontroller system called the MIDI Tool Box which I built between 1988 and 1995. It was used to interface some of tupperware touch pads for a performance given at Various Hall Tokyo during the 1993 International Computer Music Conference.
Microcontroller system called the MIDI Tool Box which Greg Schiemer built between 1988 and 1995. It was used to interface some of tupperware touch pads for a performance given at Various Hall Tokyo during the 1993 International Computer Music Conference. contributed

Greg's music was first played at MicroFest in 2001 when he worked as lecturer in composition and electronic music at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

With funding from the Australian Research Council he began work in 2003 on the Pocket Gamelan which is some of the earliest work involving music made with mobile java phones before the arrival of the iPhone.

"One of the first performances with the iPhone of this particular work that is being done in Los Angeles, won a prize in the International Space Time Concerto competition in 2012," he said.

"In that particular performance I had performers from around the globe interconnected via the internet but they were all using iPhones - like hand bells. Basically you could use a chorus of sounds to accompany the hand bells."

 

The pocket gamelan were the first mobile instruments I built using java phone technology. They were developed prior to the arrival of the iPhone during a project I led funded by the Australian Research Council between 1983 and 1985.
The pocket gamelan were the first mobile instruments Greg Schiemer built using java phone technology. They were developed prior to the arrival of the iPhone during a project Greg led funded by the Australian Research Council between 1983 and 1985. contributed

Greg said one of the plus sides was instead of taking half a day or more to set up it takes 15 seconds and instead of travelling with two tonnes of instrumental cargo, he's got instruments that can be sent as software.

 

This shot of the performance of Mandala in 1980 took place on the northern broad walk of the Sydney Opera House when the flying instruments called the tupperware gamelan were used for the first time. The music was created to accompany a dance work by Californian choreographer Yen Lu Wong.
This shot of the performance of Mandala in 1980 took place on the northern broad walk of the Sydney Opera House when the flying instruments called the tupperware gamelan were used for the first time. The music was created to accompany a dance work by Californian choreographer Yen Lu Wong. contributed

"There is a slight difference where the performance relies on having a good acoustic venue like something with high ceilings - like you would have in a cathedral or the Maryborough City Hall or the water tower at Ann St - where you have nice reverberant acoustics that were traditionally used in concert music before the advent of microphones and loud speakers.

"Three or four hundred years ago we didn't need microphones or loud speakers to do performances but somehow that has become a habit.

"I think this particular app is treating the phone like any other hand held instrument - like a consort of recorders or violins or something like that where you have large numbers of people doing something that is basically a sociable art rather than using it as an instrument for social media.

"The kind of individual approach to iPhones that most people have is they are usually walking around ignoring everyone around them or plugged into earphones and not listening to the sounds around them."

 

An ariel shot of smaller performance by four players at EuroMicroFest, Freiburg, Germany May 2014. (the performance venue is an art gallery and has remarkable acoustics that are idea for projecting sound from four tiny battery-powered loudspeakers smaller than a $2 coin. (the centre was once a swimming pool built by the Nazis to train the Aryan super youth).
An ariel shot of smaller performance by four players at EuroMicroFest, Freiburg, Germany May 2014. (the performance venue is an art gallery and has remarkable acoustics that are idea for projecting sound from four tiny battery-powered loudspeakers smaller than a $2 coin. (the centre was once a swimming pool built by the Nazis to train the Aryan super youth). contributed

The Maryborough-based composer said he had been invited to Indonesia on previous occasions to workshop with Indonesia musicians.

"Of course they are familiar with the technology but had no idea what this was about," Greg said.

"They embraced it more readily than what I thought the western players did.

"Gamelan is a name for a large collection of instruments in Indonesia - it is a little bit like orchestra but the difference between that and orchestral playing is that Gamelan players don't specialise in one instrument and when you learn to play in a Gamelan you don't have to study an instrument for years to play in an orchestra.

"The technology changes so rapidly you can't afford to spend years mastering an instrument - this is why I had to approach the technology from a different musical perspective.

"Indonesian tuning is not like western tuning - that was one of the musical motivations for this whole thing.

"The fact that we have a normal system that we'd use for 300 or 400 hundred years with the black and white note keyboard where you have 12 equally spaced notes - not all music is like that - and yet the technology allows that system to be imposed on the rest of the world by retuning the instrument, albeit the software instruments, and you have got a way of including many different music traditions."