if/else (DIGITAL SCORE)
Composer: Evan Williams
Scoring: flute and interactive electronics
Materials: score (8.5 x 11)
(click here for interactive electronics files)
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While my own programming skills are limited, during my brief study of languages like C, C++, and Objective C, these conditional statements fascinated me on a philosophical and poetic level. Very complex code relies on these very simple pieces of logic. They also give the illusion that the computer or program has agency to make a “choice.”
if/else is inspired by these programming statements. Each movement is inspired by programming logic, and uses the statement to influence the musical material, the live processing, or both. For example, in the opening movement “if/else,” if the flutist plays the pitch E5 or higher, the electronics will react with a randomized effect, if the pitch is lower than E5, nothing will be triggered.
In “switch,” the flutist and electronics trade between playing melodic and accompanying material, using high sustained pitches from the flute as a catalyst to switch roles. The movement “while” is concerned with immediate response. The electronics processes every sound from the flute in real time. The fourth movement “break” sets up intense layers of dissonant sounds until reaching a breaking point, and then restarting. The final movement, “else/if” serves as a short, quasi-palindromic coda to the work.
if/else was written for Lindsey Goodman.
— Evan Williams
This program note may be freely reproduced in concert programs, provided that proper credit is given to the composer.