solo for djembe (with digital delay), prayer bowl, and audio soundscape
Prime Ordinals by Jim Casella Software player authored by Jordan Munson ÂŠ 2009 Tapspace Publications LLC (ASCAP), Portland, Oregon. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Printed in USA. www.tapspace.com
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Program Notes Prime Ordinals is my first venture into the world of writing for a soloist with digital audio accompaniment. It was composed for Alex Harmon, during his studies at the University of Kentucky. It is written specifically for the djembe, a drum of African origin which is capable of producing a wide range of timbres. This piece is formed from an ordered sequence of prime numbers (1, 3, 5, 7, 11), in which the ordinals occur as note groupings, time signatures, phrasings, or the amount of semi-tones spanned by the portamento in the audio soundscape accompaniment. Also used by the performer is a Himalayan singing bowl which marks certain points of the ordinal sequence at the start, middle, and end of the piece. This instrument appears prior to occurrences of phrases based on the number 3, which is thought by some to possess cosmic powers connecting our universe in intangible ways. The djembe calls for a “delay” – a digital effect causing the accoustic sound of the drum to be repeated at a pre-defined number of milliseconds. In Prime Ordinals, the delay is set at a rate of 333.33 milliseconds, which will repeat the performed sounds back in the timeframe relational to eighth notes when the quarter note tempo equals 90 beats per minute. As such, this delay effect plays a critical role in forming the overall rhythmic outcome when combined with the sounds originated by the soloist. The resulting whole should represent a new composite where the interplay can be very deliberate, sometimes chaotic, but always greater than the sum of its parts.
Prime Ordinals was premiered in February 2008 by Harmon at the UAF New Music Festival in Fairbanks, Alaska, and was featured at the 2009 Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC) focus day in Indianapolis, Indiana. -Jim Casella
Items Required • • • • • • •
Large Djembe (preferably around 16” diameter and mounted in a sturdy frame) Tibetan bowl with long decay duration Macintosh or Windows computer Audio interface with at least 2 inputs and 4 outputs Two microphones and mic cables Headphones for monitoring 2 speakers for playing soundscape accompaniment to audience
Performance Notes Hand-to-hand patterns may be left to the discretion of the performer, and any indicated stickings are merely suggestions. The notation used is fairly simple, though certain performance nuances should likely lead to more colorful sounds than the ones indicated in the notation legend. Patterns that use the hand-to-hand notations: t/f/l/R stands for this pattern: thumb/fingers/left/Right. In these cases, the intention is to produce the rhythm by quickly turning or “flicking” the right hand/wrist so the first note is created with the right thumb, quickly followed by the first knuckle of the ring and/or middle fingers of the right hand. The third note would then be played normally with the left hand, followed by a bass tone with the palm of the right hand. Upper-case markings indicate accented notes while lower-case markings are meant to be played at a lower, unaccented level. The Tibetan bowl is to be struck with a traditional mallet. This mallet must be positioned in a way so that it may easily be grasped and let go as these occurrences happen very quickly. The goal, however, should not be to look harried or frantic. The bowl and mallet should be within easy, quick reach enabling it to be performed fluidly without panic. The bowl used should be one with the longest possible sustain decay. Harmonics should be produced by placing the fingers of the left hand lightly against the center of the drumhead, while striking the frontmost knuckles of the right fingers at the outermost point of the drumhead, achieving a very high frequency. Ideally, the djembe should be mic’d using two microphones – one placed near to playing surface to capture the articulation of higher frequencies and slap sounds, and one at the bottom opening of the drum to capture the low, bassy frequencies. The audio signal for these two microphones should go through a delay processor set to 333.33 miliseconds (or an eighth-note delay at 90bpm). With the included software player, the digital delay is already applied and will affect any signal coming to the input channel(s) set within the software player. Note, if you decide to only use one microphone, the software player will still route it to both speakers so the audience will hear it in stereo, but ideally, the djembe should be mic’d so that you get a good blend of articulation (top mic), with a healthy amount of low end (bottom mic). Be careful that the louder notes coming through the top mic don’t dominate the audio soundscape. Placing the top mic a bit farther back from the head may help to control this. The length of delay feedback can be experimented with so that the interplay between performed notes and repeated/delayed notes overlap some. The higher the feedback setting, the more delay repetitions will occur, resulting in more complexity. Experiment and find what works best for the venue, striving to achieve an equal mix between the mic’s and the soundscape accompaniment.
ap Sl ed
V st ery ro s ke of at t m ed ut ge ed Ha rm on ic w/ fin ge Tib r et an bo wl
to ne Op ce e nt n t er on an e d be ed tw ge ee M n ce ut e nt d er to an ne d be ed t ge we Op en en to ne at ed Op ge en Sl ap
ss ba ed
O wi pe th n pa Ba lm ss
Note: A printable version of this notation key is included on the accompanying CD-Rom.
About the Prime Ordinals software player Special thanks to Jordan Munson for his creativity in designing the Prime Ordinals software player.
Toggle audio system on/off Reset to default djembe settings
Select audio driver
Adjust input gains for djembe
Select input device
Adjust output gain of djembe Adjust amount of delay feedback
Audio level and CPU meters
Click here for a listing of keyboard shortcuts
Adjust dry/wet mix of delay
Select input channels for djembe microphones
Adjust output gain of accompanniment track Control headphone mix of djembe, accompaniment track, and click track.
Start accompanniment track from various rehearsal letters
Play/pause/resume/stop accompanniment track
Prime Ordinals was written to be played with a djembe which is amplified, and processed through a digital delay effect running at a delay rate of 333.33 milliseconds. This rate is the equivalent of 8th note frequency when the piece is played back at 90 beats per minute. Because the delay plays an important role in creating the overall character of the piece, itâ€™s important that it be played precisely at the correct tempo. There are audible cues from the accompaniment track that are written into the score, however itâ€™s most likely helpful to use a click track to ensure proper synchronization. The included software player (compatible with Macintosh or Windows computers) will allow you to accomplish all of these things without the need for effects pedals, DAW software, or a mixing board. Refer to the suggested setup chart for a diagram of how to set this up so that A) the primary output is routed to the house speakers (what the audience hears), and B) the monitor mix is sent independently so that the player can hear the click track while also controlling how this mixes together with his or her personal mix of delayed djembe sound, and the accompaniment track.
Thereâ€™s no installer to run the Prime Ordinals application. Simply drag the appropriate folder (Mac or PC) to your computerâ€™s desktop, then double-click the Prime Ordinals icon (.exe for PC) to launch the player. NOTE: All items within the folder must remain in place for the player to function properly.
PC version (double-click to launch)
Mac version (double-click to launch)
Audio Interface routing As mentioned earlier, this piece requires your computer to have an audio interface (sometimes referred to as your soundcard) with at least 4 outputs and 2 inputs. There are many high quality brands on the market such as M-Audio, Edirol, MOTU, Presonus, and Digidesign. Depending on what type of computer you use (desktop or laptop), the type of interface options will vary. If you’re using a laptop, a USB interface will most likely be a good choice. Desktop systems may also allow you to use a PCI interface in which a card is installed into your computer, which then connects to a breakout box or rack-mounted unit in which connections are made. Regardless of what type of interface you use, the basic functionality is the same. Refer to the manufacturer’s user guide to learn the ins and outs of controlling your audio interface (pun intended), and how it interacts with your computer. If you’re new to using a professional audio interface, the diagram below illustrates how you’d route the signal using an M-Audio FastTrack Pro, which is a common 4x4 (4-in, 4-out) USB interface reasonably priced and available for less than $200.
Djembe microphone inputs. Top mic routes into Input 1, bottom mic routes into Input 2. Set the software player to receive input on these channels.
House speakers (what the audience hears) comes from outputs 1 and 2.
Headphone monitor (what the performer hears) comes from outputs 3 and 4.
Level: Med-Advanced Approximate playing time: 6’00”
for Alex Harmon
solo for djembe (with digital delay), prayer bowl, and digital audio
q = 90
slap R L
R (l) mute
R l r L R
R (l) R
R l R l l R l R l r l
© 2009 Tapspace Publications LLC (ASCAP), Portland, Oregon. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Printed in USA.
Prime Ordinals – Casella
3 3 6
heel of hand dampens throughout 3
3 3 6
6 6 6 6
6 6 6 6 6 6
6 6 6 6 6 6
Prime Ordinals – Casella
6 6 6 6 6 (audio)
6 6 6 6 6
6 6 6
66 6 6 6
6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6
3 6 6 3 6 6 6
3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3
r l r l R
l r l r l R
3 3 3 3 3
R l r l R l r L r l r L r l R l r l R l r L r l r L r l
Prime Ordinals – Casella
6 3 6 6 3 6 6
6 3 3
R l r l R l r L r l r L r l R l r l R l r L r l r L r l r L r L r L r L R L
6 6 3 6 3 6
t f l R L
Prime Ordinals – Casella 3
3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3
3 3 3 3 3 bowl (l.v.)
t f l
Jim Casella Prime Ordinals by Jim Casella Software player authored by Jordan Munson © 2009 Tapspace Publications LLC (ASCAP), Portland, Oreg...