Feedbacz is a structured improvisation for saxophone and computer inspired by, and dedicated to, Steve Baczkowski. I enjoy dense textures. When I used to live in Buffalo, NY I would visit the Albright Knox museum on Saturday mornings. It was free before 1pm. I was drawn to the paintings of Clyfford Still because of the thick, heavy textures in his work. In the past, a lot of my fixed-media works explored this idea of density, but surprisingly my instrumental music did not. Before I left Buffalo, I engineered a two-day recording session with a free jazz octet. During one session Steve and I recorded some solo bari sax improvisations. Being drawn to one specific recording, I used it to create a 6-channel fixed-media piece. A couple of years later, while living in Chicago, I turned that piece into this live performance piece. That’s when Feedbacz became my first, dense instrumental work.
The performer is given a series of time frames within which to improvise based on a changing set of parameters and a graphic score. As the performer progresses a variety of processing techniques are employed to alter the sounds of the instrument. One of the techniques involves what I call a spectral freezer. As the performer is playing, the audio is transformed into the frequency domain and snapshots of overtone information are recorded into a series of buffers. The information stored in the buffers is then fed through feedback loops before being transformed back into the time domain. The results of this process produces resonating (i.e. frozen) overtones. The fundamental pitch and amplitude of the instrument are also tracked by the computer and used to control parameters of cross-synthesis, ring modulation, and spatialization. Last, the performer has control over a a set of wavetables (small buffers containing a variety of digitally generated samples). Based on the pitch and amplitude of the performance, the artist is able to control the sound and rate of change of the buffers… generating an accompaniment.
Below are three recordings to hear how different performers approach the piece. The first is Steve Baczkowski. As a foundation, the piece is his. I took his improv and worked with it. It was recorded in his flat in 2003. The second is from November 5, 2006 in Lutkin Hall at Northwestern University, performed by Masahito Sugihara. The third is from September 7, 2019 in the Performing Arts Center at Kansas City Kansas Community College, performed by Drew Whiting.