if/else for flute and interactive electronics by Evan Williams
Extended techniques required: Jet Whistle; sing and play; key clicks; tongue pizzicato; tongue rams; multiphonics
i. if/else – Fast with momentum
ii. switch – Fast and crisp
iii. while – Slow and meditative
iv. break – Not too slow, with intensity
v. else/if – Not too slow, with a sense of grief
Program Notes from the composer:
In various programming languages, conditional statements allow a program to make choices based on given data through simple Boolean logic. The most common of these is probably the if/else statement. an example of this logic is “If x is true, then do y. If else, do z.”
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 the 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.