21st Red Line for 20strings Koto and Electronics Live

Composed by Ai Kamachi 20-stringed-Koto Yumi Kurosawa Musical Technical Programming NAGIE Visual Programming Satoru Higa

21st Red Line

This piece was written for the Japanese 20-stringed Koto and electronic sounds.

In this piece, the data of the string vibrations and dynamics are sent to a computer in real time through sensors that are connected to each of the strings. A red laser beam is set next to the lowest string and becomes a 21st string, so to speak, thus the title “21st Red Line”. This laser string is “struck” to play or transform the Koto sounds electronically.

The Koto is tuned in quarter-tones, and uses the interval of an octave plus a quarter-tone (e.g. C to C-quarter-tone-sharp), which becomes an important structural element in the piece. From the scale that is thus created, overtones arise in a wave of sound that can be appreciated both audibly and visually. Every single note and phrase from the Koto is transmitted to the computer using Max/MSP + Jitter through the sensor and microphone, which are then sampled and played back along with the Koto, thus creating an ensemble performance.

In the cadenza, the computer starts to compose automatically using those samples. Here, electronic and sampled Koto sounds are interweaved with Ms. Yumi Kurosawa’s magnificent, beautiful and powerful improvisation, which becomes a beautifully chaotic soundscape.