Ball Jam (2011)
Composer: Zack Settel
for saxophone quartet and live electronics

A Quasar commission with the support of the Fondation Quasar

The piece draws on techniques used for augmented reality applications. The real performance space is overlaid with virtual audiovisual layer, where the sounds of the quartet are captured, processed, and reemitted in the performance space by surrounding loudspeakers. Using physical models for motion, sounds played by the performers are captured and "attached" to bouncing objects which are set into motion on the virtual layer. A projection screen above the players on stage provides a view of this virtual layer, where sound objects move about the performance space

In this way, music played by the performers can physically gather and reorganize in the performance space. Each note, or group of notes played becomes detached from the sequence of notes sounded by the performer. In the manner of particles, these notes rebound within the performance space, eventually coming to rest, only to be set back into motion at some later time by the movement of players on stage. The form of the work is loosely canonic, where previously played musical material can recombine with other material (previously played or new), producing new juxtapositions of melody and rhythm. The score includes choreographic information to coordinate player position and movement during the work. Several zones, located on stage, are used to coordinate the capture of performers' sounds and the application of player movement to nearby sound objects. Thus, there is a predetermined relationship to what a player plays, and where and when he/she plays it.