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No Note Left Behind Project

No Note Left Behind Project Launch Party- 3/22/07at Recombinant Media Labs 763 Brannan St. SF, CA

The No Note Left Behind Project will be launched with a presentation and demo on March 22nd in San Francisco, CA by the BEAM Foundation. The goal of the project is to create a standard for an enduring performance score for New Music that may involve computers, networks, alternate instruments and audio/video processing.

“What makes a piece of music classic is its ability to transcend time and space,” says Keith McMillen, Director of BEAM. “We can hear a Beethoven string quartet played outside of Germany and tonight. This is not true for most new music pieces written in the last 50 years. Many receive a few performances and, because of technical reasons, are never played again.”

The new scoring system is named MAPPS for Musically Accumulating Persistent Performance Score. MAPPS consists of an authoring environment and methodology for rendering all synthesis, processing, interaction and representation in a high level portable language. All hardware except the performer’s instrument will be virtualized. Flat screens will serve as music stands. Working versions of these concepts have been implemented in the MACIAS system now being used in performance by TrioMetrik. www.triometrik.org

Richard Boulanger, professor at The Berklee College of Music explains, “I have always felt it is my responsibility as a 21st century composer, to write for the instruments of my time. Because of dependence on marginal technologies I have all but given up the fight and stopped composing and performing. MAPPS is a timely, important and essential project that will support, sustain, and inspire the next generation of contemporary composers and new media artists.“

San Francisco Symphony violinist, Daniel Kobialka, who has had four Pulitzer Prize composers write for him, claims, “MAPPS is the greatest “sound product vision" of this century and needs support to be completed in all of its vast dimensionality and versatility.”

In 1932 the great composer Edgard Varese said, “ We need new instruments very badly.” Prescient as he was, Varese was only partly correct. Not only do we need new instruments, we need a durable new way to compose and score for these instruments.

“What we have after 75 years of progress is a Babel of equipment, notation techniques and connection schemes each unique to the composition and even to the musicians performing the work. Rarely is a modern music composition using new instruments performed more than once. Often it is impossible to remount a piece a few years after it was written. Composers who once embraced technology in their creations (Riley, Adams, Stockhausen, Reich, Boulez) have reverted to traditional instrumentation for the bulk of their current work. Not because of choice, but out of necessity.” continues McMillen.

Futurist Jaron Lanier, the inventor of “Virtual Reality” says, “This is the start of a new musical culture. The importance of this development cannot be overstated.” Max Mathews calls BEAM’s efforts, “the most important musical endeavor of this century… essential to ensure the future of new music.”
Mathews, 80 years old, is the father of computer music. He was the first to teach a computer to sing in 1962 at Bell Laboratories. The song was “Daisy,” memorialized in “2001: A Space Odyssey”.

“This inability to maintain a score over time and distance has resulted in the languishing of modern music. Why write for new instruments and techniques when your efforts will not add to the performance repertoire? Composers have been reduced to the Karaoke-like world of recording the modern component of a in a studio and having live musicians play along - degrading to the performers and uninviting to the audience,” opines McMillen.

It is now possible to create an enduring scoring environment that would allow a deserving composition longevity and ubiquity. These technologies exist but they need to be normalized and contained within an expandable robust framework for creation and reuse. The MAPPS development project is expected to require 3-5 years and the efforts of an international committee of composers, technologists and performers.

The BEAM Foundation’s board reads like a who’s who of innovation in computers and New Music. Along with those quoted above, the board includes: David Wessel, Professor of Music at UC Berkeley and founder of the International Computer Music Conference; Dave Smith, inventor of MIDI; and Don Buchla and Tom Oberheim, both synthesizer pioneers.