project image
Brian McCorkle

first performed on October 04, 2020
Online Improvisations
performed once in 2020


Ever Peacock

Hurley, NY


Being asked to perform for the Open Improvisations, a group of New Music aficionados/musicians/composers, I created software for the event to take advantage of its digital nature. This software, written primarily in Python, operated in three layers.

Layer 1 was a speech recognition component which listened to the instruments being played in the improvisation and to the vocalizations of the performers and attempted to make English sentences out of the sound. Those sentences were then broadcast live during the performance, which is how we ended up with enigmatic phrases as “i had the teeth of fifth.”

Layer 2 was a webcam feed which was focused on the performers, myself and Ever Peacock, which was also broadcast live.

Layer 3 was a synthetic, culminatory layer which chose colors for the background of the broadcast, in addition to the location of the webcam feed, based on what sounds were coming in during the improvisation.

Throughout our improvisation, Peacock and I were focused on conjuring the moment in time, which was in the middle of the Coronavirus global pandemic, and channeling that to the audience. Instruments employed were synthesizers, guitars, a kazoo, a rachet, and vocalizations which were specifically responses to the computer’s attempt at speech recognition of something that was not speech. The performance was about how we see ourselves, how we see each other, how we understand each other, what are the lines in understanding, how can we hope to communicate through a machine medium, and what are the limitations and exciting potentialities of such machine mediums.

The content of the improvisation is immaterial to a description of the piece. The piece is the frame and the structure of that frame. The content is as important as the color of wrench you use to fix a car, which is to say, not at all. But aesthetically I think having a cool looking wrench feels good, and I would say the improvisation felt good.