“Square #1”, “Square #2”, “Circle #3” and “Square #4” (part of VENN Concert) are all pieces for musicians with iPod Shuffles. On the iPods are recordings of my voice giving different instructions. The musicians set the iPods on ‘shuffle’, which gives them the instructions in random* order. This makes each performance different, and the musician have to react to the instructions in the moment, giving a more spontaneous feel to the performance.
In “Circle #3” 7 wind instruments stand in a circle, facing inwards. The piece is written for flute, oboe, clarinet in Bb, bassoon, horn in F, trumpet and trombone.
The instruments together play different versions of a Bb major chord, changing which of 2-3 pitches to play, whether to play long notes or semiquavers – and whether to play at all – based on the instrucions on the iPods.
The chord is a quote from the ouverture to Mozarts “The Magic Flute”, inspired by a workshop where an orchestra played the same two bars many times over to get the intonation just right.
*) The iPod can’t actually randomize, but it gives the tracks in different mixed orders, which in practice works the same way.