Jakub Ciupiński

 
 





What is Blind Ear?

Blind Ear is the project I started with the other composer, Cristina Spinei, in 2009. While me and Cristina are responsible for running the project (organizing concerts, developing software, marketing, etc.) there are also three other brilliant composers involved in almost every concert: Ryan Francis, Ray Lustig, Adam Schoenberg.

Blind Ear is all about a new way of composing and performing the music. We use a network of laptops to create compositions in real-time.




For Blind Ear concerts we don’t write new pieces, we write loops...


Loops


We have stolen this term from pop electronic music and started using it in a classical music context. It was used by avant-garde composers before, but our way of using loops and thinking about them is quite different. It is not a technique of repeating a fragment of music, but rather the basic building block for a musical piece. One of the composer of Blind Ear group, Ryan Francis, came up with a following definition:

“Loops are short musical phrases that are intended to be repeated and combined to make a larger musical structure”

R.Francis



In other words, I can write something like this...



...and looop it:


But it doesn’t mean I have to loop it. The “loop” is just a building block and I can combine it with other loops in many different ways. If I have three loops like this:


I can make a longer phrase...



... or I can distribute them to three different instruments to play at the same time:


In general, the smallest compositional unit is not a single note, but a single loop. And once we have our own “library” of loops, we can create compositions in real-time.

For this to happen, we needed a proper technology.


Technology


When we started Blind Ear there was no technology available that would allow us to use loops in real time, with a group of classically trained musicians. What we were looking for, was the software build around the same paradigm as Ableton Live.

In Ableton Live you can place different electronic loops in slots on different tracks and trigger them whenever you want. Single loop will keep repeating until you switch to another loop on the same track. The problem with live musicians is that they are not machines (which is definitely not a bad thing!), and they need to see a musical notation, before they can play. We had to develop a new software.

And this part of the project was on my shoulders, simply because I love computers and programming. I wrote the software based on the idea of wi-fi connected laptops used as communication tool between a composer and a performer. The basic idea looks like this:




There are two types of programs: Master and Slave. Master is used by a composer to send loops to musicians, and Slave is displaying the score in front of the musician.



Master is quite complex, with many options of synchronization, sorting loops, triggering them, controlling dynamics, sending text messages to musicians, etc., and looks like this:




Slave is much simpler. I only displays information needed by the performer: notes, dynamics, text messages from the composer and the red pointer indicating current position in the score. This is what the performer could see on the screen (yes, we work only with the best sight-readers)



This software allows us to control what musicians are playing and make sure they are always synchronized. No conductor. Just a composer, performers and laptops.

I also wrote the extension of this program to synchronize our loops with Ableton Live, so we usually have electronic loops as well.



Incorporating dance, video and lights...


It was just a matter of time before we started thinking about expanding our idea to dance, video projection and lights. I extended the software to be able to control not only musicians. Dancers can now receive messages triggering “dance loops” through wireless headsets, video loops can be triggered together with audio loops, and lights can react to dynamics that we send to our musicians. This is how it looks with dancers, video and synchronized lights:




But the technology is just a tool...


People

To make it all happen we needed a group of talented people. Open-minded composers and top level performers with incredible sight-reading ability. Below is the list of people that worked with Blind Ear before:


Composers:


Andy Akiho

Barret Anspach

Jakub Ciupinski (co-founder)

Ryan Francis

Ray Lustig

Adam Schoenberg

Cristina Spinei (co-founder)


Musicians:


Kinga Augustyn

Brad Balliett

Emily Brausa

Jennifer Cho

Aaron Diehl

Stani Dimitrova

Emi Ferguson

Maciej Filochowski

Thomas Flippin (Duo Noire)

Pala Garcia

Nanae Iwata

Nathalie Joachim (Flutronix)

Allison Job

Crista Kende

Clara Kennedy

Philip Kuehn

Dane Lam (before loops)

Allison Loggins-Hull (Flutronix)

Victor Lowrie

Christopher Mallett (Duo Noire)

Christina McGann

Sami Merdinian

Aleksandr Nazarian

Meia Noite

Emily Ondracek

Jane Pae

Joan Plana

Andrew Roitstein

Adiza Sanches - Rahim

Hanah Stuart

Jeanette Vecchione

Erin Wight


Dancers:


Charlotte Bydwell

Aaron Carr

Naomi Davis

Carlye Eckert

Caroline Fermin (Gallim Dance)

Logan F Kruger

Andrea Miller (Gallim Dance)

Troy Ogilvie (Gallim Dance)

Davon Rainey

Adam H Weinert




For more information, visit our website:

www.blindearmusic.com

...and join our mailing list!!!
















 

Blind Ear