Shackle is Anne La Berge on flute and electronics and Robert van Heumen on laptop-instrument. Their aim is to explicitly and subtly exploit shackling in both concept and material.

Shackle Affair: Transitions

by Robert on January 16, 2013

Until early 2012, the Shackle System would assist in going from one musical atmosphere to another, but not HOW we would do that. The parts that the system would propose would become active if the countdown wasn’t cancelled. Then we would transition to the new musical section in a way we saw fit. This would sometimes be a hard cut, sometimes a gradual crossfade, and sometimes something less articulated. Sometimes in sync with eachother, sometimes not at all. In the new version we’ve added the display of a random transition together with each new proposal. Possible transitions are hard cut, crossfade, and ‘free’ (meaning do whatever you like). This helps us coordinating transitions. We are still learning to work with this. Quite often we don’t really obey the prescribed transition, or we’re just too late because of activities we need to perform to go to the new part (loading samples, changing flutes).

In the image, the box between the current part and the proposal is the transition box, showing either X (crossfade), | (hard cut) or — (free).

This could be a good moment to talk a bit more about the transitions. So the way the system works: there is a current part, let’s say EYE, a musical section where we would play sine tone related material. Then the system proposes a new section, let’s say SNAP, and starts to countdown from 15 to 0. The idea is that at the count of zero the new part, SNAP, becomes active and we as musicians go into playing snappy. But there is no rule nor some God telling us not to start playing snappy already a bit earlier – but then the other player might hit ‘cancel’ and we would stay in EYE, making my snappy playing sound out of place. We could on the other hand postpone the snappy playing a bit, and slowly do a crossfade after the countdown reaches zero. This whole field of possibilities is an interesting playground. Like the part proposal this transition proposal gives us direction, but leaves enough freedom to keep the flexibility and surprise of free improvisation. During the Converging Objects workshops we also found that players find it extremely difficult to wait with transitioning to the next part until the count of zero.