2018 Interview with Arnold Marinissen

Composing in Digital Audio Work Stations

Interview John Psathas, London, 22 March 2018

AM: Which DAWs do you use?

JP: I’ll tell you the history. When I was a student, in 1988, I bought a Roland MC 500. All it did was sync up MIDI data. If you look them up, they’re an incredible thing to think about to use these days, because of how limited they are. Then eventually I bought a computer - it’s always been Macintosh - and the first piece of software that I started using on that was Mastertracks Pro, which was a sequencing package. They were quite different from these days; they worked differently. And then I got into a thing called Easy Vision, where things became more flexible, and that was a baby version of something called Studio Vision. And Studio Vision started to have some audio things in it as well, but not many. It was all about MIDI information and libraries. And then I made the big step, because I got a really big project commission. It was the Athens Olympics. And they said: 'Look, we want you to work in Logic, because we’re doing everything in Logic.' The only project I've been involved in where they did all of the scores in Logic as well. And they had all of the audio, the MIDI and the scores completely lined up on huge screens that they had put together, so you could see all the information. 2004 were the Olympics, so I started 2003 working with Logic. And it was a very hard programme to learn at the time for me, but I got into it and I figured it out. And since then it’s been only Logic. And while I’m here now [London, March 2018], because I have a bit more spare time, I’ve started going through all the Pro Tools tutorials, and I’m teaching myself how to use, or I’ve been taught by these tutorials, how to use Pro Tools. Because I want to shift, which I’ll explain in a minute, into a more audio-based environment for some things, and less MIDI. But generally my composing journey from the very beginning, as soon as it was available, was to compose using MIDI. And the reason for that I think, no, I think I know, is because I can really only compose in a feedback situation, which is to hear what it is I’m writing, as I’m writing it. And I can hear past the really bad sounds, and all of that sort of performance issues that you get in MIDI. I can hear past that and still get excited, because for me the composing process, it’s a very sort of visceral, live, responsive experience. And I’m always very excited when I’m composing. It’s a very intense, always a very intense experience. It has never not been that. And, you know, it’s been described as, for some people composing has been described as slowed down improvisation. Because you’re playing and you’re hearing it back and you’re responding to it – it’s like there’s another person and you’re responding to what you’re hearing, at the same time as making it. That’s definitely it for me, you know, very very intense. It’s the most intense experience I’ve ever had in my life, doing anything. But I haven’t done many things [laughs]. So I have a limited palate. But the thing is that the journey with the softwares has been very interesting because it has really been a process of getting older, having a bit more money, computers getting better, and more capacity. So the libraries have been growing and getting better, and the way that they respond has been getting better and better. And so my experience of the creative process has actually been intensifying as I moved through time, in response to the technology, being able to do more, and be more realistic and more life-like. So it’s always really been Logic for me. And Logic, I really hated it when I started, because it was so different from everything else.

AM: What did you use before you went digital, so to say?

JP: Well, the thing is, it really started when I was a student. You know, that’s when I started using this MC 500.

AM: So you never composed at the piano?

JP: I did a little bit when I was a student. There’s one piece I’ve written at the piano that lives today, and that’s a solo piece called Waiting for the aeroplane. And it still gets played. It’s the only piece I ever really wrote at the piano. What the thing is for me, I really really need to know what it sounds like. I can’t do this thing as a lot of my students do. I understand as a student it is part of the way, and it can be part of the way forever, which is, I’ll find out exactly what it sounds like when people start playing the music. And for me, that’s not my way. My way is that it’s really about the journey from the beginning to the end of the work. What is that journey and what is that experience?

AM: So actually, in that piano piece that was case because you played it?

JP: Yeah, and I played it you know, and so it’s actually a very playable piece – one of the most playable pieces I’ve written, except for one part which I’ve never been able to play. It’s beyond me. And the thing that I can say is that everything I’ve written since I’ve started using the technology, as a musician, as a player, I can’t play any of it. It’s beyond my performance capabilities, all of it. But what happens is, I have a situation at home where I have a studio there, and I have an acoustic piano. I have quite a complex computer set-up, with three really large monitors and a lot of capacity, a lot of libraries, and then on the other side I have a really nice electric keyboard. And what I’ll do is, I’ll go to the piano and work through things very a-rhythmically and non-structurally. But it’s really to get the feeling of, what does it mean to move from this harmonic situation to this harmonic situation, what does that feel like? And I’ll make a lot of noise and be very clumsy, but I’ll feel kind of the underlying essence of things. And then it’s, how does this come into focus, how do I turn it into something? And that’s when I’ll go to the computer and I will start.

AM: And then you play MIDI into the computer?

JP: Most often I will enter notes with the mouse, one by one, yeah, really slowly. And for me, there’s a very slow exacting process. Because the thing is, the technology can give you all kinds of shortcuts. But I’ve never used it for that. I’ve never used it for the copy and paste or, you know, just the easy way of manipulating. For me it’s always been a way of, OK this note, then this note, and then I’ll try this note and see what happens. And then I’ll listen to it and I’ll make a decision about it. And I’ll crawl forward through the work.

AM: So you’re a slow worker, in that sense?

JP: Slow, because of one reason, I think. And the one reason is that I always start at the beginning. I don’t know what happens in the middle when I start. I don’t know how it ends, when I start. I don’t know any of that stuff. And the writing is a process of discovering what the work actually is. That’s my way of approaching it, right. So I never know where it’s going. And there have been a couple of times, for various commission reasons, that I’ve needed to kind of map it out and create structure and so on. And I’ve enjoyed that way less than the way that I normally do. Because, I mean, this is getting into, I think, my underlying motivation for writing, which is that… You know, in my opinion, when I hear music that I think is great, like it’s beyond good but it’s great, and that could be a free improv session, it could be a symphony by Beethoven, it could be a Nubian oud player you know, whatever, where it sort of transcends something, and it becomes… It sort of transcends time and place, and style and genre, whatever, what I hear in all of that… My way of describing it is that the creators of that musical experience themselves experienced a kind of revelation in the making of it. But not just that. That revelation that they experienced, the energy that manifests because of that, somehow is coded into the music. So that when you hear it, no matter how many times you hear it, you feel that thing that’s in there. You know, that relevatory experience that has been encoded. I mean, you can definitely hear it in the best moments of Beethoven. You can feel him going, oh my God, as this music is being discovered. And so for me that’s… You know, I’ve got attached to that. And so that’s why I’ve always started at the beginning. And every piece for me has been this amazing unfolding of discovery. And there are things in my pieces that are awkward and clumsy and that don’t quite work, because I’m just trying to make it, unfolding as well as leading. And this leads all the way back to… I think that the technology has been incredible in enabling that for me. Because I can keep hearing over and over again where it’s going. And also, obviously, it has really shaped the way the music is formed, and the way my music has evolved over these decades. Because I’m in this environment. I’m in a kind of virtual reality type space that has its own boundaries and its own strenghts.

AM: I feel, and that is something I state in the introduction to my research work, that for me the Digital Audio Workstation is like an imaginary performance space. Would you agree with that?

JP: Absolutely. That’s very much what it is for me. So for instance, when I work, curtains are always closed you know. Everything is shut to a dark cave that I work in. And I am performing when I compose in the sense that I will extend the work a certain amount, and then I will press play and I will go to the back of the room and listen very intensely, and very loudly usually, and be moving around a lot, I mean almost, not dancing, but physically moving around with the music, and engaging with it in that way. And I guess that myself and the software were performing the music together at that point, to each other, to see what will happen next. It absolutely feels like that. And you know what it’s like, if you work with something for so long, you become really fluid in the environment, and all your keyboard shortcuts, all of that sort of stuff…

AM: So there is a virtuosity in that?

JP: I would say, for me definitely, I’ve arrived at the… yeah. It’s interesting, because both of my kids, they’re into music in a big way, and part of their journey recently was to get their own copy of Logic, their own laptops and so on, and for me to show them around the software. And I went crazy at how slowly we had to move through the environment. And they didn’t have these keyboard shortcuts that I’ve built up over twenty years now, or fifteen years, where you can navigate so quickly. Even just managing, you end up managing every aspect of it, like how your libraries function, and the whole backing up and the undo process, all of those things. To be able to jump back in time, to something you were thinking about. I mean, twenty minutes in one of these environments is a long time of creative work, you know. And to be able to go back and look at that and just compare it. And now the new Logic has this incredible new feature, incredible for me, which is, it has project alternatives, and it has track alternatives. And I realise I’ve been waiting for that for so long, this idea of forking the creative process where you think, I really wanna try this out but I don’t wanna waste a couple of days if it’s gonna be useless, and then backtracking. So you can just park the work and then go off on this tangent. And you don’t have to create a new file, you don’t get caught up in all of that stuff. And you can just very quickly compare between different alternatives of the work. And not just that, but within the projects now, within an environment of Logic, every track can have multiple alternatives. So you can try different ways of expressing a part within a texture. So that’s the next step in terms of the creative journey. And it just keeps opening up and becoming more flexible.

AM: Do you feel that concepts that you develop musically really rely on the [technological] possibilities? Or, for example the No Man’s Land project, is that something you could have possibly done in a different setting?

JP: I don’t think anything I’ve written since starting working with technology, I would have made. Because the thing is, I was actually thinking about this today, walking around. So I’m reading this incredible book, which is Second Hand Time [by Svetlana Alexievich]. It’s really incredible, and it’s just a long long series of long interviews with people in Russia, before, during and after what happened in the nineties. And it’s really one of the most extraordinary books I’ve ever read. But what I was thinking about was, I’ve read a lot of science fiction, like all of the good stuff, I’ve read it many times, and even some of the really badly written stuff, because of the ideas that are in them. And so I’m always leaping towards things that I don’t know. I want to know things that are beyond my own imagination. And the reason I think I’m responding to this book so strongly is that it’s hyper-real. It’s deeply disturbing me, you know. These are things that I could never have imagined. I would never have thought these things happened in the life, in the world. And that’s the same with writing with the software, because it enables me to go way beyond anything that I could play, for one thing. And especially rhythmically, like the relationships and the things you can do, and you don’t have to physically be able to do those things. And the other thing is, texturally but also structurally, being able to hear large shapes, and decide on whether they work or not, whether they’re strong, or whether they can be moulded in a different way. I could never have imagined the stuff that I’ve written without being able to hear it. I think that’s the core of it: being able to hear it, and make your decisions, make your choices, not just imagining it. There is some music I wrote, when I look back, when I was a student, there are pieces I wrote when I didn’t really know what I was doing, in the sense that I wasn’t really sure what it would sound like. And sometimes I wasn’t sure at all what it would sound like. And then nice surprises, you know. It’s like the unknown, and you hear the music and you go wow, that’s really interesting. But I never felt like I owned it. And that’s the thing, that I really feel like what I create now, it does come out of me, because I can hear it and respond.

AM: So obviously composing and performance hang together. But how about production? When you finish something, is it ready?

JP: There are mutiple levels to that. One is that, as the libraries got better and better, for me the MIDI demo version that I would create became more and more, I suppose, acceptable as a final result.

AM: So you do dynamics, and you do balancing, and you do panning…

JP: Yeah, oh yeah, very detailed. The detail that I’m going to with the MIDI literally takes all the time. It’s creating something that is convincing enough for me to feel the music, to actually feel what the music is doing. And so, lately what has been happening is… And the other thing is that, because handing the music over to players, especially if you write music that’s difficult, it’s such a roll of the dice. And you don’t quite know what you’re going to get - that I realised very early on. I needed to make kind of results for me, so that I could walk around with my headphones on, listening to my  music, in a way that I felt good about it. So I put a lot of effort into that. And until I get a performance… You know how it is, you can write a concerto, and it might have been a commission, but the performance might be two years after you’ve written it. And until then I need to keep living the work, I need to hear it.

AM: And do you feel that, because you produce a piece until it’s almost CD-ready, and you then give it to performers, that it’s very hard for them to get up to that level?

JP: Absolutely, yeah, yeah. It’s interesting, that’s a very important question for me, because I’ve only just started to realise that quite a bit of my interaction with performers has been shaped by exactly what you have just said, which is that it’s never quite good enough. Because I have this kind of perfect, pristine vision. Except that, often what will happen is, performers that can play it, they just totally breathe the life into the whole thing, and it becomes something way way bigger, you know, and much more valuable.

AM: Always?

JP: Not always, no no. I feel very lucky, you know, in that I have… There’s a piece I could show you which… You might even know it. It’s a marimba solo with backing track called One Study One Summary.

AM: Sure, I do.

JP: Yeah, and the thing is that so many people are playing that now, but when it started…

AM: Many of my students in Amsterdam play it…

JP: Oh really? It’s having such an amazing life. But the thing is, when it first was made, the response was: ‘Man, this is too hard, you know. This is crazy, and there are no breaks, you’re just playing all the time, and the concentration…’ And now it has just become almost like a standard, right? So the thing was, when I first wrote that piece, it was written for Pedro Carneiro, and Pedro, you know who he is. Do you know him?

AM: Yes, sure.

JP: I mean, I really admire Pedro, I love his playing. For me he’s a fantastic musician. And the thing is that he got this piece, and he spent ages, because he’s really committed, and there are just a few things that weren’t playable, because I had written impossible corners. And the version that your students are playing has had a lot of things made easier from the original that I wrote, the marimba part. But Pedro didn’t have that luxury. He had to learn my unknown useless marimba ignorance about all of that. The thing that I realise in retrospect is that I was way too unforgiving towards Pedro. Because he was basically, I mean he’s fantastic. And so if there’s something that’s really really awkward for him, it’s really really awkward [laughs]. It’s not like he’s not trying hard enough. It’s just that I don’t know the instrument. And so - this is still answering your question - I think, looking back, and to be honest, I don’t want to think about it too much, I think there’s been quite a bit of me being dissatisfied for the wrong reason. Because I’ve just had it easy, you know. I wrote a saxophone concerto for an Italian, Federico Mondelci. And there’s a bit at the end where it just goes into the stratosphere, five, six ledger lines all the time. And he’s supposed to play really quiet, and really loud, and I was really dissatisfied that I never really heard what I wanted to hear. And that’s kind of it: I’m not hearing what I wanna hear man, but in fact…

AM: So the library can do it.

JP: Yeah yeah yeah. And it’s such a basic mistake, it’s so obvious. You think, well, come on, find out what is impossible. Do that, with an acoustic instrument, go and find out. But I get so excited in the writing that I think, I really want this, I really hope it’s possible. And then I would send it out. And what I learnt, after a very long time, is that the performers I have dealt with have been incredibly conscientious, have been really determined to give me what I want, really, I think too much in that way, rather than saying, ‘Dude, look, come on, we just need to talk about it. Let’s look at what other options there are.’ Very few people ever did that with me, and I think they should have. Because they were too generous, too kind, too scared, I don’t know what it was.

AM: Did you give them the MIDI version, sometimes, or always?

JP: Yeah, always.

AM: So they had a frame of reference. So they loved those versions probably as much as you did…

JP: Yeah, except they would have listened to them thinking at certain moments, they will have been going: ‘Oh my God [laughs], really, is that what I’m going to have to do?’ There would have been that. So there’s been a big long learning process for me. But no matter how much I learned, the one thing that doesn’t change is that when I sit down to write I just get super excited. And I just write what I want to hear. But what I do now, what I never used to do - incredibly, it’s so ungenerous of me in retrospect when I think of it - is, I would never send bits to people and say: ‘Hey man, this is what it sounds like. This is a little chunk on paper. What do you think?’ It was really that I’m going to finish this piece, I don’t want anybody to interfere with it. Because you’re in this amazing universe of your own, with you and the technology, and you don’t want anybody coming into that. Because you have this amazing freedom, and that’s really what I think of. And if I move on from there now, – let’s say that that question has kind of been answered - the next step, because you asked me about production, is that for me, when I think of production, I don’t think of MIDI as production. I think of MIDI as sort of sequencing stuff. But production for me is the introduction of audio elements that are not MIDI into it. And I see that as one of three things: there’s your MIDI content, there’s the audio content  (which is, let’s say you wanted to bring in a field recording), and then there’s your ability to produce, which is, how good are you with reverb plugins, how good are you with compression, how good are you at mixing, all of that stuff. I think of that as production. And that leads me to an example, somebody that I’ve been listening to a lot lately, which is Max Richter. Now when I hear his Sleep project. Do you know that project? So I’ve listened to that whole eight hour thing dozens of times. I really love it, you know. But what I hear is that his production ability allows him to have way fewer notes in his music. Because the way that he contextualises the instruments in terms of reverb and space and underlying pads, things that extend the actual notes that people are playing on the piano, or whatever, it has basically allowed him to be way more minimal in terms of how many notes per bar, the rhythmic density of his music. And when I compare that to what I do, especially the earlier music when the libraries were very poor, I had many more notes in my music, at much higher tempo. Because I was filling all the space with notes. But now that I’ve got somewhat better at production, and I use reverb and I’ve got better samples, and the piano library now will have sympathetic resonance and all other kinds of things, and the way the pedals work is much better, my piano writing has opened up.

AM: But does that mean that when you then give the score to someone, and he plays it in a very dry theater, on a bad piano, with no acoustics, it suffers?

JP: Absolutely it suffers, yeah. So I’m not big like Max Richter. I don’t have control over that stuff, because there’s also that element. But the thing is that is has impacted on how I write, because there’s more space in what I write. And there was something else, just going back a step, which is, I was talking about the MIDI version getting better and better. So for me, for a very long time it was just the MIDI. But as that got better and better, library-wise, and my sequencing got better, I introduced production. So, for instance, I started using reverb. And my MIDI stuff got good enough that… For instance, I wrote a piece for timpani and orchestra. It was a concerto called Planet Damnation. But the thing is, I put so much time in the MIDI version of that, that it now exists as a karaoke piece. Or I’m starting to call it digital concertos, because it’s a bit better than karaoke. That backing track is good enough now for someone to play it live. And there are more and more people playing it as a karaoke version. But the interesting version about it, the point to make, is that I never intended that. The technology kind of made that possible. And it’s of course getting a way bigger life through that than it is through being played with an orchestra. Because getting concertos played is tough.

AM: Plus the orchestra would not be as precise, or you don’t worry about that?

JP: Of course, yeah. And the orchestra is actually not that tolerant of the timpani at the front of the stage either. They’re not really enthusiastic about it. But even the saxophone concerto I wrote for Federico in Italy, I’ve just now released it as a karaoke version where the backing track is all MIDI and the saxophone player can play… And so this sort of digital concerto idea has become something that has led me to a whole new space in terms of composing. So basically the technology has led me, or we have led each other, to a space where pretty much everything I’m writing now is for live performers and backing track, so like One Study One Summary. And because of that it has opened up this whole new world of production for me. And I’m bringing in a whole lot of audio into my music now that’s not performed live, but that’s also not MIDI instruments playing a backing track. It’s other stuff. And my production abilities are getting better. But I always feel quite behind, which is why I’m getting into Pro Tools more, because I want to learn more just about audio and recording and editing and mixing.

AM: Are you self-educated mostly?

JP: Totally. Even in terms of orchestration, like writing acoustic orchestration for orchestras. I did piano and composition, and within the three years of my bachelor degree I essentially realised I’m not going to be a pianist, even though I got the degree. And I realised that what I wanted to do was write music. So I learnt that as an undergraduate, and then I went on and did postgraduate in composition. But those were very different times back then, you know. I did ONE paper of orchestration. And I’ve written a whole lot of concertos. And all of that stuff is really self-taught. And you can tell, you can tell when you look at it. It gets by, and it’s OK, but it’s not wizardry with the orchestra, by any means. It’s kind of functional orchestration that does its job. And that has also been impacted by, if you think about it, the fact that I’ve only ever written for orchestra using a DAW. And I’ve been essentially hostaged to the quality of the samples. And you can hear that through the music that I’ve written for orchestra. It goes from being incredibly busy, everybody playing a lot of notes - because that’s the only way you could make the samples work - to something that becomes more spacious, a bit more solidly conceptual. But if you look at my orchestral writing, there are almost, I think probably zero examples of extended technique. Because that just didn’t exist in DAWs. And so there’s none of that in there. There’s no space time notation.

AM: So actually, when you go into notation, you don’t add things that are not in the produced version?

JP: It’s all completely aligned, right.

AM: But you may have written sul tasto or sul pont., even though the library didn’t have that at the time?

JP: Even though these days you do, but back then, yes, I would do that. I would probably try and achieve sul pont. with an EQ, or something like that.

AM: And you would write a Bartok pizz., or you wouldn’t?

JP: I would, I would, that stuff I would know. I might add a little percussion sound with the pizz., just so that I kind of feel what it is. These days of course it’s all there. But yeah, there’s a severe limitation in terms of my development, because of the software, no extended technique, no space time or free time notation, because I just couldn’t figure out how to do it with the software, in a way that I could control it and turn it into a score. There’s no chance…

AM: Did you ever play completely freely in a regular meter, regular tempo, and then just export that? Because that, of course, if you leave all tuplets open, gives you very interesting notation…

JP: Yeah, that’s right. So I did once a piano duo called Motet, in which I improvised at a MIDI keyboard, and recorded it, and then I brought it roughly into notation. But I used those beams, like you’ve got semiquaver beams that get thinner and they join, accelerating and descelerating. That’s as far as I ever went into that world. So you know, it’s a really interesting dimension; limitation, if you think about it in that way.

AM: And so you notate in Sibelius, or…?

JP: No, hand, still by hand.

AM: Everything by hand?

JP: Yeah, I just finished a new piece for snare drum and backing track [shows the score].

AM: And so you send it…

JP: to someone to typeset. And this is my score. I did it on one of these big excercise books. So that’s me just writing it out. It’s all fairly straightforward.

AM: You always do it that way?

JP: Always by hand, and by pencil, yeah. I’ve never done it any other way. And I’ll tell you, in terms of a career, because I was very lucky and started…

AM: So you see it in Logic…

JP: in piano roll. I never work with notation when I’m composing. It’s all looking at it, how it looks. And it’s interesting, even that development over time, now that I think about it. It used to be: I would write like ten bars, twenty bars, sixty bars, and know that it was OK. And then I would write it out. And then I would go back to composing the next… however, and then I would write it out. And so the score would just be slightly behind the software, the Logic. But now what I’m doing is, I forget completely about the score and I just write the whole piece. Just purely by sound, what I want to hear. But also keep in mind that at my age and with what I’ve done, there’s a lot I understand in my head about what’s going on in the music itself. I don’t need to see it to understand what’s going on. And now I write the whole thing out at the end, and then send it off.

But what I was going to say, just in terms of a career, intuitively, when I was younger - because I got commissions straight away, even at university, and it’s been continuous since I was there - I just figured out very young that it’s better to spend even up to half of the commission on somebody else doing the score, and get another commission. So what you’re doing is composing fulltime. You’re not actually doing composing, then typesetting, composing, then typesetting. I didn’t do that from the very beginning, but maybe after five or six years. Because back then you had to write your scores by hand with pen. And I did orchestral scores. Anyway, it was just terrible, a terrible sort of time. But the one thing I like about writing it out by hand in pencil now, still, the reason why I won’t ever stop doing it, is, it makes you consider everything all over again. Because when you work with software, even though I don’t copy and paste (I never do it; performers really complain: ‘Don’t you repeat anything?’) I work incredibly quickly. And writing it out by hand is a way of checking everything. And you look at it and you go: ‘Oh that’s really really hard. Just those four notes, it’s crazy. Change it, now is the opportunity.’ And it’s a fine toothcomb checking as well.

AM: And does the person who notates your music also work with your audio, double-checking, or just from the hand-written score?

JP: I think they want a degree of separation. They just send me the notes. And I’ve also got this other thing, which is, I’ll send them the score, just notes, nothing else, no dynamics, nothing at all. They do all of that, I proof it, because proofing is a big deal for me, and I’ll proof it all, and then send it back all marked-up in red, if they’ve made mistakes or whatever. And then I send it back and I know that the notes are OK. Then I add dynamics, pedaling, phrasing, all of that.

AM: You do that?

JP: Yeah, I do all that. And when I do that, I go right back to the software, track by track or part by part. I will listen to it, and that’s when I’ll go, is that a forte or a fortissimo? Not how loud it is decibel-wise, but what does it feel like? With what intensity is the person going to be playing that?

AM: So the notation phase is actually still a composition phase?

JP: Absolutely it is, in the sense that that’s the stage when I think about, OK, this is a performance that I’m creating, with the score. Not creating but generating. And so, to guide… Dynamics for me have always been a huge dilemma. And that’s software related, which is, are you going to say, rule of thumb you know, -10 [dB] is a forte, 0 [dB] is a fortissimo? You know, you can’t make those kinds of rules. And so I’ll go through and listen to the parts and just think, I think this is a fortissimo. And it might be later on that the context is different, and you’re getting the same meter level, and actually I think this is just a mezzoforte here, given the intensity of the music and what’s going on.

AM: So it is in a way a translation, the notation?

JP: Definitely, that’s a good word for it. And then I’ll do the other thing, where I put everything together and listen to it all together and think, what is the overall dynamic intensity here? And then I’ll try, I’ll see if that reconciles with my understanding of the individual parts. But I often, often really fuck it up, you know. And especially within multi-layer things where there’s lots of people playing. I’ll get too involved in that, and I should be a bit more general. And I’ll just… You know there will be, this one is mf, this one is mp, this person is forte. And then at the end you think, how do the performers figure out what I want with all of that? So that translation from the mix that you get in your DAW to dynamics in the score is still a real problem for me. I haven’t really figured out how to get that right.

AM: And eventually, when you loosen yourself a bit from the piece, do you then, listening back a few years later to the best performance and your original MIDI [version], do you prefer your own MIDI [version] or the best performance?  

JP: It varies of course. I’ll give you a really great example. One of the very early pieces I wrote using the technology was a string quartet called Abhisheka, which had quarter tones and slides and things like that. And I spent ages sequencing that, getting it all how I wanted it. I gave it to the New Zealand String Quartet, they played it, and they played it a lot. They took it all around and they played it for ten, fifteen years. And I went to a festival performance where they played it, and I hadn’t heard them play it for a really long time. And I had this incredible experience of having things revealed to me about the work that I didn’t know. Because they were much more in the piece than I ever was, because of their journey with it. And that’s where the live performance not only is sort of better than the MIDI, but it transcends, you know, what I had understood the work to be. And the work has grown into something else. So that’s very special. But then I’ve had experiences where people had played, say, a piece for piano and backing track, or the one I’ve just done, which is for six pianos and backing track. And you’ll hear it played in a concert situation, and you know how concerts are. They have their own energy about them, and they have their own forgiveness about them too, about what can happen. And I’ll be at this concert, and everybody afterwards is just going: ‘Oh my God, this was so incredible’, and I’m going: ‘Oh, it was really incredible.’ And then I listen back to the recording of it – there was so much wrong. But you just… It doesn’t matter. But then if you take it away from the performance, and you compare it with the MIDI, you think, the MIDI is way better. But you would never play the MIDI in a concert, because that’s not the same experience for the audience.

AM: Are you a control freak?

JP: Yeah, well, performers would say that I definitely am a control freak. But then I’m learning to be more generous, and to also have a broader perspective about things, which is to think that… You know, I have to always appreciate that I’ve been so lucky, so many performances and so many things happening, that I’ve had to train myself to be in a situation to think: this isn’t everything. This is a performance of a piece, and this person is just trying their hardest. All I need to do is appreciate that this person is trying so hard. That’s what I need to appreciate. Because you know, life is short. And energy needs to be positive, as much as possible. And so I’ve often found myself quite consoling and counseling performers, and say: ‘Look, don’t worry, it’s OK, just relax, it doesn’t really...’ Whereas it used to be like: ‘Hm, wow, really, you can’t…’ You know, I was more like that. And I guess it comes with age, and more knowledge about life, and value, and all of that. I’ve just come to the point where I appreciate far more the fact that somebody gives a shit, and they’re trying really hard, and they really love the music. That sort of matters much more.

AM: But do you feel - that has to do with the question whether you’re a control freak – that your music has a big margin [in the relationship between a precise and a musically successful performance]?

JP: I would say it’s more in the zero margin. Because this thing that I’m doing with the backing tracks… Somebody said it to me really well, which is two things. They compared me to [New Zealand composer] Gareth Farr, and they said: ‘The thing about Gareth is that he writes music that sounds really hard but that is not too hard to play. The thing about your music is, it looks really hard and it is really hard.’ And so the thing in that context is, from an audience point of view, you tend to know when somebody makes a mistake, because you can kind of… There’s something about the message you’re getting from the performance. And then the second thing; somebody said to me: ‘Look, the thing about your music is, you can’t bullshit. It’s just really obvious when you’ve made a mistake.’ And that’s a whole way of having to learn and play with that kind of music, where you can’t hide anything.

AM: It’s transparent.

JP: Yeah. It’s always like you are set up to be exposed if you do something wrong. And I feel bad about that. I wish I knew other ways of doing what I want to do, because for me, I always have to hear what I wanna hear.

AM: Does this transparency have to do with the DAW?

JP: I think it’s because, especially with the karaoke pieces now, of which there are more and more, you can’t hide, there’s so much precision and alignment. And also in ensemble pieces, the piano and percussion pieces that I’ve written, all the concertos, the interaction is so tight and so precise, in order for the music to work, everybody has got to be locked into this thing. And there’s no repetition, and no one is doing the same thing as anybody else. So when it goes sideways, and because I write modal music, tonally it’s really obvious what the world is. If you step outside of it, it’s obviously an error. You know, there’s this thing about contemporary music, which is that, if you have a premiere of a new piece, audience doesn’t know if it’s going well or not. They can’t tell if they don’t know the piece. But with my music it’s often more obvious than with other kinds of music. Sorry, I am rambling on…

AM: No no, also your talking is very transparent [JP laughs]. So in No Man’s Land, and also in Between Zero And One, you invite other people to offer you material. Has that been a big step?

JP: Really big, really big. The No Man’s Land project is the culmination of all of that, in which, in order to… It would be interesting to talk about the use of the DAW for that project alone. But that entire project encompassed every kind of approach to making music. So that there’s an amazing Sufi ney player from Istanbul in that, [Muhammet] Sadrettin [Özçimi], and he didn’t wanna know anything. He just wanted to… I mean, he didn’t even ask what the key was. He just heard a few seconds of the music, he knew straight away and he just said, roll, film and recorder, I’m ready. He just played and it was extraordinary. So that was like almost zero dialogue with the musician, apart from being in the same room at the same time. And then I had in the project a shakuhachi player, different kinds of singers, where we would talk about the feeling, what are we heading for, talk about the key, and I would say things like: ‘It would be really great if you could make this kind of shape. Maybe hit a kind of peak really close to the end. Or don’t have a peak, just keep stable all the way through.’ You know, just talking about energies and things like that. And answering questions. Percussionists were really interesting, because they came from a whole lot of traditions. And I sent them stuff like guide tracks. I mean, everybody got guide tracks. But I sent them stuff that had me mocking up loops and things like that. And I said, basically this kind of groove. And when I turned up they would go: ‘Yeah yeah yeah, that’s great, but look, I was thinking, let’s do this.’ [laughs] And the thing is, every single one of their suggestions was way better. Because they know what they’re doing. So part of the process, or being the person in that project, is being able to accommodate those sorts of things. But also, when someone says like: ‘The tabla thing, I want to turn it around. You’ve got it on the end of two; I’m thinking the end of three is better, and maybe doing this on the one.’ You have to be able to do a really quick computation in your own head and think, what does that mean for all the other parts at that point, and do they line up, and is that going to work for overall groove? So there’s that. And they were given very rudimentary notation, and there would be the odd one who would say…

AM: So you sometimes gave them notation?

JP: Yeah, yeah, very basic stuff, like eight bars of this kind of thing, sixteen bars of that. And then there were… I had an orchestra there and a choir, and they were playing off completely notated things. So it was the whole continuum of dealing with lots of different kinds of improvisation, and levels of freedom, and of control. And then going to the completely controled, which is the western classical thing. And you’ve got Sadrettin at the other end, who just doesn’t want to even have a conversation. He just wants to play; it’s all about the music, and the more we talk about it, the less magic or devine it’s going to be for him. So he doesn’t want anything taken away. And the thing is, for No Man’s Land I had to create a mockup for the entire work, so that we had timecode going from beginning to end, that we were going to film and edit to. And so the music came first, had to have everything in place, right down to the frame, every frame. And I had to mock up… So I had a fake shakuhachi solo on there, I had a fake ney solo on there, fake as I’d grab it from an audio recording, put it in the right key, and put it on top of what was going on, so that we had an idea of what it would feel like. And that’s getting much more to the audio thing. Not sequencing a ney solo, I wouldn’t, I didn’t do that. And then the vocal things were basically… For example Meeta [Pandit], I would send her the backing track and some description of it. And then we would Skype, and she would sing to me over Skype while playing the backing track off the phone, and I would listen to that, be recording it as well. And then I would say: ‘Hey look, can you just sing that and record it on your phone, and send that to me?’ And then I would put that into the mockup. I would have a mockup of her in the actual thing. So that’s using the DAW as a kind of net to capture a whole bunch of things as well.

AM: Were you a band leader, perhaps partly?

JP: Well, because I just mostly worked with people one on one during the process, the most I ever had together was like three or four musicians. And then we had orchestra. They have their own leaders, you know. And so it was not really a band leader in that we never really had a band together at any point. That only happened in the live show, when we had this group of seven live musicians.

AM: One more question. How does it [No Mans’ Land] relate to Between Zero And One? How did one lead to…

JP: Yeah yeah. So Between Zero And One was this percussion sextet playing to a backing track. It was the first ensemble version, really, of this idea. But within that, there’s a piece called Between Zero And One that has these videos of people. And that was something I had wanted to do for ages. And we had to do it with no budget, so I basically just wrote to friends and said: ‘Well, is there any chance you could…?’ I set up a camera, I set up the microphone, and I said: ‘Don’t worry about the quality of the camera, because we’re going to have lots of different kinds. But get a good mike, so that we’ve got good audio.’ And we managed to do that. We assembled it so that people came and went on the screen. And they played with [New Zealand percussion ensemble] STRIKE on stage. And it was a very special thing, you know. It really struck me that the audience, all they talked about afterwards was that one part. They said: ‘Oh, there’s just this feeling of… I know you were trying to manipulate me and make me feel that way. But I couldn’t help it, because it was just really special.’ It’s like the world coming into the space, you know.

AM: And what kind of control did you have of the situation?

JP: Well, that was a very intense one on one with everybody. So for instance the bass player in New York, Matt Penman, I sent him everything. I had MIDI’d up a bass guide with all the notes and things, like the groove and all that. And he just took that into the single take of him playing. He got it, he nailed it. Someone like Serj Tankian, who was playing the piano in that, I had to ask him: ‘Oh, do you read music?’ And he goes: ‘I read audio dude.’ (both laugh) So what I did with him was, I had a camera over my piano, and one by one I played the chords on the keyboard, so that he could see exactly what they looked like on the piano. And them I sent him a guide of a MIDI performance of the piano part. And from that he was able to get his hands on the chords, because that’s really easy to figure out from there. And then he was listening to the guide, and he got the groove and the feel of it. It was a really great solution actually, thinking back on that. And then, when I worked with the singer - there are two singers - Leila at the beginning, I sent her the guide and said: ‘Roughly this idea.’ And she sent me back about five takes, and she said: ‘Use whichever one you want.’ There are quite a few of them that did that. They sent multiple takes back and said: ‘You pick the one that you want.’

AM: That was actually also a question for No Man’s Land: if you fiddled around a lot with the material that you got from the various people. Did you take it almost like field recordings?

JP: Well, the thing about No Man’s Land that was kind of unique for us was that we had to marry the video to the audio. So in general we had to use complete takes. That meant that, doing a film and a recording, it had that extra challenge of, we’ve got to make sure we get a complete take that we can use. And sometimes we would… If we did ever edit - because there are a few places where we did - we would cut away to archive image or some other footage and then come back. We managed to cheat it a few times. And there were some things like… There were a couple of musicians that turned up that actually couldn’t play in time. And we ended up doing a huge amount of editing, of tidying them all up. But thankfully for the instruments that they were playing you just couldn’t tell. It just looked totally fine, you know. And there was one other… No, in general that was it. The thing about No Man’s Land that is extraordinary is that, apart from two cheats, everything is recorded on the set. It’s just incredible that that worked in the way that it did as an audio thing.

AM: Do you think that from a DAW perspective, No Man’s Land is the most special thing? Or is it just a chain of different approaches?

JP: No, the thing about No Man’s Land is that the DAW really served a purpose, which is, it was much more functional. I used it in some ways as not particularly creative software. I was creating a soundtrack for film. That’s what I was doing. Whereas with this piece [Demonic Thesis], which I’m going to show you a bit of, the new piece which I’ve done for six pianos and audio, the DAW to me really came to its own in this process. I was doing this where… This piece is a very big narrative. It’s 40 minutes and it’s… a lot of things. But it got to the point where I was thinking, I need the sound of a crowd of a thousand angry people. And I would actually commission somebody else just to create that for me. And so that would actually go into their DAW, and they would go in YouTube and find all these recordings of people screaming and shouting, and create these textures for me and send them to me. And I would bring them into my stereo audio file. But they would also send me the Logic file that they had made it in, so I could go in if I wanted to, to remix and redo stuff. And there were things like - some things I didn’t end up putting in the piece – where I wanted the sound of the music gradually being submerged under water. And they would go away and do this, and create these various ways of imagining and hearing that. And so the DAW grew into multiple DAWs, and multiple users, and multiple creative entities, that were feeding into this sort of home base, where I was doing the composing. And I would do things where I would say, ‘I really quickly need to build up a really chaotic cacophony of forest, gradually introducing layers of sounds, so that it becomes incredibly overwhelming. It’s supposed to depict the world without us, you know, nature reasserting itself and so on.’ And so I would get that, and it would be like fifty layers of animals, but also all of the automation, and the EQ, all of these things that someone else had done. I would pull that into my system, and then I would have the control over it, and I would change it how I want it and shape it myself. And so it’s really interesting, that idea of it slowly becoming a network of DAWs now.

AM: Actually, the way a film director puts people in action?

JP: Yeah, exactly. And then I would go into a studio and record a singer for it, that I wanted to, and then I would bring her recording into my session. But then I would play with it. So I would start cutting it up, and then I would use it in a different part of the same movement, and reverse it, and make it very ghostly and ethereal so it sounds like it’s coming from the past… You know, all of these other things that I would do with the sounds, which is getting much more into production at that point.

AM: And was this triggered by the work on No Man’s Land, where you worked with a bigger team?

JP: Not really. This was a really new way for me. I mean, No Man’s Land was really me composing. But this is more… It’s almost like meta-composing at times, where you’re curating almost.

So I will show you a couple of things here. Firstly I will give you an example of. So this is the piece that I’ve written for this Piano Circus, they call them. [plays music]

AM: Was this piece planned, from beginning to end? Because at some point you said that you compose just chronologically almost.

JP: This one was with a narrative. But the thing is, I had a narrative and didn’t know at all what it would sound like.

AM: So that’s a new thing actually?

JP: Definitely that level of planning. I will just show you quickly on my… to give you an idea of the planning. Here we go. The piece is called Voices Of The End. So I knew it was going to be 40 minutes, because that was the commission. And then this is all content that has inspired it. So it is transcribed from the movie Planetary here. Have you seen that film?

AM: No, I have not.

JP: Really worth seeing, yeah. And these were the sections. So a prologue and an epilogue, with three things in the middle. And these are the three sort of ideas: that we keep going as we are, or we could talk about how it’s all falling apart, or we could talk about how it’s going to turn around. It’s just the three different stories that we might tell about ourselves. And then this is breaking them down into sections.

AM: And is this something you always do in your work?

JP: No, but this was very complex, because the thing that is entering into my work now is, I don’t feel I can just keep writing abstract music that has to do with notes and sound. It needs to have more to it than that, you know. Because I guess I’m wanting there to be more meaning in what I’m doing, and not just this kind of exploration of sound, but more than that. And it’s kind of in some ways going against the university idea of, music is pure research. Where does the music take you? For me it’s really about, what sort of contribution is it making? What is it bringing into the world that has some point, some value, some relevance, and some meaning? And because I’m Greek I’m addicted to tragedy and misery, it’s sort of very end-of-the-world-ish, this kind of thing. Because for me it’s impossible to look around and not be overwhelmed by that side of things. But in the work itself there is the pursuit of finding hope, you know, a way of looking at things in a more positive light. But honestly, I’m actually really feeling that, like No Man’s Land, in some ways the whole point of that project was to see, is it possible to get to a place where you can create a commemorative work about the First World War that has something positive in it. Because for me it’s utterly tragic, and it’s retarded behaviour. And commemorating it is often really stupid, the way that it’s done. And so the thing that I found within No Man’s Land was this idea that at least a hundred years later, in Polygon Wood in Belgium, Scottish people are not murdering German people. At least that is not happening, you know? And at least the border between France and Germany where millions of people died fighting over that line on the map… you drive over it now and you don’t know that you’ve done it! Because it’s open now. Those are positive things. So it’s finding something like that. In this piece, the voices at the end, the positive for me is really just at least an expression of hope, which is that we have this massive evolutionary pressure behind us, of surviving. You know, that’s been the driver for us, survival. How we do it, I don’t know, but there is some comfort to be taken in the fact that even at an evolutionary level, a genetic level, we are programmed to survive. So there’s something there…

AM: Do you feel that the DAW possibly distracts users from dealing with content, or with deeper meaning?

JP: Absolutely, because it’s this incredible playground. It’s like a PS4, when you’re playing a game. It’s like: ‘This is addictive, I’m loving this, and it takes me to the next thing, and I can add this, I can play with this new plugin, I can buy a new library. This is so much fun.’ It is so much fun. And I think it absolutely can distract. It did that to me for years. I think that working with MIDI, sampled instruments playing notes, is in some ways the most removed you can be, because none of it is real. And it’s a playground, it can be a playground. And my journey has been about, and I think part of it is, like I say and I keep saying it, that I’ve been happy in that so much has happened for me, that I’ve kind of gotten over this incredulity that my music is being played and that it exists. And I think that’s awesome, that’s great, that’s kind of there. What else? I mean, what’s really important now? And that’s why I think I’ve moved into this. Unfortunately it has become uber-serious, everything, it has become, well, part of me… My family said: ‘Man, do you know how to have fun dad’? [laughs, then shows and plays bits from No Man’s Land, including several field recordings]

AM: So now that you go deeper into content, you actually use more field recordings?

JP: That’s the great thing about the DAW, that there’s a kind of limitlessness about it now. It has gone from being limiting in the sense that it’s MIDI notes, and the sounds are not very good, and I write too many notes because there’s no body to the sounds. It’s gone from that to, I can bring everything into this, literally everything. So one of the movements of this ends with the recordings made by the Voyager probe of space. I don’t know if you’ve heard those? They are magnetic recordings that have been put through a speaker and they create sound. And they are all perfectly tonal, they are these tonal fields. It’s incredible. That is the recordings I’ve made, but also the broadcasting of our message, the UN ambassador saying: ‘Greetings from planet earth.’ That’s our voice going into space. That’s in there, in one of the movements. And we played that at this preview, a month or so ago, and people were saying, they couldn’t describe how they felt, to hear our black box recording going into space, you know, our voice going into the cosmos. All of that stuff coming into a work, which is beyond the notes that people are playing. And there are so many layers of reference within in. But it is contained. And it is curating multiple layers of meaning, to try and generate a vision, an overall vision.

AM: But in the earlier years, when you were on your own in your DAW, how was that if you talk about emotion? You were extremely into it you told; was that…

JP: Well, I had nothing to do with anything other than the music itself. It was entirely about the music. For me it was about the trajectory, how is it unfolding, what is it becoming, and isn’t it amazing? There’s a lot of that going on. But that was all about music, the pitches, and the rhythms, and the textures, and the shapes, dynamics. And something growing from nothing. It was really about that. And I think what has happened here is that there is a different kind of purpose now. I was satisfied I think because I could work with a DAW to do it. I was satisfied with going in parallel with the unfolding of the work, and feeding into it and it feeding into me. This bio-feedback loop going all the way through until the end of the work. I was satisfied with that. And if you listen to a lot of my music you will hear me in it, going: ‘Wow, wow!’ all the time, you know. And that’s literally what was happening. I think that working with the software has enabled me to put that feeling into the music, so that when somebody else hears it, they feel it as well. Now I’m sort of going beyond that, and I think, well, I’ve done that and it has been great. But now I want to do something beyond me, about a reality that is shared by more people.

[more listening to field recording and excerpts from the work for six pianos and backing track]

JP: The technology thing has been my secret door into the world of music making. It has been my free pass. Because I have never had to front up and perform.

AM: It’s your instrument, in a way.

JP: That’s right, it’s my instrument. But I can’t really play it with anyone else…

AM: Are there general observations about people using DAWs, general things that you notice?

JP: What’s interesting for me is to observe my students using them. Because in some ways they have way more ability and facility with the software. And they will come up with something that’s like a song, a rock song or a pop song. And what they do with the drums sequencing and the guitar sounds, it’s so incredible what they can do, and they are so fast. But there’s something about having that facility that I think is limiting, because… It is like you can get to a result, you go, I need a really great seventies drum sound, I need the style and everything. And they will get to that and they will do it, but they have not done that thing where… Well, this is an amazing sort of interface. It has just got drums, you can tap them and they play, you can change the actual drums, and just go on this weird non-directional journey, with exploration of the software. And I think that the software has become amazingly good at getting you to a destination, a pre-conceived destination. And I see this like, we have developed a film scoring programme where I teach. So everybody has got Logic and sample libraries, and they are all doing it in a box, composing for full orchestra and everything. And they will go for the sample library that gives them the Hollywood string sound straight away. So everything has been recorded, compressed, mixed, and you can just quickly create textures, and they sound great. And there is no exploration there. It’s just straight to the destination. For instance, in the new stuff you have a fader for the degree of inaccuracy within sections. They will do that, but they don’t… Well, if I would have had that, I would just play with the inaccuracy settings all day [laughs] and see what happens! Because it’s going to give you something really amazing that you can’t imagine. You can’t immediately imagine where it might take you.

AM: So you go to the edges of the possibilities…

JP: Yeah!

AM: Do you feel that Logic, as it is now, directs your actions?

JP: I think so. I think I’ve got some good strategies for getting around things. You know, the way you set up a session, the way you slowly build things… The one thing about Logic that has changed a lot is that… You know, this laptop cost me a fortune. It’s got a 2 TB Solid State Drive in it. Almost 90% of it is my libraries, so everything is here. And it can do anything. It never really crashes or struggles with anything. That’s a big shift. I think prior to that I was directed quite a bit by what it could not do. And I would think: ‘Well, I can’t add another track. It’s not going to work if I add another track.’ Or: ‘I can’t add reverb, because it just can’t cope.’ Whereas now, I have stopped worrying about that. I would say that’s one thing. The one thing I wish it could do, that I don’t think any software does – or maybe it does – is multiple clock speeds. The fact that anything is on that one clock. If you wanted to have different parts… Even [Conlon] Nancarrow, the player piano stuff, I show my students that stuff. I look at some of it and I ask my students: ‘How would you sequence this?’ And they look at those multiple tempos, and they look at the tempos accelerating within themselves, and they just go: ‘How do you do this?’ I find it fantastic for Nancarrow to have got to a place that we still can’t easily replicate. That’s kind of amazing. So there’s that. But the thing for me is that I always think of myself as actually quite an amateur with all of this stuff. Because whenever I go to a recording studio, and there’s somebody there setting up all of the stuff, the plugins, and the great sounds, compression and all that, I think: ‘Man, there’s so much I don’t know.’ And so I tend to feel like I’m an amateur. So because of that I feel freer! I don’t feel like I have to achieve a kind of professional quality in terms of production, I feel a bit freer from that. And it’s just so vast, the Logic environment, it is really so vast, that I just feel like I’m going to be exploring it for the rest of my life. I’m not going to… I don’t think it’s ever going to run out for me. This is a good closing…

AM: There was one thing you forgot you wanted to say?

JP: That’s what it was – it was to do with the virtual performer, the karaoke music, which is essentialy giving somebody a virtual partner on stage. You mentioned it before, there is security in there, because it will always be the same, it will always be perfect. And the other thing is, it allows you the sort of confidence when composing. You know that these elements are all going to be there, and they are going to work. So you are freer to create the live part. But then also for me, my approach to working with the karaoke thing is that I’ve always understood that the performer, the person playing live, has to be the storyteller. They have to be the primary narrative element in the work. Otherwise, why do they need to be there, you know? There has to be a very strong reason for them to be there. And so that’s just part of my approach, my philosophy, which is: I just put the performer in the foreground of the storytelling all the time.

AM: That relates very nicely to my very last question, which is, of course a DAW also allows for live electronics. Live electronics can create another storyteller on stage…

JP: I’ve never been near that. And part of it is… It’s a control thing, which is that I’ve never felt confident enough about giving that up. And also, if you’re going to have pre-recorded stuff, live performance and live electronics, there’s an even bigger question of, why do you need the electronics to be live? If there are electronics, why can you not pre-programme those things? So that thing about why is really important: why is that person there, why is that person not there? I’ve seen laptop artists at more poppy gigs, like there was one in New Zealand. Talvin Singh, a tabla player, came, and he had a laptop dude with him. And he would press enter, probably, and this huge thing would happen in the system. And then he would basically just do this bouncing his hands with the music. I was watching – the visual energy does not match the audio energy that I’m getting. There’s a real disconnect between these things. And I have always believed they have to match. Otherwise the audience is having a confusing or limited experience. They are not really able to engage with the musical narrative. And you get that a lot with anything that is amplified. It’s a risk, and I think you have to really manage it. That is why for instance the performers are really working hard in my pieces, because they have to sell the work, not the electronics…

AM: I think that’s a great final statement.

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