Stutter Edit

for open-hole bass flute and computer

Composed: 2015
Duration: 9'30"

Program Notes

Commissioned and premiered by Shanna Gutierrez, with support from NewMusicUSA.

Stutter edits have become a very common audio production technique in the last 10 years or so, and enable the audio producer to effectively recompose or comment upon the rhythmic structure of a work, generally by stepping outside that structure and deliberately creating conflict with it. This piece is based very strongly in groove—stutter edits work best when they have an easily recognizable structure to work against—but it is a complex, shifting sort of groove: momentarily danceable, but designed to catch listeners out over the medium term. Stuttering occurs in all aspects of the work: the live flute part, the live computer processing, the pre-recorded media, and even the formal structure. The computer part of the work makes heavy use of granular and spectral techniques to provide real-time stuttering and stretching of the live flute performance, but also incorporates some pre-recorded, fixed material. The grooves are generated mostly from a set of samples flutist Shanna Gutierrez recorded for me, of key clicks, tongue rams, lip pizzicatos, and other extended techniques on the flute, as well as from ancillary sounds she made while recording the samples, like breathing. The tempo accelerates regularly over the entire duration of the piece, and the flute part gets wilder and wilder, culminating in a blistering-fast, stutter-heavy rave of extended techniques.

Score and Recording

Click the PDF icon below for a viewable score in PDF format. For a printable score and other performance materials, including the necessary software, please contact me.

Link to PDF of score


Performance and Technical Notes

  1. The computer part of this work is programmed in Max (v. 7 or later). It is readily available from the composer and runs with the free version of Max. The software comes with detailed instructions for setup and operation. Feel free to contact the composer for help with the software or with any other questions about the piece.
  2. This piece requires the performer to trigger the computer a number of times throughout its duration. The use of a footpedal is recommended. If a footpedal is not available, a second operator can trigger the computer. The computer defaults to expecting an HID footpedal, but several other options are available. Please contact the composer with any questions about how to connect and operate the footpedal. Please see the chart below for an overview of graphic symbols used in the score, including the symbol for the footpedal.
  3. This work makes extensive use of real-time computer processing of the bass flute performance. The use of two high-quality microphones – preferably condenser mics, and ideally lavaliere types, affixed to the flute – is thus imperative. To the extent possible, the first mic should be positioned near the headjoint, with the second positioned in the middle of the keys. The mic signals must be routed into MaxMSP as described in the software.
  4. This piece is heavily influenced by popular music, especially EDM. In the hall, it should be quite loud, as at a dance club – nearly but not quite deafening. The software provides mixing controls over all the various elements of the work (live flute, live processing, drum grooves, etc.). The mix between the flute and the computer should be equal, with the flute clearly audible but not mixed in front of the computer. Please note as well: drawing on EDM, the work features extended low-frequency content. The use of a high-quality sound reinforcement system, preferably with one or more subwoofers, is recommended. The work is available in 2-, 4-, and 8-channel versions, and is easily extensible to more channels.
  5. In all sections without obvious groove, the performer should take the indicated tempo as a suggestion for the average tempo. He or she should play with a reasonable amount of rubato and also take brief pauses as desired, for breath or to achieve interpretative goals. In these sections, the computer follows the performer, triggered by the footpedal. In the rest of the piece, the tempo is strict. However, within that strict tempo, the performer should play with a certain amount of flexibility, to match the feel of the drum grooves as they change over time.
  6. This piece calls for several extended techniques in the bass flute part, including a number of multiphonics. The multiphonics make use of the possibilities inherent in the Kingma-system bass flute, and are not performable as written on a standard bass flute. All of the required techniques are standard for the contemporary flutist, and are described in detail on Carla Rees' site dedicated to the Kingma System Bass Flute.