Vanishing Points


Clavichord, live electronics, smartphones (distributed audio) | approx. 8'

Photo of an iPhone with Vanishing Points title

Vanishing Points was first performed by Nicholas Brown (clavichord) at the Orpheus Institute, Ghent as part of the inaugural Open Circuit event of live sound art in September 2017. The work was subsequently performed at Sonorities Festival, Belfast in April 2018.

Nicholas Brown · Vanishing Points (2017) for clavichord, distributed audio & live electronics

Programme note

In 1781, C.P.E. Bach sold his Silbermann clavichord to Dietrich Ewald von Grotthuss. To mark the sale, Bach wrote a ‘farewell’ rondo, Abschied von meinem Silbermannischen Claviere. Bach’s rondo makes extensive use of bebung, an expressive feature of the clavichord that allows the player to vary the pitch of a note by varying the pressure of a finger on a key. Bebung can therefore be seen as a curative method of prolongation––a way of modulating the bloom and decay of a tone.

Vanishing Points (2017) was based on an analysis of Bach’s Abschied, with particular reference to the notes accorded a bebung marking in Bach’s score. Electronic sounds are distributed live through the mobile devices of audience members, using the web audio technology developed at IRCAM (CoSiMa Nü Soundworks). This transition from the domain of fixed loudspeakers to mobile devices makes another kind of bebung, which is marked by a change in frequency response and accordingly, by the modulation of electronic sound as it is distributed to individual listening spaces.

Score Excerpt

Score excerpt from Vanishing Points by Nicholas Brown

Technical Requirements

This piece uses web audio technology (IRCAM/CoSiMa software, Nü Soundworks) to distribute and spatialize audio sounds via the mobile phones of the audience. Audience members access a jpgage with their mobile devices.

Screenshot of the Max patch for Vanishing Points by Nicholas Brown

  • · Five octave, unfretted clavichord
  • · MIDI pedal
  • · Pickup or small-diaphragm condenser microphone(e.g. AKG C411PP or P170)
  • · Max 8 software with Bach package & Nü soundworks installed
  • · Quadraphonic audio with subwoofer
  • · WiFi connection
  • · Mobile devices (audience)