Conducted improvisation by robot on batá drums and synthesizers by Efraín Rozas, at Center for Performance research, part of the "Bodies as Technology" event organized by Squaring the Circle and NYU Waverly Labs. New York 12/10/17
Do robots have an ethnicity? What is the place of non-Western cosmologies and bodies in new music and experimentalism? In who’s image are new music technologies being designed? Most music devices available are based on Western notation’s notions of time: they have a single grid in which time flows from left to right, and there is a single metronome that acts as a conductor. The brain of the robot playing on this piece is a max/msp patch with 6 metronomes and several grids in constant displacement, which control synthesizers and the motors that play on the batás. The robot improvises in real time over an open composition, generating polyrhythmic textures.
The batá drums come from the Santeria tradition. Santería concepts of rhythm and dance are a big influence in my background as a Peruvian musician. The choice of batá drums is also an intentional reference to the neuro-spiritual technologies of trance religions where rhythm and social dance produce knowledge. Do these epistemologies have a place in the development of new technologies and new music? I use both electronic and Santeria music technologies as resources to explore a personal grammar and prosthetic design, as a way of gaining agency in my relationship with technology.