In Shadows, the pianist reads an open-form score from a laptop screen, choosing his own path through a series of connected musical fragments. At the same time, the laptop listens to the pianist, tracks the decisions he makes about what to play, and constantly updates the score in response. This dialogue between pianist and computer, actuated through a dynamic score, serves to amplify the expressive decisions made by the pianist, to subtly push him in new musical directions, and to create large-scale structural arcs in the music.
Shadows consists of four movements, each of which explores the pianist-computer-score interaction from a different perspective:
I. Traces. The score consists of 12 chords followed by their echoes. The speed at which the pianist moves from chord to chord affects how much of the score is displayed and how much is hidden.
II. Chorale. The pianist plays from a selection of five chords and three embellishment notes. Each time a chord or note is played, its harmonic density and complexity is changed.
III. Perpetual Quiet. The pianist builds arpeggios from a constantly changing set of pitches.
IV. Perpetual Melody. The pianist chooses from a combination of rhythmically driven, short melodic motives and chords. Connections between fragments are added and removed based on the amount each fragment is being played.
Jason Freeman wrote Shadows for pianist Melvin Chen, during an artistic research residency at IRCAM in Paris. Many thanks to Arshia Cont and Jean-Louis Giavitto from IRCAM and to Dominique Fober from GRAME for collaborating with Jason to extend their Antescofo and INScore software, respectively, for use in this piece.