Real-time composer-performer collaboration as explored in Wilderness, a dance and audio installation
From fall 2010 to spring 2011, the author was the pianist in twenty public performances of Wilderness, a site-adaptable dance and audio installation by choreographer Yanira Castro and composer Stephan Moore. Wilderness's music was generated as the result of an algorithmic treatment of data collected from the movements of both dancers and audience members within the performance space. The immediacy of using movement to instantaneously generate sounds resulted in the need for a real-time notational environment inhabited by a sight-reading musician. Wilderness provided the author the opportunity to extensively explore an extreme sight-reading environment, as well as the experience of playing guided improvisations over existing materials while incorporating lateral thinking strategies, resulting from a real-time collaboration between composer and performer during the course of a live performance. This paper describes Wilderness in detail with particular attention focused on aspects of the work that most directly affect the pianist: the work's real-time notational system, live interaction between composer and performer, and the freedoms and limitations of guided improvisation. There is a significant amount of multi-media documentation of Wilderness available online, and the reader is directed toward this online content in the paper's appendix.