Pendulum swings with duets for sax and laptop


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Posted Online: Sept. 01, 2010, 5:54 pm
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By Jonathan Turner, jturner@qconline.com
Randall Hall performs and teaches saxophone all overNorth America, Europe and Asia. On Friday, he'll give a free concert on his home turf -- Augustana College -- and play with one of his favorite partners: a laptop computer.

That Mac laptop is manned by Jonathon Kirk, a 1997 Augie alumnus. Together they perform as Pendulum. They will give a free recital at 8 p.m. Friday in Wallenberg Hall, Denkmann Memorial Building, 3520 7th Ave., Rock Island.

"Iwould call it contemporary improvisation -- it's not jazz," said Mr. Hall, a 41-year-oldassistant professor of music at Augustana, and a leading interpreter of contemporary music for saxophone. "We don't use any preconceived structures, we just go.

He met Mr. Kirk in graduate school at Eastman in Rochester, N.Y. "Both of us have been improvising for a long time," Mr. Hall said. "It works well with the electronics he's doing. In real time, he's taking sound samples from what I play, processing them there in the concert into new electronic sounds based on them. He's improvising on the computer; he's changing it. It's like I'm playing with a real person, responding to that."

"They are different sounds altogether," Mr. Hall said in amazement. "He throws out whatever he wants. ... What he's doing, I would not recognize it as me. It's another instrument. You get the dialogue; it's a duet, we're overlapping each other."

"Ilike to think of it as adding counterpoint to the improvisation," agreed Mr. Kirk, an assistant professor in composition, theory and electronic music atNorth Central College in Naperville, Ill. "I've actually started to use more samples in it, pre-existing sounds, old recordings of his playing."

Mr. Kirk writes the software for the Pendulum performances, which occur about five times a year. They've had the duo since 2006. Theyperformed in July 2009 at the World Saxophone Congress in Bangkok, Thailand, and last performed in the Quad-Cities in March 2009, at the Figge Art Museum, with the Augustana Improvisation Ensemble.

"There's areason we only do it five or six times a year -- it's really something special and unique," Mr. Kirk said. "There aresituations I'm having so much fun playing with his sound, I can go 10 minutes after he finishes playing. It really is up in the air each time. Sometimes a piece can be over an hour -- but the last thing we want to do is have people run for the door.

"It's a reflection of how I process audio, change it so much that it's really unrecognizable, but so beautiful," he said. "One of the most important things I hope I do is come up with new sounds. As boring an instrument as a laptop is, that's the beauty of it. You can actually create sounds so rich and colorful that are impossible acoustically."






 












 



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  Today is Monday, April 21, the 111th day of 2014. There are 254 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The female sex seems to have gone crazy on the subject of dry goods. When high prices keep them from increasing their wardrobes, they turn to stealing. Yard goods, hats, shoes and other items are being picked up and carried home.
1889 -- 125 years ago: Members of Everts Commandery No. 18, Knights Templar, under Commander H.C. Cleaveland, marched from the Masonic Temple to Trinity Episcopal Church for their annual Easter services.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Nate Hultgren pitched the Augustana College baseball team to a 10-3 victory over Carthage, striking out 11 men and allowing only four hits.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Marvel Leonhardi, a Rock Island High School senior, was the winner of an essay contest on advertising sponsored by The Argus and Advertising Age, a national advertising publication.
1964 -- 50 years ago: The Augustana College band drew a crowd of 1,200 people for its annual home concert in Centennial Hall. The size of the crowd was indicative of the fact the band is rapidly approaching the stature of the Augustana Choir.
1989 -- 25 years ago: A benefit to raise money for extracurricular activities in the Rock Island Milan School District will be April 27 at the Quad City Downs harness race track. People buying $17.50 tickets to the second annual "Night at the Quad City Downs" will be entitled to an evening of harness racing and dinner.






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