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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, Sept. 22, the 265th day of 2014. There are 100 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The board of education has granted Thursday as a holiday for the children, with the expectation that parents who desire to have their children attend the Scott County Fair will do so on that day and save irregularity the rest of the week.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The guard fence around the new cement walk at the Harper House has been removed. The blocks are diamond shape, alternating in black and white.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The Rev. R.B. Williams, former pastor of the First Methodist Church, Rock Island, was named superintendent of the Rock Island District.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Abnormally high temperatures and lack of rainfall in Illinois during the past week have speeded maturing of corn and soybean crops.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Installation of a new television system in St. Anthony's Hospital, which includes a closed circuit channel as well as the three regular Quad-Cities channels, has been completed and now is in operation.
1989 -- 25 years ago: When the new Moline High School was built in 1958, along with it were plans to construct a football field in the bowl near 34th Street on the campus. Wednesday afternoon, more than 30 years later, the Moline Board of Education Athletic Board sent the ball rolling toward the possible construction of that field by asking superintendent Richard Hennigan to take to the board of education a proposal to hire a consultant.






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