Grand Sepia Taksim

Program Notes
For belly dancer + live electronics. Eszter Édl, belly dancer. Composition & software design by Louis Goldford. Premiere performance on 4/15 in Auer Hall, Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, Center for Electronic & Computer Music (See link below in 'Additional Comments.')

Grand Sepia Taksim (2013) is an interactive environment for belly dancer and 8-channel surround sound. Taksim, a genre of Turkish classical music, implies a form of several improvised sections. The piece was conceived for the dancer Eszter Édl, whose particular strengths as an improviser become very personalized in this setting. She is outfitted with an array of Arduino-based sensors (designed by Prof. Jeff Hass) that measure the acceleration of her arms and hips on x, y, and z planes. Her gesture data is then mapped onto control parameters governing the timbre and spatialization of sounds diffused in a multichannel sound field. (In this stereo mixdown, therefore, only some of the diffusion can be preserved.)

The piece elaborates a stylistic counterpoint of various Gyspy folk music traditions surrounding the locus of belly dance, whose history mirrors that of the Gypsies in its synthesis of European cultures. It unfolds as the faded memory of self-identity among the nomadic Roma. Turkish melodies, Flamenco dance rhythms and Sudanese 'sera' rhythms pervade the texture but are supplanted by Bulgarian folk songs and familiar Balkan textures, such as a granulated Serbian style brass band. Interpolating spectral filters reduce source sounds to their component parts and suggest the audible equivalent of faded memory. Eszter’s choreography combines Egyptian and Tribal belly dance and Eastern European folk dances, and thus also contributes to the interplay of related genres, cultures, and spaces.

Special thanks is extended to the following musicians, whose sampled contributions made this piece possible: Ozan Cemali (oud & baglama), Svetla Vladeva (accordion), Miguel Merino (douf), Sam Wells & Ben Taylor (trumpets), Alex Krawczyk (trombone), and Douglas Olenik (tuba). I can’t thank them enough for their passionate playing and willingness to lend their talents.

This piece contains a sample of a field recording made by dobroide@freesound.org and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License.

Biographical Sketch
Louis Goldford (b. 1983) is a composer of acoustic and electroacoustic music, and is the saxophonist and leader of the Taipei-based Flâneur Daguerre postmodern jazz ensemble. His music emphasizes the spaces of cultural and music-historical ruin and has been heard in Taiwan, Poland, and throughout the U.S.

In 2013 Louis was a finalist in the 2013 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, and he had previously taken first place in the Arden and Harry Fisher Young Composers’ Competition. A native of St. Louis, Louis was also a member of the Saint Louis Symphony Chorus before relocating to Taiwan in 2009. Additionally, Louis has researched the music of Kaija Saariaho and in 2011 published on the music of Luciano Berio.

Louis is currently pursuing his graduate degrees in music composition at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, studying composition with Claude Baker and electronics with John Gibson and Jeffrey Hass, including additional studies in electronic music under the guidance of Alexander Mihalic at the Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM) in Paris.