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Perks
An Interactive Badminton Game
Space is not the final frontier, nor is it cyber-space... it's the brain, or at least, our understanding of how it actually works. Jon Rose presents a simple analogy, the Badminton court represents the brain, the two Badminton players play out the roles of the left and right hemispheres. The brain belongs to one time Australian musical genius and deviant, Percy Grainger, a man who created some of the most inspired and beautiful innovations in 20 century music while at the same time being capable of the most depressing racial bigotry. This piece is a satirical celebration of the 'Jekyll & Hyde' in his mind... and perhaps in all of our minds! The 'thoughts' of the players are heard periodically loud and clear throughout the performance (the voice belonging to Elise Lorraine). They react to each other (as sports people do!) with personal comments, spurious philosophical assertions, occasional abuse, and observations on the evolutionary struggle.

On each of the rackets and the net are mounted contact microphones and accelerometers, these access musical material. The movements of the rackets then further control tempo, rhythm, panning, volume, etc. The information from each racket confronts, complements or cuts off the material generated by the previous racket stroke.

The role of Percy Grainger is taken by a midi controlled player-piano. There are parts for Hurdy-Gurdy (Stevie Wishart) and other improvising guest musicians (in the CD version Phil Minton & Butch Morris are the extra Badminton players and Grainger's Free Music machines are realized by Rainer Linz). Texts and video images are derived from recently discovered (?) letters by the composer and pianist.

When not providing a violin commentary on this piece of revised music history, Jon Rose umpires the way through Grainger's musical pre-occupations.

PERKS celebrates the technology and physicality of music; from the latest interactive technology developed at STEIM, Amsterdam to original 1908 Grainger field recordings of Rarotongan music. Like Grainger himself, PERKS deconstructs a wide range of music vocabularies based on often disparate elements... from a traditional Irish melody to a chaotic version of the Grieg piano concerto. The interactive sounds used in PERKS are digital representations of keyboard, percussion & homemade electronic instruments found (or imagined) in the Grainger museum, Melbourne.

Humanity's brain seems to remain fundamentally flawed, combative (it takes two to Tango) and tribal (which one do you belong to) in its response to just about every issue from politics to music. Whether it is the expression of racial prejudice, the notion of the Nation State, Football supporters, a religion, or some other exclusive club, we demand that our species goes to extinction in an orgy of tribal nonsense. If our branch on evolution's Tree of Life is now full grown with future development possible but unlikely, clearly we are going to need a sense of humour as the game stumbles on into the next millennium.


N O W T R Y T O C A T C H T H E S H U T T L E!


Each person must have some subject that fires him to madness, to put up with less seems crazy.
Percy Grainger



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