Multimedia performance of J.S. Bach's

The Art of Fugue

transcribed for wind band by
Kenneth Amis

On January 16, 2010 the Lynn University Wind Ensemble conducted by Kenneth Amis presented a live multimedia concert of J.S. Bach's The Art of Fugue on the Lynn University campus in Boca Raton, Florida. The presentation consisted of lighting and animation choreographed to the ensemble's live performance of the entire work. The program was ordered as follows:

Contrapunctus I
Contrapunctus II
Contrapunctus III
Contrapunctus IV
Contrapunctus V
Contrapunctus VI
Contrapunctus VII

INTERMISSION

Canon per Augmentationem in Contrario Motu
Canon in Hypodiapason (Canon alla Ottava)
Canon alla Duodecima in Contrapunto alla Quinta
Canon alla Decima. Contrapunto alla Terza

INTERMISSION

Contrapunctus VIII
Contrapunctus IX
Contrapunctus X
Contrapunctus XI
Contrapunctus XII
Contrapunctus XIII
Contrapunctus XIV

Applause was held until the intermissions and the end of the concert. Performance time including the two 20-minute intermissions, was 2 hours, 10 minutes.

The animation, which was projected on a large movie screen, helped to visually guide the audience through the contrapuntal structure of the work. Earlier in the program the graphics and animation are relatively simple becoming more intricate with the added complexities of each fugue but always with a musically untrained audience in mind. Throughout the visual presentation the fugue voices are represented by a specific color:
    Soprano = yellow,
    Alto = green
    Tenor = blue
    Bass = red
For example, when instruments playing the Tenor voice of the fugue would begin to play the fugue subject (theme) the corresponding onscreen graphic would be colored blue.

The animations were designed and programmed by Kenneth Amis using Microsoft PowerPoint 2007 for Windows and other supporting software. Each animation was triggered live by a student musician following along with a score and laptop computer running PowerPoint connected to the projector. This gave the conductor and instrumentalist the greatest flexibility with regard to tempi and overall pacing. A second computer operator doing the same thing on another laptop served as a backup. A switchbox placed between the two computers and projector could quickly be toggled by either person in the event of an unexpected software or hardware malfunction on the primary computer.

As suggested in the performance note in the score, the wind ensemble was setup as shown below. (In this performance an additional, assistant Flugelhorn player was used in the soprano choir.)

Setup Used for Fugues
Setup for fugues of The Art of Fugue

 

Setup Used for Canons
Setup for canons of The Art of Fugue

Spotlights were used to project one of the four colors mentioned earlier on the wall just above and behind the appropriate choir of instruments whenever they played a fugue subject. Two music students followed scores and operated the lighting board, each one operating the sliders for two colors.

The web-ready, low resolution examples below will lack the quadraphonic sound and lighting effects of the performance but will give a good idea of how the animation was coordinated with the music.

Contrapunctus 3 - performed by Lynn University Wind Ensemble, cond. Kenneth Amis
Contrapunctus 5 - performed by Lynn University Wind Ensemble, cond. Kenneth Amis
Contrapunctus 7 - performed by Lynn University Wind Ensemble, cond. Kenneth Amis
Contrapunctus 8 - performed by Lynn University Wind Ensemble, cond. Kenneth Amis
Contrapunctus 10 - performed by Lynn University Wind Ensemble, cond. Kenneth Amis
Contrapunctus 11 - performed by Lynn University Wind Ensemble, cond. Kenneth Amis
Contrapunctus 13 - performed by Lynn University Wind Ensemble, cond. Kenneth Amis

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