27’10.554″ for a Percussionist and Computer

Pd interface
Pd interface


I re-realized this classic work of John Cage’s by adding the decision-making of a computer. By using the software, Pure Data, I’ve built a patch that will make decisions based on chance (using the I-Ching). The choice the computer has is which respective sample to use for metal, wood, skin, or anything.

This application was first used in my performance during the 2012 PASIC Focus Day held in Austin, TX. Our session was a simultaneous realization of John Cage’s 27’10.554″ for a Percussionist. Six of us performed our own sections and versions from this work condensed into about a little over ten minutes or so. The performers included Brandon Bell, Andrew Burke, John Lane, Allen Otte, Bonnie Whiting Smith, and myself.

This patch is essentially a sequencer that uses the I-Ching (I built into the patch) to determine pitch/sample. The flexibility of this application allows the user the ability to design their own version of 27’10.554″ without simply using the playback of a recording.

User options are to create:

  • His/her own samples – single icti, resonant icti (metal only), and sustained icti.
  • Create multiple sound banks and switch through them during performance
  • Midi files for each page and each category (m, w, s, a) which the program will use to know when to play a sample and at what velocity.

One version I have created and performed was originally to realize this work by using a small set-up. Acoustically, I manipulated my limited instruments by attempting to exhaust their sonic capabilities. I used metals, woods, and skins but left the anything category to the computer (mostly environment or urban sounds). The samples for m, w, and s were all sampled from my original set-up and then processed using SPEAR (Sinusoidal Partial Editing Analysis and Resynthesis). As the performer, I have decisions to make based on interpretation. Similarly, the computer has decisions to make as well. I create sound acoustically while the computer creates sound electronically but we meet in the middle with the computer’s manipulation of my sampled instruments. This gives cohesion to the overall architect of the sound.

I do have the patch available for download on this site but with a limited number of the MIDI files and none of my samples (you should make your own samples to work with your set-up). Feel free to download and all I ask is that you acknowledge me as the developer if you decide to use this in a performance.


Listen to an excerpt from minute 4 here: