bret battey • bat hat media


The Five

For Vibraphone and Responsive Audiovisuals (2015)
For Andrew Spencer

The Five, composed for percussionist Andrew Spencer, is a spoken-text, music and moving-image work inspired by chapter 12 of the 2500 year-old Chinese Taoist text Tao Teh Ching. The chapter begins 五色令人目盲 (the five colors make human eyes blind), 五音令人耳聾 (the five tones make human ears deaf). The text then extols the sage who is more interested in what is "within" than what is "without". The Chinese text is structured such that 此 (this) and 彼 (that/other) refers to the belly and the eye and, by extension, that which is internal (within) and that which is external (without). I followed John C. Wu's translation (Shambhala 1989) in his use of English word "without", since it has a double meaning: It not only means "external", but it also means lacking something.

Thanks to Mungo Zhangruibo, Kevin Xie and Weiwei Jin for their assistance with Chinese translations, characters and typography.

Technical Details

I composed the vibraphone part with the assistance of my Nodewebba software, in which feedback-based pattern generators are arranged in networks to influence each other and give rise to more complex patterns.

A Max/MSP application allows the performer to control the cue timing and tempo of the electronic-music parts and visuals. The high definition visuals are rendered through a custom Open Frameworks program based on my Brownian Doughnut Warper algorithm, controlled from Max/MSP via Open Sound Control.


  • Live Performances
    • Apr, 2018 – Sonorities Festival, Belfast, UK [Simon Limbrick]
    • Feb, 2017 – De Montfort University [Simon Limbrick]
    • Feb, 2016 – Lewis University, Joliet, Illinois [Andrew Spencer]
    • Jan, 2016 – Central Michigan University [Andrew Spencer]
    • Nov, 2015 – Arizona State University [Andrew Spencer]
    • Nov, 2015 – San Jose State University [Andrew Spencer]
    • Oct, 2015 – University of Northern Colorado [Andrew Spencer]

Additional stills from the visuals: