bret battey • bat hat media


Varanasi Galli

computer-realized sound (2004)


This was an exercise created to prove the power of my Bézier-spline modeling approach for composing and rendering highly-detailed pitch-continuous melodic expression on computers. In the process of doing the exercise, however, it became a powerful remembrance for me of my year in India, and in particular of my experience in Varanasi and its back streets (gallis). I superimposed a composed melody on a (mostly) continuous recording from back street Varanasi, where I experienced both beauty and a distinct sadness and resignation in the face of ever-impinging noise and chaos.

I created the melodic material in Galli using my PICACS (Pitch Curve Analysis and Composition System) prototype software. In fact, I created and refined the PICACS editor functions from the ground up as I worked on this piece. I recorded my own improvisational singing, a mashup of my Western musical sensibility and my immersion in Khyal voice lessons in India. I then edited the recording and fed the results to PICACS, and I used PICACS to refine and edit the material. The sound was rendered via Common LISP Music, manipulating a bassoon harmonic sample.

The bulk of the work took place during a six-week residence at MacDowell Colony.

varanassi alley

varanassi alley