SEAN PEUQUET // digtal music + art
Sean Peuquet: Works

The Segments of the Trip Swing Open like an Orange

for six instruments and six-channel spatialization // duration: 8'24"

    LISTEN .mp3


    The Segments of the Trip… explores the poetic form of a sestina. In a sestina, six words repeat in a specific way across each of the six main stanzas. This word repetition pattern is used to determine the duration of rhythmic events for six instruments. As each instrument is introduced, its initial sequence of six rhythmic events mirrors the word pattern of the following stanza in a sestina. As the piece progresses, these sequences are reoriented and played across the instruments. The reoriented sequences are then played in an order that is also determined by the sestina algorithm. Each of the six instruments are individually reinforced and spatialized. Real-time spatialization software independently interpolates the audio output of each instrument across the six loudspeakers, in accordance with the score. As a result, each instruments sequence of rhythmic events is also reflected spatially. The patterns that emerge by sequencing, layering, and reorienting rhythmic events using the sestina algorithm create a musical texture that is obtuse and homeostatic. Yet, the music suggests understandability, through its straightforward presentation. The piece is really about using form as musical content and exploring whether sestina form is itself able to become expressive.

    The title of the piece was taken from the John Ashbery poem Just Walking Around (1998)



    The piece requires six instruments capable of producing relatively short rhythmic events. The precise instrumentation is left to the performers discretion. For pitched instruments, the individual performer may choose any one pitch arbitrarily and then realize the score using only that pitch. No two instruments should use the same pitch.


    The score functions as follows:

    Instrument Rhythmic Event Duration (number of eighth notes)
    a 1 2 3 4 5 6
    b 6 1 5 2 4 3
    c 3 6 4 1 2 5
    d 5 3 2 6 1 4
    e 4 5 1 3 6 2
    f 2 4 6 5 3 1

    The above table represents one system of six rhythmic events. For elucidation purposes see Appendix A for a realization of this table using traditional music notation.

    Instrument Column: This portion of the score is similar to traditional staff notation whereby the instrumental voice is listed vertically. The above table therefore represents one staff system. Accordingly, the horizontal rows are to be understood as individual staffs for each instrument.

    Rhythmic Event Columns: Theses columns are not to be understood as measures. Instead, they define six rhythmic events. The duration of each individual event is numerically given in each cell as a count of 8th notes. Consequently, the duration of the first event for instrument a is one 8th note long, while the first event for instrument b is six 8th notes in duration.

    Empty Column: After every six rhythmic events, an empty column divides the previous sequence from the upcoming sequence. Since this is technically an event without duration, it is not to be counted rhythmically. This column merely serves as a visual divider for a more perspicuous score, and in this sense, can be thought of as operating similar to a measure bar.

    Small Font Durations: Numbers shown in small font are rests. The performer should not play these durations. They only serve to keep the performer in time.

    Computer Spatialization:

    The computer application, which provides real-time spatialization for each of the six instruments, must be synced with the performers at the beginning of the performance.

    • 1. Turn on the audio input/output by clicking on the toggle box next to number 1 at the bottom of the screen.
    • 2. If the metronome click track is being used for the performance, click the toggle box within the Start Metronome box next to number 2.
    • 3. Sync the computer with the performers at the beginning of the piece by clicking the toggle box next to number 3 when the first rhythmic event occurs. Clicking this box should happen in time with the first event.