gruntCount - improvised pieces for player and computer

by Martin Parker

supported by
John Maurer
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John Maurer Sticks and stones may break my bones, but gruntCount will never hurt me (maybe); pairs well with exotic museum specimens, particularly entomological. Favorite track: The Dream of a Red-back Spider Trapped Under a Plastic Tumbler.
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gruntCount is a computer music system as much as it is a piece of music. Like playing a computer game, the performer steps through a landscape of possibilities that teeter between the scripted and
the surprising. Rather than a joystick interface however, it’s the player’s sounds (or grunts) that move the piece forwards. The order of the settings is decided in advance of a performance but their behaviour has to be coped with in situ. The shifting relationship between player and computer makes it impossible to play in the same way twice.

More information about gruntCount is available at
Martin Parker, September 2013


released November 5, 2013

The pieces on this release are collaborative compositions and each performer has significantly influenced the development of the system and its musical potential.

Sessions with Anne La Berge in June 2011 helped to make the system a convincing reality that could actually travel around in performers’ backpacks. Henrique Portovedo bravely took many of the prototype versions on the road and Christos Michalakos and Jack Wier helped me to work out how the piece could work with multiple players simultaneously. Mark Summers and Pete Furniss got involved and took the piece out to North Wales and Seoul respectively; meanwhile, John Eckhardt recorded numerous double bass solos in Hamburg and sent them over for gruntCount treatment by remote. Karin Schistek found that the piece could withstand much longer durations in a very disciplined version that restricted her to playing inside the piano throughout. Tom Arthurs’ version for trumpet revealed how the system’s natural density could be given space and time. I would like to thank these players for their compositional and creative input to this project, which is dedicated to them all.

Thanks also to David Young for offering titles for the pieces and his essay on this recording, and to Anna Parker for the cover image. Finally, thanks to Michael Edwards and Achim Bornhöft at sumtone.

Much of the research for this work was supported by Edinburgh College of Art at the University of Edinburgh. A grant from the research office supported the recording sessions for this release.



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sumtone Tübingen, Germany

sumtone is a music publisher focussing on the contemporary classical field, in particular computer and electronic music.

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