Live electronic music by Bob Gluck
A new gestural controller, eSaz video clip, and an expanded Baroque keyboard

Bob Gluck is a composer / performer of interactive sound installation and live electronic performance. Much of his recent work utilizes electronically expanded acoustical instruments, including baglama saz, harpsichord, piano, and ram's horn, featuring electronic sensors and Max / MSP software interfaces. keeboard is an example of his entirely electronic gestural controller instruments (another is eBoard (2001) which, along with his sound installation Sounds of a Community and electronically expanded saz (2002), was documented in The Idea #6 (2002). His recordings include Stories Heard and Retold (1998) and Electric Songs (2003), and his music has been performed internationally. Bob Gluck's musical training is from the Julliard, Manhattan, and Crane schools of Music, University at Albany (BA, 1977) and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (MFA, 2001). His work has been discussed and reviewed in the Computer Music Journal, Moment, The Forward, Reconstructionism Today, Hadassah Magazine and elsewhere. Gluck is Assistant Professor and Director of the Electronic Music Studios at The University at Albany, and he is Associate Director at the Electronic Music Foundation. More information about his work may be found on the web.

'Harpsi' (2004), for harpsichord and electronics


Bob spent the early years of his musical life as a pianist. For many years, he studied with Regina Rubinoff at the Julliard and Manhattan Schools of Music. Among his most recent compositions for acoustic keyboard instruments and electronics is 'Harpsi' (2004), for harpsichord and electronics. This work features through composed sections and structured improvisation, drawing upon digital signal processing controlled by a software interface designed with Max / MSP. The compositional elements are based upon a variety of Baroque musical conventions and an abstraction of a work by J. S. Bach.

Below: some notated score elements of 'Harpsi'

keeboard: a multi-sensor finger pressure surface


Constructed in layers of pressure and position sensitive Infusion Systems I-Cube sensors and rubber padding ... A keeboard performer can send multiple layers of data to an I-Cube digitizer and software interface (programmed in Max / MSP). It is possible to articulate finger position within an x / y axis, while simultaneously sending other information by pressing on one of four mall square pressure sensors that are positioned on the base of the instrument. All that is required is dexterity and finger independence.

In the one mp3 example playing above, five or more fingers shape the sounds of two physical models of acoustic instruments (designed by Perry Cook and ported for Max / MSP by Dan Trueman and R. Luke DuBois).

above: a simple single finger playing technique

right: the image shows the rear of the four pressure sensors that have been connected to a thin metal plate. Pressure on the plate is distributed across all four sensors, with the strongest signal coming from the sensor most closely under the finger. Thus, relative levels of pressure can be calculated throughout the plate. The wires underneath connect the all six of these sensors to the digitizer.

The images below show the metal plate, from above (left) and, the plate covered with one of two larger position sensitive sensors. Each sensor tracks data on one axis. The keeboard has two identical sensors stacked vertically, perpendicular to one another.

The next set of images, below, show the keeyboard under construction. On top are two thin layers of rubber sheeting, which cover all of the sensors beneath and forms a playing surface that is slighly pressure resistant to pressure. This forms the center of the keeboard.

Here, below, is the keeboard, nearing completion; thick rubber stripping forms the boundary containing the center playing surface.

Finally, the two images below represent an initial version of a Max / MSP patch for the keeboard, in which finger motions control the various parameters of two physical models of acoustical instruments.

'eSaz' (2004)

eSaz was documented in The Idea #6 (2002). It is an acoustic instrument, a Turkish lute, electronically expanded with sensors on the neck and body, that are used to shape digital processing of the performance, and playback of prerecorded sound samples. Processing and routing is programmed in a Max / MSP software interface, using the sensors and a MIDI program change pedal board.

More information is available on the web.

below: closeup of the eSaz

Bob Gluck
15 Lake Shore Drive, 1-B
Waterviet, NY 12189