Aileron One is the output of a process consisting of cycles of music composition and software development, looking into the integration of human flight and artistic performance.
Altitude serves as the foundational element on which the piece is built. The piece can be considered as a vertical structure rising to approximately 950 metres above the ground. A circular chord progression (Fmaj9 Fmaj9/E Am9 G) repeats along the up vector with instrumentation becoming denser in six, discrete, evenly spaced layers. To add variation and movement, a set of instruments are panned to four evenly spaced compass headings. Total velocity is then used to control the speed of melodic and percussive elements throughout the piece.
This spatial arrangement leads to interesting temporal-harmonic consequences: as the glider ascends, the repeating chord progression is played in one direction, as the glider descends the progression is played in the other direction. The rate at which the progression moves is dictated by the vertical velocity of the glider. The harmonic progression ascends at a steady rate as the glider is towed into the air, leading to a point of contrast when the tow is released and the glider transitions to a slow, steady descent. The musical effect of these moments is an aesthetic mirroring the dynamics of the aircraft.
The work as it is presented is part of an active research effort and as such will continue to be refined. We foresee potential to create richer work by maximising mappings between musical elements and input data to result in complex, emergent musical results.
Robert Jarvis is an accomplished audio-visual artist based in Melbourne, Australia. He works across live video performance, music, animation and software development, with a focus on the development of tools for live audio-visual performance. He is currently a PhD candidate at RMIT University where he is exploring the intersection of gliding flight and musical performance.