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In the project Polytempo Music, Brian Baumbusch plans to compose a piece that members of the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players can collaborate on remotely, while also becoming a piece that can be performed live when appropriate.

The composer writes, “Over the past six years, much of the music that I’ve written has required that musicians use click tracks in live performance in order to create simultaneously varying multiple tempo streams in the music or polytempo; click tracks allow the musicians to realize complex rhythms that would not be possible to execute without technological assistance.” In addition to creating an audio recording, the collaborators plan to assemble 3D motion capture videos, or body scans, of each player performing their part, and to develop a 25-minute excerpt of the full 45 minute piece to release in virtual reality.

Composer, instrument builder, musicologist, and ensemble leader Brian Baumbusch is breaking new ground as a pioneer in polytempo music. He is director of the Lightbulb Ensemble and an adjunct faculty member at U.C. Santa Cruz.

The San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, currently under the artistic direction of Eric Dudley, is the West Coast’s most longstanding and largest new music ensemble, comprising 22 highly skilled musicians. For 50 years, it has created innovative and artistically excellent music and is one of the most active ensembles in the United States dedicated to contemporary music. The final recording created through Polytempo Music will be released on Albany Records, and the partners will release the VR performance in 2023.

Photo by Myles Boisen