Martirano's instrument-in-progress offers several advantages over other systems for electronic music production: it bypasses the necessity of mass storage input-and-output which has been relatively inefficient; costly and inhibitive of real-time response; in comparison to available analogue systems which are capable of real-time response, it avoids the problems of composer/insturments interfacing, especially when the desired results are of sufficient complexity to be aesthetically interesting. Martirano's instrument uses the efficiency of machine language itself in such a way that it allows for the use of algorithmic possibilities as direct analogue control in real time. This is tremedously efficient and is the advantage of such a digital system.
The minimal storage is used to fix a range or bias, according to the individual composer's proclivities, out of which he can select at will, in live performance, his real-time possibilities from an infinity of possibilities. This is indeed a musical instrument, as, for instance, the violin or piano. It is like using the digital computer central processor as an analogue device which is played. Additionally, the instrument is compositional, in that the logic chosen at any given moment is machine-logical and music-logical. This fact makes it unlike previous musical instruments. The logic and the compositional process are congruent. This is not only a new instrument but is, in fact, the beginning of a new historical stage of music-compositional activity.---from a statement by Philip Batstone, director of the Electronic Music Center at the University of Colorado.
Martirano's work is unprecedented in its flexibility and scope. A number of composers are working with engineers on synthesizing equipment at this time, but none of their systems have taken such a radical look at basic problems and gone so far toward solving them. His system is essentially an enormous resource of pre-programmed musical continuities that the composer controls, shapes, and deflects as his judgement dictates during performance. Four independantly controllable sythesized "orchestras" (each with a soloist), can be independantly moved about simple or complex spatial paths between 24 louspeakers. the six digital clocks that push the course of events can operate over a very wide range of durations so that the movements of sounds within the performance space can be slow and suble, or flash around at literally dizzying speeds. The system includes 16 oscillators, each of which has a uniquely innovative means of generating a very wide range of waveshapes (thus the ear is not continuously subjected to the electronicaly easier but tedious choice of sine, square, triangular, etc., wave-form, that is usually in force). Further, pitch material can be generated on the basis of anywhere from 12 to 20 equal divisions of the octave. There is an equally flexible and powerful approach to the heretofore difficult matter of envelope-shapeing as well. Martirano is no longer dealing with the simplistic methods of previous equipment that depends on individually preset values for rise time, steady-state, initial decay and final decay, but rather a more organic approach that allows complex and minute deviations to occur in a manner paralleled in natual sound events.
In performance, the machine is set in motion, exploring on its own the statistical variations possible within the particular "path" or pattern of restraints Martirano has chosen. Sitting at a touch control keyboard with 291 switches, the composer then shapes these processes to the occasion.---from a statement by Roger Reynolds, Composer and Director of the Project for Music Experiment at the University of California, San Diego.
Martirano has revived the age-old dream of a "panharmonicon", an intricate and versatile machine which would permit a composer-performer to realize his concepts of new sounds and new forms directly, without note-paper or middle-men. ...He calls for his sounds as if dialing through an entire telephone network.... During the performance there came one of several extended passages of fascinating complexity...there were sections in which a dozen outer-space people seemed to be conversing; another in which the frogs and insects of a summery pond joined in symphonic ecstasy; another in which the sounds and shapes were simply new and truly unheard-of.---from a review by Klaus George Roy in the Cleveland Plain-Dealer