Alexander Dupuis

updated 10.21.2013 by rrs


It's Not an Intervention:

The following interview was conducted via an email questionnaire in September, 2013 by Ryan Ross Smith.

RRS: What was the first piece you created using animated notation?

AD: My first piece was called Children of the Seventh Species: Reveal Yourselves. The score visuals consist of 3D reconfigurations and animations of traditional notation symbols, with the players interpreting based on the overall gestures of the visual material as well as any phrases that might be suggested by the notation elements themselves.

RRS: What led you to start using animated notation? [This could be aesthetic/artistic concerns, technological experimentation, a bet and/or dare, etc.]

AD: Several years earlier, I went to a concert of some pieces by Luke Harris and was pretty blown away. My own first piece years later was sort of a poor copy: he was animating and arranging noteheads and staves in geometric configurations, with live musicians interpreting these actions and arrangements. I was struck by the beauty of the animation, the new approach to using notation, and also the aesthetic qualities of traditional musical notation removed from their usual context in the score. So, when I began learning 3D animation a few years later, I used that approach of recontextualizing traditional notation as my starting point.

RRS: Where there particular compositions/notational approaches/technologies/video games/etc. that exerted any influence over your [early and/or present] work?

AD: The Luke Harris pieces I just mentioned were obviously a big early influence:

  • for Oskar [Luke Harris]
  • 4x4x4 [Luke Harris]

  • RRS: How would you describe your current work with animated notation?

    AD: After my first few pieces with animated notation, I started working mostly in a realm of noisy improvised audiovisuals where scores didn't really make sense. So, there's been a considerable gap in my output, but I've begun working with some real-time notation ideas again and coming back with a fresh perspective.

    At the moment, I'm most interested in animated notation as a means to keep a performer informed of the inner machinations of a piece involving electronics. To me, the main advantages of animated notation are temporal specificity and real-time adaptability. With the first, you can communicate certain timing information to a player that would be difficult in a sound-only context: say, the exact moment that an electronic sound will be played after a length of silence. The notation is, in some ways, taking over visual cuing functions that would normally be performed by a fellow musician.

    Besides these sort of specific temporal cues, I'm interested in how animated notation can enable understanding of underlying processes and mechanisms within a piece, especially in ways that positively inform performative decisions. At this point the lines maybe blur a bit between visualization and notation, but I think the two aspects can be combined to form a more informative experience for performers, as well as enable pieces that would otherwise be extremely difficult to pull off.

    This is a little bit where I was starting to go with the piece Ramus: at the level of the phrase, the audio processing is grabbing snippets of live sound and progressively distorting them. The visual processing depicts the processing iterations in real-time, providing the performer with an additional level of insight into the underlying audio manipulations as well as informing their decisions based on how their playing is interacting with the electronics.

    RRS: Where do you see your work with animated notation going in the future?

    AD: I would particularly like to try to exploit this idea of visualization cues that enable interaction with more specific or complex temporal structures. I've been developing pieces recently that record a live performer into numerous overdubbed loops of different lengths, playing back small snippets of the loops at different times. Without visual feedback, it would be rather difficult to know what sections you're playing over, what sections might be playing back, and overall how to make informed decisions about how your performance interacts with this complex, overlapping structure. With the visual feedback, a player can easily see what is being recorded, what will be recorded, and what will be played back. At that point, decisions about content can be notated in advance by the composer, left up to the player, or some combination of the two, with the pre-written notation and the visualizations functioning as two complementary parts.

    RRS: What potential, if any, does animated notation have for future work IN GENERAL?

    AD: I think very generally I'll be most interested in notation/visualization that allows performers to have a more informed perspective as they progress through a piece. I'm looking forward to pieces that make use of real-time capabilities to elucidate unusual structures and facilitate musical interactions to new degrees.


    "Alexander Dupuis is a composer, animator, media artist, and performer. His work aims to develop and explore applications of graphics in musical contexts: as interactive scores, as audiovisual instruments, and as musical elements in their own right. Through the use of real-time animations, visualizations, and projections, he develops visual methods for structuring and informing musical composition, experience, and performance."[1]

    1. "About,", accessed November 1, 2013,


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