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The Expanded Instrument System

A Project of the Pauline Oliveros Foundation


The Expanded Instrument System (EIS as in "ice" for short) is a continually developing electronic sound processing environment designed to provide improvising musicians control over various interesting parameters of sound transformation. At present these parameters include delay time, delay feedback, pitch transformation through delay time modulation, ambiance, and spatial placement. Specifically, foot pedals and switches are interpreted and routed to control Lexicon PCM 42 digital delays, Lexicon reverb units, MIDI controlled mixers and gain stages, and a Reson8 DSP processor. Outputs are distributed to speakers around the performance space.

A Little History and EvolutionThe Current ConfigurationIn Performance

Both potentials and pitfalls reside in the use of computer control. Being able to control so many parameters means discovering which ones are musically useful, as well as developing the techniques to fully use them. Perhaps the final challenge is to respond to the inevitable wish list of new features that familiarity produces. Time and money constraints have helped slow development and integration of new resources to a manageable level. We try to incorporate new possibilities incrementally, adding new resources and control parameters gradually to allow plenty of rehearsal time to develop a performance practice. Adding the Expanded Instrument System to the practice of Deep Listening and free improvisation must not get in the way of the music.

"Acoustic and Virtual Space as a Dynamic Element of Music" in Leonardo Music Journal Vol. 5, 1995 is a more extensive discussion by Pauline Oliveros of the evolution and uses of the Expanded Instrument System. An update to this article by David Gamper, "A Performer-Controlled Live Sound-Processing System: New Developments and Implementations of the Expanded Instrument System," is in Leonardo Music Journal Vol. 8, 1998. "The Expanded Instrument System: Recent Developments" downloads the pdf file of the paper accompanying the demonstration Gamper presented at the 1998 International Computer Music Conference.

In the last six years, Deep Listening Band has been performing extensively with the Expanded Instrument System. Recordings of some of these performances are included on their recent CDs Sanctuary, Tosca Salad, Suspended Music, and Non Stop Flight.

For more information about the EIS, contact:

David Gamper
491 Broadway #3
New York, NY 10012
Tel: 212-343-8167
Fax: 212-343-8925
email: dgamper@earthlink.net

Photos on EIS pages: ©1996 hilde+ed productions