Thursday, 28 November 2013

The Birth of Opera - rough animation

Here's a first draft of animation for the Birth of Opera chapter or sequence in Billiards. I wanted to try using wet paint for doing animation which is effective but possibly not right for this sequence. I'm also planning to have more opera singers emerging, and overlaying bits of musical notation, but hopefully you get the idea.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

OPERA en DEUX actes

Static Opera in 2 Acts

Billiards, Billiards, Billiards

Greetings from the end of the universe. "Billiards", an essay-opera, will be an immense puzzle, and the world's first ever inter-dimensional opera.

It is not an opera that will ever be digested in one sitting by anybody, unless they are adept at time-travel or interdimensional projections.

The "Books" of "Billiards" float about above our heads. It will be an essay opera without a final, set form, where the chapters exist fleetingly, permanently, or semi-permanently.

Equally the process of making "Billiards" itself is part of the opera. Here I am singing now.

To you, just to you, my beauty, mon amour, I shower you with kisses and the stray flecks of spit that fly about in every aria.

It is intended that "Billiards" will be an essay-opera created almost entirely "in public". This blog will document as far as possible the entire process of the work. 

You have been warned.

For today, we leave the last word to Raymond Scott, one of the superstars of "Billiards".

Monday, 11 November 2013

The Three Worlds of "Billiards"

takes place in 
three distinct worlds 
on one stage.

- Mozart's Billiard Hall, which becomes Mozart's Pinball Disco Emporium -

- Stereo Electromechanical Marionette System -

- The Time Machine Collage Vortex  -

Thursday, 7 November 2013

The Eye and the Ear

"The Eye and The Ear" by Franciszka and Stefan Themerson will be a reference in Book 3 of "Billiards".

The Chapters of "Billiards"

An Electronic Essay Opera

Book I

- Chapter I -
Mozart plays Billiards

- Chapter II -
Games of Chance

- Chapter III -
Atlas Eclipticalis

- Chapter IV -
Khayyam's Telescope

- Chapter V -

- Chapter VI -
The Birth of Opera

- Chapter VII -
The Melomaniac

- Chapter VIII -
Don Giovanni Transcribed Onto Stars

Book II

- Chapter I -
Hacking the Florentine Camerata

- Chapter II -
Mechanical Opera

- Chapter III -
Mozart Music Boxes

- Chapter IV -
Raymond Scott

- Chapter V -
Don Giovanni Machine

Book III

- Chapter I -
Mozart and Reflections

- Chapter II -
Silent Music

- Chapter III -
Foundation Rhythm

- Chapter IV -
Raymond's Rhythm Generators

- Chapter V -
Lewis Carroll Chops It Up

- Chapter VI -
Don Giovanni Shredded

- Chapter VII -
Mozart Plays Pinball

The Birth of Opera

The first public release of music from Ergo Phizmiz's work-in-progress electronic essay opera "Billiards", created as Embedded composer-in-residence for Sound & Music and The Opera Group.

In this sequence, opera is dragged kicking and screaming into the world...

The Florentine Camerata Invent Opera

( Shadow Play )

* * * The Florentine Camerata at table * * *

To be sung to Part 3 of "Pitman's Gramophone Course of Typewriter Keyboard Instruction"

Nowadays the noise around
resembles nothing more, I've found,
than visiting the Dentist chair
with bits of your teeth everywhere.
Such racket! And the pay-off,
of this polyphonic chaos,
is a banging head, and bleeding ear,
Such music's not for me, my dear.

As they say, “Well, when in Rome...”
but here in Florence we're at home.
Might I suggest, we go antique
and style our music like the Greeks,
a ringing voice, a clear tone,
continuo, and monotone,
and put with music actors
and what images attract us.

Clarity and monody,
the essences of poetry.
Apollo smiles and recompiles
the Muses who, awash with smiles,
will shower us with graces
from their singing, tender faces,
Because music should be proper-er
we've just invented opera.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Mozart Plays Billiards

Mozart - who loved the game of billiards and was an exceptional aficionado of the game while playing it with little skill - enjoyed composing on the table as well, rolling balls in geometric patterns across it while working. To observers it might have seemed as though he was interested in the patterns themselves; it delightfully turns out that what he was really looking at were the changing reflections in the surface of the balls. - John Ptak

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Ergo Phizmiz introduces "Billiards"

Around the tender age of 13 my bedroom walls were covered with pencil and charcoal drawings I had made of composers: Schubert, Mozart, Schumann, Beethoven, all copied from an old edition of The Oxford Companion to Music that had turned up in my house.

My favourite etching in the book was on a small article on Mozart’s playing of Billiards – when stuck for ideas, he would listen for new rhythmic combinations in the bashes and trickles that come from the interplay of billiard balls.

Twenty years later, I have spent much of that time discovering that the computer can render music into a constant state of limitless transformation, that the randomness of clanking billiard balls can be sampled, repeated, fragmented, making the nature of sound and therefore the nature of music / composition something completely malleable.

My embedding in the belly of The Opera Group will be leading towards the creation of “Billiards”: An opera to draw a line across history between Mozart’s billiard balls and the internet-instant-metamorphic-music-vortex.

Exploding the nature of composition, collage, technology, and the voice, through the format of the “Essay Opera” – a kind of opera where voice, performance, collage, animation, puppetry, automata, and electronics interweave with one another to explore subjects and ideas.

“Billiards” will imagine a metamorphic billiards table, through a narrative that progresses through the gradual creation of a themed Pinball machine on the nature of chance, games, and composition. We will delve into the world of early electronic music pioneer Raymond Scott and his “Rhythm Generators”, fall down the rabbit-hole of Lewis Carroll’s logic-games and proposed (pre-Dada) chance-operation poems, we will look at stars with Omar Khayyam then trace the lines to John Cage’s Atlas Eclipticalis, and end in the seemingly eternal rabbit-hole of the internet where all music disappears without trace into the jumble.

If you are interested in delving into the world of my theatrical misadventures (AND why not?), you could do worse than dip into this “The Theatre and Opera of Ergo Phizmiz”


Ergo Phizmiz is Sound and Music’s Embedded Composer-in-Residence with The Opera Group. Find out more information and read his biography here

Georges Méliès - Le Mélomane (1903)