eSaz: A non-Western instrument in the context of a live electronic performance system

Gluck, Robert J.


Organised Sound 10(1): 21-29.

Language: English

eSaz is a performance system for live electronic music centred around a classical Turkish lute fitted with electronic sensors and linked to a software interface designed in Max/MSP. Placement of sensors and the design of its digital signal processing build upon the physical characteristics, and expand upon the acoustical features, of this traditional instrument. Its design facilitates the integration of real-time recorded, as well as pre-recorded sounds, into an unfolding montage of sound. The system is discussed from both a technical point of view and from the perspective of a Western electronic musician addressing a non-Western acoustical instrument. Relevant questions about cross-cultural borrowing and the impact of electronics on the sounds and performance technique of a traditional instrument are discussed. The author addresses the role played by his Jewish identification, as a member of an ethno-religious group with a historical connection to Ottomon musical traditions, on the choices involved. Technical and aesthetic issues are detailed within the context of a description of the instrument and the author's interest in the development of gestural controllers.