Igor C. Silva

Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Caloust Gulbenkian Foundation

Plastic Air: multimedia plastic synchronization

Synchronization is one of the most important aspects for the mixed music1 (as well as to fully acoustic performance). When two or more players coexist in the same musical context, whether human or technological, synchronization in time is a key factor in the performance of the musical work. However, unlike the musicians, the computer lacks the ability to adapt to the musical time and its inevitable fluctuations (except score following systems2). It is therefore necessary to create and develop strategies that allows to create a time/rhythmic/gestural synchronization between computer and performer(s), creating a strong relation between instrumental approach and computer, where ideally they are at the same level of dependence on each other, thus being impossible to distinguish which one is subordinate to the other.
The main goal of this paper is to define and analyze the synchronization and compositional techniques applied in my new multimedia work Plastic Air (2017), concerning the time relation between performers, electronics and video/lighting. This piece features different approaches to the use of electronics and multimedia, closed synchronized with live performers, raising several questions concerning performance, compositional and programming processes. Several distinct systems are implemented on a Max application built for Plastic Air, always in a close relation to the musical score, providing a strong and robust audio/visual synchronization, allowing an extremely precise and rhythmic musical discourse between performers and computer. In another hand this system also provides different levels of flexibility to the performers, creating a continuous changing between fully notated moments and improvisation sections.

Keywords: mixed music; synchronization; multimedia


Born in Porto, 1989, and currently living in Amsterdam, Igor C Silva is a composer devoted to electronics and new media music, creating projects were performers, computers and many noisy and psychedelic things happen on stage,creating a multi sensorial experience. Silva works regularly with ensembles, performers and orchestras, receiving many commissions from ensembles and festivals, and publishing several recordings with his music. Igor C Silva also works regularly with soloists, ensembles and jazz groups, devoting part of his musical and composing activity to improvisation and interactive performances with electronics and multimedia tools. On upcoming projects stands out the concerts in several festivals including a premiere of a new multimédia opera for Gaudeamus MuziekWeek 2019, an artistic residency at Drumming Percussion Group (2018), premieres of new multimédia pieces, and concerts in Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Norway, USA and Korea.