Christopher Tignor Standing at the Crossroads of Computers and Classical with New Video for "Shapeshifting"
Written by Dimitri Kandilanaftis on June 29th, 2016
The challenge of the modern day musician is how to create a lot of noise, all by yourself, and do it live. Most accomplish this with computer backing tracks, which is unsatisfying, while some create Rube Goldberg contraptions, which are novel, but distracting. Christopher Tignor has a more elegant solution that’s computerized, but live. You can see it at work in the video below.
Tignor is a Brooklyn based violinist, composer, and software engineer who recently released a new music video for song “Shapeshifting” off his upcoming album Along A Vanishing Plane. The video below features his software and composition mastery in action. Directed by Sara Kinney, it exhibits Chris Tignor recreating track “Shapeshifting” live. Tignor sits stoically, not unlike a mad genius, weaving percussion, triangle arrangements, and whimsical synths around finely plucked violin strings, culminating in shifting, enticing harmonies. The arrangement is graceful and sparse; performed by one man without any backing track or looping pedals, creating an expansive and full sound live without reliance on recordings.
Echoes listeners should be familiar with Christopher Tignor from his three albums with his classically-influenced band Slow Six and two albums with his spirited duo Wires Under Tension. Immersing himself in the 90s minimalist scene, he worked as an assistant for avant-garde composer LaMonte Young while learning sound engineering working for a music festival produced by Phillip Glass as well as studying computer science at New York University and music composition at Princeton. His formal education coupled with his live sound mixing work at New York nightclubs have enabled Christopher Tignor to make acoustic instruments coexist beautifully with computers in a live setting. The results are soundscapes and compositions delicately crafted and seamlessly built. His melodies mend ambient, classical, and electronic, all executed with fragile control.
In an effort to aid live electronic musicians, he developed this piece of software to facilitate a more organic electronic experience. The software, found here, is, as the site states: “A way to performatively (sic) transform live sound as it streams into your computer from microphones or otherwise using commercially available Midi controllers you can get good at with practice.” Essentially, it’s an attempt for live electronic music to maintain expression and naturalness. As he proclaims: “[the software is] an effort toward keeping electronic music truly live, 100% rooted in sonic expressions made in the same room with the audience.” The software is distributed freely and open source to the public.
Christopher Tignor makes “experimental” meaningful with implementations of software meeting art and raveling to uncharted territories. He stands at the crossroads of antiquity and modern. Fusing software with classical, the ingenuity of his work is ever-apparent. Along a Vanishing Plane is out in September.