Explanatory notes: Pluton

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Pluton (1988), by Philippe Manoury, is a piece for piano and computer lasting about 48-51 minutes. The computer senses the performer's piano playing through a MIDI interface. This is used to synchronize the computer with the piano (using score following) and also as a source of additional control. Manoury explores the idea of using the pianist's interpretation of the score to control various parameters of the computer's actions. These computer actions take the form of synthesis, processing of the piano sounds, and spatialization.

Pluton is especially interesting from a software standpoint since it was the first musical production ever to use Max (although another piece, by Philippe Durieux, made it to stage first). The piece is for solo piano and live electronics. In its first incarnation, the patch (on a Macintosh II) controlled a 4X which carried out the audio processing. In 1991 Pluton was ported to the ISPW, which permitted the audio processing and the ``control" to be unified in a single Max/FTS patch. This version has been played at least once outside IRCAM, using ``Max/FTS 0.26" on an SGI machine. IRCAM has dropped Max/FTS but maintains Pluton on jMax; so its inclusion here is meant more as a benchmark for Pd than as a means of keeping Pluton in the repertory, although it is always beneficial to have more than one possible implementation of such a milestone in the development of live computer music practice.

Importing the Max/FTS patch into Pd was fairly straightforward. There has probably been some breakage in the patch's lineage, since the ISPW snapshot of 1994 was used (in 2001) for the Pd port. At least two modifications made at IRCAM since 1994 are not reflected in this version of the patch. First, Les Stuck added support for a MIDI fader bank that controlled the output levels of the various processes separately. Second, judging from Ilmo Ranta's recording of 1998, Manoury probably went back and added modulation to the piano sound in a few spots, most audibly early in section 4, and perhaps also to the "Markov chain" at the end of section 2.