3.3  HubRenga

A video of the Hub (shot by Johanna Poethig) was made during the performance in KPFA's studio in Berkeley. Composers Barbara Golden and Kenneth Atchley are also heard reading the poetry, along with Ramon Sender.

Itself a collaborative ensemble, it was a natural development for the Hub to collaborate with other composers, acoustic musicians, and artists. One of the first and most ambitious of these came about in 1989 through the association of several members of the band with the San Francisco composer, writer, and performance artist Ramon Sender. Ramon was also involved in artistic collaboration using computer networks, in his case with writers on a poetry conference hosted on the Bay Area's local computer network called "The Well". Ramon's poets had been extending concepts from the traditional Japanese collaborative poetry form called "Renga", which is related in its syllabic structure to haiku. In Renga the participants trade writing lines, linking each line to the next using common themes. With the support of a grant from the InterArts Program of the National Endowment for the Arts, we produced a unique poetry/music/radio performance called "HubRenga". KPFA, the flagship Pacifica radio station in Berkeley, was the radio sponsor for the project, and this description of the project appeared in their Folio program guide:


Thursday Sept. 7 [1989] 9-11 PM Music Special hosted by Charles Amirkhanian.

Tonight's show is a live performance from KPFA's sound studio of "HubRenga", an audience-interactive, music/poetry piece made possible by the communication between two computer networks. The collaborators in the creation of this piece are Bay Area computer music band The Hub, novelist and musician Ramon Sender, and poets from the poetry conference of The Well.

The Well (Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link) is an electronic network that operates in the Bay Area facilitating communication between people interested in arts and alternative lifestyles. The poetry conference is a continuing forum about poetry which subscribers to The Well can join to exchange their ideas and work. A participant uses a personal computer and modem to phone up The Well, and then browses through contributions that other users have made about the topic of interest, and can leave responses, or start new ideas that remain in the Well for others to read.

Ramon Sender, a co-founder of the seminal San Francisco Tape Music Center in the 1960's, has been the moderator of this conference in the past few years. The Hub is a band of electronic music composers that uses a small micro-computer (also called "the hub") to share data among each of it's member's independent computer-music systems. The Hub has developed a repertoire of pieces that uses this interdependence in a lively, performance oriented way.

During the performance poets will submit poetry to the piece through the Well. At KPFA, Ramon, as moderator, will browse through the submissions as they come in, reading them aloud as a part of the music. One Hub member will be also receiving the texts on his computer, which will be programmed to filter it for specific "key words" that have been determined in advance of the performance to trigger specific musical responses from The Hub. During the performance, poets will be listening to the piece over the radio while they are shaping it through their communication with The Well. The purpose of the piece is to create with this technology a situation in which a large network of collaborators is tied together from various remote locations in creating an interactive performance.

The piece was made possible by an InterArts grant from the NEA, administered by New Langton Arts in San Francisco."

Here are the words that were chosen by the Well's poets as the keywords, or themes, for the HubRenga performance:

embrace echo twist rumble keystone whisper charm magic worth Kaiser schlep habit mirth swap split join plus minus grace change grope skip virtuoso root bind zing wow earth intimidate outside phrase honor silt dust scan coffee vertigo online transfer hold message quote shimmer swell ricochet pour ripple rebound duck dink scintillate old retreat non-conformist flower sky cage synthesis silence crump trump immediate smack blink

In 1990 John Bischoff and Mark Trayle co-authored an article called "Paper HubRenga" that uses these "power words," as well as Chris Brown's favorite lines from the original HubRenga performance as themes for discussing the Hub, and network music generally.

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