Composer Highlight: David Bird / by and Play


And for the the last in our 'Composer Highlight' series, (drumroll, please) it is my pleasure to introduce you to David!  

 Could you tell us about the title or inspiration for your piece?

A Bézier curve is a parametric curve used in computer graphics and associated fields. In vector graphics, Bézier curves are used to model smooth curves that can be scaled indefinitely. In the time domain, particularly in animation and interface design, a Bézier curve can be used to specify the velocity over time of an object such as an icon moving from A to B, rather than simply moving at a fixed number of pixels per step. So when animators or interface designers talk about the "physics" or "feel" of an operation, they may often be referring to the particular Bézier curve used to control the velocity over time of the move in question.

I compose much of my music in a graphic design software called Adobe Illustrator. A graphic-based software like this allows me to get fairly expressive with the look and design of my notation, and one of the expressive tools I use most frequently is the Bezier curve. In fact, the third page of my score for andPlay employs a number of Bezier curves for expressive depictions of timbral transformations over time. So as I was inputing the sketched material for the andPlay piece into my computer I became curious about the history of this graphic design tool, as the name Bezier seemed somewhat exotic in this context. 

I found that the device was named after Pierre Bézier, a French engineer and one of the founders of the fields of solid, geometric and physical modeling as well as in the field of representing curves. He was also a designer and engineer at the French automobile company Renault, where he became a leader in the transformation of design and manufacturing through mathematics and computer-aided design and three-dimensional modeling. His curve algorithms were used in the design of many of Renault’s automobile bodies in the 1960s and 1970s.

As a kid I was fascinated with car design, and it seemed as if most of my elementary school science projects had something to do with wind-tunnels or aerodynamics. I owe this interest to my father who had studied to be a car designer, but whose intuitive artistic talents landed him positions as a graphic designer for an array of car magazines in the Los Angeles area. After researching Pierre Bézier for the andPlay piece, and noting his influence on both the fields automobile and graphic design, I called my father to speak of this interesting historical confluence, as it seemed strangely relevant to his discipline.  

After our conversation, I realized that it had been an unusually long time since I had last spoke to him, and for this I felt particularly guilty and self-centered. I knew at this point, that this communication was more important to either of us than the particular histories of graphic or automobile design, and I was embarrassed to have used this as a premise for conversation. Of course there was something unique about the chain of events leading to this moment, something as digressive and curvaceous as the contours of a parametric curve, a sequence of events as rambling as this programatic description or even the piece which will have its premiere this Friday, and I found something forgiving in the smoothness of this curve, which hung at the apex of Pierre Bézier and connected two disparate individuals for the first time in a while. 


What can listeners expect or listen for in your piece?

More circuitous ramblings.

 What is your current snack of choice?


What have you been listening to?

Death Grips.

To read more about David and his compositions check out his website