Flags of a Dead Ship explores the nature of the electric guitar and it’s use alongside digital technology. It also attempts to wrestle the electric guitar away from the aesthetics of rock music and as a sound source for various sonic processes.
The piece separates the acoustic sound of the instrument from the amplified sound of the guitar. It uses it creatively to explore the nature of the performance space through the use of room microphones, by sampling and re-playing strums of the guitars out from the P.A and into a feedback system which allow the resonant frequencies of the room to become evident. It also makes use of the whole signal chain of the electric guitar – from strings to the ear, by using the amplifier as an active part of the composition. One guitar amplifier is stripped apart and ‘prepared’ with various objects and performed by directly manipulating the speaker cone itself to produce textural and rhythmic material. 3 Guitarists play a series of chords, as conducted by the laptop operator which are processed in real-time through custom-made software in Max/MSP. They play continuously throughout the piece to create a constantly, hypnotic rhythm.