The Locust Tree In Flower (2000), interactive multimedia installation

physical installation in a museum, gallery, or concert hall lobby

designed for use by a single person at a time

text by William Carlos Williams

Duration: 4 minutes


The Locust Tree in Flower is an interactive multimedia installation, based on a poem by William Carlos Williams. The installation invites a single person at a time to create and perform a musical setting of the poem by simply reading it. A short piece of music is generated in real time by applying digital processing, mixing, and looping to the user's voice.

The installation makes use of new synthesis algorithms which were developed by the composer. These algorithms use techniques adapted from a field of mathematics known as cellular automata. While the overall form and structure of the piece is pre-determined, all of the sounds themselves are produced in real time, and they vary according to the pitch, timbre, and inflection of the user's voice.

A common audio processing technique called phase vocoding is also used in the installation. Phase vocoding is used to repeat highly compressed copies of the sounds a user has already generated earlier in the piece. These compressed repetitions highlight phonetic relationships within the text.

Exhibition History

Masterpieces of Twentieth-Century Tape Music, Lincoln Center Festival's "Electronic Evolution" series, July 2000, New York City.

Heavy Music for Light People, May 2001, Flea Theater, New York City.

Living With The Genie, March 2002, New York City.


"The Locust Tree in Flower" by William Carlos Williams, from COLLECTED POEMS: 1909-1939, VOLUME I. Copyright (c) 1938 by New Directions Publishing Corp., Used by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.