Musical Duels: The "Non-Virtual" versus the "Virtual" in Musical Battles


I've been writing and performing musical duels for quite a while. I was fortunate to battle a broad variety of musicians ranging from virtuoso string players to modular synthesizer maniacs. It is not only loads of fun to play but also a huge boost of adrenaline, which I have only experienced before during my time as a committed windsurfer! If on top of the equation we add the fact that these musicians' battles involve trespassing the boundaries between virtual and non-virtual worlds, one can expect anything but boreness.

Musical duels are not new, in fact are quite popular. Bach versus Marchand, Steibelt vs. Beethoven, Kaila Mullady vs. Chiwawa ... from classical music to beat boxing, skilful musicians have historically challenged each other to a contest but rarely played against machines. Terms and rules of these musical battles are always clearly set and may include a range of virtuosic exercises, inventive improvisations, imitations and call-back defiant musical gestures. In most cases performers seek humiliating defeats or engaging in collaborative playing.

My Duel compositions make use of game-engine technology to feature a musical battle between non-virtual and virtual musicians exploring different forms of representation on stage.

Duels explore musical interactivity across “rounds”, as sonic miniatures focused on restricted ideas which range from idiomatic techniques and rhythmic challenges to Musikalisches Würfelspiel notation-like cards. Competitive rounds lead to an open-form playground where anthropomorphic instruments navigate and compose the virtual space.

At another level, these pieces explore aspects of philosophy in computer games and new media art and borrow ideas from a number of bizarre disciplines.

I have made extensive use of my virtual instrument creations to battle non-virtual performers such as, Sigma Project (Saxophone Quartet), Shuxin Meng (pipa player), Marij Von Gorkom (bass clarinet), Mark Pilkington (VCS3), Rodrigo de León Garza (Modular Synth), Miquel Bernat (Timbila), Darragh Morgan (violin), Barbara Lueneburg (violin) and Lorenzo Triviño (violin).

Ricardo Climent. August 2019, Berlin.

NohVirtual Duel


Duel of Strings

Duel of Woodwinds

S.laag battle

Pipa Duel

VCS3 Duel

Timbila - Marimba Mozambique