It’s interesting, this idea of the composer performing alone onstage, simultaneously with her or his past self, whether immediate (via live looping) or more distant (via recorded track). This was the unifying feature of Instrument Unbound at 92Y Tribeca, which featured sets by composers Jennifer Stock (also the curator of the concert), Florent Ghys, Angélica Negrón, and Lesley Flanigan. It was composers unbound from the constraints of time, but also unbound from the often unwieldy act of performing with other people, a sort of streamlining of the creative process.

Jennifer Stock’s set was divided into five parts; in each, the electronic track enveloped her piano playing, often beginning and ending sections while she sat like us in the audience, listening. The music had major and minor scale hues, and was also open sounding (more sixths than thirds, e.g.). There were times of metrical activity, and times when the rhythmic element manifested itself more loosely. The energy of the music and the accompanying video was a notch above ambient, creating a subtle mood that nonetheless drew you in.

Florent Ghys’ set featured live looping of both his double bass playing and the video captured by the laptop sitting next to him. He achieved parts of this by using the iPad that was affixed to the front of his bass. There was a playful aspect to his set, the ebullient bass gestures repeating at a catchy beat, the videos of himself splitting in time with the music into four frames that spun and shrunk away into a white screen. After his set, the barefoot Ghys asked the audience to approach him with any feedback, as he was still experimenting with the technology.

As a matter of necessity, Angélica Negrón writes on her site that lately she has been thrust into the role of composer/performer; performing her music live by herself has become a “rite of passage” that her new songs must go through before she arranges them for others. A collector of toy instruments, her live performance featured a gentle layering of ethereal sound, her whispery singing floating in and out of the texture.

Lesley Flanigan is in many ways the perfect example of the solo composer/performer, building her own instruments and relying only on a PA system and microphone to broadcast her music to the audience. Flanigan creates her sounds by holding the microphone near her handmade speakers to achieve varying levels of feedback, which are then looped to create rich textures of sound. She also vocalizes into the microphone, the overall effect that of a dissipating intimacy.

Instrument Unbound told a compelling story of the writers of music, one in which both their process and sentiments were openly displayed on the stage. The audience saw, at least partially, the compositional process in action, and heard the composer’s voice directly, unaltered.