Sound Art

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9 [THUMP] . . . (2015 ) [In development . . . ]

8 [public] (2015) There are simply too many local public outlets for me to tap into, to get "free power," like on subway platforms as of old--110 juice. (I once spun a few discs while waiting for the subway at Sullivan Station.) Still unsure the ratio balance between art and shock that I would like to produce. This town is . . . let us just say that I should be "nice." [In development . . . ]

7 [bounce] (2014– ) with the assistance of Ben Steinberg . . . Preliminary stress tests underway with both the studiofil and Ben. Signal has already been bounced from Los Molinos, CA to Somerville, MA. Not bounced back . . . yet. Fear the loop. Make net latency your friend. [January 8, 2015]

6 [feedback loops] (2009– ) originally planned for two remotely-networked linux computers (one static-location desktop and one remote laptop), but since modified to incorporate live web broadcasting, each with its own audio input source (microphone) where my “wanderings” are relayed back to the studio, modified, then bounced back in a virtual feedback loop, effected by both net latency and other additional delay modifications. Simple applications include live field-recordings of bird songs in Boston’s Arnold Arboretum (or even the din of a local Starbucks—anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection) being bounced back to the home studio, modified by its own inherent acoustical properties, then reinterpreted and modified once again by the remote source.

[studiocheck 3] (2007) for voice, AM radio, rattle drum, tambourine rattle, toy firetruck, and pitch pipe. A project intended to test audio input and open-source applications on my then newly-created linux computer. Despite the ridiculousness of this particular “piece,” it was an 8-layer stereo multi-tracked endeavor, not a one-shot take.

improv 5 (2006) [live] for ElectroComp EML-200 alone consists of several gestural/aural concepts juxtaposed against one another, striving to assert their individual presence within the foreground. There are several major sections, each focusing on one of the consituent components, or a combination of several in dialogue. Moments of stasis provide relief from the constant pulse of the master oscillator underlying the entire structure until its final deterioration, then restructured repetition in rhythmic frustration towards the end.

improv 4 (2005) [live] for ElectroComp EML-200 and SampleCell II was an inprovisation from studiofil [trailer park] in two movements. The first features William Burroughs reading exerpts from Naked Lunch and Nova Express manipulated by the EML-200. The second movement is a play, a dance, a struggle between two samples taken from Béla Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta, triggered via MIDI keyboard.

Look of Love [studiocheck 2] (2005) is probably the worst bit of music I’ve ever made. Luckily it was only a test project, and not ‘serious’ music. I began with the sheet music of Burt Bacharach’s The Look of Love, entered it into the computer as MIDI data and went from there. There are four seperate voice tracks, two of me speaking the text and two singing.

Oxygen [studiocheck 1] (2004) a test piece created only for the sake of checking my equipment in the new studio. The piece is an arrangement of a MIDI file of Jean-Michel Jarre’s Oxygen. It’s not the greatest song, nor is this arrangement.

improv 3 (2004) [live] for ElectroComp EML-200 was featured on Sonic Supper’s “Telephone Music” in January 2005, and appeared during an interview with Sonic Supper creator Michael Carriera on NPR’s The Next Big Thing. [Listen to the show here]

stasis for viola and computer (2002) Melinda Hirsch, viola. Created at the Boston University Electro-Acoustic Music Studio with live sound manipulation via a Roland VP-70 and real-time Csound effects controlled by a Fostex Mixtab.

the whale (2002) Created at the Boston University Electro-Acoutstic Music Studio using ‘found samples’ and Csound manipulations of a reading from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.

5 [“Are you receiving?”] with Luis Obregon (2001) [live] for two performers and electronics was a highly experimental work that focused on live, real-time granular synthesis and spatial placement. The audience was situated in the middle of four speakers arranged to form the corners of a square. The work began with a live, spoken sample of one person saying “Yes” and the other answering with “Hello”. Both of these samples were then passed into the delay unit of a Yamaha DMP-11 with the delay time and feedback gain slowly increased. Once the maximum settings on the DMP-11 were reached the delayed sound was cross-faded into a real-time granular synthesis network of the same samples, allowing for pitch shifting and formant manipulation. The differing results from the different equipment were passed to one of four output channels during the entire process. At the climax of the piece, approximately two-thirds of the way through, the words “Are you receiving? Are you perceiving?” were spoken into a microphone, modified by a ring modulator, producing something similar to poor quality telephone sound. From that point onward the rate of the samples decreased in frequency functioning like a slow, textural decrescendo, in effect much like a retrograde of the opening but at a faster pace.

5 [take 1] with Luis Obregon (2001) [live] an improvisation from studiofil [Somerville] a few weeks before the public premiere. This trial run served as the basis for discussion that would lead us to the final result. The later, public version suffered from us not having a turntable available for the grand finale (I had snapped the needle on mine the night before), and also from a sonic stasis that developed mid-piece. This earlier version suffered from an overuse of delay effects. However, in hindsight both Luis and I have decided that this earlier version better represents the essence and intent of the work as originally conceived.

The subtitle of the later piece, “Are you receiving?” was originally meant as a retort to the dialog between Eastern music, namely Balinesian singing and gamelan orchestra, and western analog electronica. As the piece progresses a middle ground is searched for by both parties, myself on EML-200 and Luis sampling from Bali. The two ‘voices’ never seem to establish communication, no matter the effort, no matter how lyrical the oscillators, nor how electronically distorted and manipulated the Balinesian music. Each episode of near communication ends with a sense of frustration and despair. The spoken text, modified electronically, attempts to serve as moderator between the two, but becomes only commentary as the voices fail in their attempt at “perceiving” one another.

moment (2001) [live] represents stillness, like a wind chime moving slowly in a light breeze, the French notion of ennui, music as stasis, coming and going, a passing—motion and the lack thereof. An expression of waiting and a division of time; longing, stillness and patience. An etude for EML-200 and stereo delay unit. 3 pitches—note, its octave and, the note above the first—stand separately, combine, or ring modulate one another, with white noise added for spice. A live improvisation from studiofil [Somerville] late one night.

Vladivostok . . . (2001) was created at the Boston University Electro-Acoustic Music Studio with Philip on ARP Odyssey and Panagiotis Liaropoulos singing and playing an Alesis QS6. The text is idiomatic Greek discussing the consequenses of radioactivity:

Construct 2 (2001) [live] an improvisation from studiofil [Somerville] broadcasted on a 1-watt FM transmitter. This work featured the filter bank of the EML-200, sounds taken from a microphone placed in front of an AM radio, delayed feed back from the monitor speakers, and the Csound delay unit used in 4. Other samples included excerpts from Pablo Casals’s El pessebre, and Bach’s Six Suites for Solo Violoncello performed by Casals himself.

Construct 1a and 1b (2000) [live] were improvisations at studiofil [Somerville] that functioned as test runs of a software based real-time digital delay unit I created in Csound. Sounds were produced with QuickTime (a bell-like tone), EML-200 (a glissando gesture) and my turntable (“Jump” by the Pointer Sisters).

4 [supercello] (2000) [live] written for cello, computer and EML-200, this piece was the culmination of my work with real-time Csound effect units at the time. Included are the digital delay unit used in Construct 1a and 1b, harmonizer and reverb. The musical excerpts played live are taken from Benjamin Britten’s Suite for Violoncello No. 1 and William Walton’s Passacaglia for Solo Cello. Superimposed at different points throughout the piece is the reading of a line from Baudelaire [“Et dans cette nature étrange et symbolique”] that was slowed down and dropped in pitch. The words are reproduced in their correct order only at the beginning of the piece. Latter occurrences present the separate words in a randomized order and, depending on location, modified by the ring modulator of the EML-200.

I Pitty the Fool (2000) a transformative manipulation of the classic Mr. T quote, created with Csound.

3 (1999) [live] was originally conceived as an inside joke between myself and percussionist Michael Carreira. We wanted several huge, overly exaggerated cardboard sheets (3’ x 2.5’) to hold up music for us performers—a wall from which to hide behind. Over time a serious work emerged. Samples of William Burroughs reading from Naked Lunch and Heinrich Schütz’s Erbarm dich mein, O Herre Gott were filtered through the external input of a vintage, 1983 ARP Odyssey, accompanied by a full battery of percussion instruments. With this piece we explored the percussive aspects of the human voice, and the similarities between both pitched and non-pitched percussion instruments and electronically generated sounds. In this first performance, presented here, there are three climatic points, movement, versus the stasis of the interludes. The overall structure of the piece is a progression of the C# drone to the final resolution on B. The third performance of this work appeared as part of the first ever Boston CyberArts Festival.

Jack & the Beasties (1998) a short segment featured in beat to keep, but in that piece it appears too fast to be identifiable. In this short outtake the Jack Keroac quote is superimposed both forward and backward onto the Beastie Boys sample.

beat to keep (1998) an electronic piece fully realized in Csound on a Macintosh 7100/66. All samples were processed using a non-graphical interface, i.e., sound editing and manipulation were the result of numerical calculation. The main component is a sample from and read by beat poet Jack Keroac: It’s the beat to keep, it’s the beat of the heart. A sampled wood block, white noise, and a snippet from the Beastie Boys’ High Plains Drifter also appear in differing guises.

mer [mère] (1997) a play on the French words which, although pronounced similarly, have two distinct meanings—sea and mother. An electronic piece created at the Boston University Electro-Acoustic Music Studio with an Alesis QS6, Roland D-50, Roland VP-70, granular synthesis, and samples from a Balenisian lullaby (also featured in 5).

Music for Ibsen’s A Doll’s House (1996) for solo cello. Commissioned by the American River College Theater (Sacramento, CA), this incidental music was as much performance as composition. Dressed in a tuxedo, I played live from the side of the stage each night sans music stand, providing commentary to the dramatic action both directly and indirectly. In effect, I became another character within the drama, although one not originally intended by the playwright.

2 (1994) was my first attempt at working with computers and MIDI. This performance was part of the first ever electro-acoustic music concert at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana. Under the supervision of Dr. Louis Chenette I managed to create this piece on a Macintosh LCII running Performer 3.0, played by an E-mu Proteus 2 module. The work is in standard A-B-A form with the final A section a retrograde of the first, and a short coda confirming the overriding key of D minor. The B section shows the influence of electronic dance music remeniscent of my years as a turntablist.

1 (Solo Cello) (1988) an arrangement of “Solo Cello” by Laurie Anderson from her United States Live album with newly composed piano accompaniment.