It was hard to take over this year’s DIGA 361: Audio Recording & Production course after the loss of my colleague Ethan Greene. He is still sorely missed by me and the students, who were all looking forward to working with him in the sound studio this term. In many ways, these are his students; I just took care of them for a few weeks.
Together, we pressed on to learn about the sound studio and completed 13 final projects that together make up another fine MP3 mixtape. The 2015 edition features witch house, break-up songs, drinking songs, holiday medleys, original sound tracks and so much more.
The palm court is one of the most photographed locations on Stetson University’s DeLand campus. Pictures of it can be seen in brochures and on the website. Visitors pause by the fountain and try to frame the trees just right. New graduates rush to take one last photo with their friends after being dismissed from commencement. It’s one of those locations that seems to have a pull on people, demanding that they take their camera out and snap a photograph. This visual compulsion led me to question how I could respond with my own sonic action. I have always been interested in the ability of headphones to transport the listener to a new space and convey perspective sonically, and decided to create a piece conceived for headphones.
Between November 2014 and April 2015, I embarked on the task of recording three minutes of audio at each one of the 120 trees on the palm court. This resulted in over six hours of material that was then stitched together into five compositions according to five distinct sections of the palm court. The quick edits require listeners to constantly reorient their position within the palm court, a task which draws attention to the fountain’s sonic presence. This juxtaposition also reveals reoccurring sounds that add to the character of the palm court, such as the squeak of doors opening, the drone of planes flying overhead, and the whirr of lawn mowers on the ground. The longer segments let the drama of certain ephemeral events unfold, like people moving past the microphone’s fixed position and conversations captured that were never meant to be overheard.
Throughout the process of creating this piece, people repeatedly asked me, “What do the trees say?” I always gently corrected them by responding, “it’s more about what they hear.” After spending some time with this installation, my hope is that listeners can better appreciate the soundscape these silent witnesses inhabit.
During the first week in August, I spent the majority of my time installing every tree in the Hand Art Center. Below is a selection of images that I posted to social media to share the installation process with others along the way. Many thanks for the HAC staff for their assistance with the painting. This project will be open to the public on August 14.
One of the highlights of my work on Jamoma has been the workshops. Not only are they opportunities to visit interesting places, but they provide time and space to focus my efforts on coding with a set of truly remarkable collaborators. The workshops are unique in the way they get everyone involved in Jamoma energized about the project and propel things forward.
During our time together, we made some bold decisions about the future of the project that I am hopeful will improve the project in significant ways. They include:
Instead of 0.6-alpha, the next Jamoma release will be our 1.0-beta. There was a consensus that Jamoma has been in alpha long enough and now feels like it has a stable set of features. Moving to beta and then release will hopefully provide people outside the development team with more confidence in what we know to be a valuable tool for artist production.
The C++ core will undergo a major refactor called jamoma2, with an aim of transitioning to a headers only library. This should provide a unique solution for audio processing and make the Jamoma Core easier to incorporate in the development of plug-ins or apps.
My thanks to Tim Place, Trond Lossius, Jan Schacher and Max Mustermann for making the trip and being willing to think big! The months ahead look to be pretty busy as we work to follow through on these initiatives together.
Watching a Delta rocket launch during a break at the beach.
Last November, I travelled to Zürich to work with Virgil Moorefield and his Bicontinental Pocket Orchestra. The performance was the result of months of programming by myself, as well as other preparations by a top notch team of individuals. Now there is video of the new intermedia work we premiered at the Kunsthaus, Chakra Spiral. You can watch it here:
In addition, these concerts featured a new work by Jeffrey Weeter, one of my graduate school classmates at Northwestern. It was great to see Jeff again and hear what he has been working on. You can see and hear that piece here:
Winter break is often a time to catch up on things. Without the usual daily and weekly routines of the semester, I often find I can pour long hours of focussed attention into a project between all the family festivities. This year, I had been think about my previous Max external development since talking to Eric Lyon about his book while in Greece for ICMC 2014. At that time, I started thinking that I needed to take better care of this old code and make it more accessible. The release of Max 7 soon after that confirmed for me that I needed to refresh this work, but it was the winter break that gave me time to dive in.
LowkeyNW Max package on GitHub
So I am pleased to announce that my Max externals are now available on GitHub complete with source code. All objects have been updated to work with the 64-bit version of Max on OS X and organized into a convenient package format. If you have used the Granular Toolkit or gverb~ external in the past, this should allow to you migrate patches to Max 7 and take advantage of the 64-bit sound processing. In addition, I am also producing short YouTube videos as I go along, so that people can easily see and hear what these externals do:
Some may be wondering, what does this mean for my involvement with Jamoma? Nothing. In fact, you may see me take advantage of some integration between the two projects as things move forward. But for now, I am just enjoying new life for some old friends that have become key parts of my sonic toolbox.
Overall, it was a very large conference in a spectacular setting. It was great to catch up on the work that so many people are doing during the day, then steal away for a few hours to take in the amazing landmarks around the city. Certainly one of the most memorable conferences I have ever attended!
Panorama from top of Areopagus, with Parthenon looming above on the right.
This summer, I returned to online teaching for Stetson with CSCI 111Q Intro to Computing. This course uses Processing to introduce fundamental programming concepts and is required of all Digital Arts majors at Stetson. I enjoyed the opportunity to review these concepts myself and get my feet wet with Processing, which I now find to be a fun and fast language for visual prototyping.
For the final project, students produced versions of Spacewar!, a classic computer game with a lot of moving parts. We broke it down to individual components and built the game step by step during the seven week summer semester. The video below shows game play from each completed project:
Spring 2014 gave me the chance to teach Audio Recording and Production 2 again. Although it was not during the summer like last time, I decided to keep the album challenge intact. With a much larger class this time, we were able to break into five groups working on five albums! Although there were some tense moments, each group turned in over 30 minutes of new music by the end of the semester. It’s really amazing how much music can be made if you just get to work.
The genres range from hip-hop to house to rockabilly to sea shanties, sometimes within the same album. You can download their MP3 or M4A albums at the links below and import them into your iTunes library. Listen and enjoy!
Evolution of Hip Hop (WARNING explicit lyrics) – produced by Robert Conte, Stephanie Rendell, Hallie Plunkett & Brinson Swann download ZIP archive – 48.7 MB – 10 tracks, 39 minutes
Fusion – produced by Aidan Marsicovetere, Dillon Moore, Maurie Murray, Joe Palermo & Victoria Williams download ZIP archive – 72.2 MB – 9 tracks, 33 minutes
(Kol)Las is Moore – produced by Paul Kollas & Trey Moore download ZIP archive – 51 MB – 12 tracks, 36 minutes
Soup Dat Sop – produced by Kevin Dull, Rich Fendler, Chad Grenier & JP Menegolo download ZIP archive – 81.5 MB – 11 tracks, 39 minutes
The Vans Bros (What’s the album called?) – produced by Matt Forkas, Ben Griffith, Thomas Ingui & Tavish Papp download ZIP archive – 87.1 MB – 10 tracks, 44 minutes