At MUME 2013 this weekend I had the opportunity to hear Al Bile’s GenJam. GenJam is a jazz improviser that improvises using genetic algorithms. In his TED Talk he performs with the system and explains its inner workings.
Last October Mike McFerron hosted another MusicBYTES concert at Lewis University. The bi-annual event featured a short program of video pieces, and was referred to as a mini-concert by McFerron. It took place in Ives Hall in the Orson Fine Arts Building on the Lewis University campus. McFerron presided over the concert, casually dressed in a brown sweater and jeans. After introducing the event, he kicked it off with a piece called Graveshift by Per Bloland and Arie Stavchansky.
Graveshift – Through a rain-streaked cafe window, surveillance of a street scene is digitally transformed into a fluid chaos comprised of paranoia, ghostly figures, and alterations of reality. Echoes of a forgotten song float above the milieu, now gaining and now losing coherence. It is an image plagued by distortion, but this distortion emerges from quietness, and recedes once again into the same.
Then we saw Confined 10-01-2 by Paul J. Bohelho and Russell J. Chartier.
That was followed by Made In… by Hsiao-Lan Wang and Benoit Granier.
Next up came McFerron’s Prelude to You Brought this on Yourself.
Prelude to You Brought this On Yourself is the result of the collaborative production of a play by George Miller, my colleague at Lewis University. In his play, Dr. Miller sets in context the true story of a young female high school student who suffered enormous ridicule and even physical assault for the sole reason that she was openly homosexual. The principal of the High School where this occurred justified the assault by explaining to the parents, “she brought this on herself.”
This composition is not a commentary on religion, media, politics, or homosexuality. Above all, it is not an attempt to glorify, condone, or condemn homosexuality. Instead, this work is a commentary on a society’s intolerance of a human voice seeking neither audience nor acceptance – only existence.
Written in 2008, this fixed media composition features singer Jillian Kelm.
Then NGC 1999 by Samuel Pellman and Miranda Raimondi.
And Becoming 3-2 by Evan X. Merz.
The second to last piece was flutter arrhythmias by Charles Norman Mason and Sheri Willis.
flutter arrhythmias was originally conceived as a site-specific three screen installation which enveloped the viewer on three sides. It was installed at the Islip Museum of Art, Carriage House in New York in 2008. It was inspired by sounds from the installation space: the train in the distance, the birds, and the combination of mechanical and natural sounds.
Despite some brief technical difficulties, the short concert flowed smoothly. The program was a diverse, but even mix of well-traveled composers such as Per Bloland, and less familiar composers. The audience was a small group of around 100 Lewis students and local musicians.
Browsing the most recent issue of the SEAMUS newsletter, I noticed a link to a recorded version of Kevin Austin’s lecture on Stockhausen’s Kontakte. In this lecture, Austin breaks down Kontakte, and tries to make the piece listener-friendly. At SEAMUS 2009, he also handed out a packet, which contains his listening notes for the piece. These notes guide the listener through Austin’s 38 subdivisions of the piece, giving the listener cues for each moment of the work.
I am going to try and get Kevin on the phone for an interview later this week.
50th Anniversary of UofI Experimental Music Studios
At the end of his presentation on the 50th anniversary of the founding of the University of Illinois Experimental Music Studios, Scott Wyatt handed out a 4-CD set of music produced in the studios. It’s a pretty comprehensive collection, containing tracks from composers like Lejaren Hiller, Herbert Brun, Sever Tipei and Scott Wyatt. But it also contains some nice gems from composers who I was only vaguely familiar with.
The 4-CD set is certainly one of the nicest freebies that I’ve ever gotten at one of these conferences.
More Coverage of SEAMUS 2009 on Other Blogs
Nathan Edwards, one of my travelling companions, has posted some nice pictures and blog posts about the conference.
Asymmetry Music Magazine just posted a rundown of last year’s conference, and I know that they will be posting a review of this year’s conference shortly.
The SEAMUS 2009 Program
If you’re still curious about what you missed, you can get the SEAMUS 2009 program from the Sweetwater site. It’s worth browsing, just to get an overview of the music that was presented.
Later this week I will be posting a few final links related to the music at SEAMUS, if I can manage to track down a few more recordings.
This is Christopher Ariza giving an interesting talk on a pioneer of algorithmic composition who was previously unknown to me: Sister Harriet Padberg
And this is Scott Wyatt speaking on the 50th anniversary of The University of Illinois Experimental Music Studio.
And here is just another sound check.
At the 10am concert, one of the more interesting pieces was Tae Hong Park’s ViPer. The piece was scheduled for a live performance, but at the last minute, the performers were unable to be there. So we listened to a recorded version, which was still quite compelling.
This piece has no program notes, and the only note online reads “for violin, drum kit and 7 channel tape.”