Study No. 1 for Bodies, Metal, and Air (2010) – in collaboration with Dinah Gray
In Study No. 1 for Bodies, Metal, and Air, dancers use shaped sheets of steel to interact with controlled feedback between four speakers and four microphones. The movement of bodies and objects interferes with the feedback, changing the pitches and textures by changing the acoustics of the space. After the performance, which lasts around twelve minutes, the audience is invited to play with the objects and explore the environment.
All enclosed spaces filter or resonate sound in some way. The size and shape of a space and the materials it is composed of impact what pitches or frequencies will be accentuated in the space and how much reverberation that space exhibits. When we enter into a space, we become part of its acoustic fabric – our bodies, our clothes, our material objects – all reflect or absorb sound, changing the sonic signature of a space. Microphone feedback is an effective way of making these subtle changes tangible. The tones you hear in the piece are not generated through synthesis – they are feedback tones caused when a microphone is placed too close to a speaker. In Study No. 1 for Bodies, Metal, and Air, I hold the feedback to a comfortable volume while the dancers subtly influence which stable frequencies the feedback settles on.
reMix House (2007) :
In early 2007 I was commissioned to create some music for an experimental architecture project by architects Karen Van Lengen and Joel Sanders, and sound artist Ben Rubin. You can read more about the Mix House in my post on it on the Networked_Music_Review and in my interview with Karen Van Lengen. My contribution is the ambient electronica that comes in the last minute of the video, musically incorporating all the environmental sounds that are heard in the first few minutes.
ground loops: for solo percussion and internet (2005) – mike schutz performing : Transmitting audio over the internet is typically about compromise. In exchange for live streaming audio and smaller music files, we give up a little bit of sound quality to save bandwidth and transfer files faster. However, when the same audio is looped repeatedly through this compression process, more and more data is removed until the artifacts of the process are plainly audible. In ground loops, I use the compression to musical effect, by sending percussion sounds out to three different servers located across the country: one in San Diego, CA, one in Hanover, NH, and one in Charlottesville, VA. The piece begins with only one loop, and adds a second and a third as it progresses. The percussion sounds circulate through the loops, becoming increasingly distorted from each pass through the compression process. As the loops also feedback into each other, particular timbres and frequencies are expressed and reinforced. Meanwhile, the percussionist gradually removes instruments from use, using just one instrument by the end of the piece. This process reflects the filtering and reinforcement of frequencies provided by the feedback, and contributes to the reinforcement of particular timbres within the process. The overall structure of this piece, then, moves toward increasing intensity and focus on a particular timbre.
portfoliosis (2003) : This work was based on an interview conducted with my wife. In it, she comments on the various works in my portfolio, as well as her feelings toward the sound and culture of electro-acoustic music. All sounds and textures in the work are either derived from samples of the interview or samples of works discussed in the interview. portfoliosis was composed using SuperCollider and mixed into eight channels with Csound.
retour (2002) : retour, French for ‘return,’ was my first electro-acoustic work after a 3 year hiatus from tape music composition. It was my first multi-channel work, and was composed primarily using Csound. The sections and sounds are based on short (under one second) samples of acoustic recordings. Sampled sounds include small Nepalese bells, my wife laughing, and a ringing kitchen timer. retour attempts to explore the line between static rhythmic events, chaotic events, and points somewhere in-between. Common Lisp Music (CLM) was used create the final eight-channel mix.
bass cable (1999) : A tape piece based on a single sample of sound grabbed from the Internet. The sample was immediately processed, so its original content is unknown. The piece weaves together a number of different treatments of the sample over several minutes in a structure similar to a woven cable. The initial version did not include the bass drone, but I added it in as I felt it amped up the intensity of the piece, and filled out the low-end.
Water Retention (1996) : I composed Water Retention as an undergraduate at the University of Florida. It was my second work of electro-acoustic music. I used a single sample of an Mbuti Pygmy mother splashing out a rhythm in the local river. As the work progresses, the rhythm is transformed into a pulsing mass of electronic noise that still retains the organic and rhythmic feel of the original sample. Perceptually, the sound changes from small splashes in a river to the crashing of giant waves. The transformation of organic sounds into deeply electronic sounds that still retain their organic feel is a theme that reappears through my work.