Panel #1: Soundmind / Princeton
Panel #2: Locations
Panel #3: Listening
Keynote Address by Byron Au Yong
A 10 minute walk from Westminster sits the Princeton Cemetery, where dozens of notables (politicians, scholars, artists) and countless less well-known bodies are interred. For this 90minute workshop/performance, I propose to adapt for the strategies that I have used throughout my ongoing series of Soundmind workshops for a unique event that takes place within, and extracts new sonic, musical, and poetic resources from, the site of the Cemetery. My workshops typically combine sensory awareness and participatory activations of the breath, body, and voice, and funnel them towards giving new attention to varied sites, and particularly towards these sites’ affordances for invoking new pathways for creation and collaboration. In Soundmind/Princeton, our initial gesture of engagement with the site will be for each participant to use paper and charcoal to make rubbings of words, images, and patterns from the gravestones. In this way, we will harvest the beginnings of a musical score from the place itself, and, by proxy, from the deep past that the interments represent. Playfully building up a musical “arrangement” by assigning variables like pitch, tempo and spatial motion to various visual traits of our gravestone rubbings, we will quickly move towards cocreating a spontaneous vocal music that will send us on new trajectories of spatial and sonic discovery in the Cemetery. Echoing the conference themes, we will create a music intimately tied to and located within a site, yet which resonates with the temporal dislocations and refashionings characteristic of what Paul Ricoeur called lieux de mémoire.
About Adam: Adam Tinkle creates, teaches and writes about music, sound, performance, and digital multimedia. In addition to playing in bands, improvising, and composing concert music, he creates long duration, site-specific events in deserts, museums, aquariums, and trains. Recent collaborations include a sound installation with Marina Abramović and a tasting concert of mineral spring waters with Machine Project. His recent writings (in Organised Sound and Leonardo Music Journal) address themes of novicehood, participation and pedagogy in experimental and improvised music. He co-founded the record label Risky Forager (riskyforager.com) and teaches audio production and media studies at Skidmore College: adamtinkle.com
Andrew Colwell (Wesleyan University): Acoustic Feedbacks: Rethinking the Relationships between Place, Music and Ecology in a Mongolian Community
Drawing upon ethnography, interviews, fieldwork, and ecological theory, this paper relates a community project to rehabilitate a once sacred place into a “natural theater” for the promotion of xöömeí (throat- singing) and environmental stewardship. According to elder generations in Chandman’ district, western Mongolia, a nearby crevice called xavchig was once a venerated site for the pastoral community, due to the sonorous rivulet of mountain water that flows through it and its power to grant women fertility. But sometime during the socialist collectivization of herders’ pastoral encampments and censorship of animist or Buddhist spiritual practices in the 20th century, the crevice fell into neglect. In response, a number of xöömeí performers and officials recently initiated a project to recognize the site as a unique landmark, introduce community youth to the site, and promote environmental respect, while also consolidating the district’s international profile as “the birthplace of xöömeí.” As a study of how the project’s performances and activities cut across ecological, cultural, and political processes, this paper considers how researchers of sound-music might move beyond a predominant focus on the “cultural construction” or sonic representation of environments in musical expression. Instead, it explores the idea of “acoustic feedbacks,” meaning the audible interactions and processes that help shape coupled natural-human systems, in a bid to synthesize the methodological and theoretical merits of soundscape ecology, ecomusicology, and ethnomusicology.
About Andrew: Andrew Colwell is a PhD Candidate in ethnomusicology at Wesleyan University. His dissertation draws upon several years of residency in Mongolia to examine issues of indigeneity, circulation, and vocality in the performance of Mongol xöömeí or “throat-singing.” He has received support for his research from the Fulbright Institute for International Education, the American Center for Mongolian Studies, and Portable Title VIII.
Jessica Stearns (University of North Texas): Opera, Architecture and Place: The Regional Experience of the Santa Fe Opera Festival
Every summer, the Santa Fe Opera Festival attracts an audience from across the United States and around the world. Compositions performed at the Santa Fe Opera range from Baroque masterpieces to newly commissioned works. The venue for the festival is the Crosby Theater, an open-air performance space nestled in the desert landscape. Along with vistas of northern New Mexico, the theater’s architecture also incorporates allusions to surrounding natural landscapes and associations with the historic architecture of the region. Unlike traditional opera houses, which close off performances from the outside world, Crosby Theater welcomes the multidimensional experience its natural surroundings and historic location generate. Though the festival is known for these elements, scholarship has not explored how the theater itself, as part of the music-making process, influences performances. The architecture of the Crosby Theater affects the character of performances, visually and sonically, and creates an experience of the music that is distinctive to the location of the festival.
Bringing theories of architectural regionalism into conversation with Christopher Small’s concept of musicking, my paper examines how the geographic location of the Crosby Theater as well as the spatial, sonic, and visual components of the performance space contribute to the perception of music. Such a line of inquiry brings into focus aspects of performance spaces, such as architecture and location, and sheds light on how such factors contribute to the production and consumption of a musical event. Regardless of which opera patrons are watching, they perceive it as a Santa Fe-infused musical work.
About Jessica: Jessica Stearns is currently a PhD student in musicology at the University of North Texas. She received a bachelor’s degree in music education from Stetson University and a master’s degree in saxophone performance from Stephen F. Austin State University. Jessica’s dissertation research explores Christian Wolff’s notation and its context in the milieu of the New York School. Her research interests include music of the twentieth century to the present, American music, notation, performance spaces, and sound studies.
Erik DeLuca (University of Virginia): Wolf Listeners
The concept of “nature” is socially constructed—notwithstanding, if wolves didn’t howl we wouldn’t hear them. Listening to this sound as both material and metaphor highlights the contested relationship between nature and culture. The author conducted field research on Isle Royale National Park from 2011-15 from which he offers a narrative wherein citizen-scientists—who listen for the howl—literally “lend their ears” to a wolf biologist who has led the longest continuous wildlife study in the world. This listening community and its web of meaning—one which is almost an echo of the past because of climate change—will be introduced here as a form of participatory, situational environmental music that plays out in the everyday lives of those listening on this remote, roadless island in Lake Superior.
About Erik: Erik Deluca works in sound. He is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Virginia. DeLuca’s work has been presented at an eclectic mixture of international venues, including Society for Ethnomusicology, Bang on a Can, Art Basel, Issue Project Room, KM Music Conservatory, and the International Computer Music Conference. His music has been performed by a variety of ensembles, including Ensemble Signal, members of eighth blackbird, and the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival Orchestra. DeLuca’s work is published by the SEAMUS label and Perspectives of New Music. Erik was a recent faculty member on the Semester at Sea circumnavigation.
James Deaville (Carleton University): The Well-Mannered Auditor: Listening in the Domestic Public Sphere of the 19th Century
19th-century etiquette books in English included instruction on how the “well-mannered” (bourgeois) person should behave at urban domestic-public functions (McKee 2005), i.e. invited social events in private residences. The manuals thereby participated in producing the “docile bodies” that Foucault identified as endemic to modern society and that result from the exercise of (self-)disciplining power (Foucault 1975). The books’ prescriptions typically extended to manners during the impromptu musical entertainments at teas, evening parties, and musicales, when the invited guests were requested to perform. The imposed auditory practices for guests during informal music-making reveal how tongue and ear were subjected to the normalizing disciplinary power Foucault proposes.
Behind the rules for behavior within the sonic domain hovered the challenge to order created by the societal move toward the modern “crisis of attention” (Crary 1999). In the ever more confusing, distracting modern soundscape, the guidebooks performed a stabilizing function by attempting to regulate the bodies (and ears) of middle-class subjects (Morgan 2012). Indeed, issues of attention to music and speech at social events play crucial roles in the sources, which can be studied by mapping the events’ zones of acoustic space (Born 2013), both for musical performance and conversation. Auditory disruptions by guests increasingly occurred within and between these spaces; the resultant inattention led to greater rigor in the manuals’ policing of performed sound. Their regulations bespeak society’s fear of the loss of control over the bodies and sounds of auditors, which undermined the disciplining of bourgeois subject-listeners in the later 19th century.
About James: James Deaville (School for Studies in Art & Culture: Music, Carleton University) has published in the Journal of the American Musicological Society, Journal of the Society for American Music, Journal of Musicological Research, and Music and Politics, and has contributed to books published by Oxford, Cambridge, and Routledge, among others. He also edited Music in Television: Channels of Listening (2011). In 2012, he received a two-year grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to explore film trailer auralities. With Dana Gorzelany-Mostak, he has co-edited a special issue of Music and Politics, and is currently co-editing with Christina Baade an anthology for Oxford entitled Music and the Broadcast Experience: Performance, Production, and Audiences.
Otto Muller (Goddard University): Rural Noise
In 1913, Luigi Russolo wrote in his futurist manifesto The Art of Noises: “This revolution of music is paralleled by the increasing proliferation of machinery sharing in human labor. In the pounding atmosphere of great cities as well as in the formerly silent countryside, machines create today such a large number of varied noises that pure sound, with its littleness and its monotony, now fails to arouse any emotion.” Since this time, the rise of Noise Music has been associated with industrialization, urbanization, amplification, and the glitches of an increasingly technological world. The “rural,” however, as a marginal site, a category that is constructed in opposition to the urban, even as it evolves in response to the same social and technological forces, is a unique laboratory for understanding Noise today.
This paper employs theories of noise from 20th century musical aesthetics (via John Cage, Pauline Oliveros, R. Murray Schaeffer, Masami Akita, et al.) as a framework for parsing the sounding reality of the “rural,” and interrogating the role of the natural and the historic within it (via geographers Paul Cloke, Jo Little, et al. and the posthumanist critiques of Donna Haraway and Katherine Hayles). Alongside this theoretical project, the paper will also report on three projects of the fledgling “Rural Noise Ensemble” in northern Vermont, and their effort to engage these ideas creatively within rural communities, using homemade instruments, graphic score, and interdisciplinary performance.
About Otto: Otto Muller is a composer, educator and collaborative artist who builds fragile structures from the husks of what was music once or noise. His work has been featured at Tzlil Meudcan (Israel), Klangraum (Germany), Zvuk I Vryska (Bulgaria), the Brighton Fringe Festival (UK) and June in Buffalo (USA). Muller received his PhD in Composition at the University at Buffalo where he studied with David Felder and has studied with Amnon Wolman, Chaya Czernowin, and Steven Takasugi. He now teaches music, aesthetics, and interdisciplinary art at Goddard College in Vermont, where his academic interests include semiotics, critical pedagogy, and the rural.
Music critic Alex Ross wrote: “Composers grow up with the idea that music is a game of heroes… Sooner or later, they come up against the disappointing realization that modern American culture has no space for a composer hero.” Considering that the composer hero is now irrelevant, how do I maintain integrity naming myself within an occupation that has become a relic?
This keynote focuses on my music, which I call songs of dislocation because I have inherited a broken lineage. This lineage is familial as well as metaphoric. According to the United Nations, in 2015 there were 244 million people living outside their country of origin.
Home for migrants and their descendants is oftentimes an imaginary space based on fragmented stories of displacement. As the son of Chinese immigrants in America, I compose music to connect people with the places they call home. Songs of dislocation provide an antidote to the composer hero by offering ways to bring the fragments together.
About Byron: Born to Chinese immigrants in Pittsburgh and raised in the Pacific Northwest, composer Byron Au Yong (歐陽良仁) creates work where the American Dream and sustainability play vital roles. Au Yong collaborates across cultures and disciplines paying attention to the ways people connect with the places they call home. Examples include Island: Theme and Migrations (East-West Piano Arts), Mò Shēng 墨声 Ink Sound (Frye Art Museum), and Stuck Elevator (American Conservatory Theatre, International Festival of Arts & Ideas). Multimedia installations such as Piano Concerto–Houston (Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts, University of Houston) and YIJU 移居 (Jack Straw New Media Gallery) combine local and global currents as well. Site-responsive projects include Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas (4Culture Site-Specific Arts), Occupy Orchestra 無量園 Infinity Garden (Chicago Composers Orchestra), Salt Lips Touching (Jeonju Sanjo Festival), TURBINE (Leah Stein Dance Company/Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia), and Welladay! Welladay! Wayward Love Songs (Nonsequitor). Au Yong holds degrees in musical theatre writing, dance and music composition/theory from NYU, UCLA and the University of Washington. Honors include a Creative Capital Award and Time Warner Foundation Fellowship. He lives in Seattle.
Thomas Rex Beverly (Freelance Composer): Telepresent Storm: Rita (7′)
Time travel back to 2005 during Hurricane Rita’s massive show of beauty and destruction. The weather data in Telepresent Storm: Rita is not a metaphor; rather it directly connects the visual and auditory experience with the historical energy of Hurricane Rita. The historical weather data of Rita is run through a piece of software to create a real-time graphical score which is then interpreted live, using iPads. The performer, using two iPads, interprets the graphical score by freely assigning sound, harmony rhythm, melody, and growth to the available weather parameters.
About Thomas: American composer Thomas Rex Beverly is a graduate of Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas where he received a bachelor’s degree in music composition. At Trinity, he studied with Timothy Kramer, David Heuser, Jack W. Stamps, and Brian Nelson. He has had recent performances the So Percussion Summer Institute, the International Computer Music Conference, and SEAMUS. He is a recent graduate of Bowling Green State University in their Master of Music Composition degree program where he studied with Elainie Lillios, Christopher Dietz and was a Music Technology Teaching Assistant.
Byron Au Yong: Island: Theme and Migrations (11′)
Island: Theme and Migrations refers to Angel Island, the Ellis Island of the West Coast, where Chinese sojourners carved their poetry into the walls of the immigration barracks. I think about their hardships and desires as I etch out sounds with gestures that come from the main theme. These migrations, variations in the classical music sense, vary from performance to performance because I’ve cut open the notation. Melodies and chords float around the score. Two pianists are separated by the bodies of two grand pianos as if they were separated by the ocean. The strings resonate between them as they touch the keys like sunlight bouncing on the waves. Across the distance, the pianists hear each other.
Kristofer Bergstrom (Los Angeles Taiko Institute): Radiddlepa (7’)
In 2013, I recognized that my increasing success as a touring musician was at odds with the environment. The more I flew to gigs, the more I contributed to climate change. Seeking to uncouple my career from air travel, I implemented a travel CO2 budget and 10-year reduction plan, and began the work of replacing the artistic opportunities I found through travel with local inspiration. Now, I travel by bike, and have a bike-pulled taiko trailer that brings together a small team of Los Angeles players to fill the downtown streets with the sounds of taiko at CicLAvia.
“Radiddlepa”, for tsukeshime-daiko, was the first piece written after the adoption of the CO2 budget. Nervous about how the budget might limit performance opportunities, the piece seeks success in the local. Written for solo player and single, portable drum, “Radiddlepa” was written at home, alone in the studio, with the hope that the instrument itself would provide inspiration. It is a gentle composition incorporating multiple techniques new to taiko. “Radiddlepa” is unique in the taiko world, and for me, represents success in finding inspiration at home and the first step toward an environmentally-aware artistic career.
About Kristofer: Kristofer Bergstrom is a taiko player and teacher in Los Angeles, CA. After discovering Japanese drums in college, he studied taiko, shamisen, and dance in Japan before founding On Ensemble and touring internationally. Seeking to improve his environmental impact, he is seeking to replace touring with local and bike-powered performance opportunities. He is Head Teacher at Los Angeles Taiko Institute.
Byron Au Yong: Except from Welladay! Welladay! Wayward Love Songs (10′)
Welladay! Welladay! Wayward Love Songs sweeps through 36 poems by James Joyce, published in a collection called Chamber Music in 1907. Despite the exclamation points in the title, Welladay! Welladay! is a quiet work. The intimate, variable music nods to love as well as the orphans and unwed mothers who lived in Seattle’s Good Shepherd Center from 1907 to 1973. Crumpled letters and laundered bed sheets provide touchstones for the performance.
Lenka Morávková (University of California, Riverside): Glass Spilled Out from a Broken Bathtub (25’)
Glass Spilled Out From the Broken Bathtub is an AV live performance/sound documentary, in which the artist portrays a situation of its home region in northern Czech Republic, famous for its glassmaking tradition. Previously the most developed industry has been in a decline for several years; glassworks, manufacturers and design shops go bankrupt; workers end up on welfare and students from local art schools can not find jobs in the field.
During an extensive field work, author collected a large database of sounds in the glass factories and small manufactures and interviews with people directly affected by the crisis. The final music piece is composed exclusively with authentic field-recording and accompanied by improvisation on glass materials along with magical interplay of light spectra in a space and visuals filmed on the location.
In between an abstract meditation and a socio-critical manifesto, this project establishes a discussion about maintenance of local traditions in the context of global socio-economic framework and opens a discussion about preservation of technological know how and a lack of local collaboration in capitalistic system of post-communist countries.
About Lenka: Lenka Morávková is a songwriter, sound artist, and electronic music producer from the Czech Republic, and is currently pursuing her doctoral degree in music at the University of California, Riverside. Tiptoeing on the edge between the dance floor and conceptual art, her work is rooted in global and personal collapses, an aesthetic of glitches and deconstruction, and an application of academic theories to performance practices. As a cross-disciplinary artist, Lenka Morávková transgresses boundaries within music, visual art, performance, and new media, touring internationally with her music project My Name Is Ann! as well as performing with the unique glass instrument Cristal Baschet. Her installations and performances have been exhibited extensively throughout Europe, including the Lem festival in Barcelona, the Czech National Theatre in Prague, the International Glass Symposium and the Biennial Ostrava Days festival in the Czech Republic, the Natures Festival in Ljubjana, and the Cre Art festival. Additionally, under the alias of KnofLenka, she is known as a music critic hosting a monthly radio show “Tearoom with KnofLenka” on the Czech National Radio.
Byron Au Yong: Excepts from Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas (6′)
Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas are musical miniatures available as live performances in water and a sound/light installation. Hiking singers and percussionists performed 64 Bottled Operas in lakes, fountains, and other waterways throughout the Northwest in 2008. Videos of recent performances by Westminster Choir College students and faculty will be shown during this concert.
Mia Theodoratus (Freelance composer): The Afterlife of Angels (15’)
This proposal for a performance with a presentation encompasses the reclaiming of an element of the Edwardian era and thrusting it into today’s musical space.
After finding and purchasing a gold Erarrd harp circa 1895 in extreme despair, I repurpose the instrument from its historic use as a romantic classical instrument to a percussive modern noisemaker suitable for the current time.
Throughout the world there are derelict decaying harps made for the drawing rooms of the Eighteenth Century. As a classically trained harpist and improviser, these decaying instruments symbolize wealth, culture and power and they fascinate me. The reclaimed Erarrd is moved from the setting of a lady’s formal parlor into a second life with new tunings, tambours and articulations. The refigured strings now sound like a distorted Javanese Gamelan
The instrument dislocates the space of the romantic era parlor and pushes it into the sounds of the era of technology. In doing so arpeggios become distorted rhythms and melodies are muted and percussive.
I will demonstrate these new sounds on the harp and give a presentation of an improvisation with planned events performed at Theatre 80 St. Marks, New York, NY using the Erarrd. The performance work is titled Harp of Bones and is based on a gruesome reinterpretation of a Welsh folk tale with Mid-Eastern classical dance, percussion, clarinet and a traditional concert grand harp.
About Mia: Mia Theodoratus (MFA CalArts) is a composer, improviser and harpist. Her goal is to express life through the harp using classical technique infused with the dynamics of free bop and the rhythm/feel of rock. Recently she had a residence at Theatre 80, St. Marks where she modify Victorian instruments and presented analog multimedia improvisations with Michael Evans and Lary 7. She has played in concert for President Obama, LifeBall in Vienne, composed music for Hermes, Flight of the Conchords/HBO, Rubicon/AMC and Million Dollar Listing/Bravo. Her rock bands have performed at the Knitting Factory, Tonic, CBGBs and Coney Island High.
Byron Au Yong: Excerpts from Stuck Elevator (10′)
Stuck Elevator is a comic-rap-scrap-metal-opera prompted by the real-life experience of a Chinese food deliveryman trapped in an elevator for 81 hours.