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Music Production: snwv
07/12/2013 snwv: Troy

I had two snwv installations during the First International Conference on Deep Listening July 12-14, at EMPAC at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY, organized by Pauline Oliveros and the Deep Listening Institute. This one was a bit of a challenge--the pieces were scheduled for installation in a mastering studio, which was well designed to prevent obvious resonant frequencies through angled windows, sound absorption material, and the like. Even so, I was able to find enough resonance to make the pieces work. The first version uses the resonances of the longer dimension of the room; the second uses the shorter.

The 2013 First International Conference on Deep Listening was for me a transformative event. Many events involving music and sound (concerts, performances, installations) proceed with the understanding that listening will take place, but this conference was subtly yet crucially different, inviting us to turn our attention to the act of listening itself.

Bunita Marcus's composition workshop, in which the act of composition was an act of guided imaginative listening. We were encouraged to accept what we imagine, without "correcting" it. Several people offered their results, and in combination, it was beautiful. It was a ratification of intuitive ways of working, and an invitation to participate in a liberation of the mind's ear.

I found Seth Horowitz's keynote on the neurological phenomenons of sound, to be immensely valuable, explaining how we experience the world's sounds neurologically, the speed with which we process it, and how fundamental hearing is to us as living beings.

It was rewarding to be able to meet similarly inclined music and sound practitioners and to experience their work. Jay Kreimer's work with sensors and software was entertaining and surprising, and Ted Krueger's work with steel plates as resonators was not only conceptually compelling but also fascinating listening.

Tom Bickley's participatory instruction-based score 7 Hums 7 Times created a vast, quiet vocal cluster that was phenomenally beautiful, and combining it with everyone's slow convergence in the auditorium made the experience profoundly moving.

Eager as I was to hear Anne Warde's presentation, the way she handed a PowerPoint crash was emblematic of the quiet, accepting resilience of the conference, in which we were asked to disperse and walk around the space, just listening and moving, being aware of being in our bodies. As someone who's played in clubs, I think it's rare for an audience to be participating through listening instead of talking. Tomie Hahn's banding workshop was similar, grounding us in our bodies, an immensely important practice for those of us (myself included) who live primarily in our heads.

At breakfast one morning, someone noticed that the table was vibrating, and a bunch of us put our ears to it to hear it and identify the note. (It was a C, as it turns out.)


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Live at Garfield Artworks, February 14, 2011
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Live at the Three Rivers Arts Festival, June 4, 2010
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Live on WRCT, March 23, 2009
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Live at Morning Glory Coffeehouse, March 6, 2009
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With Guitar
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Live at the Thunderbird Cafe, November 9, 2011
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