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Transcendence

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In this contemporary culture, the meaning and method of tradition is always in flux. As humans, we continuously strive to achieve a level of understanding of something bigger than ourselves. For some, this is religion, by definition: (A particular system of faith and worship). For some, it’s a scientific understanding of the world around us. I find transcendence in music, whether it be listening, playing instruments, or connecting with fellow fans of music. I want to dissect the parts and methods of music and religion and find similarities in their ability to transcend people.      

Black Peter — Reexamining Santa Claus

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Black Peter is a video that presents a disturbing view of Santa Claus. The world is unlocked to this sinister man when we find ourselves stuck in a roundabout listening to Christmas music on repeat. The piece employed video from multiple camera sources to illicit different responses to the visuals presented. Enjoy!    

The Myth of Stardaddy Dixie

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Stardaddy Dixie is a musical persona pursued separately by two experimental rock musicians from cities hundreds of miles a part. My thesis film builds a narrative around the lives of these two individuals and brings them clashing together for a performance of a lifetime. The pseudo documentary collects footage of their lives and other performances to be woven into the story. Here, we decorated a space at a house show in Athens and brought lights and cameras to catch the unexpected. <a href=”http://humanconduct.bandcamp.com/album/stardaddy-dixie-tennessee”>Stardaddy Dixie – Tennessee by Human Conduct...

Never Again, Every Year

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Intention shapes human perception of actions. A simple gesture can become a powerful movement when it is executed with mindfulness. Dance movement devoid of intention and internal motivation quickly becomes calisthenics, slipping from the realm of art into what would be more appropriately defined as aerobics or virtuosic athletic activity. In my piece Never Again, Every Year, I investigated the possibility that the reverse of this dialogue could also be true: that utilitarian movement could be made into art through focused attention. The piece used light, shadow, fabric, and a unique movement vocabulary to examine the potential of the human conscience to transform banal, task-like movements into an emotionally resonant performative experience. I collaborated with composer D. Turner Matthews to create a multi-sensory audience experience. “Never Again, Every Year” was a 20 minute long dance piece accompanied by an orchestra of unique instruments invented, built, and played by Matthews and two colleagues. Four dancers dressed in white performed in front of and behind a shadow screen, onto which a series of slowly transforming abstract images were projected.    ...

Composition Thesis

By Jake Schlaerth

I am attempting to traverse the fields of both music and visual art via the realm of computer programming. I have always been interested in alternative midi controllers, and with my recent interest in Max and OpenGL, I have begun to work with the Haken Continuum Fingerboard. Our school’s fingerboard is an older model, meaning that it has no on-board synthesizer. I have had to work with raw midi data in max in order to design my own working translation of the numbers from the fingerboard into a system of digital signal processing, and then use that signal processing to control OpenGL rendering software (through Jitter). The culmination of this work will be my Composition Thesis Recital in late April. A preview of the work :      ...

Kaleidoscope (I Believe In Us)

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This creative project was a music video for a local band out of Cleveland, Ohio for their original song “I Believe In Us” This was a one day shoot that took place in a local church and on the lake front in Mentor Headlands. We were immediately presented with a problem: How do you shoot inside a church without it looking like the inside of a church as it would send mixed messages about the song. To deal with this issue, we decided to frame most of the shots within one portion of the church’s stage and to focus primarily on tight framings, a lot of medium close-ups and close-ups to frame out as much of the church as possible. We also experimented with strong backlighting and placing film lights as practicals within the frame. This created lens flares and slightly washed out the background, leading the eye away from the less desirable aspects of the frame. Since the shoot took place in two locations, we experimented with different shooting styles for the two different locations. During the interior shots with more shots on the tripod with very little camera movement. For the exterior shots, we decided to use more of a handheld style with regular camera movement. Experimenting with the differing camera techniques help to convey two aspects of the lead character. One more stable, another more out of control. As usually is the case with a breakup, moving from stability to more irrational.      ...

Circular Logic

By Andrew Gross

This was a recording project of my original compositions. Some of the music is acoustic, and was performed by my friends. Others are videos of me with electronics and a few other musicians. Circular Logic was the title of my graduate composition recital....

Brass Quintet Recording at St. Paul’s Church

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After recording a brass quartet in the chapel at St. Paul’s Church for Create_Space, I decided that I wanted to experiment some more with its ambience. The reverberations echo everywhere in the half-circle-shaped building, and I tried to find the best way to capture them. I recruited a brass quintet from the School of Music, which included two trumpets, a trombone, a french horn and a tuba, and brought them to St. Paul’s. The most striking aspect of the church from an acoustic standpoint is its large balcony in the front. Overlooking the whole church, this is where the organ and the choir is located during services. I first attempted to place four microphones, two SM-57s and two Audix condensers, equally spread out on this balcony while the quintet played from the gathering space below. This captured the reverberations of what the five musicians played, but the signal was just a little too quiet for a usable recording. Trying one more time the following week, I used a setup that was more similar to the way I had recorded the quartet, with two mics in front of the ensemble and then two on the altar, back where a more echoey signal could be recorded and combined with what the closer mics picked up. This worked much better. The group recorded all four movements of Gustav Holst’s Second Suite in F. From beginning to end, the project took about two hours, mostly due to me setting up and tearing down alone. The music has yet to be mixed, but I am confident that the exceptional performance and quality microphones will result in a satisfactory experiment with traditional church reverb.    ...

Mobile Recording and Experimentation

By Eric Ruhl

My creative research was for a final project for one of my Music Production classes. Unfortunately, the same day my band was all set to make the trip down to record, the studio at the RTV building was shut down due to a problem. With this news I frantically began searching for an alternative means to make this project happen. Upon learning the news, two of the band members decided not to make the trip down, so I was left with another producer and the drummer of the band. Due to being unable to find a large enough space to record on such short notice, we decided to get experimental in our approach. My personal bedroom studio was used in order to create new sounds, and explore the possibilities of recorded sounds. We stayed up all night looking for anything we could around the house in order to create music with. From the bell of my toaster oven to the gong-like sound of a wok lid, if it made noise, we recorded it. We also experimented with dynamic feedback loops. I have uploaded a drawing explaining the process. The result was really interesting. The entire room was constantly swimming with a drone that would change depending on what was being fed into it, and any noise being made in the room would affect it. After a while the harmonics would build up and we would stop playing and just listen to the drone play itself.   Two mics were used. One was on the amplifier; the other was on the left speaker of the keyboard. The two mono tracks were then sent into my Behringer Xenyx 1204 mixer. The keyboard channel had the effects knob turned all the way up and set to an echo setting. The dry/wet and feedback were also turned all the way up. The guitar amp channel was left dry in order to capture the sound of the room as well as the clean guitar tone. At this stage, the mixer was set to monitor the inputs coming into the mixer, and it was sending this effected signal into the subwoofer. Each of the inputs had a low cut switch engaged to keep the feedback under control, and only let a small amount of signal through. The mixer was also simultaneously recording into Ableton. We used the control room knob to control the volume of the subwoofer, thus the amount of feedback allowed to enter back into the room and into the mics. This is how we were able to fill the room with a persistent low frequency drone that would pick up any sound in the room and delay it indefinitely. We also had a sustain pedal hooked up to the keyboard to emphasize the drone notes so that we could pick a key, or set of intervals and play off of them. We had the Focusrite sapphire audio interface hooked up to the output computer. This way we could occasionally monitor what was actually going into Ableton and adjust accordingly.   At the end of it all, we had about 4 hours of material to work with. My job at the end of it was to take all of the recorded sounds and compile it into something meaningful. I decided to create an instrumental track using only the sounds we recorded, with the exception of a sub bass patch that I had previously made in Ableton. I wanted it to be a representation of the sentiments that we were feeling at the time.   Some of the sounds featured are the drone with some subtle phasing, the bell of my toaster oven pitched around, the drummers kick drum layered with the top end of a box being used as a kick drum. A recording of the birds and crickets chirping outside layered with some more subtle feedback/delay. A harp setting on the Casio keyboard that was recorded in stereo with the sm57 and AT 2020 microphones, the sounds of one of us beat boxing being reversed and layered with other percussion noises, the gentle finger drumming on top of a wok lid. Two shakers layered on top of one another, one filled with metal pellets, and the other filled with cat food, layered claps and snaps. So far I’ve managed to get the ball rolling, but the next stage is to send it over to the other producer who was here, so that he can finish it. Then mixing will be the final stage, and out into the world it will...

Haffa’s Records

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Haffa’s is an ongoing short documentary film project about Haffa’s Records in Athens. I have been filming the store on various days since November and the project is nearly finished. My process was originally to go into the store and record anything that I could, intending to shape the film in the edit. As I began to edit each day’s footage, I began to notice patterns in the types of images I was interested in recording. These first few days in the store yielded little in terms of interesting footage, but contributed a blueprint for how I wanted to shape the rest of the project. The project focuses on the specific aspects of the store that define the space, from the building’s structural idiosyncrasies to the store’s customers and employees. Through postproduction, the aim of the finished film will be to shape individual details of the record store into a single merged concept, both a fixture of the Athens community and a relic of a bygone...

Brass Quartet Recording at St. Paul’s Church

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In any sort of music recording, capturing the style of the music in its natural environment is key. Classical orchestras are best suited to the sound of a concert hall, while a punk rock band is most at home in a small, stuffy dive bar. I’ve always been fascinated by the natural echo found in traditionally designed churches, and as a player of a brass instrument myself, I knew that a quartet of tubas and euphoniums would sound amazing played in that space. So I tried to capture that sound. The recording of the Ohio University Tuba-Euphonium Quartet took place at St. Paul’s Church. The players sat in a close semicircle facing the altar of the church, with euphoniums on one side and tubas on the other. The sound that came out of the instruments was projected up, so I placed one pair of microphones at close range above the instruments, while another pair was placed about ten feet away diagonally in front of the players. The Create_Space resources were essential for this project, which included SM-57 microphones and a portable audio rig, complete with a Macbook. The piece that the group recorded was about three minutes long, and I captured two takes. One hope that I had for the project that I wasn’t able to realize was to place the microphones up in the balcony of the church, which would have captured a more focused sound. I hope to repeat this project in the same space with another group in the near future, and experiment more with microphone...

Masters Recital/Elliot Cole Performances

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In January I had a series of performances; my masters recital and two dates with composer/performer Elliot Cole.   My masters recital consisted of repertoire that I have commissioned (Brian Harnetty – “Could I tell you a little story about that?”/Nick Zammuto – “Green Yellow Green Red”), a new-ish work (Matthew Burtner – “cloudprints”), a percussion standard (Minoru Miki – “Time for Marimba”), and two rare, early pieces of electroacoustic music from John Cage. It’s important for me to acknowledge the history of my field, but also to keep pushing it forward – I felt that this collection of pieces displayed that desire. The two pieces by John Cage fit both bills simultaneously. “Imaginary Landscape No. 1” for piano, percussion and two turntables is a rarely performed work due to the turntablists needing rare RCA/Victor test tone 78s. I was able to borrow the records necessary from Allen Otte of the Percussion Group Cincinnati for my performance. The other Cage work was “Imaginary Landscape No. 2,” but not the version we know of. There was an earlier version of the piece for the same instrumentation as number 1 that Cage withdrew from his catalog a couple of years after writing it. Using scores that were located in the John Cage archive of the New York Public Library, I was able to present the work for, possibly, the first time since Cage and his group performed it in the late 1930s.   [soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/130593099″ params=”color=ffc500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]   Over the past couple of years I’ve developed a working relationship with composer Matthew Burtner. Last year we presented a concert of his multimedia works as a part of the Athens International Film Festival and this year we will premiering his new evening length piece “Deep Earth” for ensemble, electronics and video projections at the film fest. I’m really taken by Matthew’s work and decided to include his piece “cloudprints” on my program. “cloudprints” has a variable instrumentation so for this performance I choose to use piano, percussion and two performers playing laptop sine wave generators. I also created some video projections from videos of clouds that I found on the internet to try and create a more immersive environment for the audience.   [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMc5psa-lMg]   Brian Harnetty’s “Could I tell you a little story about that?” was one of two works on the program that I commissioned. I worked with Brian on his album “The Star-Faced One” and found his work incredibly interesting, so I started asking him to write a piece for me. After a couple of years he finally had time to get around to writing it. The result is a work for vibraphone and 4 cassette tapes.   [soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/134422292″ params=”color=ffc500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]   I also did two dates with my group, nobrow.music.collective, and composer Elliot Cole for his midwest tour or “Hanuman’s Leap.” Elliot set a portion of the epic Ramayana for 8 voices and percussion, but performs the vocal parts solo by recording 7 parts and singing the 8th live. His setting incorporates many different musical elements (throat singing, beat poetry, hip-hop, and reggae to name a few) that are woven together into a unique piece that doesn’t come across as trying cover a broad spectrum of influences just to do it (if that makes sense). Elliot is completing his doctoral studies at Princeton and is really starting to make a name for himself, so it was a really great experience to perform with him at the Union and at the Chameleon in Cincinnati.  ...

Song Recital Recordings

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I have teamed up with Ohio University Professor Emerita of piano, Gail Berenson, to present my M.M. voice recital on December 7th. We used an audio recorder from the createspace to make videos of repertoire from that recital to post online and give potential attendees a taste of what the performance will contain. Here’s a youtube link to one of those videos.

Elevator Music

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In attempt to explore ideas of comfort and annoyance, this piece looks at how our personal actions affect others in public spaces. From 10am to 11am I rode the elevator in Seigfred Hall, singing to songs from my own collection as I listened to them on my mp3 player. I wore non-prescription sunglasses, thus not allowing me to see who was getting on or off the elevator with any clarity. The music was at a level I was unable to hear most conversations. I was exploring my own comfort level and also the idea of being oblivious to the events around me. I do fear retribution for my actions, wished to perform something that will also push my personal boundaries. Frame.jpg (218 KB)

‘Squirrel and Owl Karaoke’

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This piece was crafted from ideas of narration and knowledge. The story itself came to me in a dream I had where I was doing stand-up comedy on a stage in front of the whole world. I was told I had 4 minutes and 57 seconds to say whatever I wanted to say. I was told that I had to make people laugh. I can’t even remember what else I was told because the people loved me… I killed it. Feel free to practice singing along. [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2dCTM5ItzBg&w=600]

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