MUSIC

 

For those experiencing a rejection from their home, whether that be from political disagreement, familial discord, cultural bigotry, or something else, their feelings towards their home can be quite complicated. How is one supposed to feel towards a place that rejects a person that it helped to shape and create in the first place? In this piece, the electronics represent the environment and the violin represents the individual. The two parts begin in harmony, until they experience a rift that puts them at odds with each other for most of the piece. After this, each part makes sense on its own but creates dissonance when put together; this discordance causes pain that then creates dissonance within each element until they are resolved together.

"A Volcano in Michigan"

performed by Anju Goto

If humans continue to hurt our planet at the rate which we are currently doing so, Earth’s future will be disastrous. However, climate change is not only something which our grandchildren will have to worry about; it has already affected us within our own lifetimes. I decided to research fatal weather events in America from 1970 to present, specifically hurricanes and wildfires which killed 10 people or more. Using data from the EMDAT database, I found that there has been an exponential rise in these events in the past 49 years. While there are many factors that tie into the rise of fatal catastrophic weather events besides climate, such as increased migration to coastal regions, according to GlobalChange.gov, part of the increased power of hurricanes comes from higher surface sea temperatures. For this piece, I scaled all of these events out onto a timeline and found footage from each natural disaster. For every disaster, a percussionist rolls for a duration scaled out to the amount of people killed. Breaking is meant to serve as a reminder of how we are actively reliant on a stable climate; it is not the responsibility of future generations to take care of our planet, but ours right now.

"Breaking"

performed by Yanal Tchelepi, Cabel Smit, Alex Chen, John Cavalier, and me, visuals by me

"Frances"

performance and visuals by me

What would I want to look like had I never been told what I wanted? How comfortable would I feel in my own skin if the world had not constantly told me to be uncomfortable? I feel guilty wanting to look “good,” because why should I want that? How could it possibly be healthy for me to care so much about fitting within a standard that I can never possibly achieve? That nobody can? I feel like I don’t fully own my own body; I cannot shake the allure of fitting into the extremely narrow definition of beauty which our society has so glorified, and at the same time I know who I am and am upset with my failure to internalize my own autonomy. There is a certain kind of frustration to never knowing, truly, to your core, what would make you happy.

To create this work, I built a vocoder in Max/MSP which analyzes the prevalent frequency at 34 different bands of a specific track and then tunes the corresponding bands of a separate track to those frequencies. I have chosen the song “Young and Beautiful” by Lana del Rey as the track to analyze because of its popularity as well as the subject matter of its lyrics. The song which I will autotune is a track of noise music which I have created made from a combination of synth sounds and sounds from my field recorder recorded randomly over the past several years. Whether or not you find the noise to be beautiful is up to you, however, beautiful or not, it is a true representation of who I am. I will perform this work by slowly dissolving away the autotune, because no matter how long I work in Max, I will never be able to make noise music actually sound like Lana Del Rey. I hope that the process of letting go of this convoluted and Sisyphean attempt to make crazy noise music sound like a pop track can help me to let go of my attempt to conform to our rigid standards of beauty; a task just as unattainable.

"Toccata"

performed by Joseph Gray and me, visuals by me

For musicians, performance is an inescapable part of life. For many people, it has the distinct quality of being terrifying, while simultaneously extremely rewarding. In a performance, the musician often becomes their own worst enemy—the presence of listeners can stir up tsunamis of self-doubt in even the most prepared of musicians. So the question becomes: who will win? The hours upon hours of practice one has devoted to perfecting a few minutes of music, or that same person’s own anxiety?

Toccata, therefore, explores this internal battle between a musician’s desire to perform and their anxiety in doing so. The violinist’s beginning hint at self-doubt is reflected back to them in the form of live electronic processing, which represents the performer’s perceived judgement by the audience. This perceived outside pressure only feeds the performer more self-doubt, which in turn feeds their fear of judgement, and this cycle continues to unfold as an increasingly more violent battle inside the performer’s head. However, with growing confidence one’s perspective on performing can shift, and in the end judgement may prove to be more inspiring than terrifying…

 

"Space Cult!" for fictional video game "Dreki"

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