Imagine walking through an environment of tubes, resonators, tiny loudspeakers, and exciters that twist, swing, and turn as they project their sounds. How will the quality, shape, and dimensions of the space interact with the sounds and define and affect what you hear? How will you perceive the music that’s being created, and will these compositions be like anything you’ve heard before?
This idea is the concept behind the “Eastman Mobile Acousmonium”—EMA for short—created by students and faculty from the University of Rochester and its Eastman School of Music. Local audiences can experience this orchestra of loudspeakers during two free hour-long performances at 6 and 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 30, in the Ball Room of the Memorial Art Gallery.
Audience members will be free to walk around an array of partially mobile loudspeakers of different construction, shape, and size, mounted on stands which are enabled to tilt, turn, and sway. Each movement a loudspeaker impacts the room reflection patterns, giving listeners new experiences of perceiving sound in motion.
“Technology has moved far into the musical consciousness, and loudspeaker concerts help break down the barriers between traditional and conventional forms of music presentations,” said Professor of Composition Oliver Schneller, who is also director of the Eastman Audio Research Studio. “The Acousmonium is at the juxtaposition of musical expression and technology.”
The Eastman Mobile Acousmonium (EMA) is a project of the Eastman Audio Research Studio (EARS), conceived by Schneller. Schneller created EARS on the foundation of the Eastman Computer Music Center founded at Eastman in 1982 by Allan Schindler. EARS is a platform for research, experimentation, and creation of new compositional works and sound art. Spatial audio, sound research tools, the invention of new electric and electronic interfaces and instruments, and a large inventory of equipment and resources are also offered at EARS, broadening and enriching the study of sound and compositional possibilities at Eastman.
Eastman Mobile Acousmonium project participants include students of Schneller’s in Introductory and Advanced Electronic Music classes offered at EARS, as well as Ming-Lun Lee, assistant professor of audio and music engineering in the University’s electrical and computer engineering department; and Steven Yi, a composer and programmer based in Rochester. Participants each designed and constructed an individual loudspeaker-instrument corresponding to their specific interests in sound experimentation and audio research. They were also invited to contribute a short composition for various combinations within the “orchestra.”
“EARS is grateful to have found a partner in realizing this project and would like to specifically thank curators Marlene Hamann and Andrew Cappetta of the Memorial Art Gallery for their openness and support of this project,” said Schneller.
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