Check out these recent rehearsal excerpts from Sang Song's Frozen Grief for trombone and orchestra. La Jolla Symphony sounds great! Hope to see you all at the premiere Saturday December 3, 7:30pm @ Mandeville Auditorium in La Jolla. Tickets can be found here: https://www.ljsc.org/events/october-29-30-2022-powerful-nature-921/

Timbrenauts: creative explorations in timbre space


Yuval Adler (McGill) & Berk Schneider (UCSD)

In this upcoming research-creation project (2023) we wish to use experimental designs from timbre perception research to generate data models that will inform the creation of new compositions for an atypical instrumental duo. We wish to test whether research methodologies can be adopted for use in perceptually informed orchestration/composition practice. The experimental portion will generate similarity spaces for each instrument alone as well as both together, using recordings of a variety of sound production approaches on each instrument as stimuli. We will hire an additional performer on an instrument which will combine with Berk Schneider’s trombone to make a unique duo, for which we will commission short pieces from members of the ACTOR community. We will ask that the composers make use of the structures of similarities and differences revealed in the experimentation phase to shape the pieces. E.g. creating sequential and concurrent auditory groupings via timbral similarities, exploring maximal timbral differences, or tracing trajectories through the timbre spaces as seed material. This project does not aim for generalizability; the sounds collected for the experiment will cover the timbral expressions and extended techniques possible on the instrumental pair as played by the specific performers chosen, and with the interests of collaborating composers taken into account. We will share both our data and work process in the resultant TOR module, allowing others to make use of either. Another potential outcome is a paper detailing the differences between the individual timbre spaces of each instrument as opposed to the one generated for both together. Which areas of the individual instrumental timbre spaces get compressed or expanded after their stimuli sets are used as one larger stimuli set for a third similarity judgment experiment could reveal what perceptual features are important to listeners in an instrumental solo as opposed to an ensemble situation.



Musician's Auditory Perspective Project

The purpose of the Musician’s Auditory Perception (MAP) project is to collect qualitative data via sonic ethnography in order to promote and analyze, both literally and metaphorically, (a) sonic collaboration between auditory learners, (b) modes of sound information gathering, and (c) the creative expression of musicians, while disrupting common pedagogic methods that reinforce hierarchical education practices. Auditory learning is not necessarily a linear process, but a dynamic one — a skillset synergistic and deeply connected with creation. Therefore, MAP will enable three student composer-performer duos from two Analysis, Creation, and Teaching of Orchestration (ACTOR) partner institutions, UC San Diego (UCSD) and McGill University (McGill), to document their creation processes with binaural recording devices and first-person vision — captured by earpiece microphones and wearable HD cameras — effectively mapping audiovisual boundary objects. The outcome being that these sonic and visual boundary objects promote skill sharing between all participants by bridging differences in perception during the creation and reproduction of musical timbres, allowing a digital transfer of tacit knowledge via an individual perspective in the time of the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond.


"A strong project [that] focuses on experimental composition and improvisation" while highlighting "interesting relations between musicology analysis and creative processes among musicians, composers and a wide range of media technologies."

Stephen McAdams


A collaborative proposal — the Musician's Auditory Perception project — developed and promoted by Berk Schneider, Dr. Florian Grond, and Dr. Shahrokh Yadegari (PI) has been awarded a generous research-creation grant from the Analysis, Creation, and Teaching of Orchestration Institution. The international project involves four UC San Diego Music doctoral students, Peter Ko (D.M.A. cello, U.S.A.), Berk Schneider (D.M.A. trombone, U.S.A.), Sang Song (Ph.D. composition, Korean-born), Tiange Zhou (Ph.D. composition, Chinese-born) and two McGill graduates, Jeanne Côté (M.M. violin, Canada), Pedram Diba (M.M. composition, Iranian-American).


full interactive project report with functional links (click here)

SEG


for


Solo Trombone (+ Rubber Mallet & Piezo Microphone)

5 Mechanical Metronomes

Live Electronics


by Sang Song


2020


“Seg”—a shorthand for “segregation”—is prison slang referring to solitary confinement.


Psychologist Craig Haney describes solitary confinement as follows:


“[S]egregation from the mainstream prisoner population in attached housing units or free-standing facilities

where prisoners are involuntarily confined in their cells for upwards of 23 hours a day or more, given only

extremely limited or no opportunities for direct and normal social contact with other persons (i.e., contact that is

not mediated by bars, restraints, security glass or screens, and the like), and afforded extremely limited if any

access to meaningful programming of any kind.”


While it is considered torture by experts, solitary confinement is frequently used in U.S. prisons as a means to punish and discipline inmates. If subject to this punishment, an inmate is placed in an 8ft.x10ft. cell—equipped with a bed, sink, toilet and virtually nothing else—for months, years and sometimes decades. The absence of meaningful social contact and interaction with others is known to cause adverse psychological effects, including mental illnesses ranging from anxiety, clinical depression, and self-mutilation to suicidal thoughts.


Seg is more a reflection on human condition than a call for prison reform, however. It would be not too far off to assume that, during the COVID-19 pandemic, pretty much every individual on earth experienced isolation in one form or another. It would be preposterous to compare quarantine- or lockdown-experiences to the inhumane treatment the prisoners in seg are subject to, of course. But, to the extent we as a collective have probably never been this aware of what isolation means to the human psyche, Seg may be viewed as an invitation to reflect upon the fragility of our existence.


Broken Calligraphy

Broken Calligraphy is an improvisatory audiovisual duo featuring live electroacoustic with audio signal processed trombone as well as a projected live graphic composition using elements of Persian calligraphy. Berk Schneider (berkschneider.com) performs the trombone and electronics in this collaboration, while Nasim Khorassani (nkhorassani.com) creates the visuals.

There is no hierarchical form in this collaborative work, which means the score can also follow or react to the performance, providing an inclusive creative space. Thus, we are sculpting a new live performance space that necessitates the active engagement and the presence of both creators (composer and performer).

In order to make this possible, Nasim projects live black and white digital drawings using the Tayasui Sketches app on a laptop, utilizing Persian alphabets as graphic elements to create dynamic scores. Therefore, an otherwise conventionally static score becomes kinetic and can interact with the performer’s sounds in real-time.

Berk Schneider uses Ableton Live to create soundscapes that experiment with ambient eco-logical musicking. He processes binaural and ambisonic recordings of different acoustic spaces (e.g., caves, ocean, cityscape, jungle) worldwide (Brazil, Iceland, USA, and Mexico) and mixes them with Dear VR and resonators. The result is a unique sonic backdrop complimenting Nasim’s visual improvisation.



"Aura

(*working title) for trumpet and trombone was composed in collaboration with David Aguila and Berk Schneider during the COVID-19 pandemic from 2020-2021. The work explores the similar yet contrasting states of sonic character from the trumpet and trombone in tandem through various explorations of performance techniques. One unique element explored in this work is the ability to generate four-voice chorale-like textures through split-tone and multiphonic techniques. Though the music is not intended to directly emulate the venerable Bach chorale tradition, I do liken this effect to this sacred tradition of chorale, creating a hallowed aura."

Zach Konick

Mobile Beats Ensemble

The Mobile Beats Ensemble was founded in 2016 by the members of the International Ensemble Modern Akademie 2015/2016. The experience during the academic year, working in various ambitious projects, ranging from improvised music, chamber opera, dancing productions and convencional concert formats, has been a tremendous boost to the MBE.


Rather than having a single fixed home base, the MBE works become a nomadic group of musicians that comes together for every single project. This organizational structure as well as the unique diverse cultural background, involving members from 11 nationalities, has become one of the most valuable aspects of the Ensemble. The diverse experiences from their members result in a multitude of input and a richness of ideas that characterize the productions as intense and meaningful concerts.


Working with staging, lighting, space and costume the MBE reimagine, remix, and recreate sound worlds, creating a radical concert experience that engage all the senses of the performer and listener alike. By collaborating with artists from other disciplines the MBE brings a hybrid of contemporary masterpieces and new, avant-garde works from great international personalities to young emerging composers.