Saturday, March 9, 2019, 7pm – Concert 6 – Hart Recital Hall — Utt Building

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Saturday, March 9, 2019, 7pm – Concert 6 – Hart Recital Hall — Utt Building

Sudden Death

Brad Decker, Zlatko Ćosić

Brad Decker, contrabass
Zlatko Ćosić, video

Unfortunately, this piece began as a meditative contemplation of the spontaneity of death. It seems to be an inescapable part of our current society, and, rather than be pessimistic, I suppose it’s best to focus on the value of what we have in the moment. For some of us, remaining optimistic is a daily fight.

This is a pensive work about inner thoughts, dread, joy, doubt, inspiration – thoughts that emerge when you zone out amongst daily events. It is a testimonial for the value of these thoughts – the zoning out – and the lack of their existence in our waking life.

“Sudden Death” has taken many forms. Today, it is presented as a work for contrabass and computer with video interpretation by artist Zlatko Ćosić. It initially began as a fixed media piece in 2011, and 2015. I seem to revive the project each time I’m struck with grief for the suddenly dead. Fixed audio is still present. It is now paired with live processing, namely the capturing of double bass harmonics to create ghastly harmonies that float through the piece. The pitch material is derived from Henry Purcell’s “When I am Laid In Earth” aria from Dido and Aeneas, and is quasi-improvisational. The score suggests the plainchant style of delivery, and should be performed in a pensive and reverent manner.

Brad Decker is a composer, improviser, and educator in new music composition, multimedia, and sound art. He performs as a double-bassist and sound artist using structured improvisation and live computer processing in numerous capacities, namely solo works, group ensemble collaboration, video art installations, and film soundtracks. Notable performances have been in Mexico, Australia, Italy, France, Brazil, and Canada, as well as at numerous venues in the United States. He completed his Doctorate of Musical Arts in composition from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and his Masters in Music composition and theory at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He currently teaches music composition and electronic music at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

Zlatko Ćosić is a video artist born in Banja Luka, Yugoslavia. Ćosić’s work spans a number of disciplines, including short films, video installations, theater projections, and live audio-visual performances. His work relates to issues of identity, immigration, and the complexities of living in unfamiliar cultural environments. Ćosić’s artwork has been shown in over forty countries, for which he has received a variety of recognition.

Ćosić has received grants and fellowships including the Regional Arts Commission Artist Fellowship and a Kranzberg Grant for a video installation at Laumeier Sculpture Park. His video Horizons has been an official selection at film festivals in the United States, Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, and Poland and was a prize winner at St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase, Macon Film Festival, and Sunscreen Film Festival. Ćosić’s video Elans won the Pulitzer’s Film Competition in St. Louis and it was finalist at the Digital Graffiti festival in Florida. His video Spaces was screened in numerous film festivals in North America and Europe and won an award at the St. Louis International Film Festival. Ćosić’s video Story 1: Scenes 1-9 won Best Experimental Film at the 2017 St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase. He collaborated with the 60×60 Project creating 200 videos, which have been presented at the Spark Festival, TNA TV in France, EMM Festival, LOOP Videoart Festival, Printemps Musical d’Annecy, Kulturkiosken Gallery, Stimultania Art Gallery, and at other venues in France, Spain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sweden, Serbia, and the United States. Ćosić’s solo exhibition Still Adjusting at Gallery 210 was reviewed in the June 2014 issue of Art in America.

Country Roads

Mike Frengel

Mike Frengel, electric guitar

Although I have never been particularly interested in country music, I find myself attracted to many aspects of the guitar playing: the control over string bend intonation; the pedal-steel emulations— oblique motion where one string remains stable while another bends; the polyphonic potential of hybrid picking; the open sonorities of the double and triple stops. Country Roads explores these techniques, re- contextualized in a contemporary setting and augmented with electronic elements. The first movement is largely concerned with string bends. The second movement employs Travis picking in the right hand, a classic country fingerstyle developed by Merle Travis. Movement three reveals itself to be a duet of sorts; the left-hand plays solo while the right hand renders the other part by bowing the lowest string with a drumstick.

Mike Frengel is an internationally recognized composer, performer, researcher, and educator. Born in Mountain View, California, Mike graduated with a B.A. in electroacoustic music from San Jose State University in 1995, where he studied composition and sound production with Allen Strange and Dan Wyman. He spent another three years in the San Francisco Bay Area working at Apple Computers Inc. as well as remaining affiliated with the C.R.E.A.M. Studios at SJSU as a Research Scientist. Mike completed his M.A. in electroacoustic music composition at the Bregman Studios at Dartmouth College in 1999 under the tutelage of Jon Appleton, Charles Dodge, Larry Polansky, and Christian Wolff. He completed his Ph.D. at City University, London, where he studied composition with Denis Smalley. His works have been included on the Sonic Circuits VII, ICMC’95, CDCM Vol.26, 2000 Luigi Russolo and ICMC 2009 compact discs and are performed at music events around the world. Mike is currently on the faculty of the music departments at Northeastern University and Boston Conservatory, where he teaches courses in music technology and composition. His recently completed book, The Unorthodox Guitar: A Guide to Alternative Performance Practice, is available through Oxford University Press.

Choices, (dif)fused, and Partial Geometry

Chin Ting Chan, Michael Pounds, Daniel Swilley

cps trio: Chin Ting Chan (accordion and interactive electronics), Michael Pounds (lap steel guitar and interactive electronics), Daniel Swilley (interactive electronics)

In definition, the word “diffuse” means to disseminate and spread widely. The word “fuse” is to join or blend to form a single entity from multiple entities. This piece emulates the process of diffusing and fusing sounds by structural improvisation. Each performer follows an intensity map and a pitch structure to interact actively with others in the ensemble through the process.

Choices involves a graphic score for indeterminate instrumentation. Performers play sounds and gestures based on graphic drawings in boxes. They can choose which boxes to play next based on arrows drawn on the score, freely repeating and/or varying the music associated with each box, and freely adding silence between boxes or repetitions of boxes. The piece begins on the left side of the score and ends on the right side of the score, and performers must play at least 4 boxes and no more than 7 boxes.

Partial Geometry
Partial Geometry (2018), for electronic instrument trio, was composed for the members of the CPS Trio (Chan, Pounds, and Swilley). The title and concept are derived from a play on words – partial as in an overtone or spectral component of a sound and geometry for the largely graphic nature of the score for the work. As it turns out, partial geometry is actually a thing in mathematics. The first movement consists of a finite number of gestures arranged for the ensemble for the purpose of creating cohesion. The second movement of the work is game-like and organized by a special case of partial geometry called a Steiner system. The last movement, inspired by the work of artist Robert Strati, takes another approach to limited elements, but allows greater freedom to the performers.

The cps trio is Chin Ting (Patrick) Chan, Michael Pounds, and Daniel Swilley, playing instruments (such as melodica, accordion and lap steel guitar) and controllers with live electronics and computer sound processing and generation. The trio began in 2018 at Ball State University. They focus on improvisational playing and performance of their own compositions.

Based in the U.S., Hong Kong composer Chin Ting CHAN has been a fellow and guest composer at festivals such as IRCAM’s ManiFeste, the ISCM World Music Days Festival, the UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers, and the Wellesley Composers Conference. He has worked with ensembles such as the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong, Ensemble intercontemporain, ensemble mise-en, Ensemble Signal, eighth blackbird, and the Mivos Quartet, with performances in more than twenty countries. He is currently Assistant Professor of Music Composition at Ball State University. He holds a D.M.A. degree from the University of Missouri–Kansas City, as well as degrees from Bowling Green State University and San José State University.

Michael Pounds began his career as a mechanical engineer, but returned to the academic world to study music composition with a focus on computer music and music technology. He studied at Bowling Green State University, Ball State University, the University of Birmingham in England, and the University of Illinois. He specializes in computer music composition/performance and collaborative intermedia projects. His awards include the ASCAP/SEAMUS Student Commission Award, a Residence Prize at the Bourges International Electroacoustic Music Competition, a Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholarship for studies in England, and residencies at the MacDowell Colony and I-Park. His work was awarded the 2014-2015 #wildsound Music Contest First Prize at the University of Notre Dame and third place in the Musicworks 2016 Electronic Music Composition contest. His music has been performed throughout the United States and abroad, with recent performances at the national conference of the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States (SEAMUS), the ElectroAcoustic Barn Dance Festival, and the Root Signals Electronic Music Festival. He was a co-host of the 2005 SEAMUS national conference, as well as the 2014 SCI national conference. Michael teaches composition, acoustics, music perception, recording and computer music at Ball State University, and co-directs the Music Media Production program.

Daniel Swilley (b. 1980) is a German-American composer of acoustic and electroacoustic music. His music and research have been presented at festivals and conferences such as June in Buffalo, SEAMUS, Toronto Electroacoustic Symposium, Understanding Visual Music Symposium, NoiseFloor, New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival, Electronic Music Midwest, Studio 300, Audiograft, Electroacoustic Juke Joint, College Music Society, as well as Society of Composer’s Inc. Swilley holds degrees in composition from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (DMA), Georgia State University (MM), and Valdosta State University (BM). His primary composition teachers have included Heinrich Taube, Sever Tipei, Robert Scott Thompson, and Scott Wyatt. Swilley is currently an Assistant Professor of Music Theory and Composition at Ball State University.

Headless Figures

Christina Butera

Michael Miller, bass clarinet

This piece is for bass clarinet in B-flat and computer. The piece is part of a larger work entitled Suite for the Passersby, a collection of pieces for solo instruments and computer composed for the Donald J Hall Sculpture Park at The Nelson Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, MO. Headless Figures is inspired by the stark image of Magdalena Abakanowicz’s Standing Figures (Thirty Figures), which can be found on the museum’s north lawn. The figures stand in near-perfect order, each individually cast from a burlap-lined body mold. There is a mystery to these figures that has forebodingly dark undertones. The slight imperfections in each cast both challenge and boast notions of conformity and anonymity. This tension is echoed in the relationship between the bass clarinet and the electronics.

Christina Butera is a composer, clarinetist, and teacher interested in both acoustic and electroacoustic music. As a Kansas City composer, she served as the Vice President and Artistic Committee Chair of the non-profit arts organization KcEMA (Kansas City Electronic Music and Arts Alliance) and currently sits on the Advisory Board. Her compositions draw from a diverse range of styles and are particularly focused on structures based on timbral and textural transformations. Her music has been performed at venues across the country, as well as international venues in Canada, Germany, France and Australia. She recently presented at and participated in IRCAM’s Manifeste-2016 in Paris. Christina earned her BM in Music Composition at Bucknell University, her MM in Music Composition at Bowling Green State University, and her DMA in Music Composition at The University of Missouri Kansas City. She is currently teaching composition and music technology at Spelman College in Atlanta, GA.

Plectrodon II

Adam James Wilson

Adam James Wilson, fretless guitarist and software developer

Plectrodon II is the latest version of my evolving real-time human-computer improvisation system. The system incorporates a novel software component enabling the computer to improvise in the musical styles of its human collaborators. It also generates formal structures for independent musical accompaniment from the aggregate data supplied by the human performers. All of this is achieved with an adaptation of the online factor oracle algorithm, which is used to build and update automata representing all substrings of notes from the human performance—in the smallest number of states—and perform rapid pattern matching on the results to generate more or less stylistically coherent musical responses. In this instance, the system receives input from a fretless electric guitar player in real-time.

Adam James Wilson is a composer, guitarist, and software developer who programs computers to improvise with human musicians. His work incorporates music information retrieval, algorithmic music composition, and data sonification. Wilson performs with his software experiments on the fretless electric guitar, an instrument that caters to his penchant for microtonality. He has performed/presented his work in Tokyo, New York, Paris, Montreal, San Diego, Washington D.C., Boston, Baltimore, Atlanta, Belfast, Palo Alto, and elsewhere. Wilson co-founded and serves as director of the New York City Electroacoustic Improvisation Summit (, an annual concert series featuring music by artists focused on the integration of music improvisation and real-time interactive computer systems. He is currently Assistant Professor of Emerging Media Technology, specializing in Music Technology and Media Computation, at New York City College of Technology (CUNY City Tech).

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