dejacusse’ Soundscaping Tool for 2018 – Novation Launchpad for Ipad

Novation’s Launchpad app has been around for years. I have it on my phone and Ipad, and have created several remix contest entries with it. The Launchpad app is fun, but provides a limited pallette unless one springs for the in-app upgrade, which I did during a Black Friday fit of consumerism. As it has turned out, this is the best dime I’ve spent in a long while! Now I can setup the trigger pads with my own audio loops. The basic effects can be modulated and layered to many satisfying ends. The sounds that come out of it are ever changing and evolving as my fingers do the walking on the Ipad screen.

So, for December’s SundaySites performance, I created a Launchpad project to accompany Jody Cassell’s movement story. Jody has shared recordings of playful, intense story dialogues she has with her Mother, of her own writings about grief and loss, and other vulnerable moments. She has entrusted me with a treasure trove of sound memories to shuffle through and bring in to the soundscape. The Launchpad app allowed me to move the narrative with greater improvisational freedom.

I pulled a simple narrative from their stories. To paraphrase: Jody is small and short because her Mother squished her, her Father agreed to this, the squishing made her small but mighty, her Mother went to Alaska and turned into a salmon, Jody could have accidently eaten her, and remember I love you. These snippets of dialogue/monologue were built into the soundscape. The main theme of the soundscape was a “music box” piano line and lots of driving rythmns, hissing cymbals, odd beats and sound manipulation. On December 3, 2017, we improvised for 90 minutes inside the Durham Visitor’s Center at 120 E Main Street. Fabulous space with a big reverby soundbowl at the entryway that narrows into a shoebox hallway. Here is a nine minute sectioned where I solo’d while Jody caught her breath. You can hear how powerful the Launchpad audio filters are at 1:20 to 1:40, where the gated audio actually gate-effects the voices talking in the background.

On February 15 Third Friday 2018 at the Durham Hotel, all the 2017 SundaySITES artists will be celebrating Stephanie Leather’s wonderful community awareness/expression project. Jody and I will bring a fresh pallette of takes on our stories to this event. I am creating a piece about the magnitude of giving voice. There is a theme of “crying” along with catchy, glitchy drums and some rumbling vastness. Jody and her Mother have more stories to tell, and I am voicing overtones and mouth sounds, and possibly live vocals at the moment of performance. We are learning how to play with emotional baggage.

Most of the dance, music, sound performers and the photographers who documented the 2017 performances will show their work. It will be a great way to see the bigger picture of what SundaySites is bringing to Durham.

Details as they emerge!

Sounding the Future

Sunday SITES December 2017 photo by Stephanie Leathers
stephaniepleathers.com

First and foremost, my deep appreciations to you the reader of this sentence. That you take the time to read about and listen to my world means more than I can express. It is my root intention to express my love and appreciation through sound offerings. Every message needs receivers. I am grateful my message has landed with you!

So many ideas for adventures in 2018. Having found my peeps at Moogfest and 919Noise, I intend to show up, be present and listen at more events. There are folks performing sonic works of art out there: Spookstina, Senator Jaiz, 80lb Test, Incidental Exercise and Ty Lake to name a few local sound artists whose work I have enjoyed this year. When the weather warms up, I’ll be out there! Maybe sooner as I want to hear 80lb Test on January 7 at Arcana in Durham. Oh, yes – need some love for the venues that feature sound performances: Nightlight Club, The Cave in Chapel Hill, Arcana in Durham, and Ruby Deluxe in Raleigh. Feel free to add to the list in the comments.

One adventure that will kick off the year is a drone piece I created as part of an exhibit at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh. I am part of a multi-producer team under the guidance of Eban Crawford (Senator Jaiz). Eban is the Audio Engineer for the museum and will mix our drones together for an hour long looping soundtrack for the exhibit. More on this soon!

Justin Tornow’s Company is starting up PROMPTS again on January 27, 2018. dejacusse will perform with Jody Cassell, and possibly solo as well. Looking forward to the return of this performance series to Durham. The prompt is experiment redux. Jody and I have A LOT of material for that PROMPT!

February 15, 2017 Third Friday Durham will feature all 2017 SITES performers at The Durham Hotel. Jody Cassell and I will collaborate and improvise with other dancers and musicians to shine a light on the SITES project. Stephanie Leathers -dancer, photographer and SITES Producer- encourages artists to stage dances and music in unusual locations throughout Durham. The idea is to bring eyes to, and consciously engage with the morphing Durham terrain. SITES is an Independent Weekly dance pick for 2017( https://m.indyweek.com/indyweek/the-top-five-dance-performances-of-2017/Content?oid=10468933).

Human Origami/Audio Origami explorations into the fold as the smallest unit of matter and movement continue. (http://humanorigami.com) Glenna Batson, Susan Halpern and I have been workshopping this project for over two years. I now have some sound pieces for a portfolio of Audio Origami: meditations on the fold, which I will release in 2018 on Bandcamp. I am thrilled that Trudie Kiliru has agreed to create the cover art for the portfolio. I hope you will buy the album when it becomes available.

iBoD is on hiatus as we figure out what we want to do next. We are ditching public performance for now and just gathering to play together in the SunRa Room. We all enjoy this activity. It is sufficient! I hope we will play at Central Park School the Sunday after Moogfest to feature Eleanor Mills on the bells, Susanne Romey on Native American Flute and Jim Kellough on digital horn. Otherwise we will continue to stir up harmonic vibrations in north Durham.

TRIC Questions is still on the table. The idea is to treat the individual patterns of Terry Riley’s In C (TRIC) as rhythmic/melodic samples that can be voiced and placed in a variety of relationships to each other. For me, TRIC is but one way these patterns can be strung together. I want to structure improvisational workshops and create soundscapes using these samples. Terry Riley has listened to my work on this project and given me the go ahead. However, his management has not been responsive. To be continued…

Bill and Susanne Romey are working on a short film highlighting NC waterfalls. Here is a link to (Celestial) Signal Sailors, a fun musical romp with an intergallactic romance, which many local artists worked on a few years ago:

I am privileged to work with them on the soundtrack for the new film.

Novation Launchpad app for IOS has my attention of late. After using the app for SITES, I am working on creating sound clips in Ableton, importing them to Launchpad and sculpting sound. The FX are fantastic for really taking many snippets of sound and spread it, repeat it, echo and really swing and shimmer the harmonics. So my setup for performance is in transition at this time. Another possible addition will be an electroacoustic conversion of my Nanan’s autoharp. I plan to take the chording apparatus off, tune the strings in interesting intervals and apply contact mics. Laaraji who performed the sleep concert at Moogfest last year had two autoharps set up that way to a sweet effect.

From the sound of it, 2018 may be even more amazing than 2017!

Obladi oblada to all!

Keep listening.

Audio Excerpt from Third Friday Performance

While Jody Cassell moved the energies across the room, Shana Adams, Morgan Fleming and I sounded around her. The sound reflected and supported Jody’s movement. In this excerpt, Jody was reaching for lost conversations, while Shana sang the words from Megan Bostic’s piece I Lost The Conversation, and Morgan and I stretched tones. I wish I had a video of the movement Jody responded with during this piece. It was a most beautiful fusion of visions.

Third Friday Performance@Durham Arts Council   July 21st  7:15pm                          

Jan Ru Wan and Megan Bostic collaborated on the current DAG show entitled Reconstructing Existence: I Create Therefore I am which will run through August 12th at the Durham Arts Council. This coming Friday, July 21st, Jody Cassell will present a movement piece in response to their work. Jody will be accompanied by dejacusse’ new soundscape The Drone of Aggrievement along with improvisations by vocalist Shana Adams and Morgan Fleming on violin. The performance will run from 7:15 to 8ish.

The art that you will experience that evening arises from a deep grief that enveloped the artists following the loss of a parent. Jan Ru, Megan and Jody have discovered mediums, forms, textures, patterns and relationships through found and intermingled objects and movement to allow their grief a public expression. Each person’s journey with grief is a singularity that we can witness and resonate with. The graceful power of these expressions of grief invite the audience members to reflect on their own grieving.

This is the third collaboration for Jan Ru, Jody and I; and our second with Megan. The first was in 2013 in the Seimans Gallery at Durham Arts Council. Resolving the Disquiet was the raw stage of grief where the memories of the parent’s presence and the shock of their loss was felt. Then last October at VAE in Raleigh, Jan Ru Wan created Separation and in-between an installation that was about reflection and connections across time and space. Jody and I improvised movement and sound offerings for both of these exhibits. Here is a link to more about the VAE show:  http://wp.me/p5yJTY-fd

The DAC show focuses on a renewed existence through creativity. The grief remains but brings energy and muse in relation to “what is.” The show is beautifully curated and very sculptural.

For this exhibit, I was inspired to create a drone in a carnatic scale that begins on Bb. Bb is the tonal center of much of the natural world. Cricket and frog calls, cicada songs and other more drone-like nature sounds tend to resonate in B or Bb. The drone is made up of long tones from this scale in large interval relationships. The 11th Harmonic is worked in to help disrupt any stuck energy.  I chose voices that pull at the heart (woodwinds and strings) and created audio effect racks to destabilize and texturize the sound. Wind is a featured sound texture along with snipping scissors, keystrokes, and Jody’s voice reading bits of her performance piece  Walking to Nairobi.  Shana and Morgan will improvise along with and independently of the soundscape – all as accompaniment to Jody Cassell’s dance piece.

Please join us this Friday, July 21, at the Durham Arts Council DAG Gallery at 7:15 pm.

Tobacco Road Dance Productions: In Concert 2017

Very excited to once again be working on a soundscape for Tobacco Road Dance Production’s 2017 concert. Last year, Jody Cassell used iBoD‘s recording some kinda waltz for her Tobacco Road Dance performance I’mPossible. Jody both performed the piece and presented a dance film. This year I am working on a soundscape for Jade Poteat’s company.

A bit more about Tobacco Road Dance Productions: For the last three years, this company has brought together dancers and choreographers in a community process that is usually relegated to “the Academy”. This excerpt from their mission statement sums it up well:

Tobacco Road Dance Productions produces, supports, and encourages local dance in North Carolina’s Triangle region. Our annual concert provides area choreographers the opportunity to present their work in a fully produced and marketed performance. Each presenting choreographer works with a team of professionals to evaluate and improve their dance-making and writing skills. We provide networking and mentorship opportunities for emerging choreographers and dancers by involving established professionals in the adjudication and feedback process. Tobacco Road Dance Productions develops greater quality in local dance by engaging participants of all experience levels throughout the entire creative process. The presentation of a shared show creates performance opportunities that might otherwise reach beyond individuals’ financial and audience outreach capabilities and provides further incentive for young artists to remain in our growing artist community.

This is community alchemy – when we take what is right here, right now and create opportunities for as many artists as possible. Having witnessed much of the process last year through Jody’s involvement, it is an incredibly powerful and growthful experience. If you want to invest in the future – here is a good place to start: http://www.tobaccoroaddance.org

Unlike last year, I am coming into the process a bit later, attending my first rehearsal with Jade Poteat’s group in January. I met the dancers and witnessed what they have thus far created. I was inspired and impressed. They are working with the broad theme of “identity”. Jade’s dancers executed her choreography of movement tableaus of identity- with all the oddity, mimicry, earnestness and attitude that come with “identifying”.

We talked about soundscape, and Jade suggested each dancer have an identifying theme or motif. These could clash and harmonize and intermingle. And we agreed that the scape should move in and out of stretches of ambient silence. Jade had the idea of including the dancer’s voices in the soundscape. Part of the group’s process was to talk about dance, identity and what it all means to each of them. Jade recorded these interviews and gave me access to the interview files. I analyzed each dancer’s voice, locating the central tonality and common pitches within their inflection patterns. By isolating multiple moments of Dr. Diana Deutsch’s Speech-to-Song Illusion in each dancer’s voice (see http://wp.me/p4dp9b-e2  for an explanation of this phenomenon), I began sculpting a soundscape out of these lilting bits of speech. In order to capitalize on the melodic content, I created an Audio Effects rack that distorted the speech and amplified the harmonics.  The human voice is extremely personal, and a deep root of identity. Allowing their voices to be included in the soundtrack requires a great deal of vulnerability and self-acceptance on the part of the dancers.

Several weeks later, I have created a dozen sound sketches around Speech-to-Song Illusions in the dancer’s interviews. Some sketches have multiple voices as an underpinning, some have an individual voice as the harmonic and/or rhythmic driver of the sketch. Then I have interwoven some strings, piano, drums and vibes to create a melodic framework for the voices. Here are examples with multiple voices:

Here are sketches with one voice:

Jade has selected the sketches she wants to use and asked me to build some clear 8 count rhythms into a couple of them. And she has recorded herself and the dancers reading Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese, which will end the piece. At tomorrow’s rehearsal we will record the soundtrack along with the dance to get the timings of the sound and silence.

Now we have a soundtrack for the dance. I am doing the final mix and mastering passes to the audio. (Interestingly, the opening of the piece is a pulsating current of the dancers’ processed voices, while the end is their distinct voices articulating the poem.) So excited to hear this piece filling the theatre while the dancers execute Jade’s evocative choreography.  Please come see/hear I am Deliberate – part of Tobacco Road Dance Productions: In Concert 2017.

Separation and in-between – Jan-Ru Wan @ Visual Arts Exchange

Photo by Jan-Ru Wan

Several years ago, Jody Cassell and I performed a sound and movement work at the opening of Jan-Ru Wan’s collaborative installation entitled Resolving the Disquiet at the Durham Arts Council. Jody and Jan-Ru had connected over their mutual grieving around the deaths of their respective fathers. Grief was the focus of the exhibit that featured visual and performance work by two other artists, as well. In a recent email exchange Jan-Ru said that what motivated her to focus on grief in her art was the way Western culture encourages hidden grieving. Both Jody and Jan-Ru have connected with a public that is crying out to come together in a shared grieving process.

This weekend at Raleigh’s First Friday event, we will once again collaborate in a new exhibit Separation and in-between, which approaches grief from another point of view. In the time since the DAC exhibit, my youngest brother died and Jody has accompanied her Mother through many changes of aging. Both Jody and Jan-Ru continue to carry their fathers as well. Time and reflection change the shape, texture and weight of grief.

Jan-Ru’s Artist Statement inspired Jody’s movement and my soundscape:

For over two years Jan-Ru Wan gathered discarded hair from salons around the world (Arnhem, Netherlands; Taipei, Taiwan; Cary, Durham, and Chapel Hill, North Carolina) to create this installation, which speaks to global migration and culture.

Our hair is highly personal and yet universal. Hair is a marker of our identity—of our current self and of our desired self in that it can easily be altered in color and style. Hair is part of our body and yet we purposefully dispose of it, leaving behind pieces and strands in public places like barbershops and salons.

Here, DNA from countless hair samples from strangers across the globe have been combined by chance and stitched into printed silk pouches. Within each pouch, one person’s DNA intermixes with others, blending numerous identities into one piece to represent this global and confusing world.

Separation can refer to the hair physically separated from our body or to the emotional separation from our love ones. It can also refer to the separation from our past cultural identity that occurs when we are immersed in the global melting pot.

As Jan-Ru gathered hair, I gathered sound samples from my last visit to Trendsetters, where I have my hair cut. These samples have been layered in and slightly distorted so that the act of cutting away part of one’s self is suggested as well as represented. The tones and intervals of the soundscape are in the form of the pentatonic scale created when only the accidentals (the black keys on the piano) are played. This scale lies outside the more familiar Western intervals of the Aeolian/Solfege scale of the white keys. For the first part of the soundscape, these two worlds are separate.

Jan-Ru ends her Artist Statement with this wonderful image:

For my late father: The moment you left me our identities and destinies changed. We now have infinite space in between us, a constant that pushes us apart and yet draws close our hearts. The moment you separated from my body you took on a new adventure and a new identity, but here I am without you, my old memories combining with fresh ones.

The last section of the soundscape is made up of three tonic tones (BDE) with their natural harmonics articulated. So, for example, B is presented with A (its fifth) articulated in the second octave, and F# (its third) in the third octave. Usually triads are presented as chords in the same octave, in this case I have spread them out over several octaves representing infinite space and separation. As this plays out in long, slow waves, I improvise with just the three tonic tones as a drawing close of the hearts.

Jody’s movements interweave and juxtapose both the physical installation and the soundscape. Her use of angles, gestures and the overall space are an evocative exploration and expansion of the themes of Jan-Ru Wan’s work.

The opening is tonight, October 7, from 6 to 9 at VAE located at 309 W. Martin Street in Raleigh. Our first performance is at 6:45 pm, and we plan to present at several other points during the evening. We would love to see you there.

~ibod~ Sampler

image

My cohorts and I meet most Thursday afternoons to listen, play and discuss our co-creations. We have done this for a little over a year now. I am so grateful to have the keen ears and skilled playing of Suzanne Romey, Eleanor Mills and Jim Kellough to engage with the sound collages I create. They are one of the biggest gifts I have ever received from the WoW.

What is it that we are creating? I have called them soundscapes, sound paintings, sound collages. We work with the elements of music in an open format. We dispense with genrefication and virtuoso performance in order to explore deep listening, improvisation and harmonic relationships. In my mind I call it “free-range music” although I don’t like to use the term “music” cause it is so loaded with expectations.

The expansiveness of our work does limit our audience. Music listeners of today seem to be drawn to the familiar, repeatable, easily catagorized, or to virtuoso performers who have “mastered” their instruments or who have charisma, excellent marketing or celebrity cache.  We are not of this ilk, but still we bring what we have to offer, and we find people who listen, hear and appreciate us. Sometimes I think we are creating music for a future time, like our magnificent predecessor, Sun Ra.

On September 11, ibod will play an outdoor soncert in downtown Durham. The program will include pieces we have played before and some revised work. Here is a small sample of what we will create:

Undulatus was inspired by the feeling of undulation I experienced as the soundscape was forming. The original title was Undulato which sounded like Italian ice cream to some folks. Then I saw videos of cloud formations called undulatus and thought “ah-ha, there’s my title!”


some kinda waltz was created as a loop for an ADF dance class in the summer of 2015. Jody Cassell used a recording of this piece for I’mpossible Aren’t I? which was presented as a dance and dance film during Tobacco Road Dance Productions Spring Showcase 2016. Here is a slice of a more recent recording:


Big Stride is our breezy, sunny day beach song. Eleanor said she pictures a tall woman in a long skirt striding down the beach. I like that image alot!

And, finally, here is a brief sample of one of our group improvisations sans soundscape. These have been evolving over the last 6 months to help us develop big ears and conversational skills.


I hope you enjoyed this little taste of ibod. Come listen, dance and dream with us next Sunday at 7 in Sushi Alley off Foster Street across from the Marriot Hotel in downtown Durham.