The disembodied telepresence of Tobias Butler ’13 (aka tobobo from the hub) rises again:
This friday at 5 Eastern, a subset of Wesleyan’s Toneburst Laptop Ensemble will be taking over (some of) the airwaves on WESU 88.1 Middletown’s Wild Wild Live hosted by Mickey Capper and Rachie Weisberg. We will be using the very same computers most of us use to write essays and browse Facebook to create evocative, evolving musical works.
This will be no ordinary radio broadcast—a little over halfway through, you’ll be invited to visit http://t.obi.as/ using Google Chrome on your own computer to participate in a composition that will involve your personal machine as one voice in a potentially worldwide laptop choir. There will be a few guerrilla performances around the Wesleyan campus and in Middletown where many computers will be participating simultaneously—so grab your friends and laptops and go to a public place where you can sit and listen for a bit.
On Thursday, March 28, as people noshed on Thin Mints and sipped Moxie before the senior recital of Tobias Butler ’13 seemed to begin, the music was well underway. Crouched in a corner of the main room of 200 Church, Butler seemed to be manipulating his Macbook to produce a series of chromatic-sounding mutant robot noises. As the performance began and audience members trickled in, a sign was hoisted requesting visitors to visit http://t.obi.as on their mobile phone browsers. As Butler explained to me, it turns out that each visit to the website and the scrolling of each user was what was controlling the sounds.
I sat down with Butler to discuss the technology underpinning this portion of the performance, his composition techniques more generally and what led him down this kind of musical path. Click through the break for the full text of my interview with Tobias Butler, after some introductory thoughts by yours truly.
This first portion of Butler’s recital, the installation for mobile browsers and web server, gradually built into an expansive, thumping mass of wonky beats and siren-like wobbles. Eventually, in the second or third movement of the piece, percussion was introduced with drone-y growls placed over top. Bells and bumping beats ensued.
Oh man. Cameron Couch ’13 wrote a play and it’s fucking weird. Here’s why you should come see it!
Does the name Cheryl resonate with you, perhaps make you happy? What about discussions about sex with old men? Gongs? Whatever your response (remember that Wesleyan is a judgement-free zone), come check out A Hallway Play, an experimental piece about miscommunication and the ubiquity of life’s mishaps. Yes, it does partially take place in a hallway. Yes, it will be awesome.
Sarah Burkett ’14
Megan Cash ’14
Lu Corporan ’13
Sandy Durosier ’13
Justin Greene ’16
Laura Hess ’16
Marianna Ilagan ’15
Leah Khambata ’14
Ross Levin ’15
Afi Tettey-Fio ’13
Are you sick of the pleasant hum of jazz and coffee grinders in Espwesso? Does the dull roar of Olin’s main room make you want to peel your skin off? Has the humping of thesis writers in adjacent carrels gotten to you yet? Throw on a pair of headphones (or get ready to annoy your neighbors), because we have a sonic treat for you.
Oye, if you want to skip past the extensive discussion of experimental music borne out of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and get straight to a hands-on procrastination tool, click here and get your experimental music on, ese.
Founded in 1958 in London, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop was much more than a Raygun Gothic name and a studio. In the late 1950s, the BBC Third Program—which was eventually folded into BBC Radio 3—was ramping up their dramatic output. Seeking atmospheric, ethereal sounds that couldn’t be produced through traditional sound design or instrumental techniques, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop was created in service of exploring then-cutting edge production methods to accompany the BBC’s radio productions. The resulting soundscapes resembled musique concrète and were prescient in the development of the electronic and experimental music that we have come to know and love today.
Click through to see more about the BBC Radiophonic Workshop’s creative output from the ’50s to today.
Wes Alum Myles Potters ’12 just released a fresh-to-death EP using works from his senior thesis called Apertures. Potters writes:
This release is many months in the making, and is the recorded, modified version of my Senior Thesis Recital at Wesleyan University. The Thesis revolved around the question: What can we consider to be ‘live’ music in the 21st Century? The music in this album, though recorded, continues to ask similar questions by highlighting contrasts between instrumental improvisation, sampled beats, and notated music.
I could spend a solid amount of time writing about what I like about it, not to mention the dank group of musicians that he had on the album: Wes Alum Owen Callahan ’12 on sax, Nate Campagne ’15 on drums, Sam Friedman ’13 ticklin’ the ivories, and Dylan Bostick ’13 (see: DreamHost) working the electronics. Instead, I asked Mr. Potters a couple questions, and I feel like that does a lot more justice explaining the album than what I could do by myself. That’s all past the jump.
“R Who We R We is an ongoing collaboration by composer-performers Ted Hearne (voice) and Philip White (electronics). We deconstruct assertions of identity in pop music. We dissect songs by Michael Jackson, Ke$ha, Eminem and others, subjecting them to arbitrary processes applied to both lyrical and sonic elements. Measures are reordered, lyrics are alphabetized, the backup choir is given the solo mic; garbled lyrics become absurd poems couched in profundity, melodies from the processed text become vocal lines, those vocal lines become control voltages in a chaotic electronic feedback system; four-on-the-floor endures, auto-tune abounds.”
The project was premiered at the Music With a View Festival in March 2011 at the Flea Theater in Tribeca. Additional performances have taken place at the Sleeping Giant Summer Show at Littlefield (Brooklyn), The 2011 Dither Extravaganza at the Invisible Dog (Brooklyn), and at presentation of the Electronic Music Foundation at the Greenwich Music House in Manhattan.
Date: Tonight, February 29
Time: 9 pm
Place: CFA Hall
Presented by the Experimental Music Group