Joan La Barbara

Attended the Joan La Barbara Seminar and the Ne(x)tWorks Trio performance. One of the stand-out pieces in the concert was “Solo for Mbira” written and performed by Miguel Frasconi, in which (perhaps unsurprisingly) he plays a solo on Mbira, creating a slowly evolving rhythmic pattern akin to those of Steve Reich. Here’s the blurb on both events:

Joan La Barbara Seminar: The virtuoso in the electronic age: music composed by and for Joan La Barbara
Wednesday, 5th March 2008, 1.00pm School of Music and Sonic Arts,
Sonic Arts Research Centre

Joan La Barbara, composer, performer, sound artist, has been hailed as “one of the great vocal virtuosas of our time” (San Francisco Examiner). Her multi-layered compositions often utilize her signature extended vocal techniques, garnering her awards including DAAD Artist-in-Residency in Berlin, 7 NEA grants, numerous commissions and most recently a Guggenheim Fellowship in Music Composition. Recent recordings include “ShamanSong” (New World) and “Voice is the Original Instrument” (Lovely Music), hailed as one of The Wire’s 10 best reissues of the year. “73 Poems”, her collaboration with text-artist Kenneth Goldsmith, was included in The American Century Part II: SoundWorks at The Whitney Museum of American Art. “Messa di Voce”, an interactive media performance work in collaboration with Jaap Blonk, Golan Levin and Zachary Lieberman, premiered at ars electronica 2003. La Barbara has created sound scores for film, video and dance and has premiered landmark compositions by Robert Ashley, John Cage, Morton Feldman, Philip Glass, Alvin Lucier, Steve Reich, and Morton Subotnick. She is currently at work on an opera inspired by the life and work of Virginia Woolf.

Ne(x)tworks Trio
Thursday, 6th March 2008, 1.10pm
School of Music and Sonic Arts,
Sonic Arts Research Centre

The Ne(x)tworks Trio (Joan La Barbara, Cornelius Dufallo, and Miguel Frasconi) will perform their own compositions as well as their interpretations of graphic scores by notable American composers. Ne(x)tworks is a collaborative ensemble of musicians creating and interpreting work that features a dynamic relationship between composition and improvisation. In performance and recordings, the group locates pathways into various types of notation systems and interfaces, striving for a meaningful dialogue with the past, present, and future of creative music.

Seminar by Professor Marc Leman

Attended a seminar by Professor Marc Leman of Ghent University on “Social embodied music cognition”. The main hypothesis of the talk is that “the human body is a biologically designed mediator which transfers physical energy to an ontology of action-oriented meanings, that is, to a mental level in which experiences, values and intentions form the basic of music signification”.
An interesting part of the talk dealt with the difference between distal and proximal perceptual cues, something which may be of relevance to my work on new musical instruments.
A large part of the talk was about his work on body resonance, and how music affects peoples walking and dancing.
Click on the flyer image above for more information.

Vincent Hayward

Vincent Hayward visited SARC to give a seminar on his work “New Methods for the Controlled Delivery of Specific Tactile Stimuli”. He talked about the novel haptic interfaces that are being developed in McGill, including a handheld vibrotactile device, a contact location display, a planar direct-drive force-feedback device, and a high-density distributed tactile display (diagram above). More info from

Antonio Camurri

Attended seminar by Antonio Camurri visiting from the university of Genoa. Interesting work investigating multi-modality (including the MIAMI project), but mostly focusing on realtime video tracking/analysis. Also involved in the TAI-CHI (Tangible Acoustic Interfaces for Computer-Human Interaction) and ENACTIVE.

Roger Dannenberg

Saw Professor Roger Dannenberg (Carnegie-Mellon University) give a seminar on “Music understanding by computer”. His research mostly consists of developing methods for score-following, and musical accompaniment. The problem that I had with the research is that it is concerned with replicating tasks that humans are already good at (such as the musical accompaniment) whereas I am more interested in augmenting human abilities to achieve something beyond what is currently possible.

Rajmil Fischman

Attended a seminar given by Rajmail Fischman entitled “Real & Virtual Landscapes in Electroacoustic Music”. He talked about the use of mimetic vs artificial sound in electroacoustic composition, and backed this up with some graphs of how a soundscape progresses through time amongst other things.