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Examples of Art Music and Multimedia

Examples of Art Music and Multimedia

I designed this page to demonstrate my work in music and visual storytelling for consideration by the Brown University Music and Multimedia Graduate Studies Admission Committee.

My first piece: A Millenia in Alexandria

A 20 minute concerto for Violin, Marimba, Tabla, and Acoustic Bass Guitar accompanied by computer.

In a nutshell it is a programatic work that tells the history of Alexandria sonically, beginning with its founding, and ending with its sacking and the subsequent burning down of its famous library.

The sound design elements outside of traditional instrumentation are built using found objects and combining those sounds in several ways mostly utilizing various convolution techniques (Sound Hack was my main software tool for achieving this). Many of the non-traditional sounds in the first movement are built out of stones. rubbing rocks together, smashing them, etc. It represents the building of the city.

The second movement contains a variety of glass samples. It represents the compiling of the 13 Books of the Elements (the geometry text).

The third movement contains a series of pitched string and blown sounds. It represents the love affair between Cleopatra and Julius Caesar. It is the most “commercial” movement of the piece.

The fourth movement contains a series of non-traditional percussion and impact samples as it represents the sacking of the city. The development section is entirely percussive.

 

My second project for consideration is “Gestures”.

Gestures is a collection of modern-straight ahead jazz tunes. I continued the use of programming with these tunes. Also, with the exception of the drum samples, all the synth sounds were created by me using standard sampling and synthesis techniques.

The two tunes I’ll demonstrate from this project are Faces and Form. The idea behind the whole project was to compose short jazz tunes that abstractly represent visual art concepts (“Gesture” drawings are quick sketches done to capture movement and form before more tedious rendering begins), so Faces is about planes in structure drawing, and Form is about the abstraction of utilizing width, length, and depth.

More obviously, Faces is a simple AAB form with some vamp sections. I’m playing all the instruments except drums/perc which are programed. To represent “faces” I’m trying to play very angular ideas against a simple structure.

 

Form is a jazz waltz written for big band. It is an atonal composition utilizing a simple ABCA form with vamp sections. To push the nebulousness of the form I am playing with the time in the “C” sections quite a lot. In the head the melody is phrased in “4” over the barline. During the sax soli the C section is phrased in 2 against 3, and in the final brass/bass soli the C section is phrased in 4 against 3 which sounds like (and I scored it as) a metric modulation.

To represent “form” I’m trying to play very smooth ideas that never quite resolve. The ideas are constantly swelling and receding. The ideas are constantly taking on new rhythmic/harmonic shape.

I’m playing all rhythm section instruments minus drums, which are programmed). Jeff Kirk plays all saxes, Greg McClean plays all trumpets/flugals. Bones are programed.

Here’s a copy of the score.

 

 

3rd musical project for consideration: Heaven and Earth from my album “The Wesley Project”

This is a “New Acoustic Music” record. I’m using lyrics by Charles Wesley, but the melody/harmony/arrangement are all original. I’m playing bass and mandolin. The idea was to explore the “New Acoustic” genre as it might relate to sacred music in a completely non-produced format. Each instrument/voice played/sung has one track/one take. This specific piece is using a “Texas Swing” idea.

I’ve been exploring folk music and its impact on art music for the last few years. This project is where that study began. I started playing the mandolin specifically to record this project. When it was recorded I’d been playing mandolin for about 18 months.

I should mention that in addition to my electronic music interests I am mostly a bassist. I “play at” guitar, mandolin (and mandolin family instruments including tenor banjo). I have been working toward becoming a singer for the last 3 years.

In addition to these musical examples here are some examples of my drawing and film work.

Visual Storytelling

Here are the first few pages from a comic book I’m currently writing and drawing. Once it’s finished I plan to break it into ten sections and lightly animate using motion graphics techniques and score the sections using an extension of my “new acoustic music” idea combined with found object electro-acoustic techniques. The story is basically a modernized version of Bram Stoker’s mummy tale (The Jewel of the Seven Stars). I did something very much like this for my Master’s recital, but my drawing/visual storytelling work is so much better now I’m embarrassed to show you those results.

Artistically, the point of the story is to examine the main character’s struggle to be seen the way she thinks people should see her, and the mummy itself is a metaphor for disguise.

When I get to the musical score for this my plan is to explore ways a melody can hide in accompaniment elements, till it comes out fully realized in the last section. I suspect that each of the 10 sections will be approximately 3 minutes long, so this will exist as a 48 page book, and a 30 minute video upon completion.


 

If you would like to see the pages with lettering a .pdf can be read here.

And here’s a film example: La Bear

I co-wrote this script. I was the only technical crew…so all the camera, recording, and lighting work is mine. A pair of friends (one co-faculty member at Ai and one student) helped with the sound design. The student placed a little bit of canned music on it (specifically, the movie within a movie stuff is canned), but most of the score is mine.

I also did all the sound mixing, color correction, motion graphics (which are far more extensive than you notice…there are several shots where I had to paint elements out of backgrounds…like the bear mask that got left in view of the camera and no one noticed during production, etc), and the video editing. I learned a lot about what doesn’t work from this project, but I’ve included it because it has some things that do work, especially after the bear shows up, and most of my other similar, but more polished work, is in advertising, which I don’t think is appropriate for this portfolio.

Final thought:

The big thing I hope to accomplish artistically over the next few years is figuring out how to combine my electro-acoustic interests, my new acoustic interests, and my visual storytelling interests into a unique performance practice that will hopefully utilize ideas that haven’t occurred to me yet, but will be part of the education I receive at Brown.

Thanks for any consideration!

-Alan

PS Happy New Year!