Tuesday, November 28, 2017


Joey and Matias
Perhaps it is the strains of holiday music filling the air, but your piece makes me think of John Lennon’s ‘Happy X’Mas, War is Over’ because it is somehow both beautiful in a placid sense while drenched with a sense of melancholia. The line “…and what have you done” – places in mind the image of the person who is ‘just following orders’ and with a simple push of a button can devastate entire cities. Link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8Vfp48laS8

Griffin, Rachel, Ayal
Your inspiration from mushrooms reminds me of Diego Stocco’s – ‘Music from a Tree’. Stocco sees the tree, and not only is he inspired by it, he uses the actual tree itself - branches, twigs, leaves and all to create music! The resulting performance has a strong percussive element and its ‘earthiness’ is compelling. I wonder, what sounds could a mushroom make with some…ahem coaxing? Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fY-ZoVMwGKM

Kyle, Matthew, and Nina

Your inclusion of a dynamic, responsorial environment between visual and sonic art led me to this piece – ‘Notations’ by People Like Us (the stage name of UK artist - Vicki Bennett). This piece was written to be performed live. The musicians and visual artists respond to a collection of curated ‘found footage’ that has been selected for its directional/instructional elements. The moving images contain human, gestural moments (facial, hand movements) that convey expressions to be interpreted by the performers. The similarity for me between this piece and yours lies in the human need to see meaning and patterns in our environment, even when none is intended. This, in addition to our historical fascination (positive or morbid) for those who interpret these nebulous phenomena for us (musicians, artists, prophets, politicians). Here is the link: http://peoplelikeus.org/2013/notations/

Friday, November 24, 2017


The process has been quite different from other experiences because of the nature of the piece itself. We discussed about the idea of what we wanted the piece to be and from the first moment we wanted to explore the relations between music and video. This idea has changed over time both in concept and in its technological form. This changes have occurred through jamming with different setups, trying different video editions, different color effects, and different controllers. We took inspiration in a set of 2 chords from a prelude composed by Messiaen, we've been jamming using those chords as a starting point, and experimenting with different sound effects that relate with the video images through resembling tank shooting sounds, or effects that make you feel like floating or flying as the combat jets. The challenges have been that neither of us had worked with editing video or playing it with a controller before and personally I had never worked with a piano player in this type of setting. So basically our process has been developing the piece through trial and error, listening to recordings of rehearsals, watching videos and reflecting on where we are going. Many of our initial ideas have changed, at first we wanted to make a piece involving different themes through images and with more screens but we found that this military footage worked well by itself. We would need more time and iterations to explore using more screens and controlling them, however through this experience I was able to learn more about video editing with Final Cut and video playback with Max/Msp, which is something I would like to keep using in future projects.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


Although I have had significant experience making music with other people, the nature of the process has been one that is performative and interpretative rather than compositional. When I have worked in ‘composer’ mode, it has been a solitary occupation, worked on in relative isolation and then presented to the performers or audience. In this class, the act of collaborative music composition is one that is novel to me.

One way that I have conceived of this mode of working is harkening back to the use of google classroom by our reading teachers. Students worked on writing scripts together with rapid edits and changes that fed of each other’s creativity. Naturally in such an environment, notions of agency, independence and vision must be negotiated with grace and wisdom. These negotiations can be complicated when individuals have divergent knowledge bases and aesthetic sensibilities. For me, this has been a challenge. Often, I am not able to partake wholly in a conversation or planning due to my knowledge deficit. I reflect back on the issue of secret and hidden languages and certainly can see now why this topic was broached early on in the semester.

I am learning that I need to be proactive in asking for clarification or explanation for my own edification and to ensure that I am contributing in equal part. As we tell our students – “you are in charge of your own learning” – words that I need to target towards myself.

Compromises have been framed in terms of balancing ‘active music making’ versus a somewhat reactionary, or receptive approach. For myself, it requires a heightened sense of advocating for myself, and at times being content with waiting for a more opportune time to ask questions so as not to disrupt the pacing of the rehearsal. Lately, I have been musing on the aspect of musical roles as they apply to me. I reflect that at times I have retreated into a passive mode because of my perceived role as musician and not a technology versed creator. I anticipate that as my knowledge, familiarity and comfort level grow, I will gradually step into a more active role. When working in similar contexts in the future, I will need to recognize and leverage my strengths, such as logistics and planning for the good of the group. At the same time, I should recognize the unique qualities my team-mates bring and endeavor to learn as much as I can from them.


The process of creating this work has been very different from most of my other work. Most of my work involves learning and rehearsing someone else's music. Usually the composer is still alive and sometimes I'm fortunate enough to have them in the room as part of the process, but most of this work involves making decisions about a composer's pre-existing work. Since we are creating original work in ECM, there are extra steps in our process that I don't usually take into account. We have instead spent much of our early planning phase by improvising, and listening back to moments that the group would like to expand upon.

One of the most important aspects of making progress in our early process involved saying "yes" often and putting plans into action early instead of relying on long brainstorming sessions. This allowed us to experiment and and get our ideas out, then make judgment calls later. Naturally, we have had to make changes and cut material to better fit our narrative. This required us to stay detached to many of the ideas we improvised and might have felt strongly towards in the moment.

This project borrows much from film, theatre, and poetry. These creative processes are also new and fairly foreign to me. Our project relies on staging, props, and original pieces of writing which I have never included in my own previous performances. Costume and prop design are new parts of the process for me which have been both a joy and challenge to incorporate in our performance.

This process has made me more sensitive to other media that can enhance a musical performance. I was not previously aware of all the forms of digital live media that I can hopefully incorporate in future performances. I may not be fully literate in these programs just yet, but the exchange that comes from collaborating with artists from other disciplines has been one of the most rewarding and meaningful experiences of my semester.


This process was very different to my processes in the past. With this process, we already had a destination in mind of what we would like to do. Figuring out how to get there was tough, as there are so many routes towards the 'destination'. It wasn't until after presentation 1 that I was open to the idea of a new 'destination' that would provide the same outcome. Normally, I like to not fix an end goal with my music work, as it prevents me from being creative.
For this project, I feel like Matias and I have jam sessions that would scope the shape of the music and musical effects similar to how a band jams to create new ideas and inspiration. In doing so, we were able to develop a list of sound effects in Ableton that worked well with the style of piano playing. 

I would say that we haven't faced many challenges due to interdisciplinary mix. There was a period when I didn't work on the video side of things, which meant that I didn't really know how to fix the bugs in the Max patch. This was a mistake by me, and it meant that I had to spend time to get to know what the patch is doing and be able to help provide more input to the video aspect of the piece. Throughout our performance, our setup has changed multiple times and I think that it was challenging to scratch each setup and start with a new setup. This meant learning how to play differently as well as mapping out things differently as well. 

With my piano playing, I had to take out a lot of my preferences and played to the intentions of the piece. That meant I could only press certain notes at certain times, or play a certain way when the piece reaches a certain point. This was hard for me to remove my ego and look at what's best for the project. 

Throughout this project, I think a very important thing that we did was continuously reflecting on what we have done and where we are heading. At times, these conversations led to dead ends, but at least we eliminated a possibility. Having crazy and wild ideas can also ignite new possibility and I think this was necessary in the process. For this whole reflection process.

For this whole reflection process, I think that had I read my responses before I started the project, everything would have made sense and seemed sensible. After actually going through the process and looking backwards, I think that going through the process is actually much more detailed and challenging than imagining. Especially for a project that has a timeline of a few months, I think it leaves a lot of room for new ideas and change of direction.


Since this is the first time that I've worked with electronics and other people simultaneously, this project has taught me a lot about interdisciplinary collaboration. On the most simple level, I've learned some basic things about Ableton and Max MSP: their capabilities and how they can be integrated into my performances. I now have a lot of ideas swimming in my head on how I can incorporate these tools in performances of my own music outside of this class.
This has perhaps been the most open-ended project I've been assigned during my time here at Michigan. As a classical music performer, the majority of my projects begin with a very clear idea of how the project will be realized months before its actual performance. This project has instead been constantly flexible, often changing due to either artistic choices or logistical needs. This required me to be much more flexible both in my performances and my mind-set. I think this a healthy thing. Too often my colleagues seem bogged down in their own limitations. We aren't willing to take risks because we fear a less-polished product or lack a role model who will prove to us that our risks have potential pay-off. This collaboration has forced me to think more deeply about the culture of classical performance and how I can work to change it.

Monday, November 20, 2017


The process of creating our piece has been different in many ways for me from other collaborations I have participated in. It was really cool to agree on wanting to incorporate improvisation into our piece, but then recording our improvs and picking out parts we thought stood out and using those moments as a framework for future improv. The inclusion of this aspect of the piece as a whole directed our process and helped us focus on other parts of the piece. This really helped streamline thoughts by narrowing down how we were going to play, but still allowing room for improvisation.

Definitely a big difference in process strategy for me within this group is our generation of ideas. Usually I like to brainstorm for quite some time and maybe come up with many ideas, only a few of which I might think are strong, and stick with one idea and really develop what that single idea has to offer. Our group has done that in a very broad sense, but we really have tended to say "yes" to many many ideas and continue to add things to our performance. I wouldn't say this has been challenging, but it definitely is not the style I usually gravitate towards and it is a little refreshing to just get all of our ideas out there and execute them. I would definitely say this has made me better at saying yes to ideas, even though it is something I am still working on.

I do not think that the fact that our group is interdisciplinary has been a challenge at all, but I have felt slightly isolated within my tech world and actual process of making what I bring to the table. Again, this has not been a problem, but if I am struggling with creating something or making things work for our piece, it can be hard to translate things to my group members, which I think has affected my process and our process as a group.


This process has seemed much more "horizontal" than my normal process.  Typically I don't reflect much on the edits I make while working, I'll either like it and keep it or not like it and discard it and move on either way.  This typically leaves me with a greater quantity of less thought out and developed elements.  In this project I feel like I've added less elements than in my normal process but spent more time thinking about each concept and developing it.  The fewer quantity of more developed elements seems like more of a "horizontal" work flow while the greater quantity of less developed elements I'm used to feels like more of a "vertical" work flow.  Both achieve similar results, however the process to get those results is much different.

This piece has a lot of improvisation which is a process I'm borrowing from other practices and haven't incorporated much in my own work.  While I'll create ideas from scratch, by the time my process reaches the point of performance most of the ideas are pre-planned thoughts.  This created a new aspect of the process that I'm not used to.

It's sometimes hard to explain or gauge the complexity level of ideas that want to be tested.  Because there are variations in discipline and the background knowledge that comes with each, it's hard to understand or express challenges that come with testing new ideas.  It's an interesting specific type of communication I didn't think much about but am learning as the project unfolds.

The biggest compromise in this collaboration seemed to be instrumentation.  With a wider variety of instruments, MIDI devices and players possible in the group as opposed to any of our own individual process, instrumentation was difficult.  As the project evolves, instrumentation has still changed even recently because of all the combinations possible.  Another compromise that's similar seems to be the actions done by the performers.  With a multitude of capabilities from each group member, even though each is creating and modifying multiple elements of the piece, all members are capable of more than just what their contributing to the piece which was hard to refine and compromise.

I hope to spend more time thinking and developing each element of my music, while also having a lot of layers to try and combine the "horizontal" and "vertical" workflows I've discovered.

I now understand the importance of the thought behind each element of a piece.  When working individually, I always fully understand my own ideas and capabilities on both ends because there's no translation.  This makes thought before action automatic and made me under appreciate the planning of each element as we started this project.

Reflection on Process

I normally do most of my musical work on my own and have full control over the compositional process. Being in this group where the piece is mutually created by all the members has been a big change for me, which I’ve enjoyed a lot. We all have different musical backgrounds, and it has been interesting to see what each member contributes to the direction we’re taking. Having different approaches to composition in general, we started with a large pool of ideas, which at the beginning slowed us down since we tried to employ as many of them as we could. But now, the ideas are finally fitting well together and we’re driven by the current state of the piece more than our initial ideas. We are now able to comfortably combine ideas from tech and music in a fitting way in the direction we’re headed.

One of the challenges we experienced was division of work. Since each one of us is skilled in a different field, it is sometimes hard to help each other out with their part. We’ve been managing this by taking extra time when we need to and trying to contribute through discussions. Often times, we weren’t able to experiment as much as we wanted to or go deeper in a certain direction for the sake of time and moving forward. On the other hand, we sometimes had to move back from an idea in which we went deep. We’ve recently started using more placeholders for things we can’t immediately get but have a common concept of what we want. This approach made things easier and faster, especially when the later work turned us away from an idea.

This was my first significant musical collaboration and piece that employs such complex tech aspects. Since I’m interested in the software and audio overlap and as I will be collaborating with others on my projects, I believe this experience is very valuable. I now understand how hard it can be to start a project by experimenting with others who have significantly different approaches, but I also understand that, with time, the process will find its way and teach us a lot.

Reflection on Process

Write a post that reflects on your PROCESS. This is not about how you feel about the piece itself, but more on HOW you've worked. Not about HOW WELL you worked, but HOW?

Things to consider:
  • How has this process been different from how you "normally" work? Or how you've worked in the past?
    • I normally work in ensembles that don't incorporate technology, so the amount of independent work required is much different. Instead of meeting together to run through the sheet music or chord changes, we mostly spend time working together to make decisions on the design of our technological aspects.
  • Have you borrowed styles or processes of working from other disciplines?
    • Since we aren't playing our instruments for the majority of time we are working, I feel like our style of working is more similar to working on a group presentation for a class. Most of our time is spent making creative decisions on the direction of our Max patch or Ableton effects processing. 
  • What kinds of challenges to making progress have emerged due to the interdisciplinary mix in your team?
    • Our challenges have mostly all been with the technology involved. Both my group mates haven't used Max before and I only have very minimal experience, so I think our idea was a bit ambitious, but we've been working together to make it work. The only downside is that since our project is so focused on the technology, it's hard to make progress in other areas, such as the music, if our technology is not running smoothly. Although, Professor Gurevich's great knowledge of Max has really helped us. 
  • What kinds of compromises have you or others had to make for the sake of moving forward?
    • We had to compromise on having multiple drawers for our masterclass performance. We are hoping to figure out a way to have multiple drawers without major latency. Although, Olivia Block mentioned it might not be crucial to have minimal latency, so we will experiment. 
  • What will you take away from this way of working in your future work?
    •  What I've taken away is that scheduling time to meet up and work together is very important. That time is very crucial because it allows for big decisions to be made and for everyone to feel comfortable with setup and be knowledgeable of all the working parts.
  • What do you now appreciate or understand that you might have not going in to the project?
    • Live miking can be a bit more tricky with acoustic instruments, especially bassoon and flute. When working in the recording studio, we don't have to worry about feedback, unlike a live performance. It takes careful planning when miking these instruments for live performance.