Anne La Berge is a flutist, composer and improviser working with interactive electronics in both composed and improvised music.

What Anne tries to provide audiences

I offer the individuals who come to my concerts the opportunity to be curious and to hear, see or think in a way that wakes them up, that sparks them to wonder if the world as they see it might be different than they usually assume it is, in some unexpected way.

Her work, in her own words

Most of my works embrace the unpolished and unbridled opportunities that unforeseen combinations offer us to respond to in the process of making art. I try to provide those opportunities by guiding players through improvisations.

Most people who hear my work (and that includes my purely free improvisations), hear that I am trying to communicate something. That I have something to say whether the message is a kinesthetic gesture, an emotion or even words. 

On the joy of music and live improvisation

I was performing a piece called Lotus Blue Dream with my daughter, Diamanda, composed by my husband for piccolo and violin. There is one section of the piece where I feel elevated into another world. One of the contributing factors is that Diamanda and I relate to one another on an intuitive level and another is that the composition brings us to a musical place that moves me in a very special way every time we play it.

I play with a couple of small groups where that happens regularly. One is Shackle and the other is a trio called Zebra that has 2 saxophones and me. The improvising magic happens when we are all sharing the responsibility of musical invention and we arrive in a musical place that integrates our instrumental timbres and our personal fantasies in a way that we’ve never experienced before. We all know it when it is happening and have the skills and the desires to stay in the music and develop a mini-composition at that moment that works for us. I know for certain that the audience feels it too. Magic. Wholeness. Entirety in the moment.

On creating a thriving community of composers and performers

I am the director of VOLSAP, a non-profit foundation that supports and produces experimental music in The Netherlands and abroad.

Splendor is a collective of musicians in Amsterdam. We have renovated a historic bathhouse in the old city that has two concert halls, a bar, and a few small rehearsal spaces. The programming and production for Splendor is the responsibility of 50 musicians. We produce our own projects and we can produce other productions by artists outside of the 50 core musicians. We are a club and have around 1000 members who can come to our concerts for free or for a reduced price.  Our members pay €100 a year to be part of Splendor. It is a musical mecca of our time.

Making music with others

Shackle

[Shackle is] an electro acoustic duo that have found a way of making music all our own. At our heart is a self-designed, digital cueing system that operates as a sometimes-visible third member. Both prodding and reactive, the Shackle System suggests musical directions and textures to Robert van Heumen and I, opening up a fascinating array of sonic choices for us to both play with and against. Our performances are between improvisation without borders and tightly controlled forms. Improvisation and structure coincide in our music making. With spontaneous transitions and long, spun-out sections of sound, our music works on many levels at once: full of delightful discoveries that can happen at any moment, we savor the possibilities that those discoveries offer up.

With composer Scott L Miller

Scott and I usually send Kyma Timelines and/or Kyma Sounds back and forth after a lengthy email exchange regarding our desires and the practical issues of the project we are working on. Fortunately we’ve performed together a few times now so we know the ins and outs of one another’s musical quirks. We also send sound files of rehearsing with the Sounds. That gives us an aural feedback that words would never be able to fully communicate.

Taking an active role in new instrument development

Alexander Murray [Anne’s flute professor at the University of Illinois] developed a flute that was slightly different from the conventional western flute that most people play today. The flute was more in tune and the fingering system was more logical. I had a flute built for myself and played on it for a few years. A couple of the design features did not suit me, so I had another one built that I used for many years until I moved to The Netherlands and met Eva Kingma. She was developing a quartertone flute in the early 1990′s that interested me. My experimental passions and history with unusual flutes made me a prime suspect to work with her as one of the consultants on the development of the Kingma flute. After playing a couple of prototypes, I ended up with a quartertone flute that has worked wonderfully for me for many years. As to my experimental nature, I think that is simply in my DNA. When someone needs a guinea pig, I’m first in line.

How Anne became an improviser

Both my piano and flute teachers had me invent and improvise exercises and/or tunes as part of my training. I grew up believing that improvising was part of one’s personal practice routine. Much later, I learned that some people made a career doing it! 

During college and then directly after I was always part of improvisation ensembles. When I graduated from the University of Illinois and moved to Los Angeles, I became part of a few improv groups that performed regularly. One was with the musicians Ron George and Susan Rawcliffe who built their own instruments. While working with Ron and Susan, I developed a playing style where I didn’t sound at all like a classical western flute in order to fit into the the group sound.

Another extreme milestone was while I was living in Los Angeles in the early 1980′s, had no access to a music library and was not willing to put out the money to purchase music. I asked the clarinetist, David Ocker, to play with me on a concert but we didn’t have any composed music to play so we improvised. The duo worked so well that we formed a trio with Vinny Golia and had a fantastic time playing together for some years.

After I moved to The Netherlands I performed regularly with full time professional improvisers. The free jazz scene in Amsterdam was remarkable and has remained so. The musicians in the Corkestra were particularly influential for me. Playing with them brought my improvising and my general artistic growth to another level.

On teaching improvisation to classically trained performers

Most classically trained performers have music that they know well and that they feel is somehow close to their hearts and bodies. When asked to improvise using the pitch, rhythmic and timbre material of that music, they are usually excited to do so. The next step would be to make the separate parameters of that music more available to improvise further. An example of combining parameters and waking up musical fantasy would be if one imagined two or three favorite pieces and combined them in different ways over a period of a few minutes. For example using the “feel” of a Berio Sequenza while playing Country Western that breaks down into the rhythmic structure of a Bartok piece and then ending up in sustained noise. That sounds like fun to me. And potentially our imaginations would be focused on the task of group instant composition and not on our own shortcomings or other personal inhibitions.

Advice for a performer/composers at the start of their careers

Composer/performers are a rare breed. The majority of composer/performers began their musical careers as exceptional instrumentalists or singers. By exceptional, I mean that they, somewhere along the line, developed a somewhat convoluted approach to learning the music put in front of them confounded by a spotty devotion to the conventions of music performance. I would recommend that they follow their noses and move to a place where they can work with like-minded colleagues. Usually this would be a metropolitan area with a vital improvisation and new music scene. Most hopping scenes have institutions where one can study but it is the colleagues who are most important. Collaborations inspire us to learn and develop. And those collaborations are essential in launching our careers as performer/composers.

Her philosophy of teaching, workshops and master classes

…my main focus in all workshops is to inspire people to take musical risks and to help them free their imaginations so that they can play together without obsessing on their own issues and discover ways to focus on making music. That way they can dig deeper into playing their instrument(s), coping with technology and building an ensemble sound and/or behavior.

A day in the life…

Depending how late I stayed up the night before, I get up and have tea while my husband David has coffee. We go into the yard and feed our pet bunnies Syd and Ginger and then we go to our desks. I turn on my computer and check my email just to see if there are any world catastrophes to solve and then I work creatively for a while. At some point in the day I practice the flute for a couple of hours. Then I have rehearsals, or meetings or concerts. My schedule is not regular seeing that I tour regularly. I practice the flute wherever I go. I also keep thinking or working on new work. Either in my head or with my gear.

Humor in new music

Frank Bowen [Anne’s flute professor at the University of New Mexico] was an incredibly talented musician and a warm hearted and devoted teacher. He was also extremely shy socially. He encouraged his students, including me, to develop a personal style of playing that would be immediately recognized as unique. He wanted us all to be who we were and even more. One comical memory that I have is when I brought in the Berio Sequenza to a lesson and during the second lesson he asked me what I was playing as the fourth event. It seemed wrong. As it turned out, my score had an ink mark on it that wasn’t part of the notation and I was just playing a smudge! A serious and ambitious flutist interpreting a glob of lost ink. Ridiculous? How would I have known? I’ll never forget how hard we laughed.

Current work in progress — A Lovely Gesture (world premiere scheduled for 28 September at KISS2014 in Lübeck Germany)

A Lovely Gesture is a 12-minute work for acoustic performer(s) with live Kyma processing and a Max patch communicating with the Kyma. The Kyma will have Sounds that process the musicians. We [Anne and collaborator Scott Miller] would like to give the performers and the computer the responsibility to progress through presets in the sounds. Therefore the players will be given pedals to press when they would like to move to a new preset. At least three players will need to vote to move on before the Max patch will consider sending the request to the Kyma. The Kyma and the Max patch will choose the next sound randomly each time. This system of moving to a new musical section randomly guides the players into all sorts of unexpected musical opportunities, especially as they strategize in real time from section to section including all the transitions between sections. The Kyma VCS will be visible on iPads located where the performers can see them. It is essential that the performers see what sections and presets we are in and that their votes are coming in loud and clear.

Basic description of Anne’s performance setup

1x acoustic microphone for flute – Neumann 184

RME ff400 firewire audio device: I use the RME as an onstage mixer. I use the pre amp for the flute and send the signal to a Mackie Blackjack that is the audio device for the Kyma. The Blackjack then returns the Kyma stereo audio to the RME so I can mix it into a stereo signal with audio coming from my computer that is usually generated by Max but sometimes Ableton Live.

I communicate with the MacBook Pro running Max and the Kyma software via a set of pedals sending data via an Arduino. The pedals are used to cue sounds on the Kyma Timeline and to control volume and parameters that I have clumped into one continuous controller. I try to keep the number of pedals to a minimum and use the audio from the flute as the main controller and musical voice.

I use the Kyma to process the flute in live performances. This summer I am working on using it to play sounds as part of compositions. Until now I have used Max to play audio samples in my compositions and used the Kyma to process the instruments. I am making a work now were the Kyma processes and plays samples or synthesized sounds in addition to processing the live performer.

On the Kyma community and KISS

The Kyma users I have met are for the most part exceptionally imaginative and intelligent people who have a penchant for creating music that is very much their own. People who love sound and through tinkering with hardware and software are convinced they will come up with yet another musical moment that feels fresh and exciting. 

[At KISS] I was pleasantly surprised to meet up with people who I knew from years past. The level of invention and funky use of all kinds of hardware was also a high point for me. I …was delighted to see and hear work that gave me ideas for my own work.

I hear from musicians that I run into at gigs, festivals or just hanging around that the Kyma is a fantastic instrument but many of them have never actually gotten their hands on one to try it out. I think that these people who are curious…would be a great group to encourage to come to KISS.

Origins and the future!

My father is a scientist and a choral conductor. My mother is a violinist who has always been faithful at caring for people. Both parents are 85 and still active in their chosen paths. I have inherited a perpetual curiosity and penchant for invention from my father. I have been gifted with a fine musical ear, physical endurance and a preference for time-present focus from my mother.  If I have to live a life that is nearly as long and rewarding as they both are continuing to do, I have years of challenges in front of me!

Links

QUANTUM World Tour

 Dance, Event  Comments Off
Sep 022014
 

You’ll soon have a chance to experience Gilles Jobin’s QUANTUM for yourself when the Swiss choreographer and his dance company begin a world tour beginning with three performances at BAM in New York October 2-4 2014.

From a review of QUANTUM in Le Monde:

The perspectives opened to Gilles Jobin by particle physics have given a new texture to his dance. Tight but flexible, light but consistent, it propels an unceasing stream redistributed in layers of forms in constant motion. On a stunning score by Carla Scaletti, the circumvolutions are made fresh and compelling.

Dancers: Catarina Barbosa, Ruth Childs, Susana Panadés Díaz, Stanislas Charré, Bruno Cezario, Denis Terrasse
Music: Carla Scaletti
Kinetic light sculpture design: Julius von Bismarck
Costume design: Jean-Paul Lespagnard

Marie Predour, the company’s technical director, will be running the musical cues live from a Kyma Timeline each night.

Check the schedule for the latest information on when and where you can see a live performance.

 
A few months ago, sound designer Gurwal Coïc-Gallas got a call from sound superviser Guillaume Bouchateau asking him to join the team for Luc Besson’s latest project, Lucy. Gurwal was tasked with creating sound design libraries that the editors could draw upon when creating the special effects. In particular, Gurwal was asked to focus on:
  • Organic cellular movement (when Scarlet Johansson’s body is transforming)
  • Electromagnetic fields (because she can see electromagnetic fields) and
  • Voice effects (on her thoughts)
Gurwal used Kyma cross-synthesis on all the sounds and is enthusiastic about the results: “The movie is great, huge, surprising, probably one of Besson’s best, and the soundtrack is amazing!”
 

IMG_3339

Everyone knows J.S. Bach as a composer, but it turns out he was also a music-technology enthusiast and a sound designer, having spent many hours of his childhood hanging out at the local organ workshop, fascinated with what was the state of the art in sound synthesis technology. Throughout his life, Bach continued to support experimental musical instrument development (like the forte-piano and the bassono grosso) and his experience with the organ (aka additive synthesis), led him to experiment with creating new timbres in his instrumental music through unusual voicings and instrument combinations. In fact it was his technical expertise, as much as his mastery of organ performance, that landed him his first post at the New Church in Arnstadt, where, at age 18, he was hired to both play and maintain the organ there.

Kungsleden_trailIn October 1705, the then 20 year-old Bach requested a one-month leave of absence from his post in Arnstadt so he could visit the famed organist/composer Dieterich Buxtehude in Lübeck Germany. Obviously, Bach didn’t have a car, so he ended up walking the 250 miles to Lübeck, where he was so intrigued by what he heard, he stayed for an extra two months. We don’t know exactly what happened to Bach in Lübeck, but we do know the experience had a deep influence on both his music and his ideas for new instrument designs throughout the rest of his career.

On 25-28 September 2014, we invite you to undertake your own music-technology and sound-design pilgrimage to Lübeck for KISS2014. At KISS2014, you can immerse yourself in sound and ideas, surrounded by an international community of sound-technology enthusiasts who share your passion for sound, music, and the future of musical instruments. And, like Bach, you’ll return home refreshed, renewed, and with enough new ideas, contacts, and friendships to keep you motivated and inspired for your entire career.

Whether you’re a Kyma expert, new to Kyma, or are simply curious about what Kyma might be and why it inspires so much enthusiasm among composers, live performers, sound designers for film and games, researchers, and educators, KISS2014 is your opportunity to experience an inspiring four days of ideas, music, and interaction with your fellow music/technology/sound enthusiasts.

Registration open until 25 September 2014

Registration includes access to paper sessions, demonstrations, workshops, the Kyma open lab, opening reception and all evening concerts, plus a free lunch with your fellow symposiasts each day: http://kiss2014.symbolicsound.com/kiss2014-registration

For travel and lodging information, please visit: http://kiss2014.symbolicsound.com/travel-and-lodging

More information

Get the latest KISS2014 news and updates:

KISS2014 Site: http://kiss2014.symbolicsound.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kyma-International-Sound-Symposium/241910735840451
Twitter: http://twitter.com/KymaSymposium

Contact the organizers: mailto:info.kiss2014@gmail.com

 

 
Composer/researcher/sound designer Roland Kuit is currently composer-in-residence at the EMS in Stockholm working on a project that combines their Buchla 400 with Kuit’s Kyma/Pacarana system.

He is also at work creating new pieces for Pacarana and Chicago based composer/conductor Renee Baker‘s Chicago Symfonietta to be premiered in New York this fall, and you can hear him lecture on modular sound design for TV and games the Napier University in Edinburgh in February 2015.  Check out his full calendar here.

 

Sound designer François Blaignan had an opportunity to apply Kyma in an unusual way in his work on the interactive multimedia exhibition Marvel’s Avengers STATION (Science Training and Tactical Intelligence Operative Network) now on display in Time Square in NYC and featured in this month’s Mix magazine. The 10,000-square-foot installation is a space where Avengers fans can immerse themselves in characters and artifacts associated with the Avengers.

 For the Tesseract Portal Device, the installation designers were having a hard time matching the look of the spectrograms of X-rays, infrared, and gamma rays provided to them by NASA.  So Blaignan created an animation using stills from Kyma’s spectrum editor and synched it to the Tessaract sound from the movie for a perfect match.

Kyma wasn’t a totally silent partner on the project; it also played a role in creating the sounds of the particle accelerator in Banner’s lab.

Kyma da gamba

 Concert, Event  Comments Off
Jul 282014
 
On 25 July 2014, Gustav Scholda performed a 45 minute live set at the Dschungel Cafe in Vienna’s Museums Quarter with Willibald Rosner (viola da gamba) and live spectral processing through Kyma. Gustav (aka kymaguy) described the result as “Tons of Overtones!”
Jul 282014
 

In Garth Paine‘s new interactive Kyma work, CrossTalk, created in collaboration with Simon Biggs and Sue Hawksley, the text is automatically transcribed from the dancers’ speech as they describe inner body sensations and their relationship to the system. Later, the dancers collide with the sentences and the system generates a new language which they then dance, and so on. Watch as the printed sentences take the form of dancing stick figures projected on the back walls:

The creators describe it as an auto poetic system for making behaviors based on the anthropological idea of “making people” as described in their paper published in MOCO the Proceedings of International Workshop on Movement and Computing at IRCAM.

In July Garth presented an entire evening of his music (all composed and performed with Kyma) at the Skopja Summer Festival in Macedonia.

Jul 282014
 

SGR^CAV is a collaboration between composers Cristian Vogel and SØS Gunver Ryberg, exploring a phase space of possible musics, where phantasmagorical sound objects emerge from transient combinations of multi-dimensional parameters.

In January 2014 the duo SGR^CAV released their debut recording MOVED BY MAGNETS on the cassette label Tapeworm.

These works for cassette were composed from the precise arrangement of a number of elements—such as field recordings of coal  mining machinery in the arctic mountains, and the creaking of ancient trees in Denmark—combined with digital processing—such as self-similar additive synthesis and granulations—all developed in Kyma. Many of the other characteristic timbres were created using vintage studio technology. An awareness of the sonic qualities of the compact cassette medium was also an important factor in the composition.

Listening to the album feels like exploring a mysterious world with its own, alien yet self-consistent, laws of physics with faint echoes from the Columbia-Princeton Music Center of the 1960s.

 

Workshops, Talks, and Live Performances on “Organic Sound”

From organs (biological) to organs (musical), this year’s Kyma International Sound Symposium (KISS2014), to be held in Lübeck Germany on 25-28 September 2014, will explore multiple meanings of the phrase “organic sound” through technical talks, live performances, and hands-on workshops. Sound designers, composers, and live performers are invited to participate in a wide range of thought-provoking activities including:

  • An examination of how to emulate the organic sound of the analog recording studio using Kyma, presented by composer/sound engineer Greg Hunter of Dub Sahara
  • A special evening of “pipe organs like you’ve never heard them before” in the experimental, virtuosic hands of master organist/composer Franz Danksagmüller and his students
  • Intensive afternoons in The Collaboratory creating and rehearsing several world premieres including a live sound track for a new film by experimental filmmaker Theo Lipfert performed by faculty and students of the Musikhochschule Lübeck processed through Kyma
  • A hands-on “plantification” workshop where you’ll learn from Rudi Giot and his graduate engineering students how to control Kyma sounds through the growth of living plants

Events will kick off on Thursday with the unveiling of a major new release of the Kyma software and will culminate on Sunday with an evening of dancing to Kyma beats at club Parkhaus. The full program is online at: http://kiss2014.symbolicsound.com/detailed-program

Stummfilmprojekt

About the Symposium

KMHHosted this year by Franz Danksagmüller and the Musikhochschule Lübeck, each morning of KISS2014: “Organic Sound” features technical/philosophical sessions on topics ranging from voice processing, to sonification of organic chemicals and the Internet, to organic growth and decay, to how to build your own performance controller and use it to control Kyma via OSC, to presentations by individual composer/performers detailing how they utilize Kyma in their live performances and installations.

Afternoons are dedicated to interaction and hands-on activities including open rehearsals of collaborations-in-progress in The Collaboratory, a workshop on Conduction ensemble improvisation techniques presented by London Improvisers Orchestra trombonist and Kymaist Robert Jarvis, and the Kyma Open Lab where Kyma experts (Jeffrey Stolet, Cristian Vogel, Bruno Liberda, Scott Miller, Kurt Hebel, Carla Scaletti and others) will be on hand to answer your questions and consult with you on your current projects.

Franz foreground recording two percussionist

This year’s KISS features more live performances than ever before, with concerts every evening showcasing some of the best work created in Kyma this year, presented in the acoustically perfect MHL Große Saal and the Jakobikirche Lübeck with its three historically important pipe organs, famously decorated with faces on every pipe.

Check out the exciting lineup of presenters, composers, performers and Kyma experts here.

Who should attend

organ pipesAnyone who lives for sound — whether you are a novice looking to kickstart your career, an expert seeking a fresh jolt of inspiration, or simply someone who is curious about sound and Kyma — you will find in KISS2014 a chance to meet kindred spirits and immerse yourself in sound and ideas for four intense and inspiring days and nights of non-stop discussions, interactions, music and sound design.

Here’s how Chicago-based sound designer and re-recording mixer, Dustin Camilleri (http://www.pulsetrain.net) describes his experience at a previous KISS:

“…The unique thing about Kyma, I find, is that it appeals to such a wide spectrum of people doing such an amazingly diverse set of things, but sharing a common language. The conversations I had were so incredibly inspiring; the performances I saw were just over the top, and the community at large was just some of the nicest most genuine people I’ve ever had the pleasure of spending some time with.”

Registration and travel

Registration is now open: http://kiss2014.symbolicsound.com/kiss2014-registration. Discounts are available for students and for anyone registering before 1 August 2014.

For travel and lodging information, please visit: http://kiss2014.symbolicsound.com/travel-and-lodging

More information

Stay apprised of the latest KISS2014 news:

KISS2014 Site: http://kiss2014.symbolicsound.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kyma-International-Sound-Symposium/241910735840451
Twitter: http://twitter.com/KymaSymposium

Contact the organizers: mailto:info.kiss2014@gmail.com

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