Emerging from the Shatter Zone

 Album, Interview, Release, Sound Design, Studio  Comments Off on Emerging from the Shatter Zone
Aug 302021
 

As part of an on-going series of interviews with artists adapting to and emerging from the disruptions of 2020-22, we had a chance to speak with independent sound artist and photographer Will Klingenmeier to ask him about how he continued his creative work in spite of (or because of?) the restrictions last year, what he is up to now, and some of his hopes and inspirations for the future.

Will is a self-described omnivore of sound and noise, living as a borderline hermit and wanderer in order to focus on developing his unique artistic voice.


Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, Will!

Thank you so much for having me. I’m honored and happy to have the opportunity to talk about my work.

The colors and arrangement of your studio photo seem to capture just how central your studio is in your life (you’ve said that you spend more time there than in in any other place, and I think a lot of us can identify with that). Can you give us a brief description of how you’ve set up your studio workflow and say a bit about how you feel when you’re in the studio and in the flow?

My studio is really sacred ground for me. It’s a special place that I have spent thousands of hours in, as well as making. All of the acoustic treatment, gear racks, speaker stands and shelves I made with my dad over the course of many years. When I’m in the flow it’s like I’m on a tiny planet in my own little world, and it’s immensely satisfying. It’s a source of constant joy and a never-ending project.

At the moment, a lot of what I do is based in Kyma so it is the heart of my studio. I try to perform everything in real-time without editing afterwards; even if it takes longer to get there, it’s more satisfying. I have a few different set-ups including laptops and an old Mac Pro. I have mostly the same content on multiple computers not only for back-ups, but also to make it easier for traveling with a mobile rig. When I can’t avoid using a DAW, I have an old version of Pro Tools on my Mac Pro. Outside of Kyma, I have a handful of microphones, instruments, synthesizers, outboard gear and tape machines that I use. There’s a ton of cabling to the closet turned machine room which looks confusing, but my set-up is actually quite straightforward. Also, I leave all the knick-knacks out so my studio looks like a bricolage, but that way I know where everything is when I need it, and it’s only an arm’s reach away.

During the lockdowns and travel restrictions of spring 2020, you were caught about 7000 miles away from your studio. How did that come about?

I don’t go looking for tough situations, but I always seem to find them. On February 1st, 2020, I left Colorado for Armenia where I was scheduled to volunteer teaching the next generation of noisemakers; two week intensives at four locations around the country, including Artsakh, for a total of two months. I booked a one-way flight so I would be able to travel Armenia and the region, and I had another flight afterward to visit a friend in India, but needless to say that’s not what happened.

When I left the states COVID-19 was around but every day things seemed to stay about the same. For the first month in Armenia things were normal, there wasn’t even a documented case of COVID until March. I made it through two schools and I was at the third when I got a call that the World Health Organization had increased the epidemic to a pandemic. That’s when things changed. A driver came for me and took me back to Yerevan where I was told things were going to change and ultimately go into lockdown. The school said I could stay in their apartment or do whatever I felt I needed to, including going home. I didn’t really know what to do; who did? Throughout my travels I’ve learned not to be reactionary and instead concentrate on options and to realize a working solution. As such, I figured if the virus was going to spread it would be mostly in Yerevan, the biggest city, so I left Yerevan on my own and went to the Little Switzerland of Armenia, Dilijan. It’s an incredibly beautiful place in the mountains and I thought ‘I’ll lay low here for a few days and plan my next move.’

After five days I decided to go back to Yerevan, and found out that I could have a three bedroom apartment all to myself indefinitely. I thought, “that sounds a lot better than scrambling and traveling 7,000 miles across the world right now”, so I talked with my family and I decided to stay put. I was in that apartment by myself for six months and it was an incredible opportunity to turn inwards. As it turned out, I stayed until one day before my passport stamp expired so I took the experience as far as I possibly could. In hindsight, I don’t think it was ever impossible for me to leave, but I never actually pursued it until I absolutely had to. And I wouldn’t change any of it.

Can you describe how your sound work was modified by your “quarantine” in Armenia? How is it different from the way you normally work in Colorado? Has it changed the way you work now, even after you’ve returned home?

It turns out that an ironing board makes an excellent, height-adjustable desk for a sound artist in exile.

Basically everything I’m doing now has come out of exceedingly difficult situations that I persevered through. Several things happened that I’m aware of and probably even more that I’m unaware of and still digesting. I definitely breached a new threshold of understanding how to use my gear. And I absolutely learned to make the most of what’s on hand—to repurpose things, up-cycle and reimagine. I remember taking inventory of everything I had, laying it all out in front of me and considering what it was capable of doing, the obvious things to start like the various connection ports and so on, then I moved to the more subtle. By doing this I was able to accomplish several things that I didn’t think I could previously based solely on my short-sighted view.

This same awareness and curiosity has stayed with me and I’m really grateful for it. Essentially, it was realizing there’s a lot to be gained in working through discomfort. Moreover, I’ve heard that creativity can really blossom when you’re alone, so maybe that is some of what happened. Not that I held back much before this time, but now I really swing for the fences—I love surreal, far-out, subjective, ambiguous sounds. Creatively speaking, I’m most interested and focussed on doing something that’s meaningful to me, and then I might share it.

Once I returned to Colorado a different level of comfort and convenience came back into my life. Some things were left in Armenia and some things were gained in Colorado. I’ve made it a point to make the most of wherever I am with whatever I have. That’s something I’ve lived by, and now it is a part of me. It is nice to be back in my studio though. I’ve spent more time in this room than any other so I know it intimately. To be sure, I’ve always enjoyed my space and I thrive in solitude so having the situation I did in Armenia really brought out the best in me. Back in the states there are definitely more distractions, so since returning I’ve become even more of a night owl to help mitigate them.

Do you have Armenian roots? Can you explain for your readers what’s going on there right now?

I don’t have Armenian roots, at least none that I know of. That said, I have been told by my Armenian friends that I am Armenian by choice, and I will agree with that. They are a wonderful people and it breaks my heart with what is happening there now. A lot is going on and I don’t claim to understand it all, but there is definitely a humanitarian crisis—thousands dead, thousands of refugees and displaced peoples, and many severely injured people from a 44 day war launched by Azerbaijan. As a result, there are both internal and external problems including on-going hate from the two enemy nations Armenia is sandwiched between. It is a tough time and when I ask my Armenian friends about it they don’t even know how to put it into words. I can see the sadness and worry in their eyes though.

Throughout the pandemic, you’ve maintained connections and collaborations with multiple artists. Please talk about some of those connections, how you established them, how you maintained them, how you continued collaborating (both in terms of technological and human connections).

The first of these collaborations began when I received a ping from one of my good friends and fellow Kyma user Dr. Simon Hutchinson. He said he would like to talk about YouTube. I’d recently started ramping-up my channel (under the name Spectral Evolver) and he was looking to do the same. We discussed the potential for collaboration and cross-promoting our channels. At the time, I was making walking videos around Armenia and we eventually decided to create a glitch art series which used these videos as source material for Simon’s datamoshing. Additionally, we decided to encode the audio for binaural and to use Kyma as a part of the process. We started with short videos up to a minute long with varying content to run some tests, and then started doing longer videos around ten minutes once we figured out the process. We used Google Drive to share the files. It was immensely satisfying and a totally new avenue for me; he is incredibly creative and talented and I was thrilled to be taken along for the datamoshed ride.

Another collaboration during this period was with my long-time friend from college Tim Dickson Jr. He is one of my favorite pianists. Everything he plays is very thoughtful and he has developed this wonderfully minimalist approach. He was going through tough times and wanted to share as much of his creations as possible so I asked him if he wouldn’t mind sending me some of his compositions for me to reimagine. He uploaded about 15 pieces and I used only them and Kyma in creating our album ‘abstractions from underground‘.

The Unpronounceables’ as a trio was yet another collaboration that started during lockdown. Somehow I finagled my way into the group comprised of İlker Işıkyakar and Robert Efroymson, both friends of mine from the Kyma community. At that point, there was still hope for KISS 2020 in Illinois and for us performing as a trio, therefore we needed to start practicing. The only way that was possible at the time was online. As I remember we had a few chats to check-in and say ‘hi’ then we jumped in and started feeling our way forward. The only guideline we ever had was to split the sonic spectrum in thirds, one of us would take the lows, one of us the mids, one of us the highs—that was İlker’s idea I think. However, that quickly disappeared and we all just did what we could. I remember using a crinkled piece of paper as an instrument and opening my window to let the sound of birds and children playing in the courtyard come into the jam. I didn’t have my ganjo yet so I used whatever I could to be expressive, it was really beneficial to work through that. To jam, we used a free application called ‘Jamulus’. Robert made a dedicated server and the three of us would join in once a week and play for 30 minutes or so. Surprisingly the latency wasn’t unbearable. We were doing mostly atonal, nonrhythmic sounds though and I suspect if we needed tight sync it would have been painful.

Finally, despite the lockdown, I was able to continue volunteering with the school once they made the transition to online. While brainstorming with the school on how it would be possible to offer workshops for kids in lockdown at home with seemingly limited resources, I realized I could immediately share what I had just learned: to use whatever you have where you are! The results were spectacular: they created a wonderful variety of sound collages created, recorded and edited mostly through cell phones. I assigned daily exercises to record objects of a certain material, for example, metal, glass, wood etc. I asked them to consider the way the object was brought into vibration by another object. Don’t just bang on it! We also discussed the opportunity to use sound to tell a story even if it’s a highly bizarre, surreal, subjective story. In the end, I learned far more from them than they did from me. I was asking them how they made sounds and I was taking notes. For these classes, we met through Google Hangouts and shared everything on Google Drive.

Your recent release, “the front lines of the war,” is the result of another collaboration, this time with Pacific rim poet/multi-disciplinary artist Scott Ezell. Visually, tactilely, sonically and verbally, you and Scott employ multiple senses to express the disintegration and despair of the “shatter zone”. What exactly is a shatter zone?

Shatter Zone has at least a double meaning. It started off in geology to describe randomly cracked and fissured rocks then came to also be used to describe borderlands usually with displaced peoples, so for me, it carries both of those resonances.

The sounds you created for this project are also intentionally distressed and distorted through techniques like bit-crushing, digital encoding artifacts and vocal modulations. Particularly striking is the section that begins “In the shatter zone too long…” whose cracking dripping conveys a miasma of putrescence and disease carried along on a dry wind. Can you describe how you did the vocal processing in this section (and any other techniques you employed in this section that you’d like to share)?

True, there’s a lot of different audio processes happening to make the album sound the way it does including all of the things you’ve mentioned. The piece you’re talking about is called “Shatter Zones” and it came to sound the way it does through Kyma granulation. Scott’s reading of the poem is one take of about 8 minutes and I used a SampleCloud to read through the recording in a few seconds longer than that and used a short grain duration of less than 1 second. What results is a very slightly slower reading, but the pitch of his voice stays the same. It’s just slow enough and granulated enough that we can feel uneasy but not so much that the words aren’t intelligible. It’s super important that we understand what he’s saying so I had to find the line between making an evocative sound and leaving his voice intelligible. I thought there was an obvious correlation to Shatter Zones and granulation which is why I decided to use that technique. The sound around his voice is granular synthesis as well but with long grains of 5 or more seconds. I had this field recording I did on my cell phone of a dwindling campfire, down to the embers, and it always sounded really interesting to me. I brought it into Kyma, replicated it, added some frequency and pan jitter so each iteration wouldn’t sound the same, and used the long grain technique.

What other techniques did you use to “degrade” and “distort” the sound? Did you intentionally choose to distribute the sound component on cassette tape for that  reason?

We arrived at putting the sound on a cassette for several reasons. I think a physical element is a really meaningful necessity for music and with the chapbook there was already going to be a physical element so we knew we wanted physical music. These days there’s basically three options: CD, vinyl, cassette — all of which will have a noticeably different sound. We thought about this from the beginning instead of it being an afterthought. Initially, we were thinking vinyl but because of the cost and the length of the sides we realized it probably wasn’t the best solution, if it was even possible. Between a CD and a cassette, this content lends itself to the cassette format more than a CD, not that CD would have been a bad choice. We welcome what the cassette tape might do to the sound—a further opportunity for the medium to influence the art. Besides, over the last year or so I’ve been buying music on cassette—they are really coming back—and they don’t sound nearly as undesireably bad as you might think. In fact, some music sounds best on cassette. I think it’s really cool if an artist considers all the different formats and decides which one is best for the art—like a painter choosing what they will paint on, it matters, it changes the look. When listening to this project on cassette there is a noticeably different experience than listening digitally, and with the exception of one track I think it is all more desirable on the cassette version. As for other techniques for degradation and distortion, I used a lot of cell phone field recordings, there’s a few databent audio files and I recorded out of Kyma into another recorder and during that process a bunch of noise came along. I also have a 1960’s style tone-bender pedal I made a long time ago that’s super special to me, and all of the guitar tones went through that. Then, of course, there’s the stuff inside Kyma which you’ve already hinted at: Bitwise operators, granulation, cross-synthesis and frequency domain haze.

Do you think it’s ironic to use Kyma, a system designed for generating high-quality sound, to intentionally degrade and distort the audio?

Kyma is definitely known for high quality, meticulous sound, but that’s not actually why I got into it, or why I continue to use it. Over the years, I’ve developed and found a way of working that’s meaningful to me and it’s centered around Kyma: real-time creation, no editing, and performing the sound. Kyma thrives in that situation and is extremely stable in both the studio and live use, therefore it’s where I feel really creative and capable of expressing the sound in my head.

One way I think about Kyma is like a musical instrument, say a guitar. What does a guitar sound like? What could it sound like? When does it stop being a guitar sound? Seems to me there’s no end to that and definitely no right or wrong. Kyma is the same way for me. In fact, it never occurred to me that I was making lo-fi sounds in a hi-fi system. I think there’s a sadness when data compression is used for convenience and to miniaturize art, but when it’s used from the onset for a unique sound or look, like we’ve done here, that’s different.

Is this piece about Myanmar? Or is it about “every war” in any place?

Both. The spoken words are specifically based on Scott’s first-person experience of a Myanmar Army offensive against the Shan State Army-North and ethnic minority civilians in Shan State, Myanmar in 2015. Scott was smuggled into Shan State under a tarp in the back of an SUV. The Shan State Suite (side one of the cassette) tells this story. At the same time, the project is expressing a bigger realization as it explores the ways that global systems implicate us all in vectors of destruction and conflict in which “everyone is on the front lines of the war.” (This last sentence is Scott’s words, he said it perfectly for our liner notes, so I’ve just repeated it here.)

Can you offer your listeners any suggestions for remediating action?

It is incredibly difficult not to be lost in despair and discouraged by the things that we, especially Scott, have seen and experienced, but I think the work of art itself is actually meant to be a positive thing. It’s once we fully ignore and disregard things that hope is lost, or rather that we are taking an impossible chance hoping that it “works out for the best.”

I believe we have to make an effort and that effort can come in many forms. This project cracks open the door and offers a start to a conversation, a very difficult, long conversation, but a necessary one, I think. Scott and I have had success bringing this kind of content into different University environments including an ethics of engineering course at the University of Virginia. We shared a piece of art we made and shared our personal experiences and relationships to contested landscapes and marginalized peoples. The response we got from the professors and students suggested there would be on-going consideration for the topic.

Finally, there are lots of good people in the world and lots of human rights organizations seeking to stop violence both before and after it has started, so that’s something encouraging. There is hope and we can start to do better immediately even if only on a very small, personal level. In fact, that’s actually where it all needs to start, I think.

In an ideal world, what would you love to work on for your next project?

An installation of some kind. I really want to do something on a bigger, more immersive, more tactile scale using Kyma and sound as a medium of expression along with some of the visual forms I’ve been getting into. In the meantime I’ll continue to do what I’m doing!

What do you see as the future direction(s) for digital media art and artists? For example, you’ve gone all-in on developing your youtube channel for both educational and artistic purposes, video, and live streaming. How does youtube (and more) figure into your own future plans?

I think we are going to continue to see extremes and new forms of art. Artists, as a whole, always challenge and question which leads to new horizons. Digital media has certainly created many incredible and wonderful on-going opportunities for artists. I see VR/AR getting more and more capable as well as popular. Also, with the advent of everything becoming ‘smart’, new needs have arisen for artists. Like Kyma being used in the design of the Jaguar I-PACE, that kind of stuff. As for my YouTube channel, I have every intention of continuing it. I don’t know exactly what all the content is going to be, but that’s why I put ‘Evolver’ in the name.


As a coda, we strongly recommend that everyone check out the detailed description of ‘the front lines of the war’ on Will Klingenmeier’s website, where you can also place an order for a copy of this beautifully produced, limited-edition chapbook and cassette for yourself or as a gift for a friend.

It’s not an easy work to categorize. It’s an album, it is a video, it’s a chapbook of poetry, yet it’s so much more than that: it is a meticulously crafted artifact which, in its every detail, conveys the degradation, despoilment and degeneration of a “shatter zone”. It arrives at your mailbox in a muddied, distressed envelope with multiple mismatched stamps and a torn, grease-marked address label, like a precious letter somehow secreted out of a war zone, typed on torn and blood/flower stained stationary and reeking of unrelenting grief, wretchedness, and inescapable loss. It deals with many topics that are not easy or comfortable to confront, so be sure to prepare yourself before you start listening.

 

 

A Sound Apart—interview with sound designer, Marco Lopez

 Sound Design, Sound for picture, Streaming Series  Comments Off on A Sound Apart—interview with sound designer, Marco Lopez
Aug 032021
 
Marco Lopez talks about how sound supports the story in “A Class Apart”

Sound helps create a miasma of privilege, power and tension for a drama set in an exclusive boarding school

A Class Apart (Zebrarummet), a new eight part mystery drama that will premiere on Viaplay on August 22 2021, is set in the hidden world of privilege and power that is an exclusive boarding school in Sweden. View the teaser on IMDB.

Marco Lopez, sound designer

We had a chance to speak with lead sound-effects editor, Marco Lopez, to find out more about how he used sound to enhance the narrative. Born in Leipzig Germany to Cypriot and Chilean parents, it seems inevitable that Lopez would become a multi-lingual citizen of the world. A solid background of 7 years of classical piano lessons and music theory led to sound engineering studies in Santiago, but it was almost by chance, during a short course entitled ‘Sound Design for Film’, added in his final semester, where he discovered his true passion for sound design, launching him on what he describes as “an endless search for knowledge and techniques”.

You come from a Cypriot, Chilean, and German background, but what about the Swedish connection? How did that come about?

In 2013, I attended Randy Thom’s sound design masterclass in Hamburg. Prior to the masterclass, each of the participants received a 5 minute sequence from the film “How To Train Your Dragon” and given the assignment of adding sound design to that sequence. By the end of the masterclass and after listening to my sound design, the Europa Studio (Filmlance International) sound design team invited me to visit them at their studio in Stockholm the next time I was in town. Eventually I took the decision to take the next step in my professional growth and move to Sweden, and I was fortunate enough to start working right away with the Europa Sound Studio/Filmlance team.

When Filmlance International mixer and sound designer, Erik Guldager, who was doing sound design for the first two episodes of “A Class Apart”, invited me to join the team, I immediately agreed! It’s always great working with them. Due to the pandemic the communication was done mainly by email, or Zoom. It was very effective, as if we were in the same place.

Is the dialog in Swedish? How does language influence sound design?

The dialog is indeed in Swedish. For the last five years, I have been speaking exclusively in Swedish with my girlfriend which has helped me a lot to learn the language. I think that it is important to understand the dialog and the underlying codes that sometimes might be carried along in this way. It becomes easier to support the story with the proper sound effects and build a better sound around them.

From the title and the synopsis, it sounds like class differences and privilege are a central “character” in this story. Did you try to create a “sound” or ambience that would convey privilege, exclusivity and power for some of the scenes? How did you go about doing that?

Yes, that is correct and that becomes even more prominent due to the mysterious death of one of the students of the boarding school: Tuna Kvarn. The central character is very well described both with the picture and with the dialog, so we began by highlighting those moments and, once we were happy with our first attempt, we then started adding details around those moments and enhancing them.

As part of this process, the director requested that we use “unnatural sounds”, sounds that would not be normally present in a certain room or an exterior space. This request made the whole project even more exciting for me, because it allowed us to open an extra door of creativity and gave us the opportunity to experiment and create elements (which I, unofficially referred to as “non-musical drones”) that functioned well in the overall context.

One of the guidelines from the sound supervisor of the project, Boris Laible, was that we were after a feeling. That is an inspiring place for me to be in, because sometimes it takes several attempts to nail it, and it’s interesting to be able to witness the different versions that can be created with different sound effects. Eventually we selected a few of those non-musical drones, based on the fact that they were blending well with the rest of the sounds and they were supporting the scenes properly, but most importantly, they were not distracting the viewer away from the storytelling. We kept tweaking and readjusting the sound design the whole time until the very end.

How did you use Kyma on this project?

I used Kyma both as an external FX processor where it receives and sends a signal to a DAW, and for offline processing (for example, to generate the non-musical drones).

One interesting sound design challenge was to create the sound of a grandfather clock ticking that, during some scenes, would slow down or accelerate to imply that something that was being said or some behavior was off. For that, I imported the sound effect in the Tau Editor and after creating a Gallery folder, I found a Sound where I could shift the tempo without affecting the pitch of the sound.

Then I thought of adding a clock bell and stretching its ringing, in a similar way as in the scene from the “Barton Fink” by the Coen brothers, where Barton taps the bell to register his arrival at the hotel. For that I used the Sum Of Sines Sound where I would modulate its pitch and give some sort of movement in the sound.

I even used Kyma in order to add an extra element to a CCTV electrical interference noise. By combining an FFT analysis with Christian Vogel’s ZDFResonatorBank prototype from his ZDF Filters Kyma Capsules, I was able to create some variations that blended very well with other sound effects recordings that I already had in my SFX library.

For the non-musical drones I would create Galleries and go through all the options given and if a Sound sounded interesting to me, I would spend more time experimenting with creating presets. This procedure was the most time consuming but it definitely gave fantastic results! By the end of the project, I realized I had used Kyma to create 96 non-musical drones along with a few extra sound effects.

Every space had its own defined character and within a certain situation we would introduce the non-musical drones and blend them with the rest of the sounds.

Are there any things that are easier (or faster or more natural) to do in Kyma than in other environments?

Just by importing a sound in Kyma, creating Gallery folders of Kyma Sounds it’s luxurious, because you can choose which one best suits your idea. Also the fact that I can control a Kyma Sound with my Wacom tablet, a microphone or my keyboard, gives me the freedom to perform the sound however I want to, or according to what is happening in the picture.

Could you describe your sound design studio setup?

I work on a 5.1 system, both on Pro Tools and Nuendo with the RME UCX audio interface. I use the MOTU Traveler mk3 connected to Kyma. I recently started using Dante which allows me to share the interface that the DAW is connected to and it gives a stereo format with 48Khz. Otherwise, I’ll just connect the interfaces of Kyma and the DAW via ADAT.

Do you usually work to picture? Do you use any live controllers or MIDI keyboards?

I always work to picture. I sometimes use a keyboard but for Kyma, I use the Wacom tablet more often.

How do you build your sound library?

If there’s a sound effect that I don’t have in my library, I’ll go out and record it, or I’ll use Kyma to create what I am after.

Any advice for Kyma sound designers? Any resources you recommend?

The fastest way to get into Kyma is to open a sound effect in Kyma and create a Gallery folder based on the options you choose. Then go through each folder and see the different Sounds that Kyma has created for you.

Personally I think of Kyma as an instrument in that, the more you practice, the more you will start seeing results. At the same time you also need the theory, so you understand the powerful possibilities and philosophy behind Kyma. That is why I would strongly recommend to read the manual. Once you begin to understand how it works you will be able to start building your own Sounds based on what you envisioned in the first place.

Having Kyma lessons is also a big plus. There’s, for example, Cristian Vogel, Alan Jackson and Will Klingenmeier. All three of them are very helpful!

Check the Kyma Q&A periodically and also ask questions there. You should also feel free to join the Kyma Kata Group! There’s a lot of great people that practice and share their knowledge on Kyma. I’d like to thank Charlie Norton, Andreas Frostholm, Alan Jackson and Pete Johnston, of the Kyma Kata group, who generously offered valuable suggestions and helped me out when it was needed.

What is the function of sound for picture?

Sound helps define the picture and brings up emotions that support the storytelling. In “A Class Apart” there were scenes where sound was underlining what was going on visually, but in other moments we would create something a bit differently from what was going on in the picture. I would say that in the last episode sound helped build up the tension gradually, right from the beginning until the very last scene.

Any tips for someone just starting out in sound design? 

Give the best you can on the project you are working on, because your performance will open the door to the next project. Allow yourselves to make mistakes and learn from them. Especially in the beginning nobody expects from you to know everything. Later on, it can also happen that something that we might consider as a mistake, might trigger an idea to create something new and exciting. In every moment experience the world around you through your ears and hold those experiences in your memory. You never know when they will be a source of inspiration for you. Study as much as you can about sound design and meet other sound designers. Watch films. A lot! Two or three times the same film. Study them and listen to what the sound is doing in relation to the picture.

Tell us what you’re the most proud of in “A Class Apart” (don’t be shy!!)

I am proud because we delivered an exciting sound. The overall process was creative and fun. There were moments when it seemed overwhelming like there was too much to do, but I trusted the creative process and decided to enjoy it.

What kind of project would you most love to do the sound for next?

I would like to have the chance to work on an animation, a scifi or a thriller.

Finally, the most important question, where can we all binge watch “A Class Apart (Zebrarummet)”? It sounds really intriguing!!

A Class Apart (Zebrarummet) premieres on Viaplay on the 22nd of August!

A taste of some of Marco Lopez’ “non-musical drones” from A Class Apart (Zebrarummet)

Marco credits his first piano teacher, Josefina Beltren, with teaching him various ways to “perform the silence” in a piece of music. Clearly that early training has translated to his talent for creating different forms of meaningful “silence” to advance the story and lend character to rooms and spaces:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Pattern Generator for Kyma 7.25

 Release, Software, Sound Design, Sound for picture  Comments Off on New Pattern Generator for Kyma 7.25
Jun 122019
 

Generate sequences based on the patterns discovered in your MIDI files

Symbolic Sound today released a new module that generates endlessly evolving sequences based on the patterns it discovers in a MIDI file. HMMPatternGenerator, the latest addition to the library of the world’s most advanced sound design environment, is now available to sound designers, musicians, and researchers as part of a free software update: Kyma 7.25.

Composers and sound designers are masters of pattern generation — skilled at inventing, discovering, modifying, and combining patterns with just the right mix of repetition and variation to excite and engage the attention of a listener. HMMPatternGenerator is a tool to help you discover the previously unexplored patterns hidden within your own library of MIDI files and to generate endlessly varying event sequences, continuous controllers, and new combinations based on those patterns.

Here’s a video glimpse at some of the potential applications for the HMMPatternGenerator:

 

What can HMMPatternGenerator do for you?

Games, VR, AR — In an interactive game or virtual environment, there’s no such thing as a fixed-duration scene. HMMPatternGenerator can take a short segment of music and extend it for an indeterminate length of time without looping.

Live improvisation backgrounds — Improvise live over an endlessly evolving HMMPatternGenerator sequence based on the patterns found in your favorite MIDI files.

Keep your backgrounds interesting — Have you been asked to provide the music for a gallery opening, a dance class, a party, an exercise class or some other event where music is not the main focus? The next time you’re asked to provide “background” music, you won’t have to resort to loops or sample clouds; just create a short segment in the appropriate style, save it as a MIDI file, and HMMPatternGenerator will generate sequences in that style for as long as the party lasts — even after you shut down your laptop (because it’s all generated on the Paca(rana) sound engine, not on your host computer).

Inspiration under a deadline — Need to get started quickly? Provide HMMPatternGenerator with your favorite MIDI files, route its MIDI output stream to your sequencer or notation software, and listen while it generates endless recombinations and variations on the latent patterns lurking within those files. Save the best parts to use as a starting point for your new composition.

Sound for picture — When the director doubles the duration of a scene a few hours before the deadline, HMMPatternGenerator can come to the rescue by taking your existing cue and extending it for an arbitrary length of time, maintaining the original meter and the style but with continuous variations (no looping).

Structured textures — HMMPatternGenerator isn’t limited to generating discrete note events; it can also generate timeIndex functions to control other synthesis algorithms (like SumOfSine resynthesis, SampleClouds and more) or as a time-dependent control function for any other synthesis or processing parameter. That means you can use a MIDI file to control abstract sounds in a new, highly-structured way.

MIDI as code — If you encode the part-of-speech (like verb, adjective, noun, etc) as a MIDI pitch, you can compose a MIDI sequence that specifies a grammar for English sentences and then use HMMPatternGenerator to trigger samples of yourself speaking those words — generating an endless variety of grammatically correct sentences (or even artificial poetry). Imagine what other secret meanings you could encode as MIDI sequences — musical sequences that can be decrypted only when decoded by the Kyma Sound generator you’ve designed for that purpose.

Self-discovery — HMMPatternGenerator can help you tease apart what it is about your favorite music that makes it sound the way it does. By adjusting the parameters of the HMMPatternGenerator and listening to the results, you can uncover latent structures and hyper meters buried deep within the music of your favorite composers — including some patterns you hadn’t  even realized were hidden within your own music.

Remixes and mashups — Use HMMPatternGenerator to generate an never-ending stream of ideas for remixes (of one MIDI file) and amusing mashups (when you provide two or more MIDI files in different styles).

Galleries of possibilities — Select a MIDI file in the Kyma 7.25 Sound Browser and, at the click of a button, generate a gallery of hundreds of pattern generators, all based on that MIDI file. At that point, it’s easy to substitute your own synthesis algorithms and design new musical instruments to be controlled by the pattern-generator. Quickly create unique, high-quality textures and sequences by combining some of the newly-developed MIDI-mining pattern generators with the massive library of unique synthesis and processing modules already included with Kyma.

How does it work?

If each event in the original MIDI file is completely unique, then there is only one path through the sequence — the generated sequence is the same as the original MIDI sequence. Things start to get interesting when some of the events are, in some way, equivalent to others (for example, when events of the same pitch and duration appear more than once in the file).

HMMPatternGenerator uses equivalent events as pivot points — decision points at which it can choose to take an alternate path through the original sequence (the proverbial “fork in the road”). No doubt you’re familiar with using a common chord to pivot to another key; now imagine using a common state to pivot to a whole new section of a MIDI file or, if you give HMMPatternGenerator several MIDI files, from one genre to another.

By live-tweaking the strengths of three equivalence tests — pitch, time-to-next, and position within a hyper-bar — you can continuously shape how closely the generated sequence follows the original sequence of events, ranging from a note-for-note reproduction to a completely random sequence based only on the frequency with which that event occurs in the original file.

Other new features in Kyma 7.25 include:

▪ Optimizations to the Spherical Panner for 3d positioning and panning (elevation and azimuth) for motion-tracking VR or mixed reality applications and enhanced binaural mixes — providing up to 4 times speed increases (meaning you can track 4 times as many 3d sound sources in real time).

▪ Multichannel interleaved file support in the Wave editor

• New granular reverberation and 3d spatializing examples in the Kyma Sound Library

and more…

Availability

Kyma 7.25 is available as a free update starting today and can be downloaded from the Help menu in Kyma 7. For more information, please visit: symbolicsound.com.

Summary

The new features in the Kyma 7.25 sound design environment are designed to help you stay in the creative flow by adding automatic Gallery generation from MIDI files, and the HMMPatternGenerator module which can be combined with the extensive library of sound synthesis, pattern-generation, and processing algorithms already available in Kyma.

Background

Symbolic Sound revolutionized the live sound synthesis and processing industry with the introduction of Kyma in 1990. Today, Kyma continues to set new standards for sound quality, innovative synthesis and processing algorithms, rock-solid live performance hardware, and a supportive, professional Kyma community both online and through the annual Kyma International Sound Symposium (KISS).

For more information:

Website
Email
@SymbolicSound
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Kyma, Pacarana, Paca, and their respective logos are trademarks of Symbolic Sound Corporation. Other company and product names may be trademarks of their respective owners.

Jun 042019
 

Sound designers, electronic/computer musicians and researchers are invited to join us in Busan South Korea 29 August through 1 September 2019 for the 11th annual Kyma International Sound Symposium (KISS2019) — four days and nights of hands-on workshops, live electronic music performances, and research presentations on the theme: Resonance (공명).

Link where you can download the Korean, Japanese, or Chinese version of the poster.

“Resonance”, from the Latin words resonare (re-sound) and resonantia (echo), can be the result of an actual physical reflection, of an electronic feedback loop (as in an analog filter), or even the result of “bouncing” ideas off each other during a collaboration. When we say that an idea “resonates”, it suggests that we may even think of our minds as physical systems that can vibrate in sympathy to familiar concepts or ideas.

Photo by Belinda J Carr

At KISS2019, the concept of resonance will be explored through an opening concert dedicated to “ecosystemic” electronics (live performances in which all sounds are derived from the natural resonances of the concert hall interacting with the electronic resonances of speaker-microphone loops), through paper sessions dedicated to modal synthesis and the implementation of virtual analog filters in Kyma, through live music performances based on gravity waves, sympathetic brain waves, the resonances of found objects, the resonance of the Earth excited by an earthquake, and in a final rooftop concert for massive corrugaphone orchestra processed through Kyma, where the entire audience will get to perform together by swinging resonant tubes around their heads to experience collective resonance.

Sounds of Busan — two hands-on workshops open to all participants — focus on the sounds and datasets of the host city: Busan, South Korea. In part one, participants will take time series data from Busan Metropolitan City (for example, barometric pressure and sea level changes) and map those data into sound in order to answer the question: can we use our ears (as well as our eyes) to help discover patterns in data? In part two, participants will learn how to record, process, and manipulate 3d audio field recordings of Busan for virtual and augmented reality applications.

Several live performances also focus on the host city: a piece celebrating the impact of shipping containers on the international economy and on the port city of Busan; a piece inspired by Samul nori, traditional Korean folk music, in which four performers will play a large gong fitted with contact mics to create feedback loops; and a live performance of variations on the Korean folk song: Milyang Arirang, using hidden Markov models.

Hands-on Practice-based Workshops
In addition to a daily program of technical presentations and nightly concerts (https://kiss2019.symbolicsound.com/program-overview/), afternoons at KISS2019 are devoted to palindromic concerts (where composer/performers share technical tips immediately following the performance) and hands-on workshops open to all participants, including:

• Sounds of Busan I: DATA SONIFICATION
What do the past 10 years of meteorological data sound like? In this hands-on session, we will take time series data related to the city of Busan and map the data to sound. Can we hear patterns in data that we might not otherwise detect?

Photo by Belinda J Carr

• The Shape Atlas: MATHS FOR CONTROLLING SOUND
How can you control the way sound parameters evolve over time? Participants will work together to compile a dictionary associating control signal shapes with mathematical functions of time for controlling sound parameters.

• Sounds of Busan II: 3D SOUND TECHNIQUES
Starting with a collection of 3D ambisonic recordings from various locations in and around Busan, we will learn how to process, spatialize, mix down for interactive binaural presentation for games and VR.

Photo by Belinda J Carr

Networking Opportunities
Participants can engage with presenters and fellow symposiasts during informal discussions after presentations, workshops, and concerts over coffee, tea, lunches and dinners (all included with registration). After the symposium, participants can join their new-found professional contacts and friends on a tour of Busan (as a special benefit for people who register before July 1).

 

Sponsors and Organizers
Daedong College Department of New Music (http://eng.daedong.ac.kr/main.do)
Dankook University Department of New Music (http://www.dankook.ac.kr/en/web/international)
Symbolic Sound Corporation (https://kyma.symbolicsound.com/)
Busan Metropolitan City (http://english.busan.go.kr/index)

For more information
Questions
Website
Facebook
Twitter:

Registration
Student and early registration discounts are available for those registering prior to 1 July 2019

Photo by Belinda J Carr

Live percussion and electronics in Coimbra market square

 Concert, Event, Festival, Installation, Sound Design  Comments Off on Live percussion and electronics in Coimbra market square
Jun 112018
 

Carlos Alberto Augusto‘s new piece — ECOS (Coimbra version) for 6 percussionists and 6 electronic tracks — will be performed for the first time on 23 June 2018 in the old market square in the city of Coimbra Portugal.

Commissioned by Sons da Cidade, a festival that annually celebrates the city of Coimbra (Portugal) as a UNESCO heritage site, Augusto’s ECO will have musicians and loudspeakers distributed in circles along the full length of the 106m square. The electronic tracks were produced entirely in Kyma and are based on processed recordings of melting ice and an old fog horn’s rotating mechanism. Percussion, performed by the Portuguese percussion group Simantra, and electronic sounds will be further processed by the large square’s own natural distinctive resonances and reflections.

Verlingieri in real time

 Concert, Event, Festival, Sound Design  Comments Off on Verlingieri in real time
Jun 112018
 

Composer/sound artist Gianluca Verlingieri utilized Kyma in two new pieces featured in two different events in Italy and UK: a world premiere fixed-plus-live electronics performance in Florence at the Tempo Reale Festival 2018 in May and a fixed-media acousmatic performance in Manchester at the EASTN-DC Week in late June 2018.

Verlingieri presented the world premiere of his 30-minute Requiem da Ballo for live electronics, poet, fixed-media sound projection and custom-made “loudspeaker pipes” in Florence on 26 May at Tempo Reale, the institute founded by Luciano Berio, on a concert named Klang Musica Sperimentale #10 Parola.

The second performance, Suite from Requiem da Ballo, will be 25-30 June 2018 at the EASTN-DC MANCHESTER Festival in Manchester UK. Verlingieri will perform live sound projection in 32-channel surround sound using the MANTIS diffusion system in the Cosmo Rodewald Concert Hall.

Verlingieri teaches electroacoustic composition at the “G. F. Ghedini” State Conservatory of Cuneo, Italy, where he also coordinates the Department of New Technologies and Musical Language.

Apr 242018
 

Photo by Dr. Javier Alejandro González Ortega

After the 2010 El Mayor Cucapah 7.2 magnitude earthquake in northern Mexico, seismologist Alejandro González Ortega interviewed Don Chayo, a Cucapah native who witnessed the surface rupture. When Don Chayo drew parallels to the origin stories of the Cucapah people, González began to wonder if these stories may have recounted earlier seismic events that had been passed down over the generations.

Over the next several years, González and his colleague, choreographer/physicist Minerva Muñoz, created a performance piece based on 3D seismological data collected by 12 measurement stations during the event. Muñoz enlisted the help of composer Carla Scaletti to map the data to sound using Kyma and artist David Olivares to map the data to video using Unity.

As Muñez and González conducted further research and interviews with the Cucapah elders, a much more disturbing story began to emerge — that of a displaced people whose livelihood was being cut off and whose very language was being forgotten. What had originally been intended as a science/art collaboration about seismic activity began to morph into a deeper metaphor for displacement, disruption and loss.

The result — Wí Shpá, A journey in bare feet — is a poem in movement, images, sounds and words that explores pilgrimage, displacement, change, the relationship of humans with the environment, transformation and resilience.

The sound and visuals were created from seismological data and satellite geodesics of the El Cucapah Mw 7.2 earthquake that occurred on April 4, 2010. Consistent in many details with the cosmogony myths narrated by Don Chayo that had been passed down over generations, El Mayor-Cucapah Mw 7.2 was the most intense earthquake recorded in this region over the last century.

Wí Shpá, A journey in bare feet is an elegy to the ancestors and to the women and men of today; to the people of the river, of the earth, fire and wind. It is a glimpse into a universe in which animals are gods, and meaning is associated with each of the four cardinal directions, colors, the power of nature and of the land.

“Cosmogony of an Event, El Mayor Cucapah Mw 7.2” is an inter and trans disciplinary dialog of artistic creation and research combining the myths of Cucapah cosmogenesis and the scientific studies of El Mayor-Cucapah Mw 7.2, weaving a network of collaboration, tradition, scientific research, knowledge and experiences, but above all, creating a dialog between scientists, artists, native community, collaborators and the general public who participate in this live performance/ritual.

Credits:

Direction, stage creation and interpretation: Minerva Muñoz *
Production: Alejandro González, Minerva Muñoz / La Machina Productions
Scenic Advisor: Jorge Folgueira
Lighting: Minerva Muñoz
Composition and sound design: Carla Scaletti
Visual Art: David Olivares
Video: Marco Meza, Rommel Vázquez
Aerial Video (drone): Alejandro González
Photography: Alfredo Ruiz and Rommel Vázquez
Science: Javier González-García and Alejandro González
Audio Engineer: Rommel Vázquez
Scenography: Leoncio García
Makeup: Rosario Martínez
Lighting technician: Miguel Tamayo
Communication and networks: Stephanie Lozano
Support: Juan Sánchez

Course on Design Patterns for Sound and Music

 Data-driven sound, Seminar, Sound Design, Sound for picture  Comments Off on Course on Design Patterns for Sound and Music
Nov 022017
 

Music 507 Design Patterns for Sound and Music. The art of sound design is vast, but there are certain patterns that seem to come up over and over again. Once you start to recognize those patterns, you can immediately apply them in new situations and start combining them to create your own sound design and live performance environments. We will look at design patterns that show up in audio synthesis and processing, parameter control logic, and live performance environments, all in the context of the Kyma sound design environment.

Registration open starting November 2017 (course starts in January 2018)
Music 507 Spring 2018
Mondays, 7:00 – 8:50 pm
Music Building 4th floor, Experimental Music Studios
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Oct 022017
 


Gilles Jobin’s VR_I — an immersive virtual reality contemporary dance experience with a 3D sound track created entirely in Kyma.7 — has its world premiere from 6 to 10 October 2017 at the Festival du Nouveau Cinéma in Montreal. Unfolding on multiple, parallel space and time scales, VR_I immerses you in a wordless experience of the continuum from infinite to infinitesimal, leaving you with a new sense of perspective on your place in the universe.

In partnership with Artanim Foundation and utilizing their motion-capture and VR technology, VR_I is a pioneering work in social, free-roaming virtual reality. As many as five people can enter the experience together and see their own and each other’s bodies as avatars sharing the same virtual world as the characters (the dancers).

In VR_I, music emerges from the environment: wind in the desert transitions to a humming chorus sung by giants; wind chimes in the art-filled loft organize themselves into 5/8 rhythms as columns rise up from the floor, only to dissolve back into wind chimes again as the columns recede; in the city park, bird songs are echoed in flute melodies, and cicadas transform themselves into rhythmic patterns over tambura-like drones.

Each spectator hears an individualized soundscape, and there is no way to really know what everyone else is experiencing (just like in real life). Sounds and musical elements are positioned in space and attached to objects, giving each spectator a unique mix as they move through the space, culminating in upwardly spiraling Shepard-tones that swirl around and lift up the listeners as they contemplate their own place in the continuum from infinite to infinitesimal.

In beauty I walk
With beauty before me I walk
With beauty behind me I walk
With beauty above me I walk
With beauty around me I walk

— from the Native American Diné Blessing Way

Choreography: Gilles Jobin
Dancers: Susana Panadés Díaz, Victoria Chiu, Tidiani N’Diaye, Diya Naidu, Gilles Jobin
3D Music & Sound Design: Carla Scaletti
Costumes: Jean-Paul Lespagnard
3d modeling: Tristan Siodlak
Animation: Camilo de Martino
3D Scans & Motion Capture: Artanim
VR Platform: Artanim

For tour dates and booking information, visit: vr-i.space

Sound & Music for Augmenting Reality

 Concert, Conference, Event, Festival, Learning, Sound Design, Sound for picture  Comments Off on Sound & Music for Augmenting Reality
Aug 292017
 

KISS2017 in Oslo Norway 12-15 October 2017 — a symposium on new opportunities for sound designers & musicians in virtual, augmented and mixed reality creation

Sound and music are the original augmented reality technology. Throughout human history, sound and music have played an essential role in transforming the mundane into the sublime, turning everyday events into memorable milestones, and enhancing the flow of experience.

Sound designers, musicians, museum curators, game developers, researchers and others interested in the power of sound to create and augment reality are invited to participate in the Kyma International Sound Symposium, KISS2017 in Oslo Norway 12-15 October 2017. Join fellow participants exploring the uses of sound in Augmenting Reality through talks, live performances, hands-on sessions, and informal conversations over meals (which are included with your conference registration).

Program
The full KISS2017 technical and creative program is available here: http://kiss2017.symbolicsound.com/complete-program/

Here are a few highlights from the international lineup:

• Tour and reception at the Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology, including a special lecture on computer music pioneer Knut Wiggen’s musical innovation during the early years of the EMS Electronic Music Studio in Stockholm (presented by NOTAM’s founding director, Jøran Rudi), followed by a science/art-themed concert at the museum.

• An evening at Norway’s premiere jazz venue Victoria Nasjonal Jazzscene featuring Deathprod/Supersilent members Helge Sten & Arve Henriksen (Norway) performing live Kyma electronics on a program that also includes sets by SØS Gunver Rydberg (Denmark) and Michael Wittgraf (USA)
http://nasjonaljazzscene.no/arrangement/helge-sten-arve-henriksen-wittgraf-sos/

• Presentations on designing sound for planetarium-presentation; listening to the past in museum exhibitions; learning how to listen with cochlear implants; sound and music for calming dysregulated children; cooperation between musicians and machines

• Technology talks including pitch-tracking of live audio signals to control game avatars in real time, multidimensional audio, ambisonics, head-tracking, sonifying geo-spatial data, Open Sound Control, connections between Kyma 7 and the Unity3d game engine, live performance of electroacoustic music for an audience wearing VR headgear, using physical objects to interact with digital sound synthesis and processing, using wireless sensors to control and manipulate sound, and integrating live dance with generative sound and video for mixed reality performances.

• Desktop Demo Sessions where you can speak to the presenters one-on-one and ask them questions about their work

• An Open Lab where you can ask questions and consult on your Kyma projects with fellow practitioners and the creators of Kyma 7

• Live mixed reality performances including:

• A performer running through the streets of Oslo & transmitting a live video feed to the audience as his geospatial data generates and controls quadraphonic processing of a live ensemble
• A live musical performance of a computer game where acoustic audio controls real-time decisions leading to a distinctive outcome on each play-through
• Mixed reality performances where physical objects, like Tibetan bells or balloons, control digital sound and image generation
• Performances utilizing new musical inventions like the Electronic Bull Roarer and a new input device inspired by Ssireum Korean wrestling
• Citizen journalism and crowd-sourced news as an augmented reality performance
• A performance that looks at how organizations can use language to alter reality and neutralize our position as workers
• A mixed reality performance where long-distance communications augment time and space and magnify our stories
• The sounds of writing create sound fantasies in the minds of the audience & then mutate into other sounds that augment and clash with those imagined by the audience

Summary
KISS2017 is an opportunity for anyone interested in creating sound for augmenting reality to immerse themselves in new ideas and experiences and to meet and learn from like-minded colleagues.

Registration includes talks, concerts, reception, lunches & dinners (Student discounts are available): http://kiss2017.symbolicsound.com/kiss2017-registration/

For travel and lodging information: http://kiss2017.symbolicsound.com/travel-lodging/

Official KISS web site: http://kiss2017.symbolicsound.com

To follow the latest KISS news and developments:

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Organizers and Sponsors

The Norwegian Academy of Music
University of Oslo Department of Musicology
NOTAM
Symbolic Sound Corporation
The Research Council of Norway

Contact the organizers

See you in Oslo!

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