I have just spent two weeks in California, playing concerts and meeting musicians and composers. I visited four computer music departments at four universities: CRCA at UCSD, CREATE at UCSB, CNMAT at UC Berkeley and CCRMA at Stanford. There is an incredible activity at all of these places - three of them are opening new facilities within the next year. This is especially interesting considering our local InterArts Center here in MalmÃ¶. These places are, as far as I understand, related to but independent from the respective music departments. When talking to the people involved in the development and managment I gathered that the need for an independent organisation came from the incompatibility of conservatory traditions with new music and new media. I find this thoughtful in more than one way and maybe it is the only solution to the problems involved when bringing cross disciplinary activities such as computer music and interactive media into the context of traditional music education.
UCSD has a critical studies program (Critical Studies and Experimental Practices in Music) with many interesting graduate students. This program seems to have many similarities with the artistic research program that I’m part of myself - both on the level of the student experience and the organisational ambition (with some reservations on my part - I really haven’t checked it out thouroughly). I met with Nina Eidsheim whose quartet soNu I already knew about through Danish saxplayer Marten Carlsen, and through her I met another voice artist, Chris Tonelli and Tildy Bayar, a flutist. Arshia Cont is an interesting Iranian composer and grad student in computer music.
I also met with Miller Puckette and sat in on one of his research seminars. I am hoping to be able to spend some more time at CRCA in the future and work more closely with Puckette. He is one extraordinary mind and I believe he can be of great help to me in some of the phases of my project. Unfortunately I missed Mark Dresser who is a new faculty member but I am hoping to be able to hook up with him at a later stage being the great improvisor that he is.
At CCRMA Chryssie Nanou is a pianist specialising in performance of piano/computer music doing a visiting researcher residence. Here I also met a Ph.D. student, Hiroko Terasawa, doing similar work to my own timbre recognition. At CCRMA students and researchers with many different backgrounds come in and do work related to the performance, realisation or creation of computer mediated music. Although my visit was brief, i was impressed with the multi dimensionality of the work I encountered there. I am hoping to be able to spend more time there as well some time in the future.
I will write more about CNMAT and CREATE in my next post.