Saturday, January 17, 2004

Returning to SFSU

Will Grant and I played music at a silent art auction last night, which was a benefit for the SFSU Marin Headlands MFA program. The event took place in the Fine Arts Gallery in the new Fine Arts building. When I was attending SFSU (longer ago than I care to reveal), that building hadn't been built yet. It was actually my first time inside it. It is very dramatic how new the new buildings look, and how old the old buildings still look, on that campus. I found I still knew my way around the campus pretty well, despite the huge new buildings taking up what used to be open space.

Will and I dealt with technical limitations and the way the space changed when people came in and filled it up. I had written a flute part to go with his electronics and voice piece, Dreams, which has a text by Rose Lobel. He had sent me an mp3 of the electronic background, and knowing there was also a lead vocal part, I wrote myself something that was still in the background but which complented the electronics. This wasn't hard to do. Will's electronic music was really nice and had dramatic movement to it and it was easy to see where the flute would fit.

We'd both been led to believe there was an input on the soundboard for my mic, so I wrote multiphonics and whisper tones, which are really soft and need to be amplified. It turns out there was no input for my mic. I had to go directly into the back of one of the speakers, but that meant Will couldn't hear the electronics very well when improvising his vocal part. So the first time we did the piece, it didn't go so well. I said, I'll do something that is louder so you don't have to amplify me, and then you can hear better. So we made that adjustment and instead of multiphonics and whisper tones, I played with regular flute tone using notes from the multiphonics, and changed the whisper tone melody to regular flute tone also. It went a LOT better that way, and the piece came together in a way it hadn't the first time.

For never having collaborated before, I thought it was a really good start. I hope the MFA program made some money!