News and Media
John Talbert retires
May 12, 2017
John Talbert began working at Oberlin during the summer of 1978 when the Ohio Scientific Instruments microcomputer was brand new. John has been instrumental in helping the TIMARA Department embrace every technological development since then: from reel-to-reel tape to MIDI and the DX7; from simple circuit design to Arduino programming and iOS apps; and everything in between. "That's what was so cool about the job," he says. "Every year it was a new job. Every year things changed."
Erich Burnett interviewed John recently, you can read more here.
You can also learn more about John's various projects on his personal site.
The photo above shows John in his studio circa 1989.
Hunter Brown wins Allen Strange Award
May 8, 2017
Hunter Brown '17 was awarded the Society for Electroacoustic Music in the United States' (SEAMUS) Allen Strange Award for "Best Composition by an Undergraduate Student" at the 2017. Brown's winning piece, "Bicorporal," is described in its program notes as "an interactive electroacoustic performance system that uses timbre and amplitude tracking to manipulate digital signal processing modules. This enables the performer to control all electronic components of the performance by simply playing the acoustic instruments." Brown's interests include free improvisation with percussion and electronics, audio-visual work, sound art, audio engineering, composition for dance, and machine learning. This summer Hunter will be working as a recording engineer at the Marlboro Music Festival and School, and in the fall he will be attending Dartmouth College to pursue a Master's Degree in Digital Musics. More information and works by Brown can be found on his website: www.hunterbrown.net.
Hunter appears in the photo above (on the right) receiving the award from Eli Fieldsteel at the SEAMUS Festival.
Sounds of TIMARA...Today!
April 19, 2017
Judy Jackson (18') is featured in this online article. She can't pick her favorite part of Oberlin Conservatory's TIMARA Department. She loves everything about it.
"I'm 100 percent adamant that it's the best major on campus," she says. "It's a really strong community with some really wonderful people. There's a good exchange of ideas that happens within the department."
March 3, 2017
The Talbertronics Festival is underway! Join us in our celebration of John Talbert and his nearly 4 decades of incredible work in the TIMARA Department. We are thrilled to have many guests on campus, including former faculty: Gary Lee Nelson, Lyn Goeringer and Joo Won Park; former students: Peter Blasser, Leif Shackelford, Travis Johns and Patrick Richardson.
We have a studio open house, two workshops, three lecture/demonstrations, and three concerts. The studios are buzzing today as folks set up their open house installations.
If you're nearby, please join us. If you're far away, drop John a message!
TIMARA releases vinyl
February 28, 2017"Electroacoustic Music at Oberlin" was just released by Hanson Records. It features music by current and recent TIMARA students and faculty: Lyn Goeringer, Mitchell Herrmann, Sarah Snider, Evan Zierk, Matt Omahan, Paulus Van Horne, Charlie Abbott, Tom Lopez & Stephen Sloan.
Judy Jackson performs on the Alles Machine
January 30, 2017The Alles Machine, also knows as the Bell Labs Digital Synthesizer, was built in the 1970's. This video recording features Laurie Spiegel in 1977.
In 1981, the instrument was donated to the TIMARA Department, although it was barely functioning and lay dormant till recently. TIMARA engineer, John Talbert, has repurposed the machine for future generations of TIMARA composers - thanks, John!
You can read more about John's creative technical work here:
Will Johnson debuts on NPR "First Watch"
January 25, 2017Will Johnson ('17) and Anne Malin Ringwalt released a new song under the name Fawn. "Good Earth" is from their new EP, Neither Dog Nor Car, and featured on his TIMARA Senior Recital last fall.
TIMARA at SEAMUS 2016
March 14, 2016
Compositions by TIMARA majors Griffin Jennings and Mitchell Herrmann were selected for the 2016 Society for Electroacoustic Music in the United States (SEAMUS) National Conference, held this year at Georgia Southern University from February 11-13. Founded in 1984, SEAMUS is a non-profit national organization of composers, performers, and teachers of electroacoustic music representing every part of the country and virtually every musical style. The SEAMUS conference is the largest annual gathering of electroacoustic composers in the US. Selection for performance at the conference is highly competitive, and it is rare to be programmed as an undergraduate student.
Mitchell received a further honor at the conference when his piece was chosen as the 2016 winner of the Allen Strange Memorial Award, which celebrates the best undergraduate electroacoustic composition of the year. This is the ninth time the Strange Award has been presented and the fourth time it has gone to a TIMARA major from Oberlin.
TIMARA in Scotland
January 15, 2016
Visiting Professor, Joo Won Park, traveled with TIMARA students Christy Rose (TIMARA and Cinema Studies) and Daniel Karcher (Composition and TIMARA) to the University of Aberdeen in Scotland during Winter Term. The three were invited by the music department of the University of Aberdeen for an exchange on the creative use of music technology.
They spent a week in January in the city of Aberdeen exploring the Scottish culture and technology, from old castles to modern concert halls. They met Scottish composers and music technologists and created new friendships by sharing their music and research. Christy and Dan also presented their recent music technology projects to Sonic Arts students and faculty at the University of Aberdeen.
Christy Rose and Mitchell Herrmann receive accolades
May 5, 2015
Junior TIMARA major Christy Rose co-wrote, edited, and produced "Last Fall" with cinema studies major Maya Mariner ('16) during their semester abroad at the Prague Film School. The short film, about a relationship from beginning to end, was selected as a finalist for the Trinity Film Festival at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.
A still from the film is below, watch the entire film here.
Mitchell Herrmann, also a junior TIMARA major, won the student category of the Klang International Composition Competition with his piece, "Impulse Repulse," and on April 25 he presented his work, "Alchemical," at the Kennedy Center on the Oberlin Conservatory Honors Concert.
Joo Won Park collaborates with Oberlin Dance Co.
April 29, 2015The Oberlin Dance Company presents "The Only Way," an evening length dance-theater piece choreographed and directed by Holly Handman-Lopez, whose work has been described as "luscious and edgy." The piece, created in collaboration with the performers and designers, explores the struggle against social injustice by looking at the stories of suffragists in the early 20th century before the 19th amendment was ratified. The piece will feature performers from the Oberlin Percussion Group with new music by composer and TIMARA professor, Joo Won Park.
Holly: Joo Won has been amazing to work with. His music is so exciting and beautiful, and he has woven together numerous pieces; some new, some existing from his previous work, some from other contemporary composers, as well as music from the early 1900s, in addition to the pieces the Oberlin Percussion Group has brought into the process. Joo Won's work is so essential to the success of the piece, not only in terms of his creative contribution, but in terms of his ability to finesse the recorded and live sounds from numerous sources into the same world so that the audience is drawn into the action of the piece and not jarred as we move from one section to the next. I'm really grateful to have him as a collaborator and am tremendously in his debt!
Joo Won: The keyword for the music is contrast. We set beautiful and serene music over visually violent and painful scenes, and energetic, happy music during a disturbing scene. Making music for a dance piece is challenging and fun because I need to be ready to change, edit, or throw away musical ideas whenever there is a change or improvement in the visual element. The resulting piece we have at this point is quite amazing. I look forward to sharing the ODC collaboration with the Oberlin community and beyond. Listen to a sample of the music used in the show here.
Performances are May 1 & 2 at 8 pm in Hall Auditorium, Oberlin, OH.
Tickets are $8 and are available at Central Ticket Service in Hall Auditorium.
Peter Blasser's PlumbRolzer added to the studios
April 24, 2015TIMARA is the home of a new PlumbRolzer, designed and built by Peter Blasser ('02). Peter's company, ciat-lonbarde, offers an eclectic range of fantastically unique synthesizers and sound-generating life-forms. This particular instrument has a number of modules: The Man with the Red Steam, The Deerhorn, The Gongue, The AVDog, Ultrasound, and Rolz.
If you haven't encountered Peter's work yet, here are a couple articles (including audio/video) to learn more about his visionary creations: rhizome and musical electronics library.
For a deeper look into Peter's world, check out his thesis: master of arts.
Reed Hays donates analog gear
April 17, 2015TIMARA is the new home for some awesome analog gear. Reed Hays ('90) donated an Analogue Systems TH48 sequencer (16x3), a Milton 16x4 sequencer, and a Buchla Model 258 dual oscillator. These units are wonderful complements to the original Buchla synth (combination of 100 and 200 modules) pictured below. TIMARA alums may be excited to hear that current students are very passionate about analog synthesis. Our collection of early equipment receives a lot of loving attention and regularly appears in student work and even on stage. More news about analog synths will follow soon.
Hey there alums, if you uncover old equipment from the back of your garage or bottom of your closet, keep TIMARA in mind. Our students are ravenous for technology and we would be thrilled to add your old gear to our collection!
TIMARA Launches SAW 2015
March 19, 2015From June 14-21 this summer the TIMARA Department will host its annual Sonic Arts Workshop (SAW). Dedicated to high school students ages 15 years and older, the program provides broad exposure to the world of electroacoustic music and offers a variety of technical and creative resources. Topics will include field recording, real-time techniques, audio processing, and discussion of electronic music repertoire. The program is great for students headed towards conservatory studies, as well as those interested in experimenting with electronic and computer music. You can find more information, including the application, here (financial aid is available).
When I attended as a high-school student the program provided gave me a direction and a passion. I couldn't recommend anything else if you are interested in exploring sound as a medium of creation. - WJ
Playfest: March 13th and 14th
March 12, 2015What are the ways in which play enters into our everyday lives? To play with can be both joyous and sinister - from which perspective do we enter into the play of games, of music, of art? And, what are the ways in which we play, the ways we begin to change and shift our engagement with the world around us?
Play Festival is an interdisciplinary two day symposium at Oberlin that incorporates film screenings, concerts, gallery events, talks, panels, papers, and audio walks that focus on the tactics and strategies of play. All events are free and open to the public.
Featuring: Brian House, Jordan Bartee, Brenda Hutchinson, and Peter Bussigel
Brian House is a media artist whose work traverses alternative geographies, experimental music, and a critical data practice. He is interested in the contingent qualities of information and how we experience time in network culture. By constructing embodied, participatory systems, he negotiates between algorithms and the rhythms of everyday life. Brian's work has been exhibited in museums and galleries including MoMA (NYC), MOCA (LA), Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center, Eyebeam Art & Technology Center, and performed at venues such as Issue Project Room, Monkeytown, The Stone and many more.
Jordan Bartee is an experimental designer, philosopher, and engineer. As founder of Special Stage Systems, he designs and manufactures avant-garde modular electronics. His voltage controlled video game console Ming Mecca has received international attention and been featured in articles by Kotaku, Joystiq, and Engadget. He currently lives and works in Seattle, WA. He will be discussing his work with Ming Mecca and will provide a workshop session where participants can get hands on experience with the console.
Brenda Hutchinson was born in Trenton, New Jersey and is a composer and sound artist whose work is based on the cultivation and encouragement of openness in her own life and in those she works with. Through her work with large-scale experiments in socially based improvisations and encounters, Brenda has developed a body of work based on a perspective about interacting with the public and non-artists through personal, reciprocal engagement with listening and sounding. She will be presenting "What Can You Do?" a celebration and reclamation of public space through direct interaction among strangers.
Peter Bussigel is a composer and artist based in Providence, RI. He makes unpredictable sound systems for concerts, installations, recordings, and video. He also performs on brass instruments and electronics and teaches at Brown University, where he is artist-in-residence at the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts.
Also featuring intermedia artists, composers, dancers and more from Oberlin and around the world:
Joo Won Park
For the full schedule click here. -GJ
TIMARA with female:pressure
March 10, 2015female:pressure is an international network of over 1300 female artists from 64 countries in the wider fields of electronic music. The blog was inspired by Bjork's Pitchfork article in January 2015 where she notes the lack of photographic documentation of women at work in the studio.
This photo shows (left to right) Lyn Goeringer (faculty) and students Sarah Snider, Margaret McCarthy, and Judy Jackson working in Studio 4 on various analog synths (Buchla Easel, ARP 2600, and Buchla 100/200). Additional female TIMARA majors include Christy Rose, Kaeli Mogg, and Jackie Milestone.
Sam Fisher Composes for Cleveland Public Theater
February 12, 2015I spoke with Samuel Fisher, recent TIMARA grad ('14) who is already making waves in the world of theater through his work with the Cleveland Public Theatre. He composed an original score for the new performance, Fire on the Water, inspired by the infamous 1969 burning of the Cuyahoga River. It is the final production in CPT's Elements Cycle, a series devoted to issues of sustainability and environmentalism.
GJ: How did you get involved in composing for theater?
SF: My involvement in theater as a composer and sound designer began within the arts community at Oberlin. Throughout high school and during my transitional year at Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music I spent a lot of time writing music in isolation- not just physical isolation but intellectual, creative isolation. I grew up in a quaint Georgia suburb where there were not a lot of established resources or communities for sharing and collaboration in the arts, especially when it came to doing something aesthetically or conceptually challenging. First stepping into the Oberlin's artistic landscape left me reeling. I was surrounded by this community of creative, talented, ambitious, and intelligent visual artists, film makers, musicians of all stripes, dancers, computer programmers, theater makers and more. I couldn't walk more than ten feet without meeting someone I'd like to have an evening-length conversation with. Seeing the curiosity and artistic awareness that was alive in my peers and teachers made me eager to collaborate. I knew, in some way, that my best growth would come from engaging with the open exchange of content and ideas through a variety of modes of expression that can allow a group of individuals to become a composite thinking, feeling supra-human mechanism. This is the thing that lead me into theater as well as the thing that holds me there. The TIMARA Program did wonders to help me realize this desire to collaborate. The intersection of technology and music, an interdisciplinary study in it's own right, is viewed in TIMARA as a foundational skill-set for exploring how a student's creative input might fit within a variety of contexts. My creative path through school included experimentation with film, installation works, and software design but landed squarely, given time, within the practice of creating auditory worlds for theater and dance pieces.
GJ: How did your relationship with CPT start?
SF: I was introduced to Cleveland Public Theater, not so coincidentally, in a semester long arts intensive built around the study of artistic collaboration. This program, created in part by our own Tom Lopez, was called OASIS. It was designed to give a selected group of students from a variety of artistic disciplines the opportunity to work in a focused, close collaborative environment within Oberlin without the distraction of other classes or extracurricular obligations. Throughout the course of the program we worked with Raymond Bobgan and Chris Seibert from Cleveland Public Theater to develop our creations into material for the devised theater work Water Ways. Water Ways was the first play in Raymond's element series. Fire on The Water, through sheer poetic justice, happens to be the last. During my senior year, one year after closing Water Ways, Raymond put out a call for applications for CPT's inaugural Kulas Composer Fellowships - positions for early career composers to gain experience in the theater. I was eager to apply, seeing this as an ideal continuation of a professional pathway into designing for theater. During the 2013-14 season I was one of three composer fellows, each of whom designed one show. The fellowship I am engaged in this year is a restructured take on this, with only one fellow who effectively absorbs the time commitment and budget of the other two positions. My current fellowship consists of designing original scores for three shows, operating and designing for a big holiday show, producing an album of Raymond's music from previous shows, and creating a installation piece for Pandemonium (CPT's annual party/fundraiser/happening.) It has been a tremendous opportunity to grow in the art-form. The unique challenges of each production have enabled me to grow leaps and bounds as a designer.
GJ: Awesome. What was the process of composing for Fire on the Water like?
SF: Creating Fire on the Water was a fearless and rapid process, full of twists and turns for all involved. I am overjoyed that I was able to bring back the Vaudevillian trio that Rachel Iba, Lisa Yanofsky and I started in OASIS with the addition of Brian Bacon on percussion. Our awkward little ensemble of violin, keyboard, multi-percussion, and vocals aplenty performs an eclectic host of incidental music and a few of own big musical numbers. I began creating the music by watching the many self-contained scenes of the play and rapidly scribbling down the ways that music might interact with the scene. With no script and only a tentative sense of the play's arrangement, there was little room to develop most of the musical material beyond it's outline during the rehearsal process. Once Rachel arrived from Boston we had a triumphant series of band rehearsals full of discovery and invention that fed straight into the first day of tech, when all of the show's music was integrated with the action.
GJ: What is in the works for you next at CPT?
SF: My next design for CPT is a world premiere of a new play called In A Word, directed by Beth Wood. It is a beautiful, clever, and surprising script about coping mechanisms and the constant attempt to repair one's emotional self in the aftermath of a traumatic loss. The sound design, like the play, will offer a challenge to the delineation between objective and imagined reality. It will be an exploration of how naturalistic sounds can give voice to the hidden world of one's deepest emotional self and how the music of this emotional world sometimes chooses to speak through us even when we are not listening.
Fire on the Water is up at the Cleveland Public Theatre until February 14th. Learn more and purchase tickets here. -GJ
Making waves on the air with Paulus Van Horne
February 3, 2015I recently talked to Paulus Van Horne ('16) about his radio show, Organized Noise, on WOBC last semester.
GJ: How did you come up with the idea for your show?
PVH: I started planning Organized Noise when I was interning at Q2 Music on the Meet The Composer podcast (part of WQXR/WNYC) with TIMARA alum, Alex Overington ('11). The production and format of that show are heavily indebted to Radiolab and it is no coincidence because both shows are produced on the same floor! I accidentally almost knocked Jad over one time. It was glorious. He does not know who I am am... but no matter! After 2 months worth of long days editing interview tape for MTC, I decided to make my own interview-based music program. I sent out 5-10 emails to composers I admired and received one reply... Since then my ratio has improved as I get in contact with composers through more stable means, like alumni connections or social networks.
GJ: What are you trying to achieve through these interviews?
PVH: The abbreviated description of the show is "a show about hearing, perception and understanding in new and experimental music." I guess that covers a lot of ground but basically I am interested in illuminating how composers of electronic music experience and think about sound. The end goal is to give the uninterested and/or uninitiated ways of approaching these new and often strange soundworlds. As a conservatory student and TIMARA major, I think I often forget my training, that I have had years of music education to condition me to "understand" or "appreciate" (for lack of better words) sounds and soundworlds that may otherwise not be considered worthy of attention or of the definition: "music." So Organized Noise hopefully, through interviews and heavy sound design, makes some of this music more graspable.
GJ: Will you continue the show this semester?
PVH: I think the beauty of WOBC shows are that they allow us all to experiment. I will find something different but equally as rewarding. I have been really inspired by the work of surrealist radio-poet Joe Frank (his show airs on WNYC the hour preceding my show!) and radio drama podcast, The Truth. I think I will do a more story-based program next time around and hope to include more voices from the community and college. Radio is about reflecting and sometimes even creating community, so including residents of Oberlin is really important. ...Ideas are still in the works...
Paulus has featured the following composers on Organized Noise. (*denotes a TIMARA alum)
Paulus Dolden, Christopher DeLaurenti, Peter Swendsen*, Elainie Lillios, Bernie Krause, Maggi Payne, Tom Erbe (author of soundhack), Asha Tamirisa*, Francisco Lopez, Mario Diaz de Leon*