For the fourth iteration of Lakebottom Sound’s FreeSessions, I am looking forward to playing with and exploring the notion of sonic ecosystems. This driving theme in much of my art and music is concerned with how energy is transformed, grows, becomes concentrated, is transferred between elements, and ultimately dissipates in ecosystems. For me, this energy is always sound.
Many musicians and sound artists feel that sound drives their wanderings through life; we stop while on walks to listen to interesting textures in the world’s soundscapes; we find ourselves in flow states while playing, as the immersive experience of music floods our senses and ears; we organize our lives and days around the contemplation of sound and the experiencing of sound. Sound is the energy that allows us to survive.
My current compositional activities focus on the development of electronic improvisation systems (EIS). Inspired by the installations and writing that constitutes my Sonic Spaces Project, these are complex systems, comprised of both fully controllable elements and semi-autonomous agents. The fully controllable elements include common digital signal processing techniques of live microphone signals and synthesis. The semi-autonomous agents are digital objects that make music independently through the analysis of and reaction to sonic energy in the system. Sound is required for both the live signal processing techniques as well as for the agents to exist. The sounds made by the fully controllable elements influence the directions and music making of the semi-autonomous agents. In response to the musicking of the semi-autonomous agents, I am forced to change. This change may be out of a need to reduce a saturation of energy in the system, a desire to push the agents in a different direction, or a choice to stay the same in order to maintain the current stasis of the system.
For the FreeSessions, I will perform with this system and talk about how the ideas of sonic energy and ecosystems influence my improvisation during the first 30 minutes. During the latter 90 minute block, I want groups to think about how the concept of sonic energy can be used to drive their own creative group improvisations. Some of the other ideas I would like the group to think about are;
•How can a burst of sonic energy be used as a finite resource during the course of an improvisation?
•What does it mean to work towards stasis in a large ensemble improvisation?
•How much energy should an agent/player take-up during an ensemble improvisation?
•What does it feel like to allow energy to die and find an ending?
•In large ensemble creative improvisations, how can we create and maintain a healthy system/composition?
I am excited to participate in the March FreeSession as the curator. I am looking forward to a night of creative improvisation for the community and by the community of Missoula improvisers.
Michael Musick’s Bio
Michael Musick is a media artist, creative technologist, composer, performer and improviser. His current practice and research is collected under The Sonic Spaces Project which aims to create, explore, and define sonic space ecosystems; a type of eco-art and interactive music system. This project explores principles of complex systems, natural ecosystems, cybernetics, and emergence, through interactive music systems. As a performer, Michael uses the computer to understand, process, amplify, and play with sounds occurring within the performance space.
Michael is an Assistant Professor of Media Arts at the University of Montana. Prior to Montana, Michael was at New York University, where he earned a PhD in Music Technology. There, he was part of the Computer Music Group within MARL (NYU’s Music and Audio Research Lab) and the Citygram research group. Prior to NYU, he earned an M.A. in Media Arts from the University of Michigan, where he began his work with performance systems while continuing his studies in creative improvisation and multi-media performance. Michael also has a background in tuba performance and recording arts; holding performance degrees from The University of Southern California (M.Mus ’09) and The University of Colorado (B.Mus ’07). Originally from Arvada, Colorado, Michael is a lover of the mountains, snow, and wandering among the aspen or pine trees.
For more information please visit his personal site at michaelmusick.com .