Berklee today

OCT 2015

Berklee today is the official alumni publication of Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. It is a forum for contemporary music and musicians.

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Fall 2015 33 Fall 2015 33 Pittsburgh, PA, has undergone such an economic boom thanks to its high- tech and robotics industries that it has earned the nickname "Robot City." Thus it was the perfect location for Eric Singer '91 to launch Singerbots (singer-, a successful enterprise that blends the felds of music and robot- ics in fascinating ways. For more than 20 years, Singer has been a leader in the area and he credits Berklee with increasing his curiosity. "My mentor at Berklee was Richard Boulanger who got me into creating alternative musical instruments out of unconventional materials like plastic tubes and gloves," he recalls. Boulanger, for whom Singer worked as an assis- tant after graduating, suggested he pursue graduate studies at New York University. "When I got there my mis- sion was to study computer science, and I ended up spending a lot of time in the school's multimedia lab where I got a chance to do interactive music programming." This led him to robotic musical instruments. From there, Singer went off on his own, collaborating with other musi- cal artists who were also interested in robotics. In 2000 he started the League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots, or LEMUR, a collective of artists and technologists, for the purpose of creating robotic musical instruments. Eric Singer "Even though I had a bachelor's degree from Carnegie Mellon in electrome- chanical engineering, I really had zero experience in robotics. There was a ton of experimentation," Singer con- cedes. "With LEMUR I knew I could fll my knowledge gaps by working with others who had those skills." Within the frst year of operation, Singer had secured funding for machines and raw materials via a Rockefeller Foundation grant, and they were off and running. The group initially conceived and built machines for fve separate artists, each with different needs. His frst ambition was to build a robotic guitar he called the GuitarBot, which took two years to design and complete. Once LEMUR had produced a handful of instruments, they began showing them in public at art galler- ies, public performances, and the like. "People were fascinated," he recalls. "At the time, the idea of robotic musi- cal instruments was novel. All kinds of incredible ideas were buzzing around LEMUR. The results were really cool and generated highly musical results." All of Singer's robotic creations are MIDI-driven. Musical commands are transmitted via circuits and software that he designed that convert MIDI into mechanical signals. "From the per- former's perspective they're built to be user-friendly. They can be controlled by Visit: Valencia alum notes in the sPotliGht: sinGer's roBots any MIDI-controlled synthesizer," Singer explains. Singer's work caught the attention of guitarist/composer Pat Metheny H'96. Metheny contacted him in 2008, interested in having a set of instru- ments built so that he could tour as a solo artist accompanied by a robotic backing band. Called the Orchestrion Project, the tour paid tribute to the 19th-century musical machines of the same name while incorporating modern robotic technology. "We were possibly the only group in the world that could build a project on such a scale," Singer states. Metheny needed a robotic orchestra that was mas- sive and reliable, and in 2010 he took the Orchestrion Project on a yearlong worldwide tour. "We sent one person with a truck to set up the instruments. Pat would play a three-hour show, then our tech would tear it down, pack it up and drive it to the next gig. At the end of the tour I asked him how the instru- ments performed and he said, 'They were the least of my problems!'" The reliability of the instruments is Singer's frst priority—especially on his latest project. He has created a robot- ic orchestra installation for the Lido Cabaret in Paris, France, which will run for 10 years without Singer's assistance. "The exciting thing about these instru- ments is that they're creating real-time acoustic sounds, and the mechanics provide a great visual element too," Singer notes. "No matter how complex the tech- nology becomes, the human musical element is what's most important," he says. Nearly every installation he's done is interactive in some way. "I've never woken up to fnd that these robots have created music on their own," he says. "It's up to the composers and per- formers who use these tools to bring their visions to life." Nicole Bono MA'13 of New York City is working as a licensing assistant for ABKCO Music & Records in Manhattan. João Bruno Soeiro MM'14 of Moscow, Russia, is working for CineLab flm stu- dios in Moscow. He currently works at the company's postproduction branch, CineLab SoundMix. Paolo Cognetti MM'13 of Firenze, Italy is a freelance pianist and the in-house composer for L'Offcina Sonora Bigallo studios, working on a range of projects. He recently took second place in a composition con- test and had his winning orchestral piece premiered on Italian national TV and radio in August. Vincent Despins MA'13 of Paris, France, is the head of communications and media for MaMA Event, a music festi- val and convention in Paris. Previously, Despins worked as a digital project manager at DBTH, a music business marketing and development service in Paris and as an associate music super- visor for Tracks & Fields in Berlin. Jordan Gagné MM'13 of Los Angeles, CA, is writing additional music for TV projects with composer Jeff Russo. Gagné established his own produc- tion company, Clockwork Studios, and scored the flm Teachers, which received its premiere at the L.A. Film Festival. Matthew Mazzone MM'14 of Adelaide, Australia, is working as a consultant for inMusic Brands, the parent com- pany of Akai, creating MIDI maps for a new keyboard being developed by Akai. Additionally, he is teaching electronic music and production for MusicSA, doing live sound for a local band, producing his own music. Tanya Nath MA'14 of Faridabad, India, was named as a digital services execu- tive for Sony Music India in July. Pedro Santa Cruz MM'13 founded the music production company Oso Pardo in Santiago de Chile. He is creating music for three TV series, including an animated show to be broadcast next year on the Brazilian network O Globo. He has also scored TV commercials, short flms, and informational videos. Luiza Sales MM'14 of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, released her second album titled Aventureira, which is available on Apple iTunes. She founded Solares Prodducões, an artist management company, and the YouTube project called Meninas do Brasil, creating vid- eos by independent female artists. Allison Zatarain MA'13 is the man- ager for artist services for the Orchard in New York City. She is working with artists Dum Dum Girls, the Raveonettes, Fallulah, and Dan Owen with the Orchard founders Scott Cohen and Richard Gottehrer. Compiled by Maxwell Wright by Ryan Fleming Luiza Sales MM'14

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