Tag: Voice

Spotlight On: Gabrielle Herbst

Photo: Tom Saccenti courtesy New Sounds 

[RESIDENCY] Gabrielle Herbst: Vulnerability
Thursday, May 31, 2018 @ 8:00 pm

Tell us about yourself and what you do.

I am a composer and vocalist currently living in Brooklyn. I went to Bard College in upstate New York and am originally from the Berkshires in Massachusetts.

I compose from a very intuitive place – not starting from a set of compositional rules, but rather from a place of openness, improvisation, and spontaneity. I’m interested in creating spatialized architectural sound that engulfs the listeners and transports them into a different state through color and texture. I compose for all instruments with the mindset of writing for the human voice: I imagine clarinets, cellos, and timpani singing. Vocal music has healing qualities that I think our culture is deeply in need of right now –returning to the source, the breath, the heartbeat. My music is very much seeking a return to the body – exploring sensuality and sensory perception, while clearing the busyness of the mind.

I am interested in experimenting with electronics and live processing in performance because I think it embodies our socio-technological environment, and I’m intrigued with digital sounds creating organic, beautiful sonic spaces.

I’ve been exploring two sides of my musical self – one as GABI and the other as Gabrielle Herbst. As GABI I compose short form songs for my own voice and small instrumental ensembles as well as electronics. Sometimes I perform solo, and much of GABI has been developed in the studio and taken on tour.

Under my full name, I compose operas and varied configurations of instrumental and vocal music in a more classical vein. The two intersect in many ways and influence each other, feeling like two characters of my personality – GABI being more raw and emotional, Gabrielle Herbst a little more orchestral, calculated and structured, utilizing standard notation. For GABI music, I often do not use standard notation and develop songs more on intuition, composing by ear and improvisation. In both projects, I am influenced by opera singing, vocal traditions from many world cultures, and pop singing, creating my own take on contemporary vocal and instrumental music.

Describe the project you are developing for Roulette.

Written for two voices and two loop pedals, electronics, harp, violin, cello, flute, piano and clarinet, the opera I’m composing for this Roulette Residency explores themes of personal and collective vulnerability, anxiety, fear and struggle – investigating self-care and interpersonal relationships within our current sociopolitical climate. Progressing through dreamlike non-narrative tableaux, with close harmonization, textural rhythms, melismatic vocals, electronics and cross-genre pollination, this opera looks at inward struggles and connecting outwards. It will be performed by the Nouveau Classical Project, joined by Marilu Donovan on Harp as well as myself and Charlotte Mundy as the vocalists.

What is your first musical memory?

My dad singing. He is an amazing singer and used to sing to me as a baby.

How did you become involved with Roulette?

When I first moved to NYC after college in 2009 I set up a meeting with Jim and he was so incredibly supportive. I instantly become involved in the Roulette community, first as a sound intern, then working in the box office, and then as an artist. I’m forever grateful.

What is it like living and working in New York City?

Difficult but so fulfilling. I find the struggle of keeping up, both financially and artistically really beneficial to my work.

Describe your performance at Roulette in three words.

Vulnerable. Vocal. Raw.

Describe Roulette in three words.

Beautiful. Open. Unexpected.

Spotlight On: Ka Baird

Photo: Cameron Kelly courtesy ISSUE Project Room

[RESIDENCY] Ka Baird: centers: 4 channels
Sunday, May 13, 2018 @ 8:00 pm

Tell us about yourself and what you do.

I am a composer and performer living and working in NYC. I am one of the founding and continuing members of the experimental outfit Spires That In The Sunset Rise, founded in Chicago in September 2001. Since relocating to NYC in November 2014, I have set off in numerous directions apart from Spires with new collaborations, as well as honing in on my solo work. My current work explores piano, electroacoustic interventions, extended vocal techniques, physical movement, and the electronic manipulation of the flute. I am interested specifically in performance  /sound as a means to break recurring thought patterns and create passages into pure energy potential. I also co-run the label and concert organizer Perfect Wave with Camilla Padgitt-Coles.

I have toured both nationally and internationally with performances at the Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago), MoMA PS1 (Brooklyn), Roulette Intermedium (Brooklyn), Issue Project Room (Brooklyn), Fridman Gallery, Cafe OTO (London), and numerous festival appearances with Spires including TUSK (Newcastle, UK), Incubate (Tilburg, Netherlands), and Festival Of Endless Gratitude (Copenhagen, DK).

Describe the project you are developing for Roulette.

I will premiere Centers: 4 Channels, two new pieces incorporating 4-channel synthesis with spatialized light and movement.  The first piece is titled piano:vivification exercises and the second piece is titled voices: visceral illocality.

What is your first musical memory?

Listening to cicadas.

What is influencing your work right now?

Immediacy & energy, rhythm & breath.

What’s your absolute favorite place in the city to be and why?

On the top open deck of the ferry going under the bridges at full speed.

What artists are you interested in right now?

Carolee Schneemann, Julius Eastman, Cecil Taylor, Raul de Nieves, Alvin Lucier, Moor Mother, Jon Mueller, MSHR, Maryanne Amacher, Maya Angelou, Ursula Le Guin.

What are you really excited about right now?

Hieroglyphics, binaural beats, bioluminescence, emergent systems, polyrhythms, chladni patterns.

Spotlight On: Che Chen


Che Chen with Talice Lee and Patrick Holmes
Wednesday, May 9, 2018 @ 8:00 pm

Interview with David Weinstein, Roulette Director of Special Projects

What is your first musical memory?

It’s not exactly musical, but when I was 7 or 8 I was waiting for the school bus one day and an older kid walked up munching on a cookie. He was chewing and breathing through his mouth at the same time and I could hear these hissing/crunching noises being filtered as his mouth changed shape. I didn’t  understand it then the way I just described it, but for some reason that really stuck with me and I tried making my own mouth sounds after that. Then I studied piano briefly and badly, but by the time I was 12 or so I’d saved up enough lawn mowing money to buy an electric bass out of the local paper’s classified section. I had a eureka moment when I discovered that instead of trying to learn the changes to my favorite songs, I could sound one of the open strings over and over again and make up stuff against it, which is basically what I still love doing the most: improvising against a drone.

Describe the project you are developing for Roulette.

I wanted to go deeper into some ideas that we’ve touched upon in 75 Dollar Bill, my band with Rick Brown, but that haven’t been the main focus. Microtonality, sustained tones, extreme slowness, a more nuanced modal concept. I’ve been constructing my own tunings and modes for this piece. Indian music, Arabic Maqam, and Mauritanian music have always been fascinating and elusive to me and I’ve taken certain ideas from these traditions, but I’ve tried not to take too much of their “sound.” I’m more interested in the deep structural logic of how melodies and tunings are constructed. The piece will be performed by a trio with Patrick Holmes on clarinet, Talice Lee on violin and myself on bass recorder and electric organ. Everyone also sings. It has composed elements–melodic cells and unison lines–but most of the performance will be the musicians taking turns improvising on the modes while being supported by the other two players, with everything framed within these microtonal organ chords.

All the profiles of you mention the Mauritanian encounter. What is the whole story? How has that influenced you?

No way to put the whole story in words, but I went to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania (in West Africa) in 2013 and took guitar lessons with a phenomenal musician named Jeich ould Chigaly. I should really say I took lessons with his whole family, because I also got schooled by his wife, the incredible singer and ardin player, Noura mint Seymali, and even his then 5-year old son, Mohammed, as well as other relatives and friends passing thru their house. In the Moorish modal system there are five main modes, each with a “black” and “white” form. Jeich showed me one form each day so it couldn’t have been anything but the briefest introduction, but it still completely reconfigured my approach to playing guitar and really threw me into the deep end with a lot of the things I was thinking about. It was also incredibly eye opening just to be in that part of the world and to get a glimpse into how music functions in a society that is so different from America. I was there for less than two weeks but I am still digesting the experience.

Your use of electronics tends to be cassette players, radios, even toy instruments. Are you averse to high-tech or is there a special magic to the lo-fi tools?

In general I prefer the directness of instruments but when I use electronics that kind of physical relationship to the sound is still something that I look for. That’s what makes it musical to me. Magnetic tape is great for that. I think if I was a little younger it might be a different story, but I understand how to hack analog technologies in a way that I don’t with digital technology at all.

Talk about quarter-tone tuning, microtonal music, your interest in overtones. These clearly enter into your guitar and violin playing and even with sax and keyboards.

My first day in Mauritania my Jeich took me to a dirt floored workshop in Nouakchott where a guy refretted the cheap guitar I had brought with me in quarter-tones. He used a hack saw, a file, pliers, a pair of calipers that looked about 200 years old and some super glue. It took him less than an hour. The traditional Moorish instruments are all fretless for playing untempered intervals, so to make use of guitars, they put a new fret in between every two of the guitar’s normal frets. The result is a kind of 24-tone equal tempered fretboard (rather than the usual 12), but they use a lot of intervals related to the 11th harmonic, which are very close to quarter-tones, so it sort of works out. Going to Mauritania was great because I got to see the music in context. I think a lot of microtonal music here is very theoretical or academic but this was wedding music–people were partying to this stuff! That was another thing I took away from it. My interest in other kinds of tuning really just comes from listening to sounds, the harmonic series, etc. I don’t have a problem with equal temperament, on the contrary I think it made a whole new kind of music possible that was never possible before. But if you are playing melodically against a pedal tone, especially if you are playing slowly, equal temperament really becomes a handicap. It limits you to a small set of intervals, most of which are quite out of tune. When you start looking at untempered intervals there so many other colors, which are both more vivid and more harmonious.

Assess the current New York music scene, especially the newer projects that you have encountered. Who inspires you? Where do you go to find them? And don’t be shy to mention the downside or challenges that you’ve observed.

I’ve been in the city for about 15 years at this point and feel like I really grew up here musically. It’s great to see a lot the people that I’ve known for years really starting to crush it now. Some are more out in public while others are privately plugging away, but I feel like many of my peers are really starting to speak in their own voices now, which is inspiring. It’s a slow growth thing. It’s also incredible that people like Phill Niblock, Henry Flynt or Yoshi Wada are still around town going about their business, and they are pretty easy to find if you want to. Or that Mamady Kouyate runs a west African guitar band that plays every week in Brooklyn. As for difficulties, it seems harder than ever for non-institutional, underground music spaces to exist. Without places to experiment and incubate ideas, let alone just to congregate, the community can’t really stay viable. Despite a pretty hostile real estate environment, there are some real gems out there, like the Sunview Luncheonette in Greenpoint or the Outpost in Ridgewood, where I’ve been running a monthly series for the past year or so.  

William Hooker: The Great Migration

What: Through music, narrative, and dance, William Hooker tells the story of African-American migration from 1935 to 1950.
When: Thursday, April 5, 2018, 8pm
Where: Roulette, 509 Atlantic Ave Brooklyn, 2/3/4/5/A/C/G/D/M/N/R/B/Q trains & the LIRR
Cost: $20 Online, $25 Doors
Info: www.roulette.org / (917) 267-0368
Tickets: http://roulette.org/event/william-hooker-the-great-migration/

Brooklyn, NYAvant-garde percussionist William Hooker offers a multi-disciplinary contemplation and exploration of African-American migration from the American South to points north during the years 1935–1950. The Great Migration features music (with veteran performers like William Parker and David Soldier), dance, video, and narratives from 97-year-old Alton Brooks and Nannie Lampkin, who experienced this historical period firsthand.

A body of uninterrupted work beginning in the mid-seventies defines William Hooker as one of the most important composers and players in jazz. As bandleader, Hooker has fielded ensembles in an incredibly diverse array of configurations. Each collaboration has brought a serious investigation of his compositional agenda and the science of the modern drum kit. As a player, Hooker has long been known for the persuasive power of his relationship with his instrument. His work is frequently grounded in a narrative context. Whether set against a silent film or anchored by a poetic theme, Hooker brings dramatic tension and human warmth to avant-garde jazz. His ability to find fertile ground for moving music in a variety of settings that obliterate genre distinctions offers a much-needed statement of social optimism in the the arts.

Lineup:
William Hooker – Percussion
Ras Moshe – Reeds, Flute
Eriq Robinson – Electronics, Images
Mark Hennen – Piano
Goussy Celestin – Narrator, DanceWilliam Parker – Bass
David Soldier – Violin, Banjo
Ava Mendoza – Guitar
Alton Brooks & Nannie Lampkin – Primary Narratives

Mario Diaz de Leon and TAK Ensemble: Sanctuary Release

What: Mario Diaz de Leon and TAK Ensemble celebrate the release of Sanctuary, Diaz de Leon’s first album-length classical work.
When: Tuesday, April 3, 2018, 8pm
Where: Roulette, 509 Atlantic Ave Brooklyn, 2/3/4/5/A/C/G/D/M/N/R/B/Q trains & the LIRR
Cost: $20 Online, $25 Doors
Info: www.roulette.org / (917) 267-0368
Tickets: http://roulette.org/event/mario-diaz-de-leon-and-tak-ensemble-sanctuary-album-release/

Brooklyn, NY —  NYC-based composer and performer Mario Diaz de Leon presents work from his first album-length classical work, Sanctuary, which was released by Denovali in the fall of 2017. It was written in collaboration with TAK Ensemble, a brilliant quintet devoted to energetic and virtuosic performances of contemporary music, who will appear with him at Roulette in an expanded lineup featuring marimba, synthesizer, soprano voice, flute, violin, and bass clarinet. Combining stark rhythms with ecstatic gestures, Diaz de Leon’s new work embraces elements of post-minimalism to dramatic and expansive effect. Bassoonist Rebekah Heller will open the evening with the NYC premiere of Labrys, a tour de force of virtuosic and luminous sonic alchemy, and the latest addition to Diaz de Leon’s acclaimed set of works for live soloist and electronics.

Mario Diaz de Leon is a composer, performer, and educator, whose work encompasses modern classical music, experimental electronic music, extreme metal, and improvised music. His debut album, Enter Houses Of was released in 2009 on John Zorn’s Tzadik label and praised by the New York Times for its “hallucinatory intensity.” His second album, The Soul is the Arena, was named a notable recording of 2015 by New Yorker Magazine. He has worked with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Talea, Mivos Quartet, and TILT Brass.  

TAK is a quintet dedicated promoting ambitious programming and fostering engagement within the contemporary music community and the artistic community at large. Their debut album Ecstatic Music: TAK plays Taylor Brook was released to critical acclaim by New Focus Recordings in 2016.

Bassoonist Rebekah Heller is a dynamic solo and collaborative chamber artist committed to expanding the modern repertoire for the bassoon. Her debut solo album, 100 names, was called “pensive and potent” by The New York Times, and her newly-released second album, METAFAGOTE, is receiving wide acclaim. She is the recently-appointed co-artistic director of the renowned International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE).

Lineup:
Mario Diaz de Leon composer, lighting design

TAK Ensemble
Charlotte Mundy  soprano
Laura Cocks flute
Marina Kifferstein violin
Carlos Cordiero clarinet and bass clarinet
Ellery Trafford marimba and percussion
Tristan McKay synthesizer and Ciat-Lonbarde tetrazzi