Art + Music + Technology

Marielle V Jackobsons has a very interesting practice: she's part of Date Palms, does live work with bassist Chuck Johnson, and has developed an amazing instrument that she calls a "Macro-Cymatic Visual Music Instrument". She actually was a history of building unlikely instruments - and most of them are focused on vibrations in some interesting way.

If you can't quite imagine what I mean, you should start by checking out her website: (click on the big image to get into the site...). You can get a nice tour of her artistic statement as well as a lot of her work; once you see it, you'll want to find a way to see and hear a live show. 

With her recent release on the Thrill Jockey label, Marielle delves deeper into the mix of computers and analog systems, melodies and ambiences. It's an excellent release, and has been on constant play here in my hideout. But diving back into some earlier work (Date Palms, the Glass Canyon release) you can find a variety of styles, influences and even instrument use.

A relaxed and enjoyable chat - it was awesome to find someone with so much comfort talking about their process. Enjoy!

Direct download: podcast_145_MJakobsons.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 9:06am MDT

When my friend and coworker Andrew Benson said "Hey, you ought to check out Jonathan Snipes!", I didn't think I'd get what I did. The work that Jonathan is doing with the band clipping is a whirlwind of machine-gun rap magic and bizarre - and amazing - sound design. The use of hand-grabbed samples and handmade synth lines conjures up the best of old-school rap while simultaneously pointing to the most up-to-date sound design and music production techniques. Remarkable.

Then, in talking to Jonathan, I find out that he's got his fingers into movie and TV music as well, and has a history doing show design work with Max, and does all this realtime manipulation during shows, and...


Rather than tell his story here, I'll let him do it on the podcast. But you should also check out his personal website:, and also see him in action, doing the live variation thing in this YouTube:



Direct download: podcast_144_JSnipes.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 7:19am MDT

Chris Lowis first showed up on my radar via an episode of the JS Air podcast. He was talking about the history and concepts of the Web Audio API to a bunch of Javascript-heads. He seemed equally comfortable talking about either audio or programming, and I knew he'd be a great interview for my podcast.

I couldn't have been more correct. Chris has a great history; studying acoustics, working at the BBC and being involved with the standards groups that are pulling the Web Audio API spec together. The effort is starting to show some great results, with recent Web pages really lighting up some spectacular devices: synths, games and other goodies.

Where you you go to find out more about this stuff? One place is Chris' home for his Web Audio Weekly blog: This is the de-facto clearing house for new apps, devices and libraries that work with the Web Audio and Web MIDI specs. If you want a little more active call-and-response, you can check in on the Web Audio Slack Channel. Finally, Chris himself refers to the Mozilla Developer Network documentation as a great place to find out more about the details of web audio.

Finally, when you are ready to do some coding of your own, you will probably want to take the Web Audio School:

(online trial)

(github download)

Enjoy, and make sure you give some Web Audio examples a try! 

Direct download: podcast_143_CLowis.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 8:13am MDT

Have you had the feeling of meeting someone and immediately feeling like you were best friends? This was my experience with Terry Pender, Associate Director of Columbia University's Computer Music Center. He has an easy and laid back style that immediately puts you in a good mood - then he hits you with some of the things he's done.

It's amazing.

From mandolin gigs at Carnegie Hall (with Pradeep Ratnayake), live improv shows with PGT or film sound design, it seems like Terry has done it all. Then you find out that he did music spots for daytime TV, works with the Pulitzer committee and has put together a master work on recording technology - you've got to wonder when he sleeps!

This chat with Terry was a great chance for me to get caught up with him, but to also learn a few new things about his background, and to get some hints about how he approaches the difficult-to-teach area of recording and production. He also talks a bit about collecting the stories that he'd pulled together; it's fascinating stuff.

Sit back, take your shoes off and enjoy this chill hangout with Terry Pender!

Direct download: podcast_142_TPender.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 4:43am MDT

Wade Matthews is passionate about improv. He focuses on what he calls "free improvisation", which is dependent on having great listening skills as well as great playing chops. In this chat, Wade explores how he got to the point of being improv-focused, how he thinks about different types of performance (including his concept of 'sonic portraits', which I found fascinating) and even his definition of free improv.

Wade is also a trained musician who is now somewhat post-instrumental, focusing as much on processes and electronics as he does on the woodwinds where he started. This has also had an impact on both the music that he makes and his view on musical work, and we are lucky to have him share his ideas and experiences here.

I really enjoy talks where we can get in-depth on a subject and explore some of the edge areas, and I felt like this happened here. Wade is a deep thinker who is also an eloquent speaker, and the discussion buzzed by much faster than I realized. Nevertheless, we do learn a lot about Wade's ideas on music-making, and I hope to continue the discussion soon.


Direct download: podcast_141_WMatthews.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 6:34am MDT

I really appreciate the opportunity to meet new people - especially when they are introduced by friends that I respect. Coralie Diatkine comes via Julien Bayle, who mentioned her in a conversation as "someone with a unique sound" - and also mentioned her as a up-and-coming Max'er. He pointed to her website and I was blown away.

The thing the was most interesting to me was that Coralie doesn't really hide anything. If she is experimenting with spacialization, you get to read about it on her site. Working on sound design using her sax? Also on the site. And even though she's left vocal work behind, she's also willing to share that as well. I love it when people share their whole story, and Coralie seemed willing to do that on her site.

She was also willing to do it on the podcast! In this chat, we range from her choice of instruments (and why she dropped voice) to the use of language and metaphor for compositional concept, and even spend some time examining the French educational system. I eat this stuff up, and I hope you are as fascinated as I am.

Once you listen to this, you will want to know more about Coralie. Her web world is at, and her Soundcloud page is filled with goodies, available at


Direct download: podcast_140_CDiatkine.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 6:36am MDT

One of the most interesting meetups I've ever attended was the Rocky Mountain Synth Meetup, led by Mark Mosher. Mark started this as an outgrowth of his own desire to meet people, but it has expanded into one of the most active synthesizer-based meetups in the world - and is now a must-visit for anyone that likes (as Mark states) "drinking with a synthesizer problem".

From its humble beginnings in the basement of a Louisville CO restaurant to the huge launch party for the Ableton Push 2 release, the meetup has gone through a number of changes - some of which would hamstring a lesser meetup. Venue changes, personality riffs, people moving in and out of the area; the RMSM has continued to expand, and is healthier than ever.

Mark has provided the following information for us to share:

Meetup Summary

The Rocky Mountain Synthesizer Meetup - founded in 2012 - is the home of 480+ Denver Front Range synth geeks who share their passion for synths, build their network, get inspired, get hands-on with gear, tell people about projects and find collaborators. It is synth technology agnostic and features broad variety of rotating presentation topics and experiences each meetup - most presentations given by members themselves. The after-meetup features a performance by a meetup member.



Referenced in Show 


Related Mindmaps


My Links 

Many thanks to Mark for his openness about the meetup. I hope you'll consider doing one for your community!!!


Direct download: podcast_140_MMosher.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 10:45am MDT

Walking the tightrope - that's what show control is all about. Whether you are creating lighting scenes, working with live projection or live video gen, this isn't something that you can practice ahead of time. As a result, I find the work that show control people do to be both fascinating and completely unnerving.

Take the craziness of show control, add programming chops and the willingness to go anywhere in the world - and you have David Butler. David has been developing show control tools for himself in Max and Java; given his comfort with large-scale control systems, he's able to put together programming that is able to handle massive data streams.

I was really looking forward to a chat with David because he manages the balance between technical skills and artistic vision. He does this professionally, but he does it for fun, too - and that's something I can definitely relate with. He's also into sharing both his perspectives and his work, and is working on some code that he'll be providing for other interested parties.

This is a great look at a completely different side of the performing world, and also gives you a glimpse at the levels of detail and complexity required to handle large performance system. It's also a chance to hear from a guy that is totally comfortable with the tightrope walk that is show control management. You can find out more about David's work at his website: The Impersonal Stereo.


Direct download: podcast_138_DButler.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 7:24am MDT

Micah Frank has been doing it for more than a decade. And by "it", I mean pulling amazing sounds out of the air, formatting them to be playable, and releasing them through his company Puremagnetik. I've long been a fan, and finally was able to corner Micah for a podcast chat.

In this one, we talk about everything from his background as a New York session drummer through the development of his favorite sample packs, and also talk about the tools of the trade that he finds useful. We also talk a little about the business of sample pack creation and even a little about collaboration with other artists. But mostly we talk about how one becomes a sample pack developer, and the joy that comes with embracing that gig.

I really respect Micah's work; if you haven't heard it, check it out at the Puremagnetic site, try out some of the free packs, or maybe pick up a little gift for yourself (I'd recommend the "b-systems" packs made in collaboration with Richard Lainhart, or the new Cinematic stuff we talk about in the podcast...), but enjoy our discussion!

Direct download: podcast_137_MFrank.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 5:26am MDT

There are a few people that I've known forever - even if we don't talk often. Paul Vnuk is one of those people - we were Milwaukee folk at the same period in the late 90's, have interacted with Mike Metlay over the years, and still cross paths during NAMM shows. But we seldom seem to talk; we are often busy (especially, as you'll hear, when Paul is multi-tasking at full throttle), so it seems difficult to get the time. So, we needed to make time.

I had a problem with this week's interviews, and Paul was willing to jump into the podcast for a nice chat. And the hour went by in an eyeblink; Paul has worked on so many interesting projects that I was left with a book-load of questions for the next interview (or three...) that we'll do. Nevertheless, Paul was happy to talk about whatever I'd bring up, and I wanted to talk about everything!

So we talked about recording tech, Paul's background, working on Ma Ja Le, doing loop libraries for Sonic Foundry/Sony, learning new instruments and working on remote collaborations. A fascinating interview with a really interesting guy - and I already can't wait for our next chat. And I can't wait for that next release!

So enjoy!!!

Direct download: podcast_136_PVnuk.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 7:12am MDT