Art + Music + Technology

This one was a bit difficult for me: when I'm talking to people about gear or circuits or code, I have no problem. But when it comes to talking about how our bodies work? I'm generally at a loss. Luckily, El Larson was very helpful as I stumbled through the words to talk about what she does. So when you hear me struggling, there it is.

In any case, it is really cool to hear about El's work with the Tibetan Bowls and a modular synth. She's thoughtful about the way that she integrates the instruments into her practice, and is also willing to talk about it. So finding out how she works, how she prepares for a session and how she deals with the variety of personalities she encounters - it's all in the open.

Additionally, though, it's great to hear about a completely different musical practice, and to find out how sound can be used to physically help people. I've not participated in a session (although now I'm pretty intrigued), but I've heard incredible things from friends, and am very curious.

In addition to the sound practice, El is also an active artist/performer - with a recent high-profile project with Millie Brown being a prime example. Balancing the practice with the artistic urge is at the heart of El's life, and it was really interesting to learn more about it.

You can learn more about El's work at her website. Enjoy!

Direct download: podcast_147_ELarson.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 12:19pm CDT

What can be said about Robert Henke that hasn't already been said a thousand times? A tireless inventor, music producer, visual artist and programmer, Robert has been at the front of so much - and for me he's been a constant inspiration. He's also become a good friend over the years, and I can believe it's taken me this long to interview him for the podcast. But I always want to be careful about his time; luckily, he's at a good point for a chat, and you get to listen in!

In this talk, we go over Robert's ideas about music gear, collaboration (he's worked with some amazing people...), balancing different types of work, and choosing areas to explore. He also reveals himself to be an "obsessed pragmatic": he's has a love for detail, but he has to fight his inner voices to make sure that he produces work.

Who can't understand that?

So please enjoy this talk, and if you get a chance, give a listen to the latest Monolake release: VLSI. It's a great combo of analog, digital and hybrid, and makes for some inspirational listening.

Direct download: podcast_146_RHenke.mp3
Category:Performing Arts -- posted at: 8:15am CDT

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: 10:06am CDT

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: 8:19am CDT

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: 9:13am CDT

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: 5:43am CDT

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: 7:34am CDT

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: 7:36am CDT

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: 11:45am CDT

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: 8:24am CDT