Category Archives: Texas A&M PVFA

Texas A&M School of Performance, Visualization & Fine Arts

Electric LaTex Student Music Conference 2024

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Over the weekend of January 26-27, 2024, students from the School of Performance, Visualization, and Fine Arts at Texas A&M University attended Electric LaTex, a student electronic and experimental music conference in Baton Rouge, LA, on the Louisiana State University campus. The event focuses on university students from Texas and Louisiana, and is hosted by those same universities on a rotating basis. The event gives the students in music and/or music technology schools or departments the opportunity to exhibit their new works and installations, perform improvised pieces, and present discussions on their compositional and creative processes.

This year, the new music technology program at TAMU was represented by Grace Burton, Ethan Cheney, Nat Cortez, Evan de Anda, Oluwanifemi Haastrup, Breanna Loredo-Rayas, David Neuhalfen, Colton Neuville, Robert Rutherford, and Rolf Rydahl. The trip was organized by Dr. Jeff Morris, the head of the TAMU PVFA music technology program, and the students were accompanied to LSU by Dr.s Matthew Campbell and Will Connor.

The event was an impressive success, both in terms of the overall event and the participation of the TAMU students. Burton, Cheney, de Anda, Haastrup, and Neuhalfen all presented videos created for coursework in music technology classes in the Fall 2023 term at A&M. Cortez displayed her interactive installation, and Loredo-Rayas, Rutherford, and Rydahl also presented new compositions performed by themselves along with Cortez and Neuville. Approximately 100 people interacted with the TAMU students over the course of the weekend, all of whom were from other universities, and the TAMU students were exposed to a multitude of impressive and innovative student works. Perhaps most importantly, the A&M students were able to network and generate new friendships with like-minded students from other universities in the bi-state area.

Video Presentations

The video presentations were mixed in with live performances and were displayed on a large screen at the back of the stage. Oluwanifemi’s video was a still image as a backdrop to her new music piece, A Beautiful Alien Abduction. Grace’s video, Synthia, Cythnia? featured her digital music and a depiction of a day in the life of a digital student (see below). David’s work was concise and pinpointed. Ethan combined footage of driving through the forest with his latest electronic composition. Evan merged a work for string quartet and digital video manipulation in his presentation.

David’s work was concise and pinpointed. Unfortunately, there is no footage of this short, but powerful work. David had this to say about the piece, “This piece is not one of particular note on its own, though with its story, it becomes a living piece of art. When my hard drive was corrupted, this was the only piece lost to time. I was able to recover everything else. The only version I had saved was one I had uploaded to the cloud. This was a piece that took very little time to write, mix, and complete. I like to think of it as a description of a memory or a moment in time. For this reason, I think the piece takes on being something greater than just its sound.”

Ethan Cheney’s piece At Night drifts and swirls with rolling interactive samples, reflected by the drive through the woods as seen in the video. Ethan says, “I recorded the upright piano, which happens to be tuned up a whole step, providing a “middle D”, with a single sm57 in my kitchen. After adding drums via midi in Ableton, I added synth textures to add space. The mix was bare, only really adding panning modulation to offer movement to the melodic moments.”

Installation Piece

Nat Cortez exhibited an interactive installation entitled Musical Threads. Cortez crocheted granny squares using conductive yarn and turned those into triggers to sound samples she created playing a tongue drum. Each granny square was linked to an Arduino pin and was set up to trigger one of four samples, taken from a pool of sixteen such that to play all the sounds available, all of the granny squares would have to be triggered at least once. The triggered sounds were accompanied by an ambient rain sounds so that someone interacting with the installation has a meditative audio pad underpinning the playing of the sounds.

Live Performances

Rolf Rydahl gave a performance on his laptop of a new work. Of his new piece, he says, “I created the piece using a combination of sounds from around my house that I sampled paired with a couple of digital synths. During the performance, I mapped filters and effects to a midi controller in order to control the piece live. Overall, I really enjoyed the finished product, and it seemed to resonate well with the audience.”

Robert Rutherford presented his piece Submarines and Squids as a trio performance, playing a Soma Labs Enner along with Colton Neuville on haunted box and Rolf Rydahl on pedals manipulating the sounds Neuville created. The work was harsh and ambient at the same time, and smoothly navigated the intertwining dynamic ranges the instrumentation provided.

Breanna Laredo-Rayas performed an iteration of her 2023 work Ghosts. This time, presented as a duo with Nat Cortez, the piece converted the piece from a trio work to feature only a haunted box played by Breanna and Theremin played by Nat. The duet version was ambient and exploratory, creating an ethereal soundscape with interplay of drone pads, textural injects from the haunted box, and eerie combinations of “other-worldly” musical statements.

Overall the trip was more than successful. The impact on the students involved was clear – the networking opportunities, the performance opportunities, and representation of TAMU and the PVFA Music Technology by the student creators off campus and outside the state was confident-building, inspirational, and enriching on an educational and professional level simultaneously.

Photo Gallery

Lorefest 2023

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Introduction

Conceived by Professor Matthew Campbell and William Connor of the Texas A&M School of Performing, Visualization, and Fine Arts, Lorefest 2023 was pitched as a Fall performance event that would:

“The first annual Lorefest will bring together students, faculty and visiting artists for a weekend of spooky storytelling. Featuring “B” movies, puppets, red carpet monsters, and an historical ghost walk, the festival will immerse visitors in creative presentations centering stories drawn from local folklore.”

-Lorefest Team

Professor joey of the Media & Gaming Lab would join their team to help with documentation and planning. Together the team would apply for multiple grants and funding, securing grants and funding from:

  • TAMU Performance Visualization and Fine Arts
  • TAMU Institute of Data Science
  • TAMU Race, Ethnicity Studies Institute

Lorefest Events

Thursday

Story Telling Sessions – Frame Gallery

The Story Telling Sessions was held at the Frame Gallery in Downtown Bryan, a frame shop and gallery that also hosts art happenings. We cannot thank the Frame Gallery enough for all their help and accommodations. The story telling was performed by PERF 301 students in both Professor Connor and Campbells sections. Additional support with puppetry was by guest artist Victoria Snaith, who hosted puppetry workshops with students. The puppets were then integrated into the story telling pieces and also featured during the Saturday event. The stories themselves were developed by the students with the facilitation of Professor Campbell and Connor providing prompts for them to spring board from, as well as letting the students choose their own stories. The students then conducted ethnographic interviews for their stories in order to obtain further insight into them. The stories could be regional or from their own places they call home. The results were amazing and very entertaining, while informative about various cultures.

Friday

Film Festival – The Village Cafe Downtown

The Film Festival was slated to take place at the Queen Theater, but once it was discovered our crowd was much larger than their capacity, we were very lucky to have Kristy, the owner of the Village Cafe Downtown facilitate us in her space. The results were amazing with student’s films being exhibited along with live music accompaniment. The films featured included works from guest film maker Shun Lee Fong, Aggie SWAMP Club, and PERF301 students from both Professor Connor and Campbell sections. In addition to the films featured, live musical accompaniment was composed and performed by the PERF 318 electronic composition music class, taught by Professor Connor.

Saturday

Ghost Walk, Gala & Puppetry

Held at the Village Cafe and Vino Boheme, Saturday’s festivities included a Gala with a student cultural food event, movie screenings, puppetry theatre, guided Ghost Walk and Puppetry Parade. The food event was integrated into the PERF301 courses where students pitched and brought various dishes with cultural contextualization for attendees to enjoy. The Ghost Walk was developed in the PERF301 courses by teams of students who would develop a ghost story based off prompts or their own ideas and then perform the story on locations throughout downtown Bryan. The attendees would then go on a docent led Ghost Walk hosted by Victoria Snaith. Film screens and puppetry were also included in the nights festivities, again developed by students in the PERF301 sections Professors Connor & Campbell teach. Lastly a Puppetry Parade was performed. guest puppetry maker Victoria Snaith and students who created puppets paraded their creations throughout the space.

Conclusion & Take Aways

Lorefest 2023 was a huge success and it wouldn’t have been possible with so many different points of support, Kristy of the Village Cafe, Missy of the Frame Gallery, Dr. Connor and Dr. Campbell for putting envisioning the event, the production crew of PVFA (Jeff Watson and Jam Martinez) and the Media & Gaming Lab crew, plus all the students who put their heart and soul into their projects and production.

Lorefest Website

Stay tuned for the full project documentation on the official Lorefest website that will document all the projects, their origins and much more through text, photo, video and mapping. This website is something we hope to reach the general academic and lore enthusiast communities alike.

SUMMER 2023 ReCap

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Arden visits us again!

The summer of 2023 was a crazy time. We had a lot going on. Arden Duffield was able to make his way back from NYC and we hosted multiple meet ups and workshops, we put a whole series together and Arden’s spirit really carried the lab forward. Arden also joined us on multiple collaborative meetings, such as when we met with the School of Performance, Visualization and Fine Arts Faculty and Grand Stafford manager Rob Hitchcock to talk about future projects.

In addition we had visits from Kaye Cruz where he and Arden were able to go do some local news coverage. Elizabeth Holmes made international news going to federal prison here in Bryan/College Station. It was great getting to see Arden get some hands on experience.

Also we would all like to congradulate Arden for getting into NYU! Well deserved in our book.

Lab expansion and resources

Additionally joey worked on the lab on multiple fronts. We are currently in talks with the department to physically expand the lab, we are fortunate to have Andy Castillo (Paper Street Studios), a CMC member who does 3D renderings; he created a full fly through of the future space and gave the idea “life.”

In parallel the lab proposed a whole equipment budget for more audio and video equipment for production and the lab space in general. So stay tuned as more develops.

Rick Pulos lend technical skills to local theater

Ph.D. student Rick Pulos worked with the Bryan Theatre Company of BCS and their production of Cabaret over the summer. Specifically Rick Pulos was charged with developing sets, lighting and other tasks, such as developing video promotions. Rick has been developing a documentary about the BTC of BCS and we all look forward to seeing his film once it is completed.

Will loves to make noise! We love to Document it!

joey also got to cover Media & Gaming Lab collaborator and mentor William Connor Ph.D. of the School of Performance, Visualization and Fine Arts as he worked on creating multiple physical instruments to be used to create a sound track for a filmmaker working on a documentary about space for NASA.

Will is a musician, musicologists and instrument builder, amongst many other talents, a polymath for sure! Watching Will problem solve and create his instruments with minimal materials has been an education for sure. Not only did joey follow him on campus, but went on multiple “music store” runs, where Will would thrift for “things” he could incorporate into his instruments.

Will’s kind character is very intoxicating, everyone who would walk by that had questions about what he was up to would get a full explanation and often demonstrations! We cannot thank Will for being part of our lab and all he contributes.

Media Lab Visits Synth Makers, Developers & Players in Austin, TX

Durning the summer, joey, Will and Corina went and visited Brandon Wiley and Jeremy Zunker, two synthesizer enthusiasts based out of Austin, TX. It was great seeing some of their designs, talk shop and ideate on future collaborations. One collaboration we walked away with is hosting a Symposium aka “Synthposium,” in downtown Bryan, TX at Tavo coffee.

Turning up the Volume at the Media & Gaming Lab

joey also worked on making the Media & Gaming Lab feel more welcoming, building a customer speaker system for the turntable, adding more vinyl, more posters and Nintendo Switch docking station.

Grants & Collaborations

We made headway on all the Fall 2023 grants and collaborations including

  • Lorefest Fall 2023
  • BIPOC Poetry & Recital Workshop
  • Communication & Journalism Broadcast Facilitative Learning Workshop
  • LatinX Critical Creative Consortium Fall 2023, UT Austin

So stay tuned for more blogs about all that we are up to!