The Music For People & Thingamajigs Festival is an annual event dedicated to promoting experimental music that incorporates made/found instruments and alternate tuning systems. Each year, MFP&T invites artists who design their own musical instruments to join in a festival of workshops, music making, and performances with the goal of reaching a larger audience than they might usually connect with. It is also a festival where the public can participate in instrument building and tuning educational workshops, as well as hear unique sounds and compositions from up and coming artists. Now in its 12th year, thingamajigs MFP&T Festival is the only annual event completely dedicated to music created with made/found materials and alternate tuning systems. Past participants include Karla Kihlstedt, Walter Kitundu, Peter Whitehead, Brenda Hutchinson, William Winant, and Laetitia Sonami.
This year, the festival will include three evening concerts and one daytime family event. Below is this year’s schedule:
Thursday, September 24th 8pm: The Meridian Gallery, 535 Powell Street, San Francisco, CA 94108 ($10-$15 sliding scale).
Friday, September 25th 8pm: 21 Grand, 416 25th Street, Oakland, CA ($10-$15 sliding scale).
Saturday, Sepember 26th 8pm: 21 Grand, 416 25th Street, Oakland, CA ($10-$15 sliding scale).
Sunday, September 27th 1-4pm: MOCHA, 538 Ninth Street, Suite 210, Oakland, CA 94607 (free with museum admission)
On Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, The Meridian Gallery and 21 Grand will be transfixed with the unusual sounds and sights of artists from The Bay Area and beyond working with made/found objects. Preceding these concerts, we will offer a free artist talk/demonstration where community members can talk with the artists and interact with the musical instruments. On Sunday, MOCHA (in conjunction with this year’s festival) will host a special program to welcome some of Bay Area’s most interesting new music groups and artists for an exhibition of musical installations, performances, and instrument building workshops for kids. This event will take place outside in MOCHA’s beautiful courtyard as well as in their classroom inside the museum.
With concerts, artist talks/demonstrations, and a free community outing, we expect the 12th Annual Music For People & Thingamajigs Festival to be our most far reaching and successful event to date.
History and Mission Statement:
Thingamajigs began in 1997 at Mills College. Originally conceived as a forum for composers/performers who develop new and unique ways of producing sound, it soon broke out of the college environment and into a large public offering. As of 2004 a permanent board of was created, by which many events in addition to the Annual Music for People & Thingamajigs Festival are produced. In addition to our annual festival Thingamajigs offers a variety of arts, educational, and cross-cultural events such as The Pacific Exchange Series, Thingama-kids!, and various artist exchange programs.
Our mission is to develop and nurture the exploration of alternate materials and methods of creating sound, as well as promote collaborative efforts within other artistic disciplines not generally associated with festivals of music. With open workshops and performances, we welcome audiences/participants of all ages and backgrounds to join in a wonderful tradition started here in the Bay Area by such composers as Henry Cowell, Harry Partch, Lou Harrison, and John Cage.
Charles Johnson is a composer and musician residing in Oakland, CA who has worked in improvised music, noise, experimental rock, traditional forms, and music for film and dance. In recent years he has developed a versatile analog electronic performance system, created interactive and intermedia work with unusual interfaces, and worked extensively with just intonation tuning systems – all with an ear towards finding faults and instabilities that might reveal latent beauty.
His group will perform Meet Me By the Pleroma, which reveals the usually inaudible difference tones that result from two pitches sounding together. These “sonic entities” affect our perceptions of dissonance, consonance, and tonality, and they are treated here as harmonic, melodic, and rhythmic material.
John Bischoff has been active in the experimental music scene in the San Francisco Bay Area for over 30 years as a composer, performer, and teacher. He is known for his solo constructions in real-time synthesis and the pioneering development of computer network music. His performances around the US include NEW MUSIC AMERICA festivals in 1981 and 1989, Lampo (Chicago), and the Beyond Music Festival (LA). He has performed numerous times in Europe at such venues as the Festival d'Automne in Paris, Akademie der Künst in Berlin, Fylkingen in Stockholm, and TUBE in Munich.
"Audio Combine" (2008) is a solo electroacoustic work for sound-making objects and laptop. As the objects are activated, the resulting sounds are amplified, colorized, and recycled in fragmented form based on the timing patterns of their initial occurrence. As more sounds are made, more layers of fragmentation are generated on top of one another. One can think of the piece as the real-time construction of a sonic collage that is different in each performance because the performer’s interaction with the objects is always different.
Open Graves/Tide Tables (Paul Kikuchi, Jesse Olsen, and Alex Vittum) is the trio of multi-instrumentalist/composers Paul Kikuchi (Seattle), Jesse Olsen (Sebastopol, CA), and Alex Vittum (Oakland). They will be performing improvisations and original
compositions, incorporating Kikuchi's new "Topograph" series (sculptural landscapes that utilizing shaped and hammered brass, stainless steel, and aluminum), live electronic processing, and found objects.
Gregorio Fontén Correa (Chile) studied music composition at Universidad Católica de Chile (2002- 2005). His work ranges from instrumental music to visual poetry. As a songwriter he is the leader of the rock andino band Cuchufleta. As a composer, he is interested in andean music, improvisation and alternative tunings. He performs mainly in Santiago. Some of his highlights are a piano concert at Teatro Municipal de Santiago, a piano and sound poetry performance at The Klinker in London and at the Bowery Poetry Club in New York and an electronic work for Tsonami Festival in Valparaíso.
He has been included in several poetry anthologies in Chile and in 2001 his visual poetry book ”Contemplación” was released by Libros de la Elipse.
Vorticella (Krystyna Borowski, Erin Espeland, Brenda Hutchinson, and Karen Stackpole) are inverted bell-shaped ciliates. Each of these single-celled organisms has a separate, anchored stalk. Some are grouped as colonies, but because each Vorticella has its own individual stalk it can detach from the cluster at any time. We are a complex sound generating entity bearing a strong resemblance to the Vorticella. We improvise with found objects as well as conventional and homemade instruments. These include French horn, kelp horns, percussion (a vast collection of gongs, metal bits, wooden bits, exotic sound makers, and everyday household objects), cellos, voice, and the Long Tube (9 1/2 foot bionic tube) with gestural interface.
Alan Tower of Green Music Network, Alan composes for the huaca, an original pan-cultural clay wind instrument, deeply evocative in sound with three an chambers or vessels - facilitating single lines, harmony and chords - with intervals purely intonated to natures vibrational code; the didjeridu, where his interest was catalyzed early towards playing melodies above the drone out of the organic harmonic series; and the hang, a new melodic percussion instrument from two Swiss inventors Felix Rohner and Sabina Scherer specially tuned to the principles of just intonation. Played with the hands it combines the sense of the Indian ghatam, carribean steel pan and gamelan of Bali for a sound envelope rich in color, while giving the impression of opening and closing like a fl ower. Alan often performs in duo and has toured northern california as a solo artist. He also plays with Ancient Future’s Trance Trio, and The Unusual Instruments Trio, led by author and instrument inventor Bart Hopkin. He has provided the music for ecological physicist Brian Swimme’s retreats for many years.
John Seales is a doctoral candidate at UCSC. His compositions for voice often engage questions of cultural and environmental justice, employing shifts in musical language to accompany shifts in social perspective. His opera “They Know Their Audience” is notable in this respect, its story concerning a sabotage at the Bohemian Grove, the genteel entertainment for the elite hijacked by a pair of hip-hop artists.
His current research centers on unlocking the language of ratios. He has developed computer software for the creation of tuning systems by getting the notes to tune to each other. This exploration has also led to ways of using the structure of tuning systems as resources for the algorithmic creation of melody, harmony, form and texture in compositions.
John will be performing Traces of Brandon, a song cycle for soprano, hand percussion, and three synthesizers in algorithmically generated, ratio based tuning systems. The words are taken from the thought-to-be-lost and recently found diary of his friend Brandon Douglass, who passed away over a decade ago
Cole Ingraham is starting his first year of the Ph.D in Electronic Arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. He holds an MFA in Electronic Music at Mills College in Oakland, CA and a BM in Music Composition from University of the Pacific and has written a number of acoustic and electronic works including various audio/visual installations. He has studied at the Internationales Musikinstitut Darmstadt, Germany in 2006, and the Ecoles D’art Americaines De Fontainebleau, France in 2007.
Pulses (2009) for Bonang Pelog, Electric Guitar, Pentachord, and Contrabass explores the unique timbral qualities of the gamelan and a long string instrument mixed with more "traditional" instruments. The string instruments play only natural harmonics in order to match the Just Intonation tuning of the bonang. The Pentachord is a long string instrument built by Cole Ingraham.
Jaime Oliver (Peru) composer and computer musician, is working towards a Phd degree at the University of California, San Diego, (UCSD) where he is also a researcher in the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts, CRCA.
Jaime will perform on his created instrument called The Silent Drum, which recently won the 1st prize in the Guthman Musical Instrument Competition at Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology. Using a video camera and an elastic drum-head his fingers control synthesis engines and transform the sounds of actual percussion instrument samples so that what the camera sees is transformed into sound.
This instrument is part of a broader project that explores the visual aspects of human gesture using video cameras as the main sensors.
RTD3 (Ron Heglin, Tom Nunn, Doug Carroll) will perform a set of improvisations incorporating nontraditional instruments that present a unique group voice exploring a region of sound between music and language. With an emphasis on subtleties of expression and interaction, RTD3 brings the listener into a musical conversation that responsively generates itself in the moment."
Conner Lacy graduated from the University of Virginia in 2008 where he studied music and digital art. He is currently pursuing an M.F.A. in Electronic Music and Recording Media at Mills College. His work includes sound-based performance art, interactive installations, building multimedia instruments, and composing acoustic and electronic music.
For the event at MOCHA he will install a musical sculpture that uses wind and wheat to trigger solar powered radios. With a light breeze or gentle brush of the hand, an artificial field of wheat emits a sonic landscape that changes with the substance of the air.
Dan Good is a composer and sound sculptor living in Oakland, CA. He is currently enrolled in the Electronic Music and Recording Media MFA program at Mills College in Oakland, CA. His compositions are primarily fixed pieces utilizing chance-based organizations of samples and synthetic sounds. The form and function of audio technology inspires his sculptural work, particularly that of speakers and amplifiers. Dan's work searches to evoke the spark of life from randomness, feedback, and large interconnected systems.
Prior to enrolling at Mills College, Dan received a PhD in Electrical Engineering from UC Berkeley. He is much happier now that he is able to use his engineering training to build works of art.
Acoustic Permutations is an interactive sound sculpture exploring the possibilities of a large number of physically coupled acoustic feedback loops. It was designed to encourage people to walk around and inside of it, to push it, pull it, and wave their hands around it, modifying the acoustics of the boxes and changing the sounds as they go.
Ranjit Bhatnagar has been fascinated with sound since he was a toddler, listening to helicopters flying overhead and strumming springy doorstops and stretched rubber bands. He now creates sound sculptures and handmade musical instruments, and dabbles in scanner photography and net art. He's working on a permanent mechanical music installation at the Coney Island Museum, and has shown work at San Francisco's Exploratorium, the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley, the Parc d’aventures scientifiques in Belgium, Flux Factory in Queens, in the Artbots series at Location One Gallery,Eyebeam Atelier and the Pratt Institute in New York and the Klein Gallery in Philadelphia, and the Mermaid Show at the Williamsburg Art and Historical Center in
Brooklyn. He recently taught “Mister Resistor” at Parsons School of Design, a studio course and rock band with homemade instruments.
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Ranjit received a BA from U.C. Berkeley and an MS from the University of Pennsylvania, and was certified carnie trash by the Coney Island Sideshow School in 2002. He lives in Brooklyn with a small dog next to a big park.
Ranjit will install his Nutmeg Orchestrette, an ensemble of roboticmusicians made out of found junk and simple microelectronics.
Stewart Port and friends –Stewart has made musical (and mute) things for 35 years. He began making instruments out of tin cans and other found objects for comic relief from his usual work of building and restoring expensive guitars, and became intrigued with their potential for teaching kids, teachers, artists and aspiring instrument makers the physics and mechanical principles of musical instruments, and the rudiments of hand tool use.
Stewart and friends will play tunes from the vernacular traditions of Appalachia, Eastern Europe and the American South on instruments made from found or repurposed objects.
Official Website: http://www.thingamajigs.org
Added by edwardschocker on September 15, 2009