Arts & Life, Music

‘The electronics…add this new extra dimension, it makes a super flute’

The sounds of a flute fluidly filled the recital hall, broken up with quick breaths and phrases murmured into the instrument. Speakers set up around the room allowed the music to resonate from all directions for a complete immersion of sound.

Guest artists Ann Stimson and Marc Ainger presented a sonic arts performance Wednesday night at the Gerald R. Daniel Recital Hall. According to Ainger, sonic art is an umbrella term for “sound in all of its manifestations.” 

“So the term originally meant sound in media, […] virtual reality, and gaming,” Ainger said. “But after a while, I realized that sound is a thing in itself.”

Stimson and Ainger met in graduate school at the University of California, Santa Barbara where Stimson played the flute and Ainger studied composition and audio engineering. Their musical journey as creative partners started after Ainger composed a piece where Stimson could incorporate the flute with impressions, something Ainger was known to do.

The performance consisted of five pieces with Stimson on the flute and Ainger using software to manipulate and project the sound of Stimson’s flute around the room. The recital hall had speakers set up in various parts of the room to add to the experience of the performance. 

Stimson utilized both traditional and non-traditional flute techniques during the performance.

“So you have your traditional technique, everything you learn in lessons for years and years perfecting your skills, and then there’s an extension…the electronics to sort of add this new extra dimension, it makes a super flute,” Stimson said. “There’s these beautiful extensions, all of this new sound that I can make or he helps me make through the computer.” 

Director of composition Alan Shockley joined the duo to perform, “For Carolyn,” a song composed in 2018 for the late Carolyn Bremer.

Shockley played the piano, hitting the keys and the strings inside to create a unique sound that was then processed through Aingers’ software. Stimson played the flute and the Tibetan singing bowls, giving the piece more reverb to bounce off the speakers around the room.

“Instruments themselves are extensions of the voice or hands,” Ainger said. “Instead of singing you blow into a flute and that makes your breath sound a completely different way… But you can also then extend it through electronics, which really makes it interesting.” 

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