California Part Deux: Wrap-up

Well I’m back! Severely jet-lagged, and quite tired from the whirlwind tour, but I’ve hit the ground running. I have two compositions to complete this month, some research for the Brain2Music that’s gaining momentum, and plenty of homework assignments. Not to mention graduate applications, but I digress.

The point of my trip was to visit UC Berkeley and Stanford, two of the schools I am applying to for my doctoral research. I spent most of my time near Berkeley, getting to know the great people of CNMAT. On Friday, in the sunny California weather (juxtaposed with Boston’s thundersnow) I cruised down to Stanford to visit CCRMA. Carr Wilkerson met with me and talked about the atmosphere of the lab, which he described as having a tribe-like quality. I felt really inspired while we spoke, as I’ve never felt part of a tribe. It’s been a long, hard, and sometimes lonely journey to finding my place in the world of music technology, and I think that grad school would be where I find my way into a ‘tribe’.

Carr gave me a tour of the facilities, starting with the balcony. CCRMA is located in the Knoll building, which is aptly named as it is the only building on the top of a hill overlooking campus. The building was the old president’s mansion, before he moved to some more modest digs elsewhere on campus. Quite a beautiful view.

After that we checked out the mini museum in the lobby. I’ve included some interesting pictures, including an acoustic model of the new performance hall being built, early SLOrk prototypes, Jon Chowning’s Sully tape machine used to realize Stria and more.

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Aside from the cool artifacts, CCRMA is filled with beautiful studios and spaces. The listening room is a 24 channel system for 3D sound, with speakers arranged in a sphere around (and under) the room. Their recording studio is the only room of the building that wasn’t refurbished after an earthquake devastated the building. The acoustics in the room were astounding, and the disklavier in the corner added to the cool retro electronic vibe.

The end of my tour concluded a conversation with Chris Chafe, the director of CCRMA. He was great to talk to, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed (and glued to the laptop keyboard) to see if an opportunity to work with him, or David Wessel, or the directors at the other schools I’m applying to, will come out of my hard work. If not, at least I’ve finally written all those notes on my projects!

As for California itself, I had a great time experiencing the Bay Area and all it has to offer (especially the local brews). I’d like to thank the following people for showing me great hospitality and helping me to put this trip together: John MacCallum, Ronald Bruce Smith, David Wessel, Chris Chafe, Ian Saxton, Adrian Freed, Luke Dahl, Carr Wilkerson, Miriam Akkerman, Yotam Mann, and Ilya Rostovtsev. (Sorry if I missed anyone.)

While I enjoyed my time greatly, and I hope more than anything to make it back out to the Bay area as soon as possible, I am glad to be back and busy again. This weekend is Boston Music Hack Day 2011, so I’ll have some great updates in a few days (follow me on twitter: @ConductiveIO), and on November 9th I’ll be giving a lecture on New Musical Interfaces at Northeastern University (West Vil. G 104, 6 pm). Cheers!


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