Having just returned from Europe a few days ago, I am still buzzing with ideas and information from my week at STEIM. Reading this, you might find that strange since it is such a dark time for them, with their funding in jeopardy and the great loss of director Michel Waiswisz. In spite of all this, everyone at STEIM did their best to give us a good experience, and for me it was exceptional.
From the first session, I was blown away by how much they do there and the range of the musical community they serve around the world. Each day we met with new people with a different take on electronic music, hardware, software, etc. They are all masters in performance, inventing/composing, and are really good at explaining what they do and how they do it. In other words, these people do what is extremely rare in the arts, and that is to give direct, practical information in addition to artistic guidance. They all had one overarching thread in common, and that is the focus on making good music for the audience, however that works for you. This really resonates for me as a professional pianist and composer. Immediately I felt that I was in the right place. This also said to me that these people have a depth of knowledge about their subject and deep understanding of the field that makes them the go-to place for instrument enhancement and building. In addition, since they are all actively engaged in pushing the boundaries of the musical arts and electronics, they are discovering things all the time.
My work involves choreographed movement that I make for my piano compositions that I perform and I have long envisioned an electronic sensor system that I can retro-fit in any piano. Not having a background in engineering but at the conservatory, I had always felt that building anything was out of my reach. But now, thanks to the folks at STEIM, I’m beginning to imagine what the parameters of this sensor system should be and a little about how it might work and even how I might build it myself. So time to get to work and make something! Can’t wait to go back there to work out the kinks and fix mistakes in design that I’m sure I’m going to be making, never mind learning a big bunch of new stuff. After being there I want to wear the sensors too!
Check out videos and music at my site on myspace/eleanorsandresky.com and look for me new piece with sensor systems on Ned McGowan, Monica Germino, and Seth Josel in 2010.