Saturday, November 27, 2010

If you don't talk to your kids about Steven Snowden, who will?

Me, that's who. 

Steve is an unbelievably creative and hard working artist.  He's a wizard when it comes to music technology and uses his fluency in several software programs to make sounds I've never even thought about before, and use them in musically meaningful ways.  He also rides a Harley everywhere.  Which is way kickass.  He's the kind of guy that would write you a Max MSP patch in the morning, change your oil in the afternoon, and then cook up a dynamite chorizo stew for 20 of his friends like it was no big deal (he even made a special vegetarian bowl of it for me).    

I mean, check out this piece for trombone and live electronics which uses field recordings of cattle auctioneers (Steve Parker, trombone).
Or this breathtaking piano quintet performed by Austin's Aeolus Quartet and Kevin Garnica, piano.

Steve and I had been friends for a year and a half, batting around ideas for a percussion piece before we began working on the project below.  I had worked with dancer/choreographer Rosalyn Nasky twice before, once in a truly epic staging of George Crumb's Music for a Summer Evening and again in an eerie setting of Temazcal by Javier Alvarez.  Naturally, I was really excited when I was able to get all three of us together to talk about a possible collaboration.

The premiere was in June, 2010 at Big Range Austin, an annual dance festival organized by the tireless Ellen Bartel.  This was a particularly fun project in that it was a three headed collaborative process between Steve, Roz, and myself.  Based on our schedules we had collectively about one month to put this together and for the first couple weeks Steve worked at an astonishing rate.  
After deciding the instrumentation (tea kettle and mixing bowls) he and I came into the studio and recorded every single sound we could get out of those things.  Steve then took all the sampled sounds and wove them together into a midi mockup mosaic of what the piece would become, meanwhile composing/building the complex electronic component.  As he worked he uploaded his progress onto a blog he created specifically for our project so Rosalyn and I could witness the creative process unfold, offer feedback, and in her case find Inspirado.
Then we had couple weeks for me to try and learn the piece  and for Rosalyn to work out her (and my) steps. 

Steve had the presence of mind to record the live instruments through the soundboard, later syncing it with his electronic audio, AND getting multiple HD camera angles in on the action (oh, and he edited the video, too). 
So, what you can watch here is our super hot off the presses performance from last summer's Big Range Austin.

A Watched Pot from Steven Snowden on Vimeo.