Spring 2022 Concert

CECM Spring 2022 Concert - Program Notes

This concert was streamed by IUMusicLive! on April 24, 2022. We would like to thank Tony Tadey for operating the cameras, encoding the stream, and providing technical advice. Haley Strong and Kevin Shima led the team of students who mixed our 8-channel live sound to stereo for the stream.

Younje Cho: Into the Water

Written in an attempt to capture the beauty of water, Into the Water depicts a musical motion of water by opening with water dripping sounds and gradually moving forward to a larger shape over time. The contrasting performance methods of using live water and using a Wacom tablet (on which a pen is drawing lines in different directions of x, y, and z to produce dimensional sound effects with varied parameters) represent how naturally such different acoustic effects can blend in with each other. Certain moments were intended to provide the audience with some time to meditate so they feel like they are underwater.

Xiaogang Xiang: The Impression of Jiazhou

Jiazhou is a beautiful and quiet city located in the south of China. There is a lot of great scenery, unique buildings, and amiable people there. I try to express musically how I felt when I was visiting Jiazhou by using the form of live electronics, combined with acoustic instrument. With the spectral analysis of an alto saxophone, then entering the saxophone’s sound spectrum, we will be able to feel a whole different sound world that touches our heart and soul...

Pierce Baruk: Lost and Found

For the better part of Lost and Found, the listener is enveloped in an ambiguous soundscape. The sounds derive from a combination of filtered noise and clarinet, though it is the clarinet that serves as the basis for the piece. The clarinet is processed by the computer in various ways, evoking a sense of timelessness and disorientation. In these sections, the clarinet feels LOST, trying to find its way. Eventually, a clear phrase is played. When the piece culminates in an ecstasy of sound, the clarinet is finally FOUND.

My sincere thanks go to Dustin Ledgard and Walker Smith for their help in bringing this piece to life.

Walker Smith: Chromatic Chemistry: The Periodic Table in Light and Sound


WARNING: This video contains flashing lights and may potentially trigger seizures for people with photosensitive epilepsy. Viewer discretion is advised.


In this highly anticipated sequel to The Sound of Molecules, Walker Smith, AKA “Maestro Molecules,” is appearing as his alter-ego, Mr. Roy G. Biv, to take you on a journey through the colorful sounds of the periodic table.

When zapped with electricity, the electrons inside atoms absorb energy, and they can later release this energy in the form of light. Different elements release different frequencies of light due to their different electronic structure, and Roy has converted those frequencies into unique chords and melodies…with a few surprises along the way. The performance features animations by Walker and IU chemistry major Harry Zhang.

So, sit back, relax, and enjoy this colorful and musical tour of the periodic table.

I’d like to express a huge thanks to Harry Zhang for his help with the animations in this piece.

Luka Chazal-Slote: Awakening the Machine

Awakening The Machine is a fixed-media piece composed for four channels that uses synthesizers and electronically processed recordings. The inspiration for this piece stemmed from the concept of cyclical motion, where a repetitive and periodic movement can produce a predictable, yet constantly changing and subtly varied rhythm. To incorporate this idea into the piece, recordings of objects such as a dryer, skateboard wheels, and a record player spinning were used. The mechanical nature of the source material used in the piece inspired its title, which is loosely based on Artificial Intelligence and the “awakening” of AI technology in modern day. 

Jeff Sabol: Keyboard Sonata

Instead of a traditional instrument, my Keyboard Sonata is performed by typing on a computer keyboard. Every key has been programmed to play a sound, adjust the parameters of other sounds and textures, or advance the piece to a new section. Sounds are also modified at random: for example, in the piece’s opening, the metallic noise generated by typing a vowel may sound different in color when activated twice in a row. The piece may be performed using any text and may be of any duration. In these ways, each performance will sound somewhat similar, but not entirely alike. This rendition will use my own original text.

During the performance, the piece’s Max/MSP patch will be projected, showing a representation of the keyboard and displaying the text as it is typed. On the right side, additional text will be generated that shows the function of each key.

My goal for Keyboard Sonata was to create a piece that anyone, even people with no musical experience, can perform and enjoy. It is the first of a series of many similarly designed projects that I am planning to work on.

Xinglan Deng: Sketch

An artist starts with sketching a woman character. During the sketching, he figures out that his drawing is so special that actually it can gradually awaken the character whom he drew. She sings with him, speaks with him, and he is obsessed with her until the end, she has life...

The piece is made with Kyma.

Isaac Smith: Formation

Formation began as an idea: to create sound “orbits'' through organic performance. While developing the soundscapes contained within the piece, a connection blossomed between the orbital nature of each sound source and the formation of the Solar System. There are eight sound sources, just as there are eight planets in the Solar System (sorry, Pluto). In the same vein, the timbral spaces begin with metallic, percussive, resonant sounds and transition meditatively to organic sources, symbolizing the evolution of our own home – Earth – from a barren rock to the fertile, blue cradle of life.

Benjamin Rieke: MLP Study 1

Neural networks are just huge matrices of numbers. When we train a network, these numbers are first initially randomized. Then, sample vectors are multiplied through the network, compared against their expected outputs, and then the error is fed back through the network to recompute the numbers. With thousands of iterations, the parameters of the network gradually converge to a (hopefully) good predictor. In this piece, each of the nodes of one of the layers of a multi-layer perceptron network is mapped onto different musical parameters during a training process on the archetypical “MNIST” dataset, a collection of handwriting samples of the arabic numerals. Each of the parameters, over the course of the piece, moves from a state of random chance to an almost perfect classifier of (a narrow subset of) human handwriting.

Zouning (Anne) Liao: Free Fall

The idea started with a drop of a ping-pong ball. It is a simple sound, but it has interesting and distinctive characteristics. The dry attack and the natural accelerando of the free fall draws my interest to explore its sonic possibility, and turn it into other sounds that have richer and brighter spectral content, such as ice cubes. With the use of an iPad as a continuous data controller, the smooth transformations among different sounds are made possible.

John Gibson: In Summer Rain

In Summer Rain explores the sound of a rain storm, from realistic soundscape to remote transformations. Rilke’s poem, “Before Summer Rain,” evokes the odd feeling we get when we sense that rain is coming. My piece begins like this, in a typical suburban setting, but soon the downpour rushes us into an imaginary interior world, where harmony colors the rhythm of rainfall, and thunder and lightning take on new forms.

This is one of a series of my pieces that weaves in and out of natural soundscape, using it to prompt memories and associations while experimenting with its ability to take on harmonic color and animate rhythm. I think of this music as a form of magical realism, and I hope listeners enjoy entering and leaving the make-believe realm.

Much of the pitched sound you will hear comes from recordings of rainfall, subjected to precisely tuned filters and a process of spectral analysis and recomposition.