MSP + Jaroba w Warren Stringer’s visual synth @LSG (Thu 27 Dec, 9pm) + RTD3 (8pm)

Outsound: A New Sonic Collective for the 21st Century

Outsound Series @ Luggage Store Gallery, 1007 Market St. @ 6th Street, San Francisco, 9pm, 27 Dec.

Luggage Store Gallery - Doorway to the beyond...

Naturally I’m keen to take to the great Luggage Store Gallery stage again with space-explorer, saxophonist, bass-clarinetist and instrument inventor, Jaroba — plus, multimedia madman Warren Stringer, who’ll once again emanate the hallucinatory visual synthesis that knocked everyone off their chairs at our June Luggage Store show.

Main Sequence Star Spectra

This laptop-based show will feature many of my old friends — luminous and dark harmonic spectra, doppler’d / laptop-restructured time, highly distressed waveguide synthesis, and old-school FM / ring-mod.

Notice how language and music appear to produce complementary responses in opposite sides of the brain...

But in this show I’ll also bring out some early bits from the new artificial musical life-form I’m putting together in the lab — dropping AI machine-grammars from natural language processing into parts of the meta-rāga framework, using speech processing techniques as virtual propane torches for digital formant-melting, and other fun stuff.

Formants - Hot, Hat, Hit, Head

Speech perception works because the ear’s pitch-discrimination identifies vowels by formant peaks, and consonants by the pitch-analysis of ultra-rapid transients. In fact, these fleeting and unconscious pitch-based sub-processes of speech recognition have been a major driver of humans’ evolution of the ability to discriminate and fine-control pitches — that is, language-enabling abilities are also a major source of musical beauty. It isn’t merely a metaphor that music “speaks to us”.

Phone companies created vocoder technology to reconstruct how the ear hears formants to achieve high speech-signal compression. But what if we distorted and used this power for… evil? Or mysterious beauty?

Improv Grammar Diagram from "The WIsdom of the Impulse", by Tom Nun

Moving to a syntactic level, Heinrich Schenker strove to find the Ursatz (fundamental musical structure) in his groundbreaking syntactic analyses — the same word his grammarian colleagues in the linguistics department used for fundamental sentence structure. 50 years later, music theorist Fred Lerdahl & linguist Ray Jackendoff teamed up to update the understanding of musical syntax via the generative grammar theories of Chomsky, and the concept of musical grammars has been touched on even by recent improv theorists like Tom Nunn.

Surely one of the great kōans is that music can express things that can’t be expressed in language… in a linguistic way. At this level of the music/language intersection, I’ll use some simple “finite state machines” in various pieces to swing on the improv-syntax monkey bars of this paradox — first steps in implementing a post-Chomskian musical improv grammar for an improvising AI.

Now all we need to do is hire the Philip K. Dick android head as our lead singer…

Jaroba (here shown in the wild with his kit) is a one-of-a-kind saxophonist, musical instrument inventor, and theatrical musician, currently living in Davis, CA:

Proud father Jaroba & children, Chapel of the Chimes "Garden of Memory" solstice event, June 2011

He is often spotted in the company of fellow musical instrument inventor and string multi-instrumentalist Keith Cary, or consumating the unholy matrimony of disparate mouthpieces, tubing, PVC pipes, and a unique array of found resonators.

A fearless deep space explorer of improvisation and instrument invention, Jaroba always opens the windows of my brain and lets the sunshine in. It is with great pleasure that I continue my collaboration with him — a homebrew journey to infinity and beyond (via Sacramento and Valencia Street, where our recent acoustic show got a nice review in

Some of his notable musical projects include work with Liberation Surrealist Duo (what acronym does that make…?), featuring Jared Alberico and Nick Wilson of Chicago, Minneapolis Improv Orchestra, Duke Resonant Orchestra, Nuclear Mystery Temple, ESP, and Howloosanation (including performances at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, for the John Cage MusiCircus).

Jaroba & Mastertron

Aside from forging new paths with instruments like the Mastertron and the Plassoon, another speciality of Jaroba’s is music for theatre, including two soundtracks for filmmaker Harvey Stein, and works for the Flatwater Shakespeare Company for The Tempest, Measure for Measure, Henry V, and Macbeth. Jaroba received “Best New Music” from Kennedy Center for his contribution to the Tom Stoppard play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.

Warren Stringer

Our partner in this show is multimedia artist/inventor and software fiend Warren Stringer, who’ll be image-jamming using the dazzling aesthetic of multi-dimensional moiré and cellular automata he’s developed as a pioneer of visual synthesis.

Warren’s work is polyvalent, ranging from visual music synthesizer, Sky, to social media ontology, Tr3, that connects human input devices, game engines, and social media, into a new kind of performance mash-up.

A virtuoso of technology, Warren’s many adventures have included 2D & 3D visual synthesis, Vuppet gestural game input devices long predating the Wii, acoustic fingerprint integration for sound distribution services like Snocap, patents in e-distribution methods, and key roles in various start-ups and tech companies ranging from Coincidence, Inc., TestDrive Corp., AdWare, Inc, Lotus, Borland, to Aha, Inc. and current project Muse.

His real-time visual synthesis is as vast and beautiful as his tech acuity, and you’ll experience the rush of new worlds you never knew existed through his algorithmic eyes.

We’re following Set 1 by RTD3, the hypersensitive improv trio of Ron Heglin (trombone, voice), Tom Nunn (invented instruments), and Doug Carroll (cello).

RTD3 @ Meridian Gallery, 20 Feb 2010

L → R: Ron Heglin, Doug Carroll, Tom Nunn (Photo: Dill Pixels)

All 3 players span the full range from percussive to melodic… sometimes within the same note. Although Ron Heglin and Doug Carroll use conventional instruments, their explorations of extended technique (viz. playing the cello upside down) enable them to use their instruments as sound synthesizers of a most unconventional sort. Coupled with leading instrument inventor and improv phenomenologist, Tom Nunn, in the long standing improvising trio, RTD3, they become a 6-eared vibration-telepathy music monster whose sonic lair you’ll want to enter.

Ron Heglin (photo by Tom Djll / Djll Pixels)

Ron Heglin is a trombonist and vocalist working with extended technique on the trombone and with spoken and sung imaginary languages as a vocalist. His vocal music has been influenced by his study of North Indian vocal music. He works both compositionally and in an improvisational mode and is a member of the Bay Area music context as well as performing internationally. He is a founding member of the groups Music for All Occasions, Rotodoti (RTD3 + Tim Perkis), Dynosoar (with Tom Djll and Karen Stackpole), and Brassiosuarus, has performed with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Wadada Leo Smith, Henry Brant, Logos Duo, Tim Perkis, John BischoffKattt Atchley, Toyoji Tomita (富田豊治), and is my bandmate in Jim Ryan’s Green Alembic.

He has these words to say about his music “process”:

“I think we choose a tuning for ourselves early on and then gather those practices together to support and enhance that tuning and this practice becomes our way to know what we are experiencing in the everyday, and if we neglect these practices that constitute our music then we lose our awareness of what we are experiencing. Often it seems that when I begin to sing or play there are surprises in my consciousness and in my body and and there is this task of integrating this new information: this is the practice, or part of it. This is the edge of not knowing and the acceptance of this edge seems a very exciting place and hopefully continues to be a place where new integrations (or awareness of chaos) can take place.

Is this place the void?”

Tom Nunn playing his invented instrument, The Crab

Tom Nunn has designed, built and performed with original musical instruments since 1976, and has built over 200 instruments.

His instruments typically utilize commonly available materials, are sculptural in appearance, utilize contact microphones for amplification, and are designed specifically for improvisation with elements of ambiguity, unpredictability and nonlinearity.  Tom has performed extensively throughout the San Francisco Bay Area for over 30 years, as well as in other parts of the U.S., Canada, Europe, and New Zealand, both as soloist and with other musicians.  Tom also performs with T.D. Skatchit, RTD3, Ghost in the House, Music for Hard Times (duo with Paul Winstanley) and has appeared on a number of recordings, including his solo CD, Identity (2007), T.D. Skatchit & Company (2009) and Skatch Migration (2010) (Edgetone Records).  In 1998, he published Wisdom of the Impulse: On the Nature of Musical Free Improvisation.

Earlier this year he was the subject of a major retrospective concert at the CMC in San Francisco and the mainstay of several brilliant Bay Area shows including Philip Dadson as well as fellow Kiwi, experimental bassist Paul Winstanley.

Doug Carroll & friend

International cellist and composer, Doug Carroll expands into new sound domains with the use of electronic processing and creative thought. Carroll’s compositions for electronic cello and tape feature the spontaneity and drama of a live performance combined with the richness and diversity of the taped material.

His solo improvisations have received international acclaim for their stark originality and musical sensitivity. Additionally, he has composed for a variety of multimedia events, including modern dance, theatre, film, and video, as well as collaborations with visual artists. He studied composition with Karlheinz Stockhausen, Lou Harrison, and Anthony Braxton. He has an MFA in Electronic Music and Recording Media from Mills College and a BA in Music from the University of Alabama in Birmingham. Other studies include the Darmstadt International Course for New Music and the Royal Conservatory at the Hague, Netherlands, is an active member of various Bay Area improvising ensembles such as RTD3, and is my bandmate in Jim Ryan’s Green Alembic.

Join us for an unforgettable night of sight and sound at the longest standing experimental music series in the Bay Area, curated since 2002 by Outsound!


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