Greetings to you all as I resume my summer perch in California, with apologies that once again timing and the exigencies of travel kept me out of the blogosphere last week. As regular readers of NewMusicBox know, I and a number of your other correspondents and even some commenters were at the New Albion Festival at Bard College earlier this month, and I think most, if not all, would agree that the week was truly memorable. Getting in and out had some nice moments as well. I even ran into pianist Ursula Oppens at JFK, on her way back from Bilbao and on the way to New Zealand.
On the train from New York City to the village of Rhinecliff, I was admittedly a bit soured on the experience of riding Amtrak—the chaos at Penn Station, the train’s departure 1.5 hours late, the overall uncleanliness in the train car itself, all in marked contrast to any train ride in Japan. And I reflected on how a number of European trains are named after composers, and not just the most famous ones from the 18th and 19th centuries. I’ve ridden on the Igor Stravinsky, the Richard Strauss, and the Gustav Mahler, and I’ve always wished that there was an American train named in honor of our great musical heritage, an Aaron Copland perhaps, or a Henry Cowell. Just as I was grousing about this to myself, I looked out the window and what did I see, on the side of two Metro-North train cars (operated by the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority)?
“The Charles Ives” and “The Thelonious Monk”.
Now that’s class.
I’m always on the lookout for interesting multi-channel recording possibilities. In the past I’ve outlined my simple yet effective portable 8-channel Octaphone, which was designed in collaboration with artist/engineer Kazufumi Oizumi and used for my sound installation project HAN BAT. More recently I’ve turned my attention to some of the commercially manufactured devices made by the redoubtable company Holophone. Their behemoth systems like the H3-D and the H2-PRO offer many flexible recording options and have generally garnered good reviews, but the size and price (is that really three zeroes after a “6” for the H2-PRO) took them out of the running.
With a significantly better price-to-size ratio, but by no means cheap, is the H4 SuperMINI Surround Sound microphone system, which has 5.1 channel audio field capture in small size, mountable on any professional quality video camera or connectable to a portable recorder like a Zoom H4 or an Edirol R-9. The unit handles all the housekeeping required to encode the six discrete signals via Dolby Pro-Logic II. At $2500, it’s a serious investment, but when you consider that the tiny package contains 6 high quality microphones, I do think it represents decent value. Does anyone have any experience with the Holophone H4 that they would care to share, or any other multi-channel microphone units for that matter? ‘Twould be great to hear your thoughts.
Speaking of multi-channel sound, ÉuCuE—Électroacoustiques université Concordia University Electroacoustics—is presenting the fifth annual series of concerts, presentations, discussions, and workshops October 1-3, 2008. This event is dedicated to multi-channel (fixed media) pieces, from 5.1 to 10.2, presented in what they themselves describe as “the acoustically superb Oscar Peterson Concert Hall of Concordia University, Montreal”. They are calling for concert works, papers, presentations, and more. If you have anything you think might be appropriate, I urge you to be in touch:
Call for installations using the 12-channel Butterfly Installation Instrument
Contact: Prof. K. Austin / Harvest Moon V
Music – Concordia University, RF-302
7141 Sherbrooke St. W.
Montreal, QC H4B 1R6