AES Section Meeting Reports

Capital University - February 3, 2012

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During our most recent Music Technology Area Recital, AES member, Nick Arner, invited members of EMMI (Expressive Machines Musical Instruments) and EAR (Electro Acoustic Reed) Duo to the conservatory of music in order to perform live with their robotic instruments and further explain to the group what the goal of the EAR duo was when they approached EMMI with their idea to work with robots.

Bassoonist, Dana Jessen, and saxophonist, Michael Straus, founded EAR duo in 2005 after discovering a mutual interest to the dedication of experimental, improvised, and electro-acoustic music. They approached EMMI in 2008 about working with compact (and travel-safe) wind and string robotic instruments/ performers after discovering a 45-piece Robotic Symphony in Germany while studying abroad in the Netherlands. Some of the instruments weighed over 2 tons and were harnessed from the ceiling because of their massive size and weight.
Troy Rogers (one of the three composers and programmers that makes up EMMI), accompanied EAR Duo to Capital in order to discuss how the robots work within the musical compositions, as well as the programming and design behind the robots.
Computer controlled mechanical instruments allow for the marriage of extreme precision and the richness of acoustically generated sound. Robotic instruments take computer music out of its traditional black box and reunite sound generation with visible physical gestures. (

Both instruments that accompanied the EAR Duo worked within the programming done by Troy Rogers, as well as in reaction to the improvised performed notes and nuances of Dana and Michael. The group played pieces created by the three composers that make up EMMI along with their own personal, improvised creations. Both Michael and Dana joked that their goal is to make the instruments smoke by the end of a performance, and they often enjoy "tricking" the instruments by playing outside of the realm of just singular tones and modal notes.

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