Mexican Center for Music and Sound Arts

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Mary E. already blogged about our days together in Morelia, Michoacán here. I completely echo her sentiments about Morelia, but I wanted to expand upon that discussion to briefly describe  the rest of my week there. Because we took some time to visit the historical center of Morelia in the first few days once Mary E left, I really dedicated myself to my residency in exploring electronic music production and composition at the Centro Mexicano para la Música y las Artes Sonoras (the Mexican Center for Music and Sound Arts, or CMMAS, pronounced see-mas.)

In actuality, there is only so much work that can be done in a week, but I did some reading and preparation ahead of time; that, combined with my tech savvy and the guidance of the amazing CMMAS staff, allowed me to create 3 small, basic electronic compositions. I’ve decided that I am going to compose acoustic instrumental parts to be combined live with the fixed, electronic music that I wrote, creating music that is called electro-acoustic. When I actually do finish the piece, I will end up coming out of the residency with much more music than I originally anticipated would be possible.

Each morning thereafter, I woke up in time to get to my private studio by the time that CMMAS opened. I grabbed some pastries at a local bakery to eat for breakfast and boiled some instant coffee before heading out. Instant coffee is a staple here in Mexico. It makes a terrible cup of coffee when put in water (I was trying to keep to a very small budget), but a delicious café con leche in milk, which I’ve learned is not at all like a latte, but more like a coffee version of a hot cocoa.) I learned quite a few programs for manipulating sounds, and endeavored to compose and learn/explore simultaneously. Thus, the process was very much exploratory with much trial-and-error, but I set some basic parameters in that I had some previously recorded sounds that I composed (or had the rights to use) that I manipulated in different ways.

The staff also kindly set up some microphones so that I could record Mary E’s flute playing. I am most excited about the piece that I am writing for her, which will be for solo flute and CD (consisting of manipulated flute sounds that remind me of our local Metro station.) We collaborated on the recorded sounds in that although I wanted her to improvise, I gave her different styles to use in the creation of the music which I combined in different ways.

Each day I would work straight until lunch, meander out to get a quick and cheap comida corrida (and stuff myself as much as possible), come back and work until closing. Then at night I would cook an inexpensive meal of bean tacos, Skype with Mary E, and watch something on Netflix. (The Latin American iteration of Netflix is frustrating because it has much less content than the US version and rarely anything that we’re dying to see, but just enough so that you can’t really complain. It’s worth the approx. $7.99 (US) per month for the service, but you don’t get more than your money’s worth like you do in the US…but I digress.)

Thanks to the amazing staff and facilities, I really feel like I learned a lot, especially in doing some basic mastering, and I am happy with my first electronic pieces, which I consider as akin to a big paper at the end of a class. I am grateful to the friends that I made there, especially Dr. Rodrigo Sigal, who is an amazing composer and person. He founded the facility and it’s useful, vital, and very successful here in Mexico (and he’s in Japan right now, how cool is that!?). I am so excited to be playing the Mexican premiere of his piece Blood Stream for tuba and electronics in June.

El Dr. Sigal

If you’ll promise to be kind, HERE is a link to the music that I made during my 1 week there. Please keep in mind that I’m not intending for these recordings to be played alone, as I am composing instrumental parts to go along with them. I hope that someday soon I can either go back to study more at CMMAS, or have access to a computer music studio, or a computer at home equipped with some of that software. Again, a million thanks to Dr. Sigal and the CMMAS staff for hosting me, and if anyone is seriously interested in this music, I highly recommend going there to study and work!

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One response »

  1. I’m so glad you’re getting to do some composing–I really like your stuff and think you’re talented. The more you can do of it, the better. It definitely feels like we’re only hearing one half of the conversation right now (because we are), so I’m looking forward to hearing the acoustic additions to the pieces. Be sure to post those as well!

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