I’m in Pittsburgh this weekend for the American Musicological Society’s annual conference, the third out of five conferences I’m attending this semester on the postdoc job hunt / academic grind. Unlike the more traditional papers I’m presenting at other events, tonight I’m excited to be “performing” the above video in collaboration with my good friend Jared Fowler, a composer and music instructor at Los Angeles Harbor College. Jared and I met through the music scene back in Iowa City. He started an amazing monthly performance series that attempted—and largely succeeded—to bridge the gap between the University of Iowa School of Music (where he was studying) and the local, experimental music scene (where I was working as a promoter and electronic music hobbyist). We hit it off, and teamed up for events as well as a few artistic projects. We did our first audiovisual collaboration several years ago, which was a weird combination of Moogs, Casios, distortion pedals, and direct address YouTube vlogs.

When I saw this call for this year’s Ecomusicology Listening Room, it seemed like a natural excuse for the two of us to start working together again, this time via long distance. Here is an excerpt from our proposal, which I think nicely summarizes how things turned out:

In his work on the history of radio, Hugh G. J. Aitken wrote, “Harmony, resonance, syntony, or tuning—these are all words we use to describe the relationship between systems that vary together cyclically, that influence one another even though not in contact, that retain their separate identities while sharing a common mode of behavior.”

This proposed project and performance considers the notions of syntony and cycle as they relate to sound, science, music, nature, technology, and environmental politics. “The Driving Force” explores the natural cycles of the earth (and their disruption) through the technological cycles of popular culture and popular electronic music, such as the drum loop, the guitar phrase, and the animated gif.

For tonight’s performance we will perform the video live using a sampler for the sounds and the vjay app for live video manipulation. If you can’t join us tonight, check out the online version of the Ecomusicology Listening Room.

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