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August 4, 2017
I'm debuting a new piece entitled "Quiver, Pop, and Dissolve: Three Essays in Gastromorphology," a collaboration with chef Jozef Youssef of Kitchen Theory in London at the third Web Audio Conference, which is taking place August 21-23 at the Centre for Digital Music, Queen Mary University of London. Our performance is on the evening of August 21, and earlier that afternoon, I'll also be presenting a talk entitled "Web Audio in the Dining Room." Check out the full schedule here.
This summer semester at Berklee I've also been hard at work developing what I believe to be a first-of-its-kind class that investigates the aesthetic, psychological, and technological aspects of pairing music with a meal. ICE-P435 Developing Technologies: Music + Food, offered through Berklee's Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship, meets in Berklee's new Dining Hall and involves regular food scoring exercises for students, developed in collaboration with the Dining Hall chefs. Our final project is a collaboration with America's Test Kitchen, for which students are composing music to accompany a four-course meal. In addition, we're having guest lecturers Bruno Mesz and Janice Wang speak to us about their research into the science of flavor perception.
This class was just featured in a lovely article entitled "Music Class Teaches Students to Score Meals" in Food & Wine Magazine, perhaps the first time Berklee's been featured in this fine publication!
June 29, 2017
Heading out for an action-packed trip to Europe...
After a quick return to Berklee's Valencia campus, I'm helping to lead a summer workshop in Barcelona, organized by acclaimed Catalan theater group La Fura dels Baus in collaboration with friends from San Sebastián's celebrated restaurant Mugaritz and designer Jutta Friedrichs. This project builds on some experiments I conducted with Mugaritz last March while I was in San Sebastián for the Diálogos de Cocina conference.
Then I'm moving on to the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery to present Ploughman's Lunch: An Aural Reconsideration, my collaboration with David Matchett of London's Borough Market. I'll also be speaking on "The Sonic Landscape of Food: Imaginary Landscapes and Virtual Terroir."
I've given several food presentations at music conferences, but this is the first time I'm giving a music presentation at a food conference, so I'm really looking forward to it!
June 27, 2017
This summer I've been collaborating with Janice Wang of Oxford's Crossmodal Research Laboratory, Kathy LaTour of Cornell University's Wine Education and Management program, and Meaghan Frank of Dr. Konstantin Frank winery in the Finger Lakes region of New York on a series of tasting events highlighting different wines in combination with art and music. For July, I'm developing music to pair with a variety of vintage sparkling wines made in the méthode champenoise.
Dr. Konstantin Frank pioneered quality winemaking in the Finger Lakes, and this family-run winery is regarded as one of the premiere producers in the region. For tickets to the ongoing wine tasting series, visit their website.
June 9, 2017
Tonight is the opening reception for the latest round of Art on the Marquee videos. This invitation-only round invited digital artists to collaborate with artists working in more traditional media. I presented a new, 7-channel version of my collaboration with Jutta Friedrichs, Shanghai Traces. You can read more about that project and see the corresponding sculpture she created on my blog. The opening reception takes place at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center from 6-8pm.
This is my second time to have my art on the huge BCEC screen. Model Lightbox, a generative collage of backlit fashion advertisements I collected back when I lived in Shanghai, was exhibited in 2012. Have a look at that project here.
Last month I gave a talk in conjunction with the Goethe Institut's Games and Politics exhibition, and I also participated in the 48-hour "Art Games Politics" game jam they hosted May 19-21st. My team (comprising myself, Jon Pierre Héroux, Jeffu Warmouth, and Justin C. Rounds) developed a musical RTS about inclusion and harmony entitled Harmoni-us, and I'm pleased to report that we were one of three finalists selected by the distinguished jury.
May 10, 2017
Tomorrow I'll be moderating a conversation with my friend Katharina Kurz, co-founder and managing director of BRLO brewery in Berlin, at a meet and greet event sponsored by the Goethe Institut Boston, taking place at Somerville's Aeronaut Brewery from 5:30-7:30pm. BRLO is one of the most successful of the new wave of Berlin craft beers, and Katha is in the US on an Eisenhower Fellowship to study sustainable practices in the American craft beer industry.
May 3, 2017
I'm giving a talk tonight entitled "The Musical Is the Political: Video Game Music as an Agent of Change" as part of the Art Technology New England lecture series, hosted by Boston Cyberarts Gallery. The talk is presented in conjunction with the Games and Politics exhibition that is currently on display at Boston Cyberarts, curated by the Goethe Institut in collaboration with the Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe as part of the larger Transatlantic Gaming Summit initiative.
It's great to be back at Boston Cyberarts Gallery to share my work again as part of this ongoing series. I previously gave an ATNE talk about my food opera project back in February 2016.
March 31, 2017
I'm organizing a panel discussion entitled
"Kitchen as Studio, Restaurant as Stage: Exploring the Links Between Music and Food,"
which looks for commonalities in how practitioners in different disciplines solve creative problems.
I'm bringing in an illustrious group of local chefs, including two prior Berklee students, and (at least)
two of my collaborators, which should lead to a fruitful discussion:
Jason Bond (Bondir),
Tracy Chang (Pagu),
Brother Cleve (Berklee '73, cocktail expert and DJ, former member of Combustible Edison), and
Youji Iwakura (Berklee '94, Kamakura, formerly of Uni).
The panel takes place on April 20, 1pm, at Berklee's David Friend Recital Hall and is open to the public.
Sponsored by Berklee's Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship as part of their Creative Entrepreneurs Conversations series, this panel is part of a larger initiative I'm undertaking at Berklee this year based on my food opera project, supported by Berklee's prestigious Newbury Comics Faculty Fellowship. Some of these ideas are figuring into a course I'm co-teaching at MIT this semester that considers the musical affordances of embedded sensor networks; as an example, students are developing real-time systems to control music in a restaurant environment for their midterm projects. I'm also designing a dedicated class on music and food for the summer semester (more on that later).
Earlier in the day on April 20, I'll be giving a talk entitled "Food Opera: Art, Technology, and Perception in the Dining Room," kicking off ArtTechPsyche III, which will take place at Arts @ 29 Garden at Harvard University.
In other news, tonight my composition "How Beautiful upon the Mountains," a setting of Romans 10: 14-15a and Isaiah 52:7, is being sung at the ordination of my friend Isaac Everett at Trinity Church in Boston.
March 23, 2017
I'm honored to be in Jamaica to give a presentation and meet with students at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston this week! I'm here at the invitation of my former student and good friend Michael Sean Harris, who heads up the music department, and I'm presenting alongside Jutta Friedrichs as we discuss some of our interdisciplinary and collaborative projects. Yesterday we gave a joint talk entitled, "Interdisciplinary Connections in Music, Design, Video Games, Dance, and Gastronomy," sharing projects like Please Be Seated and the various food opera events we've worked on together. The presentation culminated in the Caribbean premiere of "The Tomb of the Grammarian Lysias" for voice and audience mobile devices.
This is my first visit to Jamaica, and it's been such a joy to discover the natural beauty and rich culture of the island, especially the music and food: ackee and salt fish, callaloo, soursop, guava, fresh fish, and of course jerk chicken and pork... Thanks so much to Michael and everyone else we've met for your wonderful hospitality!
March 3, 2017
My department at Berklee, Electronic Production and Design, has been hard at work putting together a new music conference entitled Voltage Connect, which will take place March 10-11. The complete schedule is here.
I'm leading a panel on Friday at 10:45 on mobile devices as instruments (featuring fellow EPD faculty member Richard Boulanger, Steve O'Connell, Jordan Rudess, and Pat Scandalis), and I'm participating as a panelist in a discussion about game music systems and live performance (alongside Eran Egozy and Steve Pardo, moderated by Dan Lehrich) at noon.
February 7, 2017
Here's a bit of a nonsequitur. Long ago, back in Seattle, I recorded a power-pop EP with my friend and fellow video game composer Mike Caviezel as Ben Houge & 99 Men. For fun, we decided to throw it up on Bandcamp, so now you, too, can enjoy 3 Heart-Shaped Cookies. Just in time for Valentine's Day! Read a couple of interviews from back when it was released:
We Taste Ben Houge's Cookies, Shanghaiist, March 21, 2009
Interview: Ben Houge, Smart Shanghai, March 12, 2009
January 23, 2017
Cena concertante alla maniera di Vivaldi was a sold out success! I'll be back at Symphony Hall tomorrow night to give a presentation on the project and demo some of the technology behind it at Startup Night at the Symphony organized by Startup Stir.
The food opera project has received some great press recently; check out these new articles:
Ben Houge's Food Operas Turn Your Plate into a Stage Theresa Beckhusen, Paste Magazine, December 7
Taste with Your Ears, Molly Birnbaum, Cook's Science, America's Test Kitchen, December 19
How Kitchen Sounds Influence Food Flavor Allison Aubrey, All Things Considered, December 24
December 1, 2016
I'm very pleased to announce the next food opera: Cena concertante alla maniera di Vivaldi is a culinary remix of Vivaldi's piccolo concerto in C, RV 443, which will be presented at Symphony Hall in collaboration with the Boston Symphony Orchestra on January 5 and 7, 2017. This four-course meal, developed in collaboration with Executive Chef David Verdo of Gourmet Caterers, will be presented alongside a custom music pairing based on Vivaldi's masterful composition, to be delivered via a choir of 50 networked iPads. More information is available at bso.org/vivaldi.
November 15, 2016
Tomorrow night I'm playing a concert with my good friend and colleague from Berklee's Valencia campus, the acclaimed Spanish DJ Nacho Marco; together we are NACHOUGE! We performed for the first time during the summer of 2015 at Miniclub in Valencia, and this will be our US debut. The show goes down at 7pm in the EPD Recital Hall (22 The Fenway, Room 112). Nacho will round things out with a solo ambient DJ set.
Also, as previously advertised, I'm giving a talk entitled "Food Opera: Exploring Audiogustatory Correspondences" at Le Laboratoire in Cambridge's Kendall Square on Nov. 30, 6:30pm, part of the lecture series curated by Non-Event. I'm developing a new cocktail and music pairing in collaboration with Todd Maul, the acclaimed bartender of Le Lab's sister establishment Café ArtScience.
And, for the record, yesterday I was a guest lecturer in my friend Eran Egozy's Interactive Music Systems class at MIT, a most enjoyable conversation!
October 31, 2016
Two food opera related presentations coming in November!
On November 30 at Le Laboratoire in Cambridge's Kendall Square, I'll be giving a presentation entitled, "Food Opera: Exploring Audiogustatory Correspondences" as part of this year's Non-Event lecture series. The event transpires at 6:30pm in the Honeycomb of Le Lab sister restaurant Café ArtScience, and I'll be working with acclaimed bartender Todd Maul to develop a new cocktail and music pairing just for this event.
I'm also participating in a panel discussion this Wednesday at MIT organized around the visit of Andoni Luis Aduriz and other members of his team from Mugaritz in San Sebastián, Spain. The event is entitled "Crossing Culinary Borders" and will be moderated by Pedro Miguel Reis, professor in MIT's Mechanical Engineering and Civil and Environmental Engineering departments, and Evan Ziporyn, chair of Music and Theater Arts at MIT, with panelists from a widely diverse array of disciplines. The centerpiece is a screening of the new Mugaritz documentary Campo a través (Off-Road), directed by Pep Gatell of acclaimed Barcelona-based theater group La Fura dels Baus.
September 28, 2016
Next week we unveil the Saint Paul Food Opera, a multicourse meal with customized musical pairings developed in collaboration with new music ensemble Zeitgeist and an array of prominent St. Paul chefs: Leonard Anderson of Tongue in Cheek, Cheyenne Broughton of The Handsome Hog, Adam Eaton of Saint Dinette, Tracy Brice of Golden's Deli, Nate Houge of Brake Bread, and Izzy's Ice Cream.
There are eight seatings from Oct. 6-8 at Studio Z in the Lowertown neighborhood of downtown St. Paul, MN. The event is the culmination of over a year of planning and collaboration, and we are pleased to acknowledge the support of the Knight Foundation and Berklee College of Music in presenting these events.
And by way of a recap, over the summer Jutta and I participated in the first Crossmodal Symposium in Batignano, Italy, where we presented the food opera project and developed the new Santa Croce Food Opera based on the rhythms and rituals of the attendant community, accompanying a meal of local ingredients by Charles Michel, one of the Crossmodalism founders. Earlier in the summer I also collaborated with Mugaritz in developing some software and audio samples for them to use as part of a workshop on multisensory perception in San Sebastian.
May 31, 2016
Tonight, together with acclaimed new music ensemble Zeitgeist, I'm presenting the Saint Paul Food Opera First Bite at Studio Z in the Lowertown neighborhood of downtown St. Paul, MN. This five-course music and food pairing event caps off a year of collaboration with Zeitgeist and doubles as a preview for a larger Saint Paul Food Opera we're planning for October.
I also recently had a fun, freewheeling conversation with Darwin Grosse, which has been memorialized as one of his fine Art + Music + Technology podcasts, in which we discussed food operas, video games, and why attending a Zanzibari music festival can be a smart career move.
The SPFO is supported by a generous grant from the Knight Foundation, as well as Berklee Faculty Fellowship, plus a generous loan of equipment from Berklee's Electronic Production and Design Department.
March 31, 2016
My composition "Ornithological Blogpoem," a setting of a poem by Elisa Gabbert for choir and audience mobile devices, will receive its US premiere at the second Web Audio Conference, which is taking place April 4-6 at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. The piece will be performed by me and singers from the Georgia Tech Choirs led by Timothy Hsu and Jerry A. Ulrich The concert is Tuesday night, April 5, at 7:30pm. If you can't attend in person, live stream it here!
"Ornithological Blogpoem" was previously presented at the Vox Festival, which I organized around the visit of computer music pioneer John Chowning to Berklee's Valencia campus last summer. It was performed by me and the Berklee Valencia App Choir, which I founded as the first new ensemble in the Music Production, Technology, and Innovation department while I was teaching there during the past two academic years.
March 11, 2016
Carl Stone is coming to Boston! I’ve organized a concert of live, quadrophonic laptop performances by the two of us on Thursday, March 24, as part of the Library Sounds series at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, 230 The Fenway, Boston, MA, 3rd floor. Doors open at 7:30, music starts at 8pm, $15 general admission and $10 for students. More info here.
Carl Stone is a legend of computer music who’s been using computers in live performance since the 80’s. I’ve been a fan of Carl’s music for many years, and I got to know him personally when we both played the Shanghai eArts Festival in 2008 (which he wrote about for New Music Box). This will be our first time sharing the same stage and his first Boston show in twenty years (he’s now based in Japan). Don’t miss it!
I’ll be running through some of the material from my performance two days prior at the EPD Faculty Recital on March 22, 7:30 pm, at Berklee’s David Friend Recital Hall, 921 Boylston St.
These performances will feature the US premiere of my setting of Constantine P. Cavafy’s “The Tomb of the Grammarian Lysias” for voice and audience mobile devices. (More info on the piece in this paper I presented at ISEA last summer.) Bring your phone, and make sure it’s charged!
February 20, 2016
On Wednesday, February 24, I’m going to be giving a talk on my food opera project as part of Art Technology New England’s regular lecture series at Boston Cyberarts Gallery. I previously gave a talk on developing audio for art installations in January 2013. No food this time, but some fine music will be played!
In other presentation news, I’m very excited to be speaking at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, March 14-18. My talk is entitled “Beyond Middleware: Thinking like a Programmer,” and it’s part of the venerable Audio Bootcamp, now in its 15th year, organized by Scott Selfon and Damian Kastbauer.
January 7, 2016
Tonight I’ll be presenting a sneak preview of the Saint Paul Food Opera that I’ve been developing together with new music ensemble Zeitgeist in their Studio Z studio and performance space in the Lowertown neighborhood of St. Paul. We’ll be presenting a series of things to taste alongside my music. Swing on by!
When I get back to Boston, I’ll be giving a presentation on my food opera project on January 11 at Berklee Teachers on Teaching (BTOT), an annual two-day conference for Berklee faculty and staff. I’ve been working with the talented chefs and staff of Berklee’s new dining hall in our new building at 160 Massachusetts Ave. to prepare a three course meal that I will pair with my music, along with the 2012 Azul y Garanza Garciano and the music I composed for it last year. The cafeteria doubles as a concert venue for students every night, a feature that impressed chef Andoni Luis Aduriz when I gave him a tour of Berklee’s campus last fall.
November 23, 2016
The fourth and final installment of articles about my food opera project has just been posted over at New Music Box. These articles talk about the aesthetics as well as the technology behind the project, ' while also filling in some context of other work being done in multisensory dining experiences and crossmodal psychology. Here they are, and I recommend reading them in chronological order, as follows.
I previously wrote a longer article, adapted from an academic paper I presented at the Second International Workshop on Musical Metacreation, for New Music Box that provides more background on the project up through 2013 with some handy, embedded media examples. You can check it out here.
October 2, 2015
I’m unveiling Night Signals, a brand new sound installation, as part of the ILLUMINUS Festival on October 10 (postponed one week due to Hurricane Joaquin), 6:30pm-12:30am, free and open to the public. ILLUMINUS, part of HUBweek, is a Nuit Blanche-style event happening around Lansdowne St. next to Boston’s renowned Fenway Park, and my piece will be on the upper level of the historic parking garage across the street. I’m setting up a row of speakers along one long wall of this open, resonant space, coloring and repositioning the sounds of the busy Massachusetts Turnpike just outside. Lots of other artists are participating in this huge event as well.
This will be my third premiere in a month, in fact!
Last weekend, just outside of Barcelona in Vilafranca del Penedès, a piece of music I wrote to accompany a bottle of wine was premiered at Vinfonies, a music and wine series that began back in 2009. My composition, developed as a generative software piece that extends my food opera project, was designed to enhance an Azul y Garanza 2012 Garciano (so named because it is 50% Garnacha and 50% Graciano). Listen to compositions from past years here.
And the week before, two pieces I composed for the new Chivas Regal 18 Ultimate Cask Collection whisky were presented at an innovative, multisensory launch event in London featuring master blender Colin Scott and experimental chef Jozef Youssef of Kitchen Theory. Youssef led tasters on a tour of the different ways sensory stimuli (including music) can affect our perception of taste. Read about it in this Huffington Post article.
BTW, I should add that, after two wonderful years in Spain helping to get Berklee’s Music Production, Technology, and Innovation department up and running, I have just returned to the Boston area, where I am now teaching in the Electronic Production and Design department at Berklee’s original Boston campus. I’m so grateful to all of my colleagues in Valencia for a magical couple of years, and I hope I can get back to visit soon!
August 27, 2015
For the next three nights, you can get a sneak preview of the Saint Paul Food Opera I’m cooking up with venerable Twin Cities new music ensemble Zeitgeist as part of Bedlam Theater’s Big Lowdown event in the Lowertown neighborhood of downtown St. Paul, MN. I'll be doing a little music/wine pairing, similar to the event we did in Oxford last February.
In other food opera news, on August 7 Jutta and I gave a presentation on our work to Andoni Luis Aduriz and his team at Mugaritz (currently ranked the 6th best restaurant in the world) in San Sebastián.
July 2, 2015
Tonight I'll be debuting a new collaboration with my Berklee colleague, veteran Valencian DJ Nacho Marco, which we have christened NACHOUGE! We're kicking off the Berklee Valencia Electronic Music Festival, which will showcase some of the fine work of master's students in the Music Technology Innovation program over the last year, 11:30pm, Miniclub, Av. de Blasco Ibáñez, 111.
Next Thursday students in my Opera Technology Workshop class will be presenting their final projects at Quique Dacosta's Michelin-starred restaurant El Poblet in the context of an eight-course lunch. This semester we've been exploring the algorithmic techniques that I use to drive my food opera projects, so students have been writing generative, real-time compositions to pair with a meal, exploring the multisensory aspects of dining.
June 24, 2015
I'm very excited to be giving a presentation on my food opera project, an ongoing investigation into the aesthetic links between music and gastronomy, to the R&D team at leading chef Heston Blumenthal's renowned Fat Duck restaurant in Bray, England, next Monday, June 29. I'll let you know how it goes!
May 28, 2015
I've been hard at work putting together the first Vox Festival, a daylong celebration of music and technology that will take place on Thursday, June 4, 2015. We've organized the event around the visit of the great computer music pioneer John Chowning, who discovered FM synthesis in 1967 and founded CCRMA in 1975, among many other accomplishments, in addition to writing some fantastic music. There will be workshops in the morning starting at 10am, and in the afternoon John will present a lecture/demonstration starting at 4pm. Afterwards, I'm moderating a roundtable discussion with leading figures in Spanish electro-acoustic music: Gregorio Jiménez (Conservatorio Joaquín Rodrigo/MEVIC, Universitat Politècnica de València); Stefano Scarani (Musikene/MEVIC, Universitat Politècnica de València); and Adolfo Núñez (Director of the LIEM in Madrid). The evening concludes with quadrophonic performances of some of John's classic compositions, featuring his wife, the soprano Maureen Chowning, at 8pm.
Check out the full schedule here. The event takes place on the campus of the Universitat Politècnica de València, in the Saló d'actes on the third floor of the ETSIT Telecommunications building, Building 4D (roughly here, entrance on Av. dels Tarongers [that's "orange tree" in Valencian]).
At 7pm, just before the final concert, there will be another show featuring student compositions and performances, at which I'll be leading the Berklee Valencia App Choir, which I founded last year as the first new ensemble in Berklee's new Music Technology Innovation master's program, in the premiere of a new composition of mine entitled "Ornithological Blogpoem," a setting of a poem by Elisa Gabbert for choir and audience mobile devices.
The Vox Festival has been made possible with support from the Instituto superior de enseñanzas artísticas de la Comunitat Valenciana (ISEACV), and I've been working with UPV professors Nuria Lloret Romero and Jorge Sastre Martínez to make it happen, in collaboration with Xavier Serra and the Music Technology Group of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona.
Hope you can make it! Have a flyer!
April 21, 2015
I was just notified that my paper "The Tomb of the Grammarian Lysias: Real-Time Performance and Crowd-Distributed Music Diffusion with Networked Mobile Devices," co-authored with my friend and Berklee colleague Javier Sanchez, has been accepted for presentation at the 21st International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA 2015) in Vancouver this August. In this paper we discuss the technical and aesthetic background of my composition "The Tomb of the Grammarian Lysias" for voice and audience mobile devices, which I premiered at ICMC/SMC in Athens last September and subsequently presented at Music Acoustica in Beijing in October, and most recently, in a new Web Audio version, at the First Web Audio Conference in Paris in January. This will be my first return to Vancouver in at least eleven years, so I'm looking forward to getting reacquainted!
February 17, 2015
I'm very honored to be giving a presentation on my food opera project to the Crossmodal Research Lab at Oxford University at 10am on February 24. The Crossmodal Research Lab is headed up by Charles Spence, expert on multisensory dining, consultant to chefs like Heston Blumenthal and Ferran Adrià, and co-author (with Betina Piqueras-Fiszman) of the fantastic new book "The Perfect Meal: The Multisensory Science of Food and Dining" (which, I am pleased to report, cites my work on p. 365).
I'm also organizing a public event with my friend Janice Wang, who helped out with the Boston food operas and who is now a researcher at the Crossmodal Research Lab herself, pairing some of my generative musical textures with different wines, in collaboration with sommelier Alistair Cooper at his delightful and cozy 1855 Oxford Wine Bar and Bistro, 7:30pm, Monday, February 23. Join us!
February 10, 2015
Along with several students, I'm participating in a concert with my Berklee colleague Neil Leonard who is visiting us from the Boston campus, where he teaches in the Electronic Production and Design department, at 7pm on February 12 in the Berklee Valencia library. In addition to joining Neil for an improvised duet, I've also written a Web Audio app that adapts his work based on the songs of Cuban pregoneros, or street vendors, allowing audience members to participate in the performance using their mobile devices.
January 25, 2015
I’m in Paris for the Web Audio Conference, co-hosted by IRCAM and Mozilla. On Tuesday night I’ll premiere a brand new Web Audio version of my composition "The Tomb of the Grammarian Lysias," a setting of a text by Greek poet Constantine P. Cavafy for voice and audience members’ mobile devices.
January 25, 2015
2014 was a little busy, so I didn’t do a very good job of updating my news page, but here are some highlights:
I composed music for an hour-long dance performance by UK-based dance collective New Movement Collective that was premiered at Southbank Centre in London and Royal Theatre Winchester last November, featuring furniture design by my frequent collaborator Jutta Friedrichs. Previously, we previewed the work in Valencia at La Rambelta (June 1) and the Centro Cultural de Picanya (June 5).
I gave a talk on “Optimizing Audio for Mobile Development” at the Game Developers Conference in Shanghai, China, last October. While back in the country (where I lived from 2004 to 2010), I also gave presentations at the Shanghai Conservatory and Tongji University, and I performed “The Tomb of the Grammarian Lysias” at the Beijing Central Conservatory’s Music Acoustica festival.
I premiered “The Tomb of the Grammarian Lysias” at the joint International Computer Music Conference/Sound and Music Computing Conference in Athens, Greece, last September.
On August 22, I performed a laptop set at Salon Bruit @ Tiefgrund in Berlin alongside Trodza & Fake Mistress and Anna Bolena. I previously performed with Fake Mistress (aka my friend Olivia) at Camp Tipsy, a party in the woods outside of Berlin, in August 2010.
Over the summer, I presented a paper on my food opera projects at the Invisible Places Sounding Cities conference in Viseu, Portugal. I also presented a new version of my six-channel sound installation Kaleidoscope Music in the conference’s listening room.
May 14, 2014
This weekend, for International Museum Day, I am organizing a series of musical interventions at the Museo de Bellas Artes of Valencia. On Saturday, May 17, there will be two concerts (8pm and 11pm) underneath the museum’s iconic blue cupola featuring music by me and several Berklee students, plus a dance performance by my Berklee colleague Clara Barberá. Then throughout the day on Sunday, May 18, from 10am to 7pm, Berklee students will share impromptu solo performances throughout the museum’s galleries, each linked to a specific artwork in the museum’s rich collection.
Clara’s dance performance hints at a new collaborative work entitled Please Be Seated, which we’re developing with the acclaimed, London-based dance group New Movement Collective, of which Clara is a member. I’m writing music for the event, and Jutta Friedrichs is designing furniture from which dancers are deriving their choreography. The premiere performance is at La Rambleta on June 1, followed a few days later by a performance at the Centre Cultural de Picanya, a small town neighboring Valencia. Then in the fall we take the work to the UK; more information on that soon…
All day on Sunday I’ll also be presenting my 8-channel, real-time sound installation Landscape with Water and Woodblocks (2012) at the Museo’s historic Patio Vich. This piece was originally presented (in a 4-channel configuration) at OV Gallery in Shanghai as part of the exhibition Learning from the Literati 3, curated by Rebecca Catching, which ran September 5th - October 10th, 2012.
Last semester I formed a new ensemble at Berklee called the App Choir, which involves developing iOS apps as aids for live ensembles, sometimes as a sound generator, sometimes as a real-time score. We’ve developed an app to help us perform John Cage’s FOUR6, one of his last pieces, and we’re going to present it this weekend as part of Sunday’s festivities at the Museo de Bellas Artes, probably around 1:30, in communion with Onofrio Loth’s 17th century painting Bodegón de crustacéos.
It’s been a busy couple of semesters in Spain! Here are some other highlights:
In January I took a contingent of students down to Gandia to participate in the Global Game Jam, hosted by the Universidad Polytecnica de Valencia. I worked on a game called What You See Is Who You Are, with a soundtrack developed in Max from a bleary, 2am field recording of empty Gandia streets.
For my advanced game scoring students, I organized a collaborative project with my friend Gustavo Aranda at local game school Escuela Superior de Arte y Technologia, kicking things off with a mixer at Las Naves.
The App Choir had its inaugural performance at the Music Technology Innovation department’s Inovation ¡En Vivo! concert on April 15, held at the Aula Magistral hall of the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia (the opera house that is part of the Santiago Calatrava-designed City of Arts and Sciences complex where Berklee is located). We accompanied MTI program director Stephen Webber’s rendition of “Vincent (Starry Starry Night)” on acoustic guitar with a generative ambient backdrop of sustained tones and insect sounds (based on a field recording I made in Ghana in 1999) distributed throughout the hall on iPads and iPhones. Then on May 8 we performed our app-assisted rendition of John Cage’s FOUR6 in one of Berklee’s atriums.
At the invitation of Ranjit Bhatnagar, my Three Studies for Disklavier and Mechanical Chihuahua was premiered in New York City on February 12-14 at the Qubit Machine Music festival. I’ll let Ranjit (one of several visiting artists I’ve organized at Berklee this year) tell you more about that unique undertaking.
And my food operas keep generating interest, recently making WQXR’s list of Top 5 Audience Participatory Opera Experiences! I hope to make an announcement about another food opera event soon…
October 13, 2013
I'm back in Boston this week to present a paper entitled "Food Opera: A New Genre for Audio-Gustatory Expression" at the Second International Workshop on Musical Metacreation (MUME 2013). You may glean the main points from a similar article I wrote for venerable new music webzine New Music Box last month, entitled "Food Opera: Merging Taste and Sound in Real-Time." The conference takes place October 14-15, 2013, at Northeastern University as part of the big, annual AIIDE artificial intelligence conference. I presented last year at MUME 2012, too, which went down at Stanford University, sharing some work from my Ubisoft days in the guise of a paper entitled Cell-Based Musical Organization in Tom Clancy's EndWar.
For more information on the food opera projects, a couple of new articles have recently been added to my press page.
I had another big project over the summer. My new choral piece "Was ist heilig" received its European premiere, and my newer piece entitled "Die Brautwerbung" had its world premiere, alongside a new organ work by Korby Sears, American composer William Billings' "I Am the Rose of Sharon", two movements from Bach's BWV 61, Dirty Projectors' "Impregnable Question," and several movements from John Cage's organ piece "Some of 'The Harmony of Maine'" on the occasion of my wedding to Jutta Friedrichs on August 17, 2013, at Marienkirche, Alexanderplatz, Berlin. Performers included Cassandra Hoffman, soprano; Saskia Klumpp, alto; Douglas Nasrawi, tenor; Jörg Gottschick, bass; and Matthias Schmelmer, organ. You can hear bootlegs of the choral music on my SoundCloud page.
今年夏天还有另外一个很大的项目：我在柏林结婚了！我们安排一组合唱团，有我自己写的音乐，还有我朋友Korby Sears，威廉·比林斯，约翰·凯奇，巴赫，和Dirty Projectors。 欢迎来我的SoundCloud网站听一下合唱团部分！
July 19, 2013
My new choral piece, "Was ist heilig," commissioned by Emmanuel Church in Boston, will be premiered on July 28, at the 10 am service, conducted by Ryan Turner. Notes on the piece are here. For more information on this project, see my April 11 news entry below. Also, my liturgical "Agnus Dei" and "Sanctus," composed back in 2000, will be sung as service music at Emmanuel for the rest of the Season after Pentecost.
我的新作曲《Was ist Heilig》会七月二十八号上午十点首演。Ryan Turner是指挥。
June 16, 2013
I’m very excited to announce “Beside the White Chickens: A Summer Food Opera” my third collaboration with Chef Jason Bond of Bondir restaurant in Cambridge, MA, which will take place on Tuesday, July 30. As at our last event, “Sensing Terroir: A Harvest Food Opera,” we will be outfitting Bondir with 30 channels of real-time sound, adapting video game scoring techniques to provide a customized soundtrack for each diner’s meal. Bondir is routinely ranked among the best restaurants in the Boston area, and this unique, multisensory event allows Chef Bond’s innovative, locally sourced cuisine to be paired with sound to an unprecedented degree. Read the entire press release here.
This time we’re paying homage to Chef Bond’s poultry providers, Pete and Jen’s Backyard Birds of Concord, MA. The event’s title is from a William Carlos Williams poem that honors the sense of environment, the labor, and the patience that go into farming. Artist Jutta Friedrichs is once again producing and designing the speaker stand sculptures, and audio artist Stephan Moore returns with his custom designed speakers to aid in sound design. I was recently awarded a Faculty Recording Grant from Berklee College of Music, which allowed me to record members of the Berklee community who will also be heard at the event.
For more about this project, check out my Food Opera Manifesto or some of these great articles about previous events in NPR, Dig Boston, First Bite, Grub Street, and Kill Screen. Call Bondir at (617) 661-0009 or email email@example.com for reservations!
May 25, 2013
So here’s some news: After two years of teaching video game music in the Film Scoring Department of Berklee College of Music here in Boston, I’ve just accepted a position to help develop and teach in the new Music Technology Innovation master’s program at Berklee’s new campus in Valencia, Spain! I’m designing some fun new curriculum, including a class I’ve always wanted to write entitled “Non-linear Structures for Real-time Media.” I’ll also continue to teach video game music in the Scoring for Film, Television, and Video Games program. Too many other bits of good news to enumerate at present; I’ll keep you posted!
April 11, 2013
I've composed a new choral anthem on a commission from Emmanuel Church in Boston, and this Saturday, April 13, from 1-3:30pm, I'm participating in an open workshop to talk about it, along with other participating composers Jason Huffman, Sid Richardson, and Brett Johnson, moderated by Emmanuel Music's principal guest conductor and season composer, Pulitzer/MacArthur prize winner John Harbison. You can find me at Emmanuel most Sunday mornings, where they present the cantatas of J. S. Bach as Bach originally composed them to be heard: in the context of a worship service. The commission is part of a congregational enrichment program at Emmanuel, responding to the theme of Mary Magdalene's Gospel proclamation to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord." My piece is entitled "Was ist heilig," with texts by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Matthew 18:20 (Martin Luther's German translation).
Following my skiing accident in the Alps last December, I'm still only able to use one hand, which made music notation a bit of a challenge. So I'm grateful that I have a job that only requires me to stand around and talk, for the most part. In addition to a busy semester here at Berklee, I also gave some guest presentations to students at Middlebury College on February 25th, I led a post-screening discussion on Academy Award-winning documentary Searching for Sugar Man at Berklee's Media Lab on April 10th, and I spent the first week of March at Berklee's Valencia campus, sharing with students and plotting new curriculum.
这个周末四月十三号我要参加一个座谈会，谈论我最新的合唱队作曲《Was ist Heilig》。德语歌词是歌德写的，还有圣经经文。作曲是波士顿Emmanuel Church委托的。
January 22, 2013
I'm leading a salon on "Audio for Art Installations" at 7:30 pm tomorrow at Boston Cyberarts Gallery (formerly the Axiom Center for New and Experimental Media) at the Green Street subway station in Jamaica Plain, part of Art Technology New England's new series. Also, I fractured my humerus skiing in the Alps just before New Year's, so things will be quiet for a little while.
我明天七点半在Boston Cyberarts Gallery关于艺术装置的声音演讲。欢迎来玩儿！ 顺便，我上个月在瑞士阿尔卑斯山滑雪的时候摔倒了，现在我的手臂有骨折，所以这两天大概没有很多新闻。
October 17, 2012
On Tuesday, November 13, 2012, Jason Bond and I unveil our second food opera collaboration, Sensing Terroir: A Harvest Food Opera. Chef Bond will be preparing a five-course tasting menu from fresh, locally-sourced ingredients, as I provide real-time algorithmic accompaniment using techniques similar to those I use for scoring video games. Perhaps for the first time in history, the technology exists to provide a unique, unobtrusive, and fully customized meal soundtrack for each diner. To explore the conceptual underpinnings of the work, check out my Food Opera Manifesto on my blog.
For this event, we are partnering with Artists in Context to tell the story of local farming and sustainable food sourcing, incorporating field recordings and interviews with regional suppliers into the generative soundscape to investigate dining as a communicative medium. Jutta Friedrichs is again producing the project, and this time we are joined by Stephan Moore, who is providing custom-built speakers and aiding in sound design. For more information on all participants, check out the full press release (be sure to scroll down to the second page).
My first collaboration with Jason Bond occurred at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design last May and was widely acclaimed in such news outlets as NPR, Grub Street, and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s RadioNational program First Bite. Seating is quite limited for this next event, so reserve early via Bondir’s website or by calling (617) 661-0009. The event occurs at Chef Bond’s acclaimed restaurant Bondir, located at 279A Broadway, Cambridge, MA.
Check out a video by Jutta Friedrichs documenting our first collaboration here.
October 7, 2012
On Tuesday, October 9, I'm presenting a paper on Cell-Based Musical Organization in Tom Clancy's EndWar at the First Annual Workshop on Musical Metacreation, held as part of the Eighth AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment at Stanford University.
September 15, 2012
On Wednesday, September 26, at 7:30pm, The Virtual Drawing Room: A Video Game Chamber Music Concert will take place at Berklee College of Music's David Friend Recital Hall, 921 Boylston St., Boston, MA 02115. The concert will feature some of my Arcanum music, Jason Graves' Lacrimosa from Dead Space 2, Nathan Grigg's Init (premiered at Sound Currents 2 in 2003), and John Cage's Four. The Cage piece exemplifies many of the principles of non-linear audio we commonly apply in video games, plus he would have been 100 years old earlier this month, so it's great to have a chance to present all of these pieces together. The music will be performed by the Berklee Chamber Players, a crack ensemble of musicians drawn from Berklee's talented community, comprising violinists Mimi Rabson and Helen Sherrah-Davies, violist Melissa Howe, and cellist Ro Rowan. Admission is free. Swing on by!
Then, the next day, I'll be participating in the New England Foundation for the Arts' first Public Art Discussion Series event of the season, to be held at Harvard University's Arts at 29 Garden, 29 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, from 6-8pm. I'll be doing a short presentation on my real-time data visualization piece Cycles, Tides, and Seasons. They ask that you kindly register in advance.
If you're on the fence about coming to the concert on Wednesday, you might be interested to know that my Arcanum score was included in Forbes' recent roundup of the 12 Best Video Game Soundtracks of All Time. It was also cited in PC Gamer's list of the Best Games of All Time last March.
这个星期三九月二十六号晚上七点半在伯克利音乐学院的David Friend Recital Hall， 我安排的电子游戏弦乐四重奏音乐会The Virtual Drawing Room: A Video Game Chamber Music Concert要举行。 有我的Arcanum音乐，Jason Graves的Dead Space 2音乐， 还有Nathan Grigg和约翰·凯奇。 表演的是几位伯克利最出名的音乐家：Mimi Rabson，Helen Sherrah-Davies，Melissa Howe和Ro Rowan。 而且是免费的！
July 24, 2012 (updated August 13)
Greetings from Spring Workshop in Hong Kong, where I just weathered Typhoon Vicente, the city's first level 10 typhoon since 1999. I'm Spring Workshop's first resident artist, and, notwithstanding the typhoon, I'm having a lovely time, laying the groundwork for an Asian edition of my food opera, in addition to conducting general arts research, much as I did back in 2009.
From Hong Kong I head to Shanghai on Tuesday. Here's what the rest of my China tour looks like at the moment.
Aug 16: experimental show with Hong Qile 洪启乐 and Meng Qi 孟奇 at Xiao Ping in Beijing
Aug 18: pop set w/ Shanghai's Next Year's Love 明年爱, also at Xiao Ping
Aug 22: speaking with students at Concordia International School Shanghai
Aug 22: presentation of recent work at XinCheJian 新车间 hackerspace
Aug 24: pop set w/ Pairs, PS I Love You, Daniel Hart at Yu Yin Tang in Shanghai
Sept 1: experimental afternoon set w/ Wang Changcun 王长存 at 360 in Shanghai
Sept 3: presentation of recent work to former colleagues at Ubisoft
I'll also be preparing a new sound installation for an upcoming show at OV Gallery while I'm in town. And I'm the process of reinstalling my 18-channel video piece Self-Portrait, Dusk, at the Point of Departure at True Color Museum in Suzhou.
Some details are still being finalized, so check back for updates!
八月十六号： 实验演出，跟 洪启乐 和 孟奇， 在北京 XP俱乐部
八月十八号： 流行演出， 和上海乐队明年爱，也在XP
八月二十四号： 流行演出，和Pairs, PS I Love You, Daniel Hart,在上海育音堂
九月一号： 下午实验演出 跟王长存， 360
我在上海的时候也正在安排一个新四声道实时程序逻辑声音装置，是 OV画廊的下一个展览的一部分，九月五号开幕. 而且我正在在苏州本色美术馆重新安装我的《起航黄昏的自画像》十八个录像道作品。
July 18, 2012
I am super excited to announce that I'll be working with Michael Scott Cuthbert in the Music Department at MIT in the coming academic year as lead programmer on the music21 project! Music21 is a Python-based toolkit for computer-aided musicology that makes it easy to analyze and extract features from a body of music (from a single piece to, say, the complete works of Bach), and it also turns out to be pretty handy for generating algorithmic structures too.
July 12, 2012
I'm going to be giving a lecture on "The Acoustic Ecology of Video Games" at the next convening of the New England Forum on Acoustic Ecology, transpiring next Wednesday, July 18, which happens to be the third annual World Listening Day. Also featured will be a performance by Stephan Moore ("Po-Ling Traversal", based on a location recording made in a Buddhist Monastery in Hong Kong"), a presentation by Mike Bullock ("a collection of the sounds of secular labor in ancient European cathedrals and churches"), and a soundwalk by Jed Speare (Fort Point resident since 1995). The event kicks off at 8pm at Studio Soto, 10 Channel Center St., Boston, and admission is free!
June 22, 2012
It may already be generally known that Nate Houge & Honest Folk are performing tonight at the Bean Factory in Saint Paul at 7pm. What was only recently decided, however, is that I will be supporting them with a short set of my own songs, most of which have never been performed in America. Swing on by! Some configuration of Houges will be playing until 9pm or so.
June 11, 2012
I'm in Minnesota, and it's lovely! Two cool things going on while I'm here this month.
First, I'm speaking at the local chapter of the International Game Developers Association this Wednesday, sharing about my work in real-time music systems, from video game soundtracks to asparagus operas. The event transpires at The Nerdery. Details are here.
Second, my choral composition Lao Zhang 老张 is being sung at the American Composers Forum's ChoralConnections conference this weekend, under the baton of the great Dale Warland. The performance is happening in conjunction with this year's Chorus America conference. The text is by my friend Yang Haisong 杨海松, who is also the lead singer of the Beijing-based band PK14. My piece will be sung on Saturday afternoon, June 16. The full schedule is here.
Oh, and I'm helping folk impresario Nate Houge lead worship on Sunday at Pilgrim Lutheran Church, backing him up on accordion and performing John Cage's Litany for the Whale as the prelude (it's a "blessing of the animals" service).
这个月我在明尼苏达州。这里有两个很令人兴奋的活动! 第一个是星期三晚上双城IGDA地方分会邀请我演讲。 我要介绍我的实时音乐系统工作，包括电子游戏配音和芦笋歌剧。 具体消息在这里。 然后这个星期六是我的新合唱作品《老张》的首演。 歌词是我朋友杨海松（北京摇滚乐队PK14歌手）写的诗。 出名合唱指挥Dale Warland要指挥， 活动是American Composers Forum的ChoralConnections和Chorus America会议的一部分。 哦，还有另外一个演讲，下个星期二在Slam Academy。 哦，还有星期天我要帮我弟弟Nate Houge在Pilgrim Lutheran Church导致崇拜音乐。我要拉风琴和表演约翰凯奇的《鲸鱼的一长串》（因为是保佑动物崇拜）。
May 30, 2012
A major project for me this spring has been a new data visualization piece entitled Cycles, Tides, and Seasons, co-commissioned by the Boston Harbor Island Alliance, the National Park Service, and Boston Cyberarts. This generative video piece visually superimposes data at three different time scales to reconnect downtown Boston with the rhythms of its natural environment. The piece runs all summer long from dusk until midnight on the two 8 x 12 foot screens of the Boston Harbor Island Pavilion, located on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, between Quincy Market and the New England Aquarium in downtown Boston. There will be an opening reception tomorrow evening, March 31, from 8-9 pm, so come on down!
About a mile south, I have another new piece running on the massive 80 foot tall, 7-channel screen array in front of the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center in South Boston. This piece, entitled Model Lightbox, is an algorithmic montage of photographs I took of fashion advertisements shortly before leaving Shanghai in 2010, something I’d had rattling around in my head for a while (as intimated at the end of this blog post from last year). Unlike my piece at the Boston Harbor Island Pavilion, Model Lightbox is prerendered and interspersed among the regular marquee programming and other artworks. There’s a schedule for the art in rotation; my piece plays on Fridays, as well as Sunday nights, when all of the art on the marquee is featured from 8 to 9pm.
And a longstanding dream of mine came to fruition last Tuesday with the premiere of Food Opera: Four Asparagus Compositions, a collaboration with Chef Jason Bond of Bondir, at The 40K Studio, the grand finale of a food-based series curated by members of the new Art, Design and the Public Domain program at Harvard's Graduate School of Design. More documentation is forthcoming, but for now you can listen to excerpts and read about it on NPR's food blog The Salt and Grub Street Boston.
April 15, 2012
Two awesome things! I'm participating in the first Sound Research Summit this Saturday, April 21, at Eyebeam in New York City. This is the inaugural event in their new sound art series Rec. Play. Throughout the afternoon I and a bunch of other artists working with sound will be informally demonstrating our work in a hackathonesque atmosphere, and then at 7pm there will be a panel discussion involving all of the artists.
And then for something completely different, the following weekend on Sunday, April 29, the Minnesota Compline Choir will premiere my new composition "Revelations," on a new text by Twin Cities poet (and Compline Choir member) Colin MacDonald, commissioned in celebration of their twentieth anniversary. The concert starts at 4pm at Central Lutheran Church in downtown Minneapolis, and it will be broadcast live on the web; full details here.
April 1, 2012
I'm participating in the Together Festival again this year. My video piece Transportation Is Getting a New Look is being screened at the Together Center (579A Mass Ave. in Central Square, Cambridge, MA), and I'm participating in the "New Canvas" panel on Thursday afternoon, April 5, at 3:30. The festival runs all week, April 2-8, and they're bringing in all kinds of interesting artists; check out the full schedule!
So, along with Mixed Signals and Art Out of the Game (opening recpetion this Wednesday, 7-9 pm), that's three simultaneous exhibitions of my art in the Boston area this month! Also, one of my Giraffe prints was featured in the March 16 issue of The Boston Phoenix, accompanying the Mixed Signals opening info.
March 15, 2012
Several of my Giraffe prints are included in the show "Mixed Signals: Re-presenting Sensory Information," curated by Boston Cyberarts. It's all about the fluidity with which digital information finds manifestation in different media, a topic dear to my heart. The exhibition runs through April 13 at Atlantic Wharf, 290 Congress St., in downtown Boston, and the opening reception is Friday, March 16, 5-8pm.
Also, some of my Shanghai Traces prints are included in the show "Art Out of the Game," which features art by game developers that was not not created specifically for a game, at Gallery on the Plaza in Brookline, going up next week, with an opening event on April 4, 7-9pm.
And for the record, since I like to keep track of such things, I gave a presentation on my work to the Senseable City Lab at MIT on February 22.
Boston Cyberarts正在安排一个新展览叫《Mixed Signals: Re-presenting Sensory Information》，包括几幅我的《长颈鹿》电子图片。开幕派对是三月十六日五点至八点，地址是波士顿Congress路290号。 还有另外一个展览在Gallery on the Plaza举行，叫《Art Out of the Game》，包括几幅我的《上海轨迹》电子图片。 而且我二月二十二日在麻省理工Senseable City Lab演讲介绍我的工作。
February 18, 2012
I'm playing piano tonight in a new piece by Mary Walling Blackburn entitled ARE (Anhoek Required Examination) as part of Experience Economies 6: Innovate or Die, presented by The Laboratory at Harvard. I think the event is way sold out, but check out the details here.
January 6, 2012
This winter I'm a resident artist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The main focus of my residency is a collaboration with the Responsive Environments group at the Media Lab, contributing to their DoppelLab project, which involves sonifying real-time sensor data from locations around the Lab, piped through the Unity game engine.
I've actually been working with them on this all fall semester, but the public part of my residency is just kicking off. There will be an artist panel discussion at 7pm on February 15 at Bartos Theater (MIT Building E15) on the topic of audio systems for real-time media, and I'm leading a class on game audio, Jan 10-12, during MIT's Independent Activities Period, alongside Responsive Environment members Gershon Dublon, Brian Mayton, and Nick Joliat.
The Responsive Environments group is led by the formidable Dr. Joseph Paradiso, who among many other accomplishments is known for having created one of the world's largest modular synthesizers. You can listen to a live stream of the synth here, or follow it on Twitter!
December 5, 2011
I'm doing a Non-Event show on Tuesday, Dec. 13 (second Tuesday of the month, as usual)! Non-Event was one of the first music organizations I heard about when I landed in Boston just over a year ago, so I'm really excited to be playing one of their events. The show goes down at Café Fixe in Brookline at 8pm. Non-Event regularly presents all kinds of top-notch talent of the underground/experimental/electronic variety; check out the Non-Event website for the latest.
November 26, 2011
My new four channel sound installation The Winds of Kabul goes up today at OV Gallery in Shanghai, as part of the show Forgotten Places. The piece incorporates a live data stream of weather information from Kabul, Afghanistan, creating a real-time link between the two cities. The show runs from November 26th, 2011, through January 7th, 2012. Check out the OV Gallery website for full details about the show, which features a bunch of other great artists, too!
November 19, 2011
The latest issue of Aspect: The Chronicle of New Media Art is out! Volume 18: Export China 中国出口 includes my video piece Transportation Is Getting a New Look, along with a commentary by Rebecca Catching, curator, writer, and director of OV Gallery, where the piece was originally exhibited. She talks about the piece and also tells the story of its confiscation by the Shanghai Cultural Bureau last year. Lots of other artists are included as well; check out the Aspect website for details and ordering information!
November 2, 2011
I’m heading back to Minnesota later this month for two exciting concerts!
Wednesday, November 16, 7:00 p.m.
Studio Z, 275 East Fourth Street, Suite 200, St. Paul, MN
$10/$8 for students and seniors
Both shows will survey the ambient electronic soundscapes of my recent sound installation work in a multichannel speaker configuration, and the St. Olaf show will also feature excerpts from my string quartet soundtrack for the computer game Arcanum. While I’m in town, I’ll also be giving lectures on video games and digital art at St. Olaf College, McNally Smith College of Music, and the University of St. Thomas.
In other news, my piece Radiospace was performed on Gregory Taylor’s radio program Remember Those Quiet Evenings last Sunday. (I got to know Gregory when I was presenting at the Expo 74 event in Brooklyn a few weeks ago.) You can listen to an archived stream of the show for a limited time (scroll down to R.T.Q.E. and press "play").
This is the last week to check out my solo exhibition at the Axiom Center for New and Experimental Media in Jamaica Plain. I recently just posted some additional information about the algorithmic digital prints included in the show on my blog. I’ll likely be hanging around the gallery Wednesday (i.e., today) and Thursday evenings this week, if anyone cares to drop by.
Studio Z，圣保罗市，275 East Fourth Street, Suite 200
October 11, 2011
Local alternative newspaper Dig Boston (The Weekly Dig) recently ran this lovely piece, penned by Hannah Martin, on my six-channel Kaleidoscope Music sound installation, which opened last Thursday. The piece is up at Axiom Center for New and Experimental Media through November 6; details in the previous post!
Next weekend I'm leading a workshop on Video Game Music Prototyping at Expo 74 in Brooklyn, NYC, a conference organized by Cycling 74, the developers of Max/MSP. I'll be demonstrating how to build a dynamic and responsive music environment, similar to the one I designed for Tom Clancy's EndWar. While I'm in town, I'll also be speaking to David Claman's music students at Lehman College.
And on October 26, I'll be back up at Middlebury College in Vermont to speak to music students and perform a concert of ambient electronic bonbons, together with my former composition professor Peter Hamlin and other special guests. There will be accordion!
October 2, 2011
This Thursday my six-channel, real-time, algorithmic sound installation Kaleidoscope Music opens at the Axiom Center for New and Experimental Media in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston. This show has been made possible thanks to the generous folks who contributed to my Kickstarter campaign over the summer. This piece is pretty well documented here, and you can also watch several engaging video elucidations among these Kickstarter updates.
September 5, 2011
Two of my video pieces, Shanghai Traces and Transportation Is Getting a New Look, are included in the N Minutes Video Festival, opening in Shanghai on Thursday, September 8, and running through October 8 at various venues around town. The most comprehensive information online seems to be over at the ever useful Asia Art Archive (a fantastic resource; spend some time browsing their site, if you're not familiar with them).
All kinds of great artists are participating: Chen Hangfeng 陈航峰 and Cindy Ng Sio Leng 吴少英 (both of whom I've collaborated with previously; see below), as well as Chen Tong 陈侗, Chen Shaoxiong 陈劭雄, Chen Yongwei 陈勇为, Feng Mengbo 冯梦波, Hu Jieming 胡介鸣, Hua Jun 华军, Jiang Zhi 蒋志, Liang Yue 梁玥, Li Xiaofei 李消非, Li Ming 李明, Liu Guoqiang 刘国强, Lu Chunsheng 陆春生, Shi Zhiying 石至莹, Song Tao 宋涛, Sun Xun 孙逊, Wu Ding 吴鼎, Wang Chao 王超, Wang Xin 王欣, MadeIn Company 没顶公司, Yang Zhenzhong 杨振中, Yang Yongliang 杨泳梁, Ye Linghan 叶凌翰, Zhao Cheng 赵晨, Zhang Peili 张培力, Zhou Ming 周明, Alberto Alix Garcia, Annie Ratti, Atsara, Isabelle Bonté, Nam Hyojun 南孝俊, Tobias Rosenberger, Franck Scurti, Stefan Nikolaev, and Tuomas Laltinen.
这个星期在上海N分钟影像艺术节开幕，包括我的两个录像作品： 上海轨迹和交通战线换新貌。 艺术节在好多地方举行，九月八号开始，十月八号结束。 具体消息在亚洲艺术文献库网站上。 还有好多艺术家参加： 陈航峰和吴少英（我已经跟他们合作，可以看在下面）， 还有陈侗，陈劭雄，陈勇为，冯梦波，胡介鸣，华军，蒋志，梁玥，李消非，李明，刘国强，陆春生，石至莹，宋涛，孙逊，吴鼎，王超，王欣，没顶公司，杨振中，杨泳梁，叶凌翰，赵晨，张培力，周明， Alberto Alix Garcia, Annie Ratti, Atsara, Isabelle Bonté, Nam Hyojun 南孝俊, Tobias Rosenberger, Franck Scurti, Stefan Nikolaev, Tuomas Laltinen。
August 1, 2011
I’m totally excited to be participating in the San Diego Museum of Art’s Summer Salon Series on Thursday, August 11! I’m presenting a new work entitled Mobile 4, to be interpreted by Christopher Adler (on khaen!), Colin McAllister (on guitar!) and me (on accordion!), accompanied by real-time, multi-channel electronic sound. It’s the latest in a series of pieces exploring real-time score generation and open form structure, blurring the lines between a chamber composition and a sound installation. The SDMA's richly diverse series is already well underway; every Thursday of the summer, the museum stays open late (5-9pm) to welcome a wide range of performers, artists, lecturers, poets, etc. Come on down, it’ll be fun!
I’m also ecstatic to share that my Kickstarter project was successfully funded a little over a week ago, pulling in 138.6% of the original target. Thanks again to everyone who pledged and helped spread the word! The dates for my Kaleidoscope Music installation at the Axiom Center for New and Experimental Media are still being finalized, but it’s looking like the piece will go up in late September, and the necessary equipment is already on its way to me in the mail!
And I'm thrilled to announce that I've joined the faculty of the Berklee College of Music, where I'll be teaching video game music in the Film Scoring Department this coming school year. I made my faculty debut at last week's Video Game Summer Programs, alongside resident game audio guru Michael Sweet and visiting artists Laura Karpman, Wataru Hokoyama, and Clint Bajakian. There were two concurrent programs, the Composer Institute for Video Games and the Video Game Sound and Music Workshop, and both were a lot of fun. The other visiting artists and I guided student composers in writing and recording new game soundtracks, and there were a variety of panels and talks, including my presentation on “Sound Design, Mixing, and Middleware for Games.”
June 27, 2011
I've just launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund an upcoming exhibition of my Kaleidoscope Music sound installation at the Axiom Center for New and Experimental Media. If you don't know how Kickstarter works, it's a way for people to be directly involved in the development of new creative projects. There are rewards for various levels of support, and I'm offering to generate a custom, one-of-a-kind recording of Kaleidoscope Music for each contributor above $2. All is explained on the project website, so check it out, and spread the word!
I've also just launched a new and very professional mailing list, replete with dedicated subscribe and unsubscribe buttons, and regulated by actual computers. Please sign up here to get all the latest Ben Houge news!
May 2, 2011
This month I’m returning to Seattle for my first public shows since 2004! Full details are up on the newly resurrected Sound Currents website.
The main event I’d like to invite you to check out is my concert at Chapel Performance Space on May 17, where I’ll be presenting an overview of recent ambient, multichannel soundscapes, with Seattle School reprising my early work A Reading from _____. The pretext for this visit is my video Shanghai Traces, going up at e4c on May 5 in a new 4-channel version. I’ll also be presenting my sound installation work at the Seattle Composers’ Salon on May 6 and talking about my videogame work at an Seattle Composers Alliance event on May 11.
Hope to see you while I’m in town! Again, for more information, please visit the Sound Currents website.
我这个月回来西雅图！这是我从二零零四年以后在西雅图演出的第一次。最重要是五月二十七号在Chapel Performance Space演出，我会表演我最近的电子环境音乐。我这次来西雅图的原意是因为我的《上海轨迹》录像作品要五月五号在e4c画廊播放的。我还要参加五月六号的Seattle Composers’ Salon活动，然后五月十一号在Seattle Composers Alliance介绍我关于电子游戏的工作。
April 13, 2011
There are two major arts and technology festivals going on in Boston this month, and I’m happy to be participating in both of them!
Boston Cyberarts is a longrunning, biannual festival of digital media art, and this year’s edition runs from April 22 through May 8. There’s all kinds of great stuff going on all over town; check out their website for full details. My video Shanghai Traces is included in the Fluid Perimeters exhibition at Cyberarts Central, aka the Waterfront Square Atrium on Atlantic Wharf in downtown Boston at 290 Congress St. The exhibition remains up for a year, although my work will probably get swapped out at some point before the year is up.
Almost concurrently, the Together Festival runs April 18-24, with another huge list of activities, all detailed on their website. I’ll be moderating a panel discussion called Video Games: The Final Frontier on Wednesday, April 20, at 11:00 am. Panelists are Patrick Balthrop, Terrence Masson, Caleb Epps, and my old pal Josh Randall (aka Robotkid), hailing from Harmonix, Irrational Games, and Northeastern University.
April 4, 2011
I'm appearing twice this month at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. On April 6 at 8pm, I'll participate in Subjects Not Objects, a celebration of the history of artistic intereventions in MIT's Lobby 7 (the main entrance at 77 Massachusetts Avenue), by performing A Reading from Lobby 7, a reworking of my ongoing algorithmic study A Reading from _____ (2003). Then on April 10 at 6pm, I'll be giving a lecture/presentation in room 140 (the Venus Lab) of the Media Lab Building, as part of the TalkDraw speaker series and drawing workshop. Both events are free and open to the public, so swing on by!
March 10, 2011
Special guest confirmed! Next Tuesday night, March 15, I'll be performing at Outpost 186 in Inman Square, Cambridge, together with my friend Yan Jun 颜峻, who's in town all the way from Beijing! Yan Jun and I have performed together many times in China over the last few years, most recently at the Mini Midi Festival he organized last spring. This event is part of Michael Dobiel's Living Room Music series, and he'll join us for a few tunes on sax. Show starts at 8pm, suggested donation is $10.
Speaking of Jamaica Plain, don't forget that the Collision 16 show I'm in at the Axiom Center for New and Experimental Media, a Boston Globe editor's pick, is still up through March 26! An artist talk event of some sort
is in the planning stages will take place at Axiom on Saturday, March 26, at noon.
三月二十六号之前还有机会去看我在Axiom Center for New and Experimental Media展览里面的作品！
February 21, 2011
On rather short notice, I’ll be presenting at PechaKucha Boston tomorrow, Tuesday, February 22, 7pm. It’s going down at Mantra, 52 Temple Place, near Boston Common. My talk, which I also presented at PechaKucha in Shanghai a while back, is sort of along the lines of John Cage’s Lecture on Nothing, updated for the digital age.
Also, note that the Collision 16 show at Axiom Center for New and Experimental Media, which will include my generative video piece Shanghai Traces, has been pushed back one week. The opening reception will now take place this Friday, February 25, 6-9pm, and the show will run through March 26. The gallery’s super easy to find, in the same building as the Green Street T stop on the Orange Line, in Jamaica Plain.
Details are still coming together for my March 15 gig at Outpost, but with any luck, I hope to be able to announce a special guest for that gig soon!
And, just confirmed, I’ll be speaking at Concordia College in New York on March 9.
February 3, 2011
A few days later, my generative video piece Shanghai Traces will be included in the Collision 16 show at Axiom Center for New and Experimental Media in Jamaica Plain, which runs February 25 through March 26 (note new dates!).
And details are still coming together, but I’m scheduled to play a show with Michael Dobiel on March 15 at Outpost in Cambridge.
I think my presentation at Boston Post-Mortem last month went really well, and I’ve posted my slides, for anyone who’s curious. I’ve got some other talks coming up at Harmonix Music Systems (Feb. 9) and Berklee College of Music (Feb. 11); these aren't open to the public, but if you’re affiliated with one of those fine institutions, take note! And I’ve just signed on to teach a Videogame Audio Design course at Boston University’s Center for Digital Imaging Arts as part of their Audio Production program.
January 5, 2011
I'll be giving a presentation on the audio design of Tom Clancy's EndWar at Boston Post-Mortem on Wednesday, Jan 19 (note new date!). EndWar is my most recent major videogame project, which I served as audio director during most of my four years at Ubisoft Shanghai. I'll talk about how creative audio design addressed the challenges of bringing a real-time strategy experience to consoles, and I'll demonstrate the flexible music system I designed for EndWar, which provides endless variety while accommodating all of the potentialities of a completely open-ended battlefield. I'll also touch on aspects of China's fast-evolving game development culture.
Boston Post-Mortem is a monthly gathering of local game developers (of whom there are many), where ideas can be shared and community fostered in the informal setting of The Skellig Irish pub in Waltham (allegedly just 12 minutes from Porter Sq. via commuter rail). This month's event will take place on Wednesday, January 19, 2011, from 7pm to 10pm, and I'll talk sometime in the middle for about an hour.
October 22, 2010
I’m very happy to announce my upcoming solo exhibition at the True Color Museum in Suzhou, the culmination of my six-month artist residency. The show is called “The Point of Departure” and features a new, real-time, 18-channel video/4-channel audio installation entitled Self-Portrait, Dusk, at the Point of Departure, alongside other digital works from the past two years. The show runs from November 6 to December 5, 2010.
To celebrate the show’s opening, we’re mounting a little electronic music festival on November 6 from 1pm to 7pm, featuring performances by my friends Yao Dajuin 姚大钧, Wang Changcun 王长存, and Xu Cheng 徐程. I’ll also perform 3 sets of music in different styles: ambient electronic, synth-pop, and acoustic Jay Chou 周杰伦 and John Cage covers. See the press release for full information.
True Color Museum is located at 219 Tongda Rd (at the intersection of Jiushenggang Rd, near Guoxiang), in the Wuzhong District of Suzhou, China (or, if you prefer, 苏州市吴中区通达路 219 号本色美术馆，近郭巷), and their phone number is 0512-65968890.
September 26, 2010
Two happy bits of news regarding my video Shanghai Traces!
I was just notified that Shanghai Traces made the shortlist for YouTube Play, the Guggenheim's biennial of creative video. It is currently on display on the YouTube Play site, as well as at kiosks in the Guggenheim Museums in New York, Berlin, Bilbao, and Venice, through Oct. 21.
Also, Shanghai Traces has been selected to be screened at Seattle's e4c digital storefront gallery. It will go up sometime in early 2011 and will remain in rotation for a year. I'll have more information about that as the time approaches.
For more information, and to see the video itself, check out my blog post on the topic!
August 4, 2010
The details for my German tour with Justin Sebastian are now online here! We're also celebrating our new Chingachgook(s) CD at these performances. See you on the road!
我跟Justin Sebastian的德国巡回演出的具体消息已在这个网站上！ 我们是庆祝我们的新的Chingachgook(s)专辑出来。 在路上见！
July 1, 2010
My audiovisual installation Study for Insomnia is going up at Art+Shanghai Gallery today, as part of a show called “Expanding Horizons: Manufacturing New Landscapes,” which also features Cindy Ng 吴少英, Nial O’Connor, VIWA, and Tucho. There’s an opening reception this evening to celebrate, 7-9pm, and the show runs through September 25. Art+Shanghai Gallery is located at 22 Fumin Lu, House #2, near Yan’an Lu, and they’re open every day except Monday, 11am-7pm.
To celebrate the opening, improvising trumpet player Justin Sebastian and I will reprise the "Chingachgook(s)" piece we created for the Mini Midi Festival last May at an informal presentation/performance in the gallery this Saturday, July 3, 5pm. I’ll also talk a bit about the connections between my work in live performance, audiovisual installation, and videogames.
And over at the newly reopened OV Gallery, my piece Transportation Is Getting a New Look is once again up and running, following its confiscation by the Cultural Bureau. The "Re-Visioning History" show has been extended through Aug. 15 to make up for the period that the gallery was closed.
June 27, 2010
I’m very sorry to announce that The Glamour Bar has decided to postpone my piano recital and lecture, originally scheduled for today, amid controversy concerning the work of mine that was confiscated by the Shanghai Cultural Bureau. You can read more about the incident in That’s Shanghai, Shanghaiist, and the Wall Street Journal. My work was returned earlier this week, and the gallery where it had been exhibited, OV Gallery, has been allowed to re-open. I hope to be able to announce a rescheduled date for the recital, as well as for the video installation it was meant to inaugurate, soon.
June 9, 2010
The Fujian Mini Midi shows are confirmed. On the bill are Yan Jun 颜峻, Feng Hao 冯昊, Li Zenghui 李增辉, Wang Fan 王凡, Wu Quan 武权, and Wang Ziheng 王子衡 from Beijing, plus Hong Qile 洪启乐 from Fuzhou and me from Shanghai.
June 10, Shaoyuan Yi Hao, Baima Bei Lu, Gulou District, Fuzhou (tel: 15980278082)
June 11, Wupai Wuhao Cafe, Huaqiao New Village (near Zhongshan Park), Quanzhou (tel: 0595-22106816)
June 12 and 13 are both at the same place in Xiamen, afternoon show 4-6:30, evening show 7:30-10pm. Dream Voyager Music Guest Closet (something like that), Cengcuohui, 332 Huandao Lu, Siming District, Xiamen (tel: 0592-2080395)
Call the inquiry hotline with any questions about these performances: 0592-2281723.
Then on June 15th, I'm opening for the Far East Quartet, when they bring their incendiary indie jazz to the True Color Museum in Suzhou (where I am currently an artist in residence). The Far East Quartet is Peter Scherr on bass, Lawrence Ku on guitar, Toby Mak on trumpet, and Chris Trzcinski on drums. To warm the stage for them, I'll be doing a solo, fully acoustic (real piano this time!) singer/songwriter set of primarily original tunes.
Finally, I've confirmed the date for my Glamour Bar lecture/piano recital: June 27, 2010, 2:30pm! And it has a name: "In a Landscape," after the John Cage piece I'll be performing, alongside works by Erik Satie, Witold Lutoslawski, and myself! The Glamour Bar is located at the Bund, No. 5, near Guangdong Lu, on the 6th floor. Tickets are 65 RMB and include one beverage. The concert celebrates the installation of my recent video piece Shanghai Traces at Glamour Bar.
May 21, 2010
I’ve got a new video piece entitled Transportation Is Getting a New Look, which will be exhibited as part of OV Gallery's “Re-Visioning History” show, alongside works by Zhang Dali 张大力, Ren Hong 任虹, and others. The piece is a real-time digital collage of snippets from a Chinese propaganda poster, algorithmically fractured and layered, covered over, eventually fading out with time. I’m also exhibiting some still prints from the video; see some here. The show runs May 22-July 17, 2010, with an opening reception this Saturday from 5-8pm. OV Gallery is located at 19C Shaoxing Lu, near Shaanxi Lu, in Shanghai.
Then I’ve got a bunch of performances lined up over the next month or so:
May 29, pop set at Not Me with LON, LLND, and friends. Details on this poster.
June 3, algorithmic techno/DJ/whatever set (as AleaBoy) at Logo, a special Thursday night Amnesiac party celebrating LON’s birthday.
June 5, my Beijing pop debut at D-22, with Mr. Graceless, Yes No Break, and Which Park.
June 10-14, Mini Midi Fujian. Details are still coming together, but if you live in Fujian, mark your calendar!
June 27, “In a Landscape,” a solo classical piano recital at Glamour Bar to celebrate the installation of my video piece Shanghai Traces. More on this cool project later!
And sorry I didn’t get the info up about last Sunday’s presentation at Dorkbot up in time. Justin Sebastian and I presented the piece for improvised trumpet and live electronics we developed for Mini Midi Shanghai a few weeks ago, discussing the genesis and structure of the piece before performing it. We’ve decided to call the piece Chingachgook(s), inspired by a mutual appreciation of Andrei Tarkovsky’s film Stalker, in which a guide with obscure gifts leads curious sojourners through a mysterious Zone, which more or less describes the piece, in fact. We also spontaneously performed it at the new 696 bar in Hongkou on May 7 with Zhao Junyuan 照骏园 and Tao Yi 陶轶 (aka MTDM). We’re currently lining up a German tour in August; details forthcoming.
And last bit of good news: next week I start my artist residency at True Color Museum in Suzhou, where I’ll be based for most of the summer! While I’m there, I’ll be working on a number of fun things, planning events, and collaborating with artist Cindy Ng 吴少英 on a new audiovisual installation. I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time; can’t wait to get started!
六月五号在D-22，第一次在北京表演我的流行歌，还有Mr. Graceless, Yes No Break, Which Park。
六月二十七号在上海的Glamour Bar我有古典钢琴音乐会，我要摊凯基，萨蒂，鲁托斯拉夫基，还有我自己的作品。这个活动是庆祝我的《上海轨迹》录像作品在Glamour Bar装置。
上个周日我和Justin Sebastian在Dorkbot介绍了我们新的即席喇叭和实时电子乐作品。我们决定叫这个作品《Chingachgook(s)》，因为我们都很喜欢塔科夫斯基的《潜行者》电影。 我们上个五月七号在虹口的新的696酒吧跟照骏园和陶轶也表演了。 我们正在安排今年八月份德国巡回演出！
April 22, 2010
I'm celebrating my return to China with a performance at the Mini Midi festival of experimental music, May 1-3 in Shanghai and Zhujiajiao. The festival was founded by Yan Jun 颜峻 in 2005 as the experimental stage of the longrunning Midi Festival in Beijing's Haidian Park and has showcased most (all?) of China's major experimental musicians and sound artists since then, in addition to visiting artists from the UK, Japan, Korea, Switzerland, and Germany.
I'll be performing as a duo with German trumpet player Justin Sebastian; I'm currently developing a new Max/MSP patch that will twist his trumpet tones to my nefarious algorithmic purposes.
This year Mini Midi occurs in several stages. I don't see this in English anywhere else online, so here's the line-up as it presently stands.
May 1&2 at Caotang in Zhujiajiao (31 Dongjing St., tel. 15221361365).
Shows are at 8pm, 50 RMB for each night, or 80 RMB for both nights.
May 1: Mafeisan 麻沸散, Walnut Room 核桃室, Ben Houge, Anthony Carcone (from ETC), Jacques Foschia (from ETC), Zhao Juanyuan 照骏园 (from MTDM)
May 2: Yan Jun 颜峻, Justin Sebastian, DFF (from ETC), Feng Hao 冯昊, Li Zenghui 李增辉 + Junky (from Torturing Nurse)
May 3 at Mao Livehouse in Shanghai (in Red Town, 570 West Huaihai Rd., Bldg. 32).
Show goes from 5pm to midnight, 80 RMB. Note early start time!
Yan Jun + DFF (from ETC), Walnut Room + Tao Yi 陶轶 (from MTDM), Junky (from Torturing Nurse) + Mafeisan, Ben Houge + Justin Sebastian, Zhao Junyuan + Anthony Carcone (from ETC) + Jacques Foschia (from ETC), Mai Xiao Guo Da Shi 卖笑国大使 (+ Zhao Junyuan + Yan Jun), Xu Cheng 徐程 (from Torturing Nurse) + Shu Qi 舒骑, Fakemistress + LLND, Li Jianhong 李剑鸿
There's an additional show on May 4, but I'm not involved with it: O Art Center (which I guess is the headquarters of Art World Magazine 艺术世界), 888 Panyu Lu in Shanghai, 7pm, 50 RMB. Feng Hao, Li Zenghui, Mafeisan, Yan Jun, Zhao Junyuan, Mai Xiao Guo Da Shi, Disfigurement Activities Room (Shu Qi + Menthae), and Junky are playing that one. Future shows are also being planned for Fujian in June, Changsha in July, and beyond.
Also, for the record, last week I gave a remote guest lecture on "Game Audio and Digital Art" via Skype from Nairobi to a group of students at McNally Smith College of Music in Minneapolis. Thanks to J Allen for the invitation!
March 5, 2010
I'm doing a little talk at 2pm next Tuesday, March 9, at Kuona Trust one of the most longstanding arts centers in Nairobi, Kenya. I'll be presenting my work in digital media and sharing some of the techniques that I use to structure real-time, non-linear artworks, illustrated with examples from recent sound installations and video pieces.
If you get to Kuona Trust early, you can visit the studios of some of the 30 artists who work there and talk to them about their work. Also don't miss the current exhibition, Art and Graft, which is on display from now through March 16. (Note that they moved away from the National Museum a while ago; check out the map on their website.)
下个星期二，三月九号下午两点钟，在肯尼亚内罗毕市的Kuona Trust， 我要演讲，介绍一下我最近的数字媒体作品。
Kuona Trust是内罗毕的很老艺术中心。他们已经帮助了一千多艺术家，现在有三十艺术家工作室，还有新的展览《Art and Graft》。 他们的地址有一点难找，但是他们的网站有地图。
February 28, 2010
January 14, 2010
Two cool things!
For those in Minnesota, I'll be presenting some of my work at the next Composers' Salon at 7pm on Tuesday, January 19, at Studio Z, 275 E. Fourth St., in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota, USA. St. Olaf composition professor Justin Merritt and two other composers are also on the bill. I went to the last Salon in December; it's a nice, informal setting in which composers present some of their music, and people can respond and ask questions (not unlike the Seattle Composers' Salon I used to attend back in Seattle). More (slightly out of date) info on this regular monthly series is available here.
Then back in Shanghai, I've got a video piece included in the new Make Over show at OV Gallery, 19 Shaoxing Lu, which runs from January 23-March 14, 2010. The show is a reflection on the dramatic face lift that Shanghai is undergoing in preparation for the World Expo this year, and my piece, Shanghai Traces, is a real-time video piece that algorithmically shuffles and smears images of some of Shanghai's common street vendor wares. There are lots of other cool people in the show, too, so swing on by!
And by the way, Happy New Year!
November 24, 2009
On December 5, I'll be performing at an event called Alternative Expression at the Creek Art Center, which will also feature sets by Alexander Furk and Arthur Bligh. My set will be "algorithmic, ambient, and aleatory," and the focus will be on some new computer-generated video ideas I've been developing. The Creek Art Center's in a funky old space, a little hard to find, on the north side of Suzhou Creek; go to 423 Guangfu Lu (near Wuzhen Lu), then go down a little alley around back; I think there are plenty of signs. Show starts around 9.
Also, this Thursday, November 26, I'll be presenting my new audiovisual installation Study for Insomnia at The Nut. My friends Laurent Lettrée and Nathalie Delpech, collectively known as LLND will also be presenting installation(s) and performing, so it should be a fun night! I didn't realize until after I agreed to do this that it's going down on American Thanksgiving (easy to loose track when living in China). But you know what? I'm thankful for a chance to present my new installation!
This is actually the second time I've presented a piece here. Right after I took my 路口 Lukou installation down at Art+Shanghai Gallery three weeks ago, I set it up again at The Nut for their inaugural Underconstruction party (organized in part by Greenhouse Project), one night only! The Nut is located at 1147 Kangding Lu, Bldg E (near Wuning Nan Lu), and the party goes from 6 until midnight or so.
And let the record show that last Sunday I participated in a crazy karaoke performance sponsored by Company, who have a fresh new website here. Don't worry, this isn't the last you'll be hearing of this performance.
十二月五号我要在 苏河艺术 参加一个叫"Alternative Expression"的活动。还有Alexander Furk和Arthur Bligh要参加。 我的表演是用笔记本作环境音乐，还要分享我最近的录像作品。 苏河艺术的地址是上海市光复路423号后面（近乌镇路），演出九点开始。
November 19, 2009
Advance tickets for my concert tomorrow, opening for Owl City at Dream Factory in Shanghai, are sold out! If you want to try to get one of the 100 tickets available at the door, get to Dream Factory at noon tomorrow. Details below.
If you can't make it to this show, I'll be posting info about a more ambient show on December 5 very soon.
October 31, 2009
I'm super excited to be opening for Owl City when he comes to Shanghai on Friday, November 20. As I type this, Owl City has the number one song in the USA, which is pretty nuts. His story is amazing, a small-town Minnesota boy making music in his parents' basement who got huge on MySpace; read all about it here. To support his set of starry-eyed synth pop, I'll be presenting a set of my own slightly more world-weary yet still somewhat starry-eyed synth pop.
This concert is being put on by Split Works, the tireless tour promotors who have previously brought acts like Sonic Youth, Battles, Ghostface Killah, and Young Knives to China. The show starts at 7pm (note the early start time) on November 20, 2009, at Zhijiang Dream Factory, 4/F, 66 Yuyao Rd (near Xikang Rd). Tickets are RMB 120 advance, RMB 160 at the door. Pre-sale tickets are going fast (the Hong Kong stop has already sold out), so make your plans early! Full details are on the Split Works website.
October 13, 2009
I've been asked to perform at the "Non-Academic Style Electroacoustic Concert" to be held as part of The 2009 Shanghai International Electroacoustic Music Week at the Shanghai Conservatory. Also on the bill are Wang Changcun 王长存, Torturing Nurse, Mai Mai, and organizer Zhao Junyuan's 照骏园 new band (with Olaf Hochherz) Power Wood Quality 木电质. The concert will occur on the afternoon of October 21 from 2pm-5pm in the Conservatory's Reporting Hall, 20 Fenyang Lu (near Fuxing Lu). You can read all the details on my blog!
I'm doing another performance with Cindy Ng 吴少英 at Art+Shanghai Gallery this Saturday at 6pm, in conjunction with the Wuwei 无为 show. Don't forget, my four-channel sound installation 路口 Lukou is still running there every day through November 1!
For the record, I gave a lecture on algorithmic art to Ercument Gorgol's Parametric Form class at the Shanghai branch of the University of Hong Kong Faculty of Architecture last Wednesday.
September 18, 2009
My most successful sound installation to date is running from September 9 through November 1 at Art+ Gallery as part of a show entitled 无为 Being and Nothing. The gallery is located at 22 Fumin Lu, near Yan’an Lu, in Shanghai (note new address!), and they're open Tuesday-Sunday, 11am-7pm (closed Mondays).
My piece is a four-channel installation called 路口 Lukou that manipulates field recordings of Shanghai traffic sounds in real-time. You can read all about it on my blog.
I'm also playing a synth-pop set at Not Me a week from tomorrow, Saturday, September 26, 2009, at the generous invitation of STD's Digital Love series. Please note the date; I had previously posted it incorrectly. Also on the bill are synth-punk superquasars Resist! Resist!, and the STDJ's will spin ecstatic digital sounds into the wee hours. 10pm and free!
August 26, 2009
Lots of performances these days! Here they are, in chronological order (some have already happened, apologies):
Saturday, July 25, Zhujiajiao, premiere of my composition Zhujiajiao Drinking Game
A mini music fest featuring Torturing Nurse, Hong Qile 洪启乐, Li Jianhong 李剑鸿, and friends.
Monday, July 27, Amnesiac (hosted by LON), Logo, 10pm
My first DJ set as AleaBoy (although no one knew it), algorithmic dance-like grooves.
Sunday, August 16, Brainwave Communication Yuyintang, 8pm
Shanghai premiere of Zhujiajiao Drinking Game, with Hong Qile 洪启乐, Maimai 卖笑, etc.
Sunday, August 23, RESO 7, Yuyintang, 8pm
Ambient electronic + free improv with Xu Cheng 徐程, OK=NO, and Maimai 卖笑国大使.
Thursday, August 27, top secret subway show, 1pm
I'm not really clear on the details.
Thursday, August 27, Sacco's Club Heart Attack, Not Me, 9pm
I'm doing a set of synth-pop as well as some quasi-acoustic songs + DJ Biff Jorgensen, SPS!
Tuesday, Sept. 8, Wu Wei 无为 opening party, Art+, evening
I'll be performing on laptop with visual artist Cindy Ng. More on this cool project soon!
Saturday, Sept. 26, STD's Digital Love, Not Me, evening
Full synth-pop set! Resist! Resist! also performs!
Whew, if you include the 29 Giraffes opening party (which was a packed success), that's 9 performances in 2 months!
周一，七月二十七号，LON的 Amnesiac， Logo，十点
周日，八月十六号， 脑波交流， 育音堂，八点
周日，八月二十三号， RESO 7， 育音堂，八点
周四，八月二十七号，Sacco的Club Heart Attack， Not Me，九点
周六，九月二十六号，STD的Digital Love， Not Me，晚上
July 5, 2009
OK, I’ve finally set a date for my 29 Giraffes show opening, and it is July 23, 2009. It’s a triple whammy, in fact: in addition to the first public unveiling of my visual art, the opening night gala features a live performance of Radiospace and other ambient, algorithmic pieces; and it also serves as the release party for my new CD Radiospace 040823. The party starts at 6pm, with a performance at 8pm, and entry is free!
29 Giraffes is an exhibit of algorithmically generated digital prints that I’ve been working on for over two years. The original impetus was to find an ideal album cover for my Radiospace CD, which was actually recorded back in 2004. I wanted to generate an album cover that incorporated the same kinds of algorithmic behaviors that I used to create the music. In the process, I realized there was a whole range of other possibilities to explore using this technique.
You can read more about the CD here, and download an excerpt here. You can also preview some of the images that may or may not be included in the final show here. You can read the whole press release, which goes into somewhat greater detail about the project, here. Finally, you can read a fine preview of the show in the July 2009 issue of That’s Shanghai (available here).
The venue is [the studio], 796B Julu Rd. (near Fumin Rd.), Shanghai. Enter through lane 786, then take the first left until you see the big brown door. The visual art will remain on display through August 9, but since [the studio] is a creative workspace with somewhat irregular hours, it’s best to call and make an appointment to view the exhibition after the opening party: +86 21 6247 2765.
七月二十三号我的《二十九个长颈鹿》展览终于举行！ 事实上有三个好原因过来：有艺术开幕，有我的表演，还有我的最新的专辑无线电空间 040823出版！ 六点开始，八点演出，免费进来玩儿。
[the studio]在巨鹿路796B号，靠近福民路（近来，往左拐，寻找褐色的大门）。 展览八月九号结束，如果你想来看看，最好是先打个电话：+86 21 6247 2765。
June 20, 2009
Two last minute gigs just confirmed for this week!
Tomorrow (Sunday, June 21) I'm celebrating Fête de la Musique with a quasi-acoustic pop set at the Lakeside Ville barbecue and pool party. They're located out near the Hongqiao Airport. Here's a flyer and a map. Barbecue's 6-8pm, entertainment's 6-9pm (there's also some African drumming and rock and roll planned), but I think you can come earlier and splash around in the pool. The event is free, but if you want to eat barbecue, it's 140 RMB for adults and 70 RMB for kids.
Then next Wednesday (June 24) I'm playing a brief electronic set (like what I did at last month's Antidote festival in Zhujiajiao) at Logo (13 Xinfu Lu, near Fahuazhen Lu). I think I'm on late, like midnight-ish. Check out the complete synth-pop set on my Neocha page, and be prepared for the audience participation segments!
May 4, 2009
The friendly folks at Antidote were gracious enough to invite me to join the bill for their upcoming Antidote Festival of Electronic Music at Zhujiajiao on Saturday afternoon, May 23rd, in the Shanghai watertown suburb of Zhujiajiao. I'll be performing alongside electronic luminaries B6, LON, and Zig Zag, all of whom have impressed me with live sets recently, as well as Resist Resist, Reptile & Retard, and Uprooted Sunshine Soundsystem, with whose sounds I look forward to becoming better acquainted. Check out the flyer (another fine design by B6) for details.
I'm preparing a completely new set of synth-pop songs for this performance, comprising about half of a new album I'm currently working on. I performed some of them acoustically at Yuyintang last March, and you can check out the electronic versions on my Neocha page, so you can learn the words and sing along at the show!
April 5, 2009
I've got a busy April ahead, with two shows and an installation in Beijing, followed by another performance back in Shanghai. Here are the details, in order.
On Tuesday, April 14, I'm playing at BMW, the 152nd of the regular Waterland Kwanyin experimental music revues at 2 Kolegas. The series was launched in 2005 by Yan Jun 颜峻, who also runs a label by the same name, but since he'll be out of town, my friend Feng Hao 冯昊 of Walnut Room 核桃室 is taking the reins. In addition to myself and Walnut Room (which also includes saxophonist Li Zenghui 李增辉), the program features the cello/voice/electronics duo Mayming from England. 2 Kolegas is located in a drive-in movie theater, 21 Liangmaqiao Lu; the show starts at 8pm, and tickets are 30 RMB at the door.
Next up is the project that's been occupying me for a big chunk of 2009, the installation I'm doing with Chen Hangfeng 陈航峰 for the Fat Art 09: Music to My Eyes exhibition at the Today Art Museum. He's built a custom kaleidoscope apparatus that's connected to a video camera for projection onto the walls of a small, hexagonal room, and I've written a program in Max/MSP that fractures and filters the signals from two microphones positioned elsewhere in the gallery in real-time. I previewed the technology at my Brainwave Communication show last month; you can hear an excerpt on my Neocha site and read a bit about how it works on my blog (I plan to go into greater detail in a future post).
The show is sponsored by the record company Modern Sky, curated by Karen Smith, and also features works by Liu Ye 刘野, Yan Lei 颜磊, Aniwar 安尼瓦尔, Mathieu Borysevicz, Xu Ruotao 徐若涛, Wu Ershan 乌尔善, Zhou Yue 周越, Wang Bo 王波, Sun Lei 孙磊, and Pei Li 裴丽. The Today Art Museum is located at 32 Baiziwan Lu, Building 4, Chaoyang, Beijing, and the exhibit runs from April 17 to May 3. Performances by Modern Sky-affiliated groups such as PK14, Dead J, and New Pants are planned. Hangfeng and I are scheduled to do an artists' presentation at 2pm on Sunday, April 19th.
Then on Thursday, April 23, I'm returning to D-22 for another laptop performance, sharing a bill with experimental rock bands Mingtianjiujiesan 明天就解散 and Fat City. 242 Chengfu Lu, Wudaokou, half-way between Wudaokou Subway Station and Peking University East Gate, 9pm, 30 RMB (20 for students).
And the next day I return to Shanghai in time to perform at the Blender Digital Culture Festival. This two-day event is going down at the South River Art Center, 1247 Nan Suzhou Lu, on April 25 and 26, featuring exhibits, presentations, and performances by B6, LON, BAIFAN, and many others. I'm currently scheduled to play on Saturday evening at 7:30, though the schedule is subject to change, so come early! Also, the event is sponsored by Nike, my first ever product endorsement!
然后四月十七号到五月十三号在今日美术馆有我和陈航峰合作的装置。 我们参加摩登天空安排的Fat Art 09：目耳计划展览。 我做的声音部分是用Max/MSP做的实时软件，已经在上个月的脑波交流演出用过一次， 你可以在我的新茶网站上听我表演的一部分。 还有刘野，颜磊，安尼瓦尔，Mathieu Borysevicz， 徐若涛，乌尔善，周越，王波，孙磊，裴丽也要参加。 凯伦史密斯是策展人。 北京市朝阳区百子湾路32号北京今日美术馆。 四月十九号周日我和陈航峰要讲演，介绍一下我们的合作。
最后我回来上海以后我会参加Blender电子文化节，四月二十五号到二十六号， 在上海苏河艺术中心，南苏州路1247号。 有很多活动，演出包括B6，LON，BAIFAN，等。 好像我要星期六晚上七点半表演，但是时间表还会变化，所以我推荐你再一点来！
March 26, 2009
March 6, 2009
I’ve playing two very different sets at two different shows this month. Come to both! I’m also releasing a new CD!
First on Sunday, March 15, I’m playing in a show being billed as “Silence or Silence or Brainwave Communication,” organized by Fuzhou’s Hong Qile 洪启乐, founder of Brainwave Communication. Hong Qile will be performing, as will Shanghai residents Xu Cheng 徐程 (half of Torturing Nurse), Lu Chen 陆晨 (lead singer of Shanghainese punk ensemble Top Floor Circus 顶楼的马戏团), Dai Cheng 戴诚, and VJ Jin Ning 金宁. I’ll be performing a sneak preview of a sound installation I’m working on, incorporating ambient automated filters and algorithmic rhythms (more on that project later).
Then exactly one week later on March 22 (also a Sunday), I’ll be opening for Japanese/Korean duo 10, back in China for another tour in support of their new CD Kitsch. Last time in Shanghai they played at Logo, opening for Jeans Team, and their spacey noise-pop seemed to go over pretty well. I never tire of posting this link to the translation I did of Li Jianhong 李剑鸿's account of their Japan tour over 2 years ago. You can also read more about their ill-fated last trip on my blog.
This second show will double as the CD release party for my new rock EP 3 Heart-Shaped Cookies, my first CD ever. I’ll be performing a quasi-acoustic set of love songs from my pop catalogue, covering a songwriting span of about 15 years.
Both shows are at Yu Yin Tang (1731 West Yan'An Rd., near Kaixuan Rd.), both start at 8, both shows are 30 RMB at the door. You’ve got a week in between to recuperate, so there’s no reason not to attend both!
那个二十二号的演出也是我的第一个专辑3 Heart-Shaped Cookies出版派对，专辑内容是摇滚乐，所以我打算表演的都是流行歌。
February 2, 2009
I’ve also collected a bunch of press clippings and added them to the press page.
Also, Ubisoft has launched an exciting new contest, in which contestants are invited to create their own videos for the EndWar song I wrote for the game’s credits. You have until February 17, 2009. Hurry!
January 12, 2009
I'll be making my Beijing debut at the venerable performance institution D-22 next week on Wednesday, January 21. I'm still working out the details of my performance, but it will be a some assortment of ambient and aleatory electronic works performed on my laptop. Show starts at 9:30, and I think it will be free!
Also, I just checked, and 3 Heart-Shaped Cookies is finally up on iTunes. Wish they'd notify you when releases go live. Anyway, you can download it there or from Amazon, and I think it's also up on on EMusic and Rhapsody and Napster and elsewhere, so take your pick!
而且我的新摇滚专辑3 Heart-Shaped Cookies(三块心形曲奇)现在可以从iTunes，Amazon，等下载！
November 8, 2008
EndWar, for which I've been heading up audio design for the past 3.5 years, was finally released this week. Go buy a copy!
I collaborated with the Seattle band 99 Men on the song "EndWar" that plays over the game's end credits. On the occasion of the game's release, we've decided to release three other tunes that we recorded together before I moved to Shanghai in 2004. Ladies and gentlement, I give you 3 Heart-Shaped Cookies by Ben Houge & 99 Men! Our little mini-album is its way to digital retailers as I type this, and there's no way to predict when it will be ready for download, but it should be sometime in December. If you would like to be notified when it's available, drop me a line, and I'll keep you posted. We're also working on a physical release; developments on all fronts will be posted here.
EndWar里有一首歌，是我跟我的西雅图的朋友一起做的，所以我们决定还要发表三首我来中国之前写的歌， 新的专辑叫"3 Heart-Shaped Cookies."
November 3, 2008
Tomorrow at 5pm, I will present an informal lecture on sound art for Raquel Assis's "New Media and Environments" class at Raffles Design Institute, Donghua University Campus, 1882 West Yan An Rd. I plan to discuss some of my own work (including, but not limited to, my work in videogames), in addition to going over some general sound art concepts. I don't think there's a problem if you want to swing by and listen in, but I'm not sure of the exact location, so it's probably best to drop me a line first.
我明天下午五点钟在 Raquel Assis的"New Media and Environments" 课要演讲，介绍一下声音艺术和我自己的工作。 上课在Raffles Design Institute， 延安西路1882号。 如果你想来看看，应该没问题，最好是先联系我，因为我还不知道具体地方。
October 14, 2008
I'm just finishing up a new sound installation that will be exhibited from this Thursday in the 100% Design display at Shanghai International Creative Industry Week, providing sonic counterpoint to a design and layout by the vivacious Jutta Friedrichs of MÜ Furniture.
To quote from the official press release (which I wrote), "100% Design Shanghai celebrates Shanghai International Creative Industry Week with the joint installation Breaking New Ground, a collaboration between MÜ designer Jutta Friedrichs and sound artist Ben Houge, providing a sneak preview of next year’s 100% Design Shanghai show. The 240 sqm joint installation provides a showcase for new local and international design objects, specially selected for the exhibition, which metaphorically break through the ground and float amid shards of ice, as a fresh wind blows in from overhead. This complete sensual experience reflects excitement and anticipation for the gathering wave of design and creativity that is swelling in China."
My part of the show employs many of the techniques I've developed for deploying videogame audio over the years, with an emphasis on dynamic, evolving behaviors (no loops!). The sound is generated in real-time by a program I wrote in Max/MSP, evoking the natural behavior of wind and wind-driven phenomena (e.g. chimes and flutes).
The exhibit will be open to the public from 9am to 5pm on October 16-21, 2008, at The Factory, Building 1-B1, No. 265 Lingshi Rd. (near Gonghe Xin Rd.), Zhabei District, Shanghai. That's about a block north of the Shanghai Circus World subway stop on line 1 (take exit 4).
展览这个星期四开始，十月十六号到二十一号，早上九点到下午五点能过来听听。 地址是闸北区合金工厂创意产业集聚区，灵石路695号。 可以坐地铁来，灵石路在地铁一号线上海马戏城站的北边（用四号出口）。
September 30, 2008
On October 22, I'll be participating in a performance of Christian Marclay's Screen Play as part of the month-long Shanghai eArts Festival. Christian Marclay is an influential artist whose work pokes at sound from many angles, and Screen Play is a video score "to be interpreted by a small group of musicians," consisting of a collage of black and white film excerpts overlaid with bright computer graphics, which as you may imagine allows the performers a fair degree of latitude. The piece will be performed three times in the course of one evening, by three different groups of musicians.
I'll be performing with Yan Jun 颜峻 and Bruce Gremo, both coming down from Beijing for the occasion. Also on the bill is guitarist Elliott Sharp, out from New York, performing with Wu Na 巫娜 (guqin) and Wang Li Chuan 王力川 (percussion), also down from Beijing. The third set features Shanghai's irrepressible punk band Top Floor Circus 顶楼的马戏团.
The performance is part of the Final Cut portion of the eArts Festival, centered around Shanghai's Xujiahui district and organized by the fine folks of ArtHub. In addition to several nights of new media shows, they're taking over some of the big digital displays in the neighborhood and applying them to artistic ends, promising quite a spectacle.
Event: Christian Marclay's Screen Play
Date: Wednesday, October 22, 2008, 7:30 pm
Location: Xujiahui Park (near Zhao Jia Bang Lu and Hengshan Lu)
In other news, I'd say my performance at last Friday's Pecha-Kucha #11 turned out pretty well. I came up with a new piece, "Statement of Purpose," for the occasion; you can check out photos and a video.
Also, I think I forgot to mention that I finally finished translating Li Jianhong's Japan Diaries, documenting his tour of Japan in December 2006, posted for your reading pleasure over on GNO, complete with dramatis personae.
活动：Christian Marclay的Screen Play
而且我终于翻译好了李剑鸿的“日本十日私人地图册”，你可以去 GNO网站 看英文版本。
September 24, 2008
I’ll be making a presentation about my work at the nexus of videogames, music composition, and digital art at Pecha-Kucha #11 this Friday, kind of a non-linear, multi-media lecture/performance.
Note the new location:
PECHA KUCHA NIGHT #11
Date: Friday, September 26, 2008, 8:20 pm
Location: Wen Ding Plaza, No.204, Wending Road (near Kaixuan Road)
Cover: 40 RMB (includes one free drink)
这个星期五我要参加 Pecha-Kucha #11， 介绍一下我的电子音乐和艺术。没事来玩儿！
第十一个PECHA KUCHA NIGHT
September 12, 2008
EndWar audio is finished! About 2 weeks ago we checked in the final EndWar audio data, which felt a bit surreal after working on it for 3.5 years. I’m really happy with how it turned out, thanks to the efforts of a really fantastic audio team. Hear the results for yourself when EndWar hits shelves in a few weeks.
EndWar has turned out to be a really great game. Personally, this is the first time ever that I still enjoy playing a game after I’ve finished working on it. Initial feedback from the press has been quite positive, too, including the Game Critics Award for Best Strategy Game of E3, the first time a console game has won in this category.
Here’s a sample of other comments (visit the official EndWar site for the latest updates):
Game Critics Awards, Winner, Best Strategy Game
IGN, Winner, Best Strategy Game for Xbox 360
GameSpy, Nominated for Best X360 Game (#9)
Gametrailers, Winner, Best Strategy Game
UGO, Winner, Best Strategy Game
Cheat Code Central, Nominated for Best Strategy/Simulation Game
Edge Online, EndWar named a best game of E3
This marks the end of my four-year tenure with Ubisoft, and I’m currently embarking on a long-anticipated sabbatical, which will encompass music composition, performances, art installations, writing, and intensive Chinese study, among other pursuits. My mission is to find ways to apply the techniques I’ve developed for structuring non-linear sound in videogames over the past twelve years in a broader cultural context. More info about these activities will be posted soon.
EndWar 究竟是很有意思的游戏。这是第一次我做好一个游戏以后我还想玩儿。我们已经赢了几个很好的奖品（连接在上面）。还有我写的博克和podcast，我介绍一下 EndWar 的声音部分。
因为现在 EndWar 结束了，所以我要离开育碧电脑软件有限公司。我要开始做我很长时间期待的安息年，研究怎么用我的游戏声音意见参加更大的文化谈论。
July 20, 2008
Ooh, check out the first update to the look of this site since it went live in 2001! The image at the top of each page is a photograph of neon lights on Shanghai's East Nanjing Road, which I reshuffled algorithmically using Max/MSP. I'm planning a gallery show of more of these kinds of images this fall after EndWar ships, details forthcoming.
I also finally fixed the Scores page of this site. For a long time you couldn't download scores, as Finale changed their on-line score viewing plug-in format one too many times. Way back in 2000, I upgraded to Finale 2001 just for this functionality, but it never really worked right, especially compared to what their competition was doing at the time.
But anyway, at long last, you can once again download all of the sheet music for my soundtrack to Arcanum (scored for string quartet), plus two other old pieces, a setting of some personal ads from 2002 and a setting of evening prayer from 1998, quite an eclectic collection, I guess.
April 5, 2008
I'll be performing at an event next Saturday organized by Mai Mai 卖卖 from Musclesnog called RESO: Reconstruct the Experimental Soundscape of Ourselves. I'm helping out with the English language promotion, and I've put the info up on the Sound Currents website, though it's not an official Sound Currents event. (The next official Sound Currents concert should be sometime after EndWar ships.) At this show, I plan to do something involving vocal improvisation and a laptop.
Also on the bill are Asthma Writers Union (that's Mai Mai's solo project), Porn Moon Twins, and Dominik. I performed twice with Dominik in May 2006, last time he was in China, once at the Zendai Museum of Modern Art and once at Noishanghai's first anniversary A Sunday Afternoon show. Should be fun, come on down!
Date: Saturday, April 12, 7:30 pm
Venue: Mecooon (aka Downstream Garage)
Address: Long Cao Road, lane 200, number 100, building 3 (next to the former Yu Yin Tang).
Cover charge: 20 RMB (includes free CD for first 50 audience members)
July 9, 2007
Now that the big website overhaul is complete, I can get back to posting news, and the most interesting news lately is that the project on which I've been working for about the last two years has finally been announced to the world: Tom Clancy's EndWar. It's a real-time strategy game set in the universe of Tom Clancy's near future techno-thriller books, designed from the ground up for Microsoft's Xbox 360 videogame console.
I'll leave the official announcements to the pros, so check out the official website for more information. I'll just say I'm having a great time working on a truly innovative project with a very talented team from 5 continents and all the resources to pull off something of unprecedented coolness!
July 8, 2007
Okay, it’s time to come clean. In the six years since this site went live, there has been exactly one person generating all of the content you find here: me, Ben Houge. When I first put up this site, I guess I thought it was more professional or legitimate or whatever to refer to myself in the third person, but it’s become increasingly cumbersome to maintain the charade in recent years. The problem is that once one starts down that dark path, there’s no easy way to switch to writing in the first person, since it requires re-writing the entire website. Well, that’s what I’ve finally done; I could bear it no longer.
So I hope the world enjoys the new more personable and approachable Ben Houge. Next big project: Chinese version. Stay tuned…
P.S. I finally got a MySpace page last February; I used to think MySpace was soooooo 2004, but then I realized it’s a good way to stay in touch with Chinese musician friends, so I jumped on the bandwagon. There are two exclusive tracks there, Psalmus and Mobile 3, elsewhere unavailable!
I’ve also got a Flickr page now, a bit lean for the moment, but more coming soon!
December 12, 2006
Pictures from the 2pi Festival and NOIShanghai VI have been added to the Images page. A recent feature from last month's issue of That's Shanghai has been added to the Press page. There have been several other minor nips and tucks left for the reader to discover.
Additional 2pi shots are available on Flickr, and check out the GNO website, maintained by Lawrence Li, for complete coverage of the event, with most performances available for free (legal) download. GNO is an indispensible resource for cutting-edge Chinese music and sound art, and Lawrence is a tireless and eloquent advocate.
November 16, 2006
In addition to next Thursday's show at Yu Yin Tang, a second NOIShanghai VI concert has been added the next day (Friday, Nov. 24th) at China Live Bar, featuring the same line-up mentioned below, but with mostly different music. Live Bar (phone: 021-28336764) is located at 721 Kun Ming Road, near Tong Bei Road in the northern Yang Pu district of Shanghai. The show will start at 9pm, and tickets are 30 RMB at the door.
Ben has also been added to the line-up of the fourth annual 2pi Festival in Hangzhou the next day, on Nov. 25th. Organized by Li Jianhong (李剑鸿), 2pi is the main annual showcase of experimental Chinese music and sound art, presenting artists from all over mainland China and Taiwan, in addition to Ben, Audrey Chen, and Alessandro Bosetti from the NOIShanghai concerts. The event goes starts at 2:30pm and runs until midnight at Loft 49, 49 Hangyin Rd., Gongshu District, Hangzhou. Check out the official website for full details and a map.
October 16, 2006
In addition to a performance by Torturing Nurse (NOIShanghai organizers and tireless promoters of new sounds in Shanghai), this concert also marks the return of cellist and vocalist Audrey Chen (Baltimore, USA) to Shanghai. She performed at last year's Sound Currents concert with percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani, and this year's she's touring Eastern Asia with Berlin-based saxophonist and sound artist Alessandro Bosetti.
二零零六年十一月二十三号周四七点半在 育音堂 (龙漕路200弄100号, 电话021-64360072) Ben Houge (我) 参加 NOIShanghai VI 的演出。门票30元。 Torturing Nurse (闹上海组织和新的声音发扬的人)会演出。还有美国的歌手和大提琴演奏家Audrey Chen。去年她参加霍杰明的 Sound Currents 演出。 她现在和德国的萨克斯管吹奏者 Alessandro Bosetti 正在旅行东亚洲。 我大概会演出不但他最新的作品， “Study for Eventual World Domination,” 而且其他的电子音乐。
October 1, 2006
Ben just contributed "Study for Eventual World Domination" to Mike Min's Bike Bin Project, a somewhat peculiar endeavor which is best explained by Mike himself on the official site. At face value, at least, it's a self-guided musical bicycle tour of Seattle, and doesn't that sound pleasant? Ben was involved in two stages of the project, in fact, first in manipulating the fodder supplied to the participating artists, then in contributing a response to said fodder. It's all a bit odd, but wondrously so.
By the way, the Infinite Scape concert from last month went quite well. In the end, circumstances prevented Jin Shan and Chen Wei from making the trip from Hangzhou, but Torturing Nurse and Xu Cheng ably substituted for them.
And even though there's no way you might have attended, let the record show that Ben and four of his Ubisoft colleagues (Yu Hai Xiang, Lu Bin, Yang Jia Yang [aka Clark], and Jean-Michel Tari) performed an exclusive three-song set in English, French, and Chinese at Ubisoft's company party last week. The name of the band is Final Submission (designed to evince a chuckle from industry insiders). However, in the heat of the fray, the venue's wonky electrical system fried Ben's beloved Roland JP-8000 synthesizer. Memorial arrangements are pending.
August 27, 2006
Following last Sunday's excellent concert by Dickson Dee (aka 李劲松 or Li Jin Song) and Lawrence English at Tang Hui in Shanghai, Junky (lead instigator of Torturing Nurse) asked Ben if he would like to participate in another concert two weeks later. The details were unclear, and Ben didn't really have anything prepared, but he certainly knows better than to refuse such an offer.
So next Sunday, September 3, 2006, Ben will join Melanie Velarde, Jin Shan (金闪), and Chen Wei (陈维) as part of the Infinite Scape concert at Yu Yin Tang, Lane 100, 200 Long Cao Rd., Shanghai (tel: 021-64360072). The show starts at 4pm, and tickets are 20 RMB.
周日九月三号 Ben Houge (霍杰明) 还要演出. 来听听吧!
August 20, 2006
Another Sound Currents show is currently in the works for next November; stay tuned for more details!
June 3, 2006
The Noishanghai concert last month rocked, with an eclectic array of music, a good crowd, and a funky venue. Ben performed his electronic work Psalmus and premiered A Reading from Mao Zedong's "Talks at the Yan An Forum on Literature and Art," a new electronic version of his 2003 work A Reading from _____ for four readers, in which an arbitrary text is manipulated into a completely non-linear form that emerges in real time. Images from the show are available on the images page.
Then last Sunday, Ben premiered his new Method for the Direct Conversion of Visual Information into Sound, at an event called Lovely Shanghai Music, organized by Germany-based art collective Team 404 at the Zendai Museum of Modern Art. Team 404's project involved collecting visual images to serve as scores from a range of artists all over the world, then inviting local musicians wherever the project is presented to interpret these scores live. Not being much of a free improviser, but wanting nonetheless to oblige the amiable Germans, Ben devised this method for sonically representing the works on display. For over an hour, Ben and UK artist Dominik performed the work on synthesizer, drums, accordion, voice, radio, and gu zheng (a Chinese zither).
April 2, 2006
On May 7, 2006, Ben will take part in Noishanghai's anniversary "A Sunday Afternoon" mini-festival of experimental/electronic/noise artists and musicians. Noishanghai has been responsible for some of the most creative underground experimental performances in Shanghai over the last year or so, in addition to releasing a steady stream of adventurous recordings on their affiliated Sasha label. Here's the full line-up for the upcoming show:
10 (Marqido from Japan + itta from Korea), laptop noise
Torturing Nurse (Shanghai,China), analog harshnoise group
D!O!D!O!D! (Hangzhou,China), guitar and drums noise band
OO (Shanghai,China), voice and sound
Ji Mu (Hangzhou,China), hardware and laptop noise
Dominik (UK), minimal noise
Wang Changcun (Shanghai,China), laptop sound art
Ben Houge (USA), laptop sound art
00700 (Shanghai,China), guitar and keyboard noise duo
Keplerslaws (France), free-improvised electronics
Acidzen (Hangzhou,China), hardware noise duo
Ben is still considering the exact details of his performance, but he's currently thinking it will likely include a reprise of Psalmus, premiered last November, plus some new speech-based work. The only way to find out for sure is to come to the show!
The concert will take place at the new Yu Yin Tang venue, south of Xu Jia Hui, near the Shanghai Stadium, Lane 100, 200 Long Cao Rd. (phone: 021-64360072). Note that the show is in the afternoon, starting at 4pm. Tickets are 30 RMB at the door.
下个五月七号 Ben Houge (霍杰明) 要和所有的上面的作曲家一起演出. 来听听吧!
March 30, 2006
The March 2006 issue of the English-language monthly Shanghai Talk profiles Ben's game audio history and current aesthetic outlook in a two-page feature article entitled "Sound Man: The Art and Science of Composing Soundtracks for Computer Games." Choice pull-out quotations include, "I think there's kind of a tyranny of melody in game scoring," and, "At one point or another, all game audio designers must take a sledgehammer to a pumpkin." The full transcript has been added to the Press page.
Ben's music has also been featured prominently on a Chinese internet radio station run by Tinnitus (耳鸣 , aka Hong Qi Le) in recent months. This site is a fantastic portal to the experimental underbelly of the burgeoning Chinese music scene.
And to cap off this recent flurry of press interest, a transcript of Ben's January interview for the Polish radio station RMF Classic's Klasyka wchodzi w gre (Classics comes into the game) program has also been added to the Press page.
January 23, 2006
Ben's music for Arcanum will be featured on the Polish radio show Klasyka wchodzi w gre (Classics comes into the game), hosted by Mateusz Pawlak, on RMF Classic this Friday at noon Seattle time (that's Saturday at 4am Shanghai time), then rebroadcast on Saturday at 6am Seattle time (10pm Shanghai time). Ben also did an interview for the program, which should be on the web site soon. To listen, just click "Sluchaj nas w internecie" on the main site.
December 10, 2005
The Nakatani-Chen Duo is Ben's new favorite band. They exhibited a mesmerizing improvisational resourcefulness at the latest Sound Currents concert (and again at Live Bar and the following weekend at the 2pi Festival of experimental music in Hangzhou). They also happen to be warm, fascinating people who are great to hang out with!
Ben's debut as one of those ubiquitous laptop performers was also well-received. Ben presented a new piece entitled Psalmus and a live performance version of his 2004 work Radiospace. To help mitigate the disconnect that can occur when a performer's face is hidden behind a laptop monitor, both pieces used only sounds that were recorded on stage as part of the performance: Ben's voice and some Tibetan bells for Psalmus and local Shanghai radio broadcasts for Radiospace.
Local English language monthly Shanghai Talk (which evidently has no web page) had a woman on the scene who described the "overlapping monk-esque chanting, chimes, and bells" of Psalmus as "church music on acid." While she was thwarted in her search for Chinese punks at Harley's (which often presents local metal bands), doesn't that sound like an interesting thing to stumble across at a bar in Shanghai?
Check out pictures of the show on the images page.
October 30, 2005
The Nakatani-Chen Duo, comprising Baltimore-based vocalist and cellist Audrey Chen (who knows Ben via Dennis Rea and Christopher DeLaurenti) and her percussionist collaborator Tatsuya Nakatani, will perform two sets of experimental free improvisations as part of their Asian tour in support of their new album Limn. As the opening act, Ben will present several new aleatoric electronic works, including a live performance version of his 2004 composition Radiospace.
Tickets, available at the door, cost 45 RMB, which includes one drink. The show starts around 8pm. For full details and directions, check out the substantially bilingual Sound Currents website.
The Nakatani-Chen Duo have several other dates planned while they're in town, including a show with Shanghai noise band Torturing Nurse the following night at Live Bar. Check out their tour itinerary for more information.
October 21, 2005
Here's another interview, courtesy of G Soundtracks. In it, Ben discusses music from Arcanum and King's Quest: Mask of Eternity, as well as his conception of game audio design as a kind of meta-composition. He also hints tantalizingly about his current project.
August 27, 2005
Music4Games just published an interview with Ben, in which he discusses Passage to Arcanum, his new arrangement of the main theme from Arcanum for string orchestra. The Symphonic Game Music Concert 2005 in Leipzig last week was a tremendous success, selling out in three days!
The German game publication 4Players also conducted an interview with Ben last March, and Game-Vision posted a concert review, for the German speakers among you. According to the review (as translated by Torsten Reinl), Passage to Arcanum "enchanted the venue/house with dramatic yet magnificently beautiful string passages."
May 1, 2005
Tickets are now available for the Symphonic Game Music Concert 2005, to be held in Leipzig, Germany, on August 17. Ben's Passage to Arcanum, a freshly-minted work for string orchestra incorporating themes from his Arcanum soundtrack, will be premiered at this event. In addition, the program features music from Ben's most recent project, Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30, composed by Stephen Harwood.
Tickets are available from Music by Design or, if you live in Germany, directly from the Gewandhaus, where the concert will be held. For more information, including recently announced additions to the program, see also this preview article at Music4Games.
March 29, 2005
Following a whirlwind production, Ben's first project for Ubisoft since moving to Shanghai, the PlayStation 2 edition of Gearbox Software's World War II game Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30, has been completed and is now available wherever fine videogames are sold. Brothers in Arms is unique among World War II shooters for the tactical element it introduces to the genre, as well as for its unprecedented historical accuracy. This marks Ben's fourth collaboration with Gearbox since 1999, following two Half-Life expansion packs and the PlayStation 2 release of Half-Life.
February 27, 2005
The German magazine Gamestar recently announced the first six game soundtracks to be represented at the Symphonic Game Music Concert 2005, which will be held at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, Germany, on August 17, in conjunction with the GC Games Convention, August 17-21, 2005. Ben is preparing a string orchestra arrangement of excerpts from his Arcanum soundtrack to accommodate the forces of the 90-piece FILMharmonic Orchestra, under the direction of Andy Brick.
In addition to Ben's music from Arcanum, selections from Battlefield 2, Morrowind, Silent Hill 2, International Karate and Spellforce 2 will also be performed. Watch the official concert website for the latest information as additional titles are announced, or to sign up for the newletter. More information will be posted about this exciting and unique event as the date approaches!
November 27, 2004
Ben will be returning to Seattle to attend the premiere of his Laudate Dominum by the acclaimed a cappella chorus The Esoterics on December 11th and 12th. Ben will give a presentation on his work prior to the Saturday evening concert, and a reception will follow. There are two additional performances the previous weekend in Tacoma and Medina. Below are the dates and locations for all four concerts; for complete information and to order tickets, please visit the Esoterics' web page.
Sat, 4 Dec, 8 pm, Christ Episcopal Church, Tacoma
Sun, 5 Dec, 3 pm, St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Medina
Sat, 11 Dec, 8 pm, St. Joseph's Church, Seattle
Sun, 12 Dec, 3 pm, Holy Rosary Church, West Seattle
The work represents a synthesis of several areas of activity. It is the most recent in a stream of sacred choral works, but it is unique in that it incorporates random elements, suggested by Ben's work designing audio for videogames. In this regard, it resembles other recent open form works, such as Mobile 1, premiered by the Ensemble Sorelle last spring, the real-time sonic environment Radiospace, and various Seattle School pieces, such as Relay and A Reading from _____.
These performances are supported by a generous grant from Meet the Composer.
October 31, 2004
Last year, Ben was commissioned to write several liturgical works for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Renewing Worship project, and some of this music has been published for congregational use by Augsburg Fortress. "God is Love," Ben's acclamation for the rite of marriage, is included in the Life Passages resource, and his "O Come, Let Us Sing to the Lord" (a setting of the traditional Venite, commissioned as part of Ben's Morning Prayer setting in 1998 and originally published in the Worship & Praise hymnal) is included in the Daily Prayer resource.
"God is Love" has an optional random element (not included in the published score). After the acclamation has been introduced and sung once, each member of the congregation may repeatedly choose one of the three phrases to sing independently of the other singers over a sustained low G drone. This may continue indefinitely, until the drone stops, and each congregation member finishes the current phrase before the service continues. The result should be a static, meditative sonic environment, mirroring the unified diversity of the church.
October 1, 2004
Since moving to Shanghai, Ben continues to maintain a presence in Seattle's musical landscape. At midnight on October 16th, a half-hour rendering of Ben's composition Radiospace will be featured on KEXP's Sonarchy program. An archived recording will remain available on-line for two weeks following the broadcast.
Radiospace is a real-time sonic environment that digitizes, manipulates, and re-disperses an audio signal from a radio. The rendering to be broadcast on Sonarchy was recorded last month in Ben's new Shanghai home, incorporating local broadcasts. It succeeds in capturing some of the strange, disorienting, exhilarating buzz of discovering a huge, foreign city.
This will be Ben's second appearance on Sonarchy, an adventurous radio show curated by veteran producer/engineer/sound artist Doug Haire. In May 2003, Ben appeared on the show as a member of Seattle School, premiering his A Reading from _____ and Variations on _____ simultaneously.
July 25, 2004
"Big news! I've accepted a position as Senior Audio Designer with the French videogame company Ubisoft and will shortly be relocating to their Shanghai office (where the hit game Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow was recently produced) to head up audio for a forthcoming PlayStation 2 title. This position is a perfect match for my experience and interests; not only is Ubisoft a forward-thinking company committed to innovation in digital entertainment, but my international upbringing has uniquely prepared me for the opportunity to live and work in China. I'm really looking forward to this adventure!
"The most difficult thing about moving away from Seattle will be leaving behind all the friends and colleagues I've gotten to know over the last eight years. Through my involvement with the Seattle Composers Alliance and the Washington Composers Forum, I've come to appreciate Seattle's close-knit musical community, and I don't think this kind of creative environment is easily duplicable elsewhere. I've made great friends and learned an immense amount through my work in games, and Seattle remains a hotbed of industry talent. In the arena of public performance, I'm particularly going to miss the indefatigable Korby Sears and the inscrutable Mike Min, who together comprise the common core behind Sound Currents, Seattle School, and Subpoenaed Lemur, three creative outlets that have conspired to make the last several years particularly fulfilling.
"This web site will probably remain largely inactive during this time of transition, but with any luck the site and email address will continue to function uninterrupted. I can only imagine the sonic adventures ahead, but I'll update this page with audio news from Asia as soon as possible."
June 10, 2004
Concurrent with his work in games over the last two years, Ben has been living a secret double life as a graduate student at the University of Washington. This bifurcation of acoustical effort ended this week, when Ben defended his thesis and fulfilled the final requirements for a Master of Music degree in composition.
Ben’s thesis composition is a computer program called Radiospace 1.0, which is intended to function as the basis for a sound installation. The work was programmed in Cycling ‘74’s Max/MSP, a graphical programming language for audio applications. Radiospace 1.0 digitizes an incoming audio signal from a radio, then fragments and redistributes the sound using granular synthesis techniques. Unlike many installation pieces, the work does not loop; rather, musical events are concatenated and overlapped to form an additive structure, as the incoming radio stream constantly replenishes the source material. The result is a continually evolving aural environment that ranges from disjunct and tumultuous to lush and meditative.
At UW, Ben studied composition with Juan Pampin and Richard Karpen and digital art with Bret Battey. Much of Ben’s work has focused on digital art, sound synthesis, and algorithmic procedures, trajectories that were significantly influenced by his work designing audio for digital games. Now that the degree is complete, Ben will continue to create music and sound art drawing on these techniques, to seek connections between academic and commercial disciplines, and to explore the sonic and artistic potential of the burgeoning game industry.
June 2, 2004
Ben's chamber work Mobile 1, scored for flute, piano, soprano, and cello, will be premiered by the acclaimed Ensemble Sorelle on June 20 at the Seattle Art Museum. The work is in three movements, "Amoeba," "Filament," and "Cipher," which may be played in any order. Mobile 1 continues Ben's exploration into open form and aleatory procedures, inspired by his work developing audio for video games. The individual components of the score are fixed, but they may be recombined in a number of ways for any given performance, according to procedures indicated in the score.
Sorelle's concert is another fine production of the Washington Composers Forum. Also on this engaging program are Sofia Gubaidulina's Zwei Lieder nach Deutschen Volksdictungen, Peter Maxwell Davies' Anakreontika, Lukas Foss' Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, and Bern Herbolsheimer's Albina.
May 18, 2004
In addition to tomorrow's Composers Workshop performance of Ben's Variations on _____, the work will be reprised at the Seattle Composers' Salon on May 28, 8pm, at Benaroya Hall's Soundbridge (Second Avenue entrance). The lineup will be slightly revised for this second performance, featuring Michael Chinen, guitar; Korby Sears, accordion; Dale Speicher, percussion; Chris Stover, trombone; and Tom Swafford, violin.
May 12, 2004
This Saturday, May 15th, Ben will appear live on Wisconsin Public Radio's Here on Earth radio program to discuss the cultural significance and impact of video games from an aesthetic (specifically musical) point of view. Other guests on the program are MIT's Henry Jenkins and the German media artist Tilman Reiff, co-inventor of the PainStation. The program will be broadcast at noon on Saturday, Seattle time (i.e., 2pm Wisconsin time). It's a call-in show, broadcast live on the web using RealPlayer.
May 2, 2004
Ben's composition Variations on _____ will be performed at the May 19th Composers Workshop concert in the University of Washington's Brechemin Auditorium (in the Music Building). The concert is free and starts at 7:30.
The work explores non-linear form, inspired by Ben's work designing audio for video games, and is scored for one or more performers on any instrument. The score consists of a transparency that is placed over an existing score of the performer's choosing, plus a chart that describes how to progress through the material exposed through the transparency. On this concert, the piece will be performed by a quintet consisting of Greg Bowers, harpsichord; Michael Chinen, guitar; Jon Haek, flute; Sean Osborn, clarinet; and Josh Parmenter, saxophone.
April 6, 2004
Wow, there must be a lot of Yoko Ono fans in Seattle! In addition to the Seattle Weekly interview, Wednesday's Grapefruits performance at the Capitol Hill Arts Center, organized by Seattle School, is featured in the current issues of The Stranger (a concert preview as well as a Stranger Suggests recommendation) and Tablet, and was also recognized with a pick in the Seattle Times.
March 31, 2004
Ben and his outspoken cohorts in Seattle School were interviewed by the Seattle Weekly to talk about their upcoming Grapefruits performance, a tribute to Yoko Ono and the Fluxus movement. Incidentally, the person biting his lip about halfway down is Ben, an ardent Cage admirer who doesn't think there's anything inherently wrong with "the concert realm."
In an unpublished portion of the interview, Ben explained the impetus behind his involvement in Seattle School. "Whenever you're involved in artistic creation, you're taking certain things for granted, unless you're a true titan like Harry Partch or somebody, building your own instruments, devising your own tuning system, inventing your own occasions for performance. You're always taking something off the rack, such as what it means to write for violin or to write a sonata. These things come with their own context. Seattle School is about questioning what we're taking off the rack, making sure that the things we use are really important to us."
February 5, 2004
Muziko Nova, St. Olaf College's new music organization, is presenting a Leap Day concert on Feb. 29, 2004, 2pm, at Minneapolis' Southern Theater. To celebrate the centennary of St. Olaf's music department, the concert will showcase works by St. Olaf alumni. Ben will be represented by his open form work A Reading from _____, in which four readers read from a text of their own choosing according to a chart and a set of instructions. In addition to the concert on Leap Day, festivities include a new music forum on Saturday, Feb. 28th, and a student recital on Friday, Feb. 27. For a full schedule of events, times, and ticket information, visit the Muziko Nova web page.
January 1, 2004
In a list of Seattle's classical highlights of 2003, Seattle Weekly's Gavin Borchert singled out Sound Currents for providing the Most Tasteful After-Concert Reception: an array of freshly made waffles, real butter, and 100% maple syrup. It's a fitting closure for a breakthrough year.
After years of planning, the Sound Currents series finally became a reality with concerts in February and October. Sound Currents spawned a spinoff, the composers' collective Seattle School, first convened to perform the music of Mike Min at Sound Currents 1 and subsequently presenting a full evening of works by Mike, Ben, Korby Sears, and Guy Whitmore at Polestar Music Gallery and on KEXP. And lest any of this tempt a composer to turn stuffy, spazzy space-pop duo Subpoenaed Lemur began working local clubs, providing a needed leavening agent.
Meanwhile, Ben continued his efforts to elevate video games to an art form, providing audio for projects by Sierra, ArenaNet, and Microsoft Game Studios. He also managed to squeeze in a liturgical commission from the ELCA for their Renewing Worship project.
Of course it's not surprising that these disparate sonic endeavors end up informing each other in interesting ways. With all of these projects going strong and plans for new ones already underway, here's to a sonorous 2004!
December 1, 2003
This weekend, odeonquartet will perform Ben's Music from Arcanum (musica arcana) as part of Advent services at Cross of Christ Lutheran Church in Bellevue, WA. Ben will be in excellent musical company with Bach's beautiful Cantata 61, Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, or Savior of the Nations, Come. Services are at 9am and 11:15am.
November 11, 2003
Next week, on November 20, Ben will participate in a concert by Seattle School, a composers' collective operating at the frontiers of performance. Ben will assist in performing some of his recent investigations into process and open form: A Reading from _____, Relay, and Study for Air Guitar. Other works on the program include Guy Whitmore's music for his sculptural, custom-built chain instruments; Korby Sears' party in a box; and Seattle School ringleader Mike Min's explorations of the karaoke phenomenon, including a work for karaoke singers and paintgun. The concert is presented by the innovative, celebrated Polestar Music Gallery; visit their web page for complete details.
October 29, 2003
Sound Currents 2 was another success! An enthusiastic audience packed the pre-concert discussion, and the energy continued unabated throughout the concert, all the way to the exclusive waffle afterparty. Another round of favorable press coverage is chronicled on the Sound Currents press page. Keep your ear to the ground for information about Sound Currents 3, currently being planned for next spring!
October 5, 2003
It's happening again; the second Sound Currents concert will occur on October 21, 2003, at Town Hall in Seattle. Cutting an even wider swath across Seattle's musical landscape than its predecessor, Sound Currents 2 will feature new works by Tom Baker, Greg Bartholomew, Nathan Grigg, Ben, Scott Selfon, Kevin Siegfried, and Donald Skirvin.
Ben will present two works for voice and piano, which will be performed by soprano Beth Ann Bonnecroy, accompanied by Peter Mack. Stranger Personals is a song cycle of personal ads drawn from the "Girls Seeking Boys" section of The Stranger, one of Seattle's alternative weekly newspapers. Libera me was composed for the computer game Homeworld 2, with a text from the traditional Latin Requiem mass.
Interestingly, Homeworld 2 was released about two weeks ago, and Ben's piece, a late addition to the soundtrack intended to play over the end credits, had been replaced by another composer's music. Libera me was, however, featured in promotional materials and broadcast on the video game channel G4. Having music pulled from a project at the last minute is actually not an uncommon phonomenon, and Ben now finds himself in the company of Elmer Bernstein, Rachel Portman, Michael Kamen, Jerry Goldsmith, and countless other composers who have invested more time in a project, sometimes complete film scores, only to have their work replaced by someone else's in the end.
And, as is often the case, even though the music wasn't used, the commission resulted in an interesting piece that would not have otherwise occurred to the composer to write. The text and musical material of Libera me were a response to Samuel Barber's Agnus Dei, which served as the main theme for the first Homeworld game. So if you want to hear Libera me, you'll just have to come to the concert!
September 6, 2003
Ben recently signed on to serve as audio lead for Microsoft's Mythica project. Mythica is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game based on Norse mythology, scheduled for release next year. Ben will be collaborating with a very talented team to bring the game to aural fruition. To find out more about the game's unique take on the genre, check out the Mythica site!
July 5, 2003
Last May, Ben designed sound for ArenaNet's new massively multiplayer online role-playing game Guild Wars. The game was unveiled for the first time at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles and has already emerged as a highly anticipated title for 2004, garnering numerous best of show mentions. The team, which includes several former Blizzard principals, have collected accolades from the press on their web page.
Ben created all the sound heard in the E3 demo and collaborated with the team in designing an audio system for their game.
June 19, 2003
A recent New York Times article proposed that Seattle may be the next Seattle. Indeed, impetuous, young bands are popping up all over the place, filling the city's many music venues with fresh, new sounds nightly. Even a band with a name as ridiculous as Subpoenaed Lemur can find a chance to perform, as they will do at the Rendezvous next Monday night at 9pm.
May 14, 2003
Those living around the Seattle area have two opportunities to hear new works by Ben this month. On Saturday, May 31, at 2pm, the Northwest Girlchoir will premiere Ben's new piece Blossoms as part of their spring concert, which will take place at Meany Hall on the University of Washington campus. More information is available on their web page.
And on May 24, tune in to Sonarchy on KEXP to hear a live performance by Seattle School, the composer collective formed to perform Mike Min's work Folding at the Sound Currents concert. In addition to works by Mike, Seattle School will premiere Ben's open form pieces A Reading from _____ and Variations on _____, as well as music by Guy Whitmore.
April 30, 2003
Those who were unable to attend last week's Playing the Game panel discussion on music for interactive media can read Seattle Weekly columnist Gavin Borchert's article "The New Opera" in this week's issue. The article includes insights and examples drawn from the event and from interviews with Ben and composer Scott Selfon, and Mr. Borchert makes some very interesting parallels between the nascent video game genre and the early days of opera.
April 29, 2003
As a member of the Esoterics, Ben will perform in three concerts celebrating the centennial of British composer Lennox Berkeley's birth on May 9, 10, and 11. This respected and accomplished composer was an associate of Ravel, Poulenc, and Britten, and his splinteringly gorgeous music demonstrates a remarkable synthesis of French and British characteristics. (It's also an obstinate but rewarding challenge to sing.) Visit the Esoterics' web page for more information.
April 16, 2003
On April 21, Ben will be participating in a panel discussion on music for interactive media entitled Playing the Game, an event organized by Gennady Filimonov of the Odeon String Quartet. Other panelists include game composers Alistair Hirst (Need for Speed), Marty O'Donnell (Halo), Scott Selfon (Xbox audio support), and Jeremy Soule (Icewind Dale). The event will be held at Cornish College of the Arts' PONCHO concert hall, Monday, April 21, 2003, at 6:30 pm. In addition to what promises to be a fascinating discussion about non-linear music, the Odeon String Quartet will perform Ben's Music from Arcanum (musica arcana).
March 3, 2003
Sound Currents was a fantastic success! Over one hundred enthusiastic and attentive people came to listen to new works by Ben Houge, Mike Min, Geoff Ogle, and Korby Sears on a Tuesday night on Mercer Island! The performances were excellent across the board, and the waffle reception was a big hit, thanks to the tireless efforts of Heather Helgeson, Celia Chavez, and Patricia Thompson, who set up the reception area, ran four banks of waffle irons, whipped butter, and administered 100% pure maple syrup to hungry fans of contemporary music.
The concert also received great buzz in the press, including recommendations and favorable previews in the Seattle Weekly, the Stranger, and the Seattle Times. Composers Alistair Hirst and Nathan Grigg joined Ben on KUOW's The Beat to chat with host Dave Beck about Sound Currents and the state of video game music. The Odeon String Quartet appeared on KING FM's Live By George program to perform excerpts from Ben's suite Music from Arcanum (musica arcana) and Geoff Ogle's String Quartet No. 1. Melinda Bargreen wrote in the Seattle Times that Ben's soundtrack for Arcanum "is sophisticated enough to pass muster on its own as an extended string quartet." For more press, visit the Sound Currents press page!
With this much positive momentum, you can look forward to the second Sound Currents concert this fall!
January 25, 2003
It's finally happening! After more than two years of planning, Sound Currents, a concert series devoted to music by composers active in the Pacific Northwest, will launch one month from today. The idea has been brought to fruition through the hard work and dedication of fellow composers Mike Min, Geoff Ogle, and Korby Sears, with additional contributions from Harry Love in the preliminary stages.
For this first concert, Ben will present a suite of music from Arcanum; Mike Min will present Folding, a work for voice and electronics (in which Ben will perform as a member of the new composers' collective Seattle School); Geoff Ogle will unveil his String Quartet No. 1; and Korby Sears will present Water for Pistons, a wind trio inspired by the urban legend of the water engine. The concert features performances by the Odeon String Quartet, Ryan Hare, Florie Rothenberg, Andrea Smardon, and Seattle School.
Sound Currents will take place as part of the Music & Arts Series of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church (where Ben is composer-in-residence), 8501 SE 40th St., Mercer Island, WA, on February 25, 2003, 8pm , preceded by a discussion with the composers at 7pm. On February 24th, the composers will visit Mercer Island High School to talk with students about music and what it's like to be a composer. Partly because of these outreach activites, Sound Currents has a received a generous grant from Meet the Composer. The concert is co-sponsored by the Washington Composers Forum and the Seattle Composers Alliance.
More information, including program notes, bios, and directions, is available on the Sound Currents web page. Hope you can attend!
November 20, 2002
All kinds of interesting things have been going on lately!
First of all, Ben's song cycle of personal ads, Stranger Personals, will receive its Northwest premiere this Friday, November 22, at 8pm at Brechemin Auditorium in the music building of the University of Washington. Marissa Rebadulla-Ramos will sing, accompanied by pianist Erin Earl.
Also, Louisana composer, arranger, and saxophone guru Paul Coats has arranged five of Ben's pieces from Arcanum for saxophone quartet! The results are posted at Sax on the Web, along with many other scores and articles pertaining to the saxophone.
Finally, a new tune entitled "Larry Rolls the Dice" is available for download from Ben's Mp3.com page; it's a jazzy number from the new Sierra release Hoyle Casino Empire. The piece was originally composed as the casino theme for Leisure Suit Larry 7, but here it receives a much more relaxed and nuanced reading by an acoustic jazz quintet.
July 15, 2002
The new Scores page on this site has been expanded to include the song cycle Stranger Personals (premiered last April by mezzo-soprano Patricia Thompson) and Ben's setting of Evening Prayer (commissioned by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America), in addition to Music from Arcanum (composed for the computer game Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura). You can view and print the scores (free of charge) by means of Finale's SmartMusic Viewer web browser plug-in.
June 3, 2002
The Esoterics, the adventuresome a cappella choir with whom Ben sings, present a series of concerts this month entitled Chroma. The fascinating program features music celebrating the colors of the spectrum by a wide array of composers: Gerald Finzi, Earl Kim, Maurice Ravel, Linda Waterfall, Ferenc Farkas, Arne Mellnäs, Malcolm Williamson, and the premiere of Donald Skirvin's "Alchemy." There will be four performances, as follows:
Saturday, June 8, 2002, 8 pm, Christ Episcopal Church, 310 N K St., Tacoma
Sunday, June 9, 2002, 8 pm, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 8501 SE 40th St., Mercer Island
Saturday, June 15, 2002, 8 pm, St. Joseph's Church, 732 18th Ave. E, Seattle
Sunday, June 16, 2002, 8 pm, Town Hall, 1119 8th Ave., Seattle
Visit The Esoterics webpage for maps and additional information.
May 17, 2002
A complete set of scores for the music Ben composed for the computer game Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura is now available for download from the new Scores page on this site. All 18 string quartet pieces have been posted, including the outtake "In Memoriam." Full scores are presented for following along with the recordings, and individual parts are provided for performance. You will need to install Finale's SmartMusic Viewer to view and print these files.
April 13, 2002
This month mezzo-soprano Patricia Thompson, accompanied by pianist Carl Gales, will premiere Ben's new composition Stranger Personals in her Master's recital at Indiana University. This song cycle is a setting of five personal ads taken from the "Girls Seeking Boys" section of The Stranger, one of Seattle's weekly alternative newspapers. The performance will take place at 3 pm on Saturday, April 27th, in the Recital Hall of Merrill Hall on the campus of Indiana University, Bloomington, IN. Ms. Thompson's program also features works by Handel, Mozart, Brahms, and Poulenc.
April 12, 2002
There's a catchy new tune entitled "Love on TV" available for download from Ben's MP3.com page. It's quite unlike the rest of the music posted there, featuring fellow Sierra sound guy Mike Caviezel on guitars and drums. Check it out!
April 2, 2002
The Seattle Composers Alliance will present a 5-year retrospective of the Seattle International Film Festival's popular and influential Fly Filmmaking series on May 1, 2002, at Seattle's Little Theater. The SCA is the official provider of music for the series. Among the short films screened will be Shaya Mercer's "Baby Express," for which Ben composed the soundtrack last June. For more information, visit the Seattle Composers Alliance webpage.
January 23, 2002
Ben's new motet "Blessed Are You, O Lord" will be premiered on February 2, 2002, by the Cantorei Choir of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church at St. James Cathedral in downtown Seattle, as part of the 5:30 p.m. mass service. This motet is the third piece in Ben's collection "Service of Light: Three Pieces for Evening Prayer," completed last year. The text is a blessing from the Book of Common Prayer. Ben will be in excellent musical company; the choir is also singing William Byrd's beautiful motet "Ave Verum Corpus."
January 2, 2002
Ben will join eminent Seattle choir The Esoterics as they perform the complete choral works of French composer Maurice Duruflé on the occassion of his 100th birthday this month. Works include his Four Motets and his masterpiece, the Requiem. There will be two performances: Saturday, January 12, 8 p.m., at St. Mark's Cathedral in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood; and Sunday, January 13, 8 p.m., at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church on Mercer Island. If you're in the area, come hear this beautiful, lush music inspired by the rhythms and modes of Gregorian plainchant.
December 8, 2001
Ben's new composition "One Winter Night" will be premiered by the Holy Trinity Cantorei Choir on Christmas Eve 2001 at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Mercer Island, WA. The piece will be performed at the 4 p.m. and 11 p.m. services, accompanied by a string quintet.
November 6, 2001
Sierra announced today that the immensely popular game Half-Life has been released for the PlayStation 2. The significantly enhanced and expanded PlayStation 2 version was developed by Gearbox Software, who also created Half-Life: Opposing Force. At the last minute, Ben was called in to design interface sound effects and compose a music loop for the main menu screen.
September 19, 2001
Now that Arcanum has finally shipped, Ben has compiled all the interesting information he could think of regarding the Arcanum soundtrack into a new Arcanum soundtrack page on this site. In addition to the full credits for the soundtrack, this page includes detailed information about the studio sessions and copious comments by Ben about the music, its inspiration, and its thematic content, concluding with a list of related and recommended CD's for further listening.
September 16, 2001
Ben just finished composing a new "Alleluia" for choir, congregation, and organ, which was commissioned for the installation of Pastor Wm. Chris Boerger as bishop of the Northwest Washington Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The piece will be premiered at his service of installation, which will take place at 1:00 pm on Saturday, November 3, 2001, at Salem Lutheran Church, 2529 North LaVenture Road, Mount Vernon, WA.
July 31, 2001
More of Ben's music is now available for free download from his brand new MP3.com page. Newly available pieces include music from King's Quest: Mask of Eternity and Leisure Suit Larry 7: Love for Sail!
July 20, 2001
Since the Arcanum sheet music was posted on Sierra's Arcanum site, the soundtrack has been doing remarkably well on the MP3.com charts. As of the time of this posting, the main theme is in the top 100 on the classical charts, and all of the Arcanum tracks are in the top 50 on the strings charts, with "Arcanum" peaking at number 2. Download the soundtrack to keep the momentum going!
July 17, 2001
Sierra has announced plans to post sheet music for Ben's Arcanum soundtrack on the official Arcanum site. The main theme has already been posted, with a new score to be added each week through the game's August 24th release date. A full score is provided, allowing interested listeners to follow along, as well as individual parts for performance. The scores can be viewed and auditioned with the Finale MusicViewer, a web browser plug-in available free from Coda Music. If you have questions or comments about the music's format, please write; web-based music publishing is relatively uncharted territory, and it would be interesting to read your feedback!
If you haven't heard the Arcanum soundtrack yet, it's available for free download at www.mp3.com/arcanum or at Sierra's official site. The music is scored for string quartet and was performed by members of the Seattle Symphony.
June 19, 2001
Last week Ben composed the soundtrack to Shaya Mercer's short film Baby Express, which was produced as part of the 2001 Seattle International Film Festival's Fly Filmmaking Challenge. Shaya and the rest of the crew had only 6 days to shoot, edit, complete post-production on, and screen the film, a genetic engineering comedy shot at Redmond Town Center. Baby Express was premiered, along with Fly Films by Guinevere Turner and Dan Mirvish, at Seattle's Moore Theater on Saturday evening, to an enthusiastic crowd of about 800 people. For more on the Fly Filmmaking process, check out an article that ran in Monday's Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
May 16, 2001
RPGDot recently conducted an interview with Ben in which he discusses the soundtrack for Arcanum, his musical influences, and past and future projects. The site also features (along with an unfortunately large photo of Ben) a previously unreleased outtake from the Arcanum recording sessions entitled "In Memoriam," available on RPGDot's music page.
May 14, 2001
Jonny Drama, a new beatnik spy game being developed by Sierra for the Xbox console platform, has been announced. Ben has been working on Jonny since finishing up Arcanum last fall. The game will feature a dynamic, interactive score using Microsoft's DirectMusic technology. For a taste of the game's vibe, check out the official Jonny Drama webpage.
April 2, 2001
The entire Arcanum soundtrack has been posted to Sierra's Arcanum page in MP3 format. There's also an Arcanum page at MP3.com. Portions of the soundtrack were included on the CD that accompanies in the May 2001 issue of Computer Gaming World, although the names of the tracks were mysteriously omitted. The original track names are as follows:
Track 1: Caladon
Track 2: The Demise of the Zephyr
Track 3: Battle at Vendigroth
Track 8: The Wheel Clan
Track 9: Radcliffe's Commission
Track 13: Qintarra
Track 14: Tarant
Track 15: Tarant Sewers
Track 16: Towns
Track 18: The Void
Track 19: Villages