PEP volume 2 CD cover

Check out Andrew Timar’s review of Piano and Erhu Project Volume 2 on WholeNote. The album includes my piece Who Made the Inch of Grass, of which Timar writes: “[It] haunted me the most, prompting repeated pleasurable listening.”

Piano and Erhu Project is a collaboration between two fantastic Vancouver musicians, Corey Hamm and Nicole Li. They commissioned Who Made the Inch of Grass in 2014 and have put on several fantastic performances of the piece since.




Does classical music need fixing?

In this interview with the BBC’s Newshour, I discuss what classical music could do better when it comes to building audiences and attracting new listeners. Moderated by the BBC’s Tim Franks, the segment was inspired by an earlier interview with pianist James Rhodes. I join Graham Vick of the Birmingham Opera Company in an open-ended conversation addressing a number of topics, from exclusivity in classical music to alternative venues to the social context of concert-going.

Listen to the interview on the BBC website.



Are classical recordings underpriced? (photo credit)

Perhaps the classical music world has taken the entirely wrong approach to selling recordings; perhaps the reason they don’t turn a profit is because they’re significantly underpriced. Maybe we should be charging way more—like, three-figure prices per copy. And no, I’m not talking about charging extra for value-added stuff like boxed sets or exclusive tracks, I’m talking about, “Hey, this recording is awesome, so the price is $150.”

Hear me out before you dismiss this as crazy. Inevitably we’ll sell fewer copies if we set a higher price point, but that might not be harmful. In fact it might be a good thing. Read on ››

An analogue delay line, definitely not in SuperCollider (photo credit)

For the final blog post of my SoundMakers residency, I’m going to outline some of the technical details of how my SuperCollider patch for Longuement me sui tenus works. The functionality is the same for each of the four singers, with each having his or her own independent “patch” running within SuperCollider. The only difference is that the singers are panned differently across the stereo field.

I’ve provided a diagram that outlines what happens as the vocalists sing: the mic sends the signal to an input “synth,” which then passes it to the delay line and to the end limiter. The delays are created by the spawner independently of the input source, and they pass their signal to the limiter, where it is combined with the original and outputted to the speakers. Read on ››

A collection of microphones (photo credit)

Once I settled on the “prepared voice” concept for my SoundMakers commission, I had to figure out how to make it a musical reality. I had tested a few simple delay lines, but they weren’t great: I was either getting mechanical-sounding echoes or washy reverb. I needed something that blended more completely with the acoustic component of the voice.

To be able to fine tune my delay patch however, I first needed some kind of vocal synth. After all it would be hard to figure out if I was going in the right direction if I didn’t have a voice-like sound to plug into it. I could tune the patch to a certain extent using my own singing voice, but that wasn’t going to tell me if the patch works in a polyphonic setting—I needed either four singers at my beck and call, or a synthesizer patch with the appropriate acoustic characteristics. Read on ››