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Three students from the Master of Music in Music Production, Technology, and Innovation program were selected to present the projects they developed throughout the course of the year via the social media channels of the International Music Summit (IMS), which took place in Ibiza, Spain, on May 23–25 2018. Serena Aboudaher’s We’re Not There, Carlos Egas’s Tia Joyo, and Francesca Pavesi’s TACTO were first proposed to the festival’s organization by program director Pablo Munguía.
“We made a call to MPTI students who had completed audio-visual projects to present them at IMS for consideration. The committee then conducted the selection process and informed us of their choices. Once the selection was made, IMS worked with the students to present their work in the best possible way,” says Munguía.
“It was an honor to be part of this. Now, we are talking about going and presenting my project at the IMS Malta conference in September,” says Pavesi, where Berklee faculty member Nacho Marco will be hosting a music production workshop, and Stine Glismand, director of the campus’s International Career Center, will provide one-on-one career advice sessions on September 14 and 15.
Egas explains that the feedback obtained has been really helpful for Tia Joyo. “By having prepared the demos, project description, and questions, I feel I have really condensed the key elements that form part of a pitch,” he says.
A Year’s Work
All three projects were developed at Pierce Warnecke’s Applied Media Lab, a space where basic electronics, motors, virtual reality (VR), and 3D printing are covered during the first semester. “We show a lot of techniques and some straightforward applications, which students will then often use as inspiration or springboards to continue developing these ideas into their personal culminating experience (CE) projects. Throughout the whole year, we follow and assist students where we can in the lab. I like to see the space as a community of shared ideas and mutual assistance,” he says.
Pavesi’s TACTO is a sound design instrument shaped as a wooden box with motors and electronics, controlled by a laptop that creates a motion that generates sounds amplified by contact microphones. The idea behind this instrument created by the 25 year old from Milan, Italy is to integrate everyday sounds into contemporary electronic music production.
Pavesi explains that she never built something made of materials such as wood, metals, and electronic components before. “This is something new that I have learned this year at Berklee. Every day was continuous research about sound, trying to find the right materials that could represent what was in my mind by creating sounds that I could work with. The most important challenge for me was starting from the beginning. One would say that should be the most simple thing—but even though the first prototype was completely functional, inside I knew that the work, and especially the process, was not totally perfect. So I had to destroy the first one and use some old components with new ones, starting from zero, in order to create the final version of the instrument,” she says.
Egas’s Tia Joyo is a VR experience that integrates music, exploration, and an immersive environment. The project name acts as its inspiration; the words mean “spiritual search” in the Secoya dialect, spoken by various groups in the Ecuadorian, Colombian, and Peruvian Amazon region. “I am deeply attracted to the concept of creating self-contained multimedia narratives. I want to create experiences where the user is either in the driving seat or being an active member of the piece, and new media like virtual reality, spatial audio, and reactive audiovisuals allows me to do that,” says Egas, who was born in Quito, Ecuador 23 years ago.
This project was developed as his CE. “The first ideas for the concept and its development started when I got accepted at Berklee Valencia. I had to learn a lot of different software, like Unity, Blender, or Wwise, and constantly change or fix parts of the functionality of the project until it reached a stable version. In every step, I had to always review the main concept and judge if the direction I was taking was according to it. And of course, I had to compose my first songs ever,” he says.
We’re Not There is a concept EP album that includes songs that are influenced by numerous genres of music, including experimental music, electronics, jazz, Arabic, and hip-hop, along with visuals that are influenced by surrealism, minimalism, abstract art, and dadaism. A 24 year old from Dubai, UAE Aboudaher employed 3D design and printing to create extrusions on large prints of her collages, which she then video mapped with dynamic content to really breathe new life into her pieces.
“The goal was to find my artistic voice in music-making and increase my production and creative skills in music. The unexpected challenge was the technical errors I faced with the prints, bouncing my visual and music stems and translating them into different formats. By the end, facing these challenges led me to know a new aspect of my artistic side, which today I embrace and plan to make grow,” says Aboudaher.
Warnecke considers the future applications of his students’ projects to be numerous. “First of all, they are fantastic representations of the student work done here and serve as great examples for future applicants and incoming students. Right now, the students have been presenting these pieces in galleries, clubs, concerts, and festivals here in Valencia and beyond. So I hope to see them continue to work on these projects and continue their success in showing them in these kinds of places, with future iterations of the projects,” he says.
Aboudaher explains that she also had the opportunity to present We’re Not There to some of the guests who visited Berklee’s campus in Valencia, like Nona Hendryx, Patrice Rushen, and Katrina Becic. “They mentioned that I have a great art direction and musical execution, and that my passion and work will only grow and take me to great places,” she says.
After years of executing music and art through technological tools and software, Aboudaher says that the Berklee environment increased her listening and musical skills. “Learning how to design your own sounds, perform one's visuals on a live set, and to map anything designed and animated through projections was an important new skill that I acquired,” she says.
Pavesi joined the MPTI program after attending the Spain Summer Abroad Program in 2016. “I was already thinking about applying to the Contemporary Performance (Production Concentration) program to continue playing trumpet and to have the possibility to play with people from all around the world. But after two or three days on the summer course, I immediately felt that in the production program I was able to find my own sound and voice, and could do something that was truly mine. It was a discovery of what my capabilities could be and what I could be in the music world,” she says.
Pavesi performed at Berklee's concert Discover-i in Fall 2017.
To develop TACTO, Pavesi says that at the Applied Multimedia Lab she learned new skills like electronic components and Arduino, which expanded her knowledge of technologies. “Everything that I have learned during this year in the MPTI graduate program at Berklee Valencia was, and continues to be, a crucial part of the development of TACTO and of my artistic identity. I can say without a doubt that before Berklee, I didn’t know what I know right now,” she says. Egas explains that the MPTI program provided him with the novel concepts of innovation, prototyping, and iteration that made the development of Tia Joyo possible.
Warnecke believes that the exposure students gained through IMS will benefit them professionally. “I think one of the hardest parts of graduating is that it’s a moment of pivoting into the professional world. A lot of students are just starting out in a field of interest with fairly fresh knowledge and a toolset...and not many connections. Building your community and network is extremely vital; in fact, many Berklee students are already doing this during their studies,” he says.