For almost two hours on the night of Nov. 16, a small crowd was treated to an electronic audio journey in Stony Brook Computer Music Studios’ Aural Architectures.
The Recital Hall of the Staller Center was the venue for composers and musicians to come together with modern technology in a jarring synthesis of past and present.
“From the outset, our aim was to produce ‘user-friendly’ concerts,” the concert pamphlet read.
The initial piano piece, titled “It’s What’s on the Inside That…,” began with what sounded like the soundtrack of being chased by an evil murderer down a dark castle hallway. Japanese musician Yumi Suehiro, 29, combined slapping the piano keys with stepping on a pad that triggered static guitar sounds.
“It was an interesting and simple piano piece to play,” Suehiro said.
Suehiro said she has played piano since she was six and won the top prize as the youngest winner of the Kobe International Competition in her native Japan.
“Music for Hi-hat and Computer” was as close as an alien abduction that is taking place in a kitchen with a lot of pots and pans might sound.
Audience member Daniel Pate, a 30-year-old San Diego native studying at Stony Brook for his Doctor of Musical Arts degree, said it was his favorite.
“It may be because I’m a percussionist,” Pate said. “I love the interaction between artists and electronics.”
Composer Leigh Landy, who directs the Music, Technology and Innovation Research Centre at De Montfort University in England, put together a humorous compilation of BBC audio clips called “To BBC or Not.”
Laughter erupted as the piece drifted from clips of Amy Winehouse singing, President George W. Bush talking and Cristiano Ronaldo scoring a goal.
“Is Britney Spears finally getting the help she needs?” one BBC reporter pondered in a soundbite.
The special guest of the night was a new organization called Circuit Bridges. Created earlier this year, Circuit Bridges has a monthly concert at Gallery MC in New York City.
“The goal of Circuit Bridges is the collection of electroacoustic music communities all over the country,” David Morneau said, a composer and director of the organization.
For Aural Architectures, Morneau composed a piece of eights. The title was “in8” and it was based on 8-bit music from old Nintendo Game boy games. The piece also used an 8-channel surround-sound system and it had eight movements, each 64 seconds long.
Seemingly created for a space opera, “Épisode de la vie d‘un artiste,” translated as “Episode in the Life of an Artist,” soothed the audience onto a spaceship before twice taking off into a space race aboard an alien vessel.
Closing the night was a sensory overload named “Composition for S#/^^y Piano, Processing, Drum Samples and Concrete Sounds.”
Though the concert pamphlet warned, “The crappy piano has interesting kinds of indeterminacy associated with it” and “Every crappy piano is different,” the actual performance transcended a simple bad piano. It was heavy, borderline trippy and the pianist acted almost angry at the keys.
Dating back to 1989, Aural Architectures officially got its name in 2007 under the direction of Dr. Margaret Schedel and Dr. Daniel Weymouth. It is one branch of the different electroacoustic music performances at Stony Brook.
Though the night was one of experimentation breaking musical barriers, Pate approved in the end.
“Stony Brook is really bringing some world-class entertainment to Long Island,” Pate said