Do you love fruit AND synths? Or, just love playing with new tech toys?
Demystify ✨ Inspire ✨ Educate ✨ Celebrate
Ep 28 | Immersive Audio & Sound Art
I’ve made it to Ep 28 on my bi-weekly podcast by women in music ‘Bitesize Bodacious Babes’ which offers bitesize chunks of information about the music industry aiming to demystify, inspire, educate and celebrate.
My guest Mahin talks banana synths, conductive paint for musical Twister, and seeing a kid in her class use a conductive instrument called a ‘Makey Makey’ to play Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir using water.
What we talk about.
✨ How Mahin the sound artist and a composer works well with her tech side as an Associate scientist at NYU in the Music and Audio Research Lab.
✨ She just built her own microphone from scratch ( a15 channel microphone)
✨ Conductive instruments including the ‘Makey Makey’ and it’s older sister ‘Ototo’ and more.
✨ Her path to now, including how she ended up studying at NYU in the Music Technology programme.
✨ Incorporating music technology into your work as an artist
✨ Lack of women in the music tech industry
✨ Binaural (think Dummy Heads) and 3D Audio
✨ How as an in society we have progressed from listing to things in mono to now being in surround and listening immersively.
Multimedia Installation Artist & Associate Research Scientist.
Mahin is a really good friend of my older brother Maitiú’s, and we all met when we were at uni in Glasgow.
Mahin herself was actually born in Saudi, lived there for 10 years, Bahrain for 5 years, Kuwait for 5 years, then the Second golf war happened and she was shipped to the UK. Her family is now in Malaysia, and after Mahin studied in Glasgow, she lived in Pakistan and Malaysia for a few years before deciding to move to New York. That’s when she started becoming a DJ in New York.
Mahin has an artistic and tech side to her. The music tech side of her definitely informs her music sound art.
✨ Artistic side: she is a Brooklyn based multimedia installation artist. Her work explores physical computing, human-computer interaction, third-culture identity, gender, mental health, memory, & cognition.
✨ Tech side: she is an Associate Research Scientist at NYU’s Music & Audio Research Lab. She works on the development & implementation of advanced sensor nodes for large-scale, high-resolution acoustic data capture.
Mahin recommends having a play about with the below:
✨ Arduino — a physical computing device. It is a great place to start if you are interested in making your custom sensors as from there you can attach different things
✨ Makey Makey — a conductive instrument for kids. Lets you attach it to different things to make your own synth or musical instruments. For example a banana synth. You put the crocodile (which carry the conductivity) clips onto anything that is conductive and you can turn it into a synth
✨ Ototo Synth — the big sister of the Makey Makey. It is a synthesizer and sampler which comes with a selection of optional sensors that you can plug into, or attach to, almost anything
✨ Conductive Paint — Mahin right now is working with conductive paint. She can paint things and have them trigger different sounds and visuals. You can also paint a synth and program your own sounds into that synth. This is a cheaper way than building your own instrument.
✨ Neumann ku100 Dummy Head Microphone — dummy head that is really heavy, that you screw on to a mic stand. Used to record binaural sound.
✨ E-learning — so much available online these days. Kadenze is the STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art & Maths) e-learning website she talks about
✨ For your work, go for what feels good and natural to you and think about what you want other people to get out of it
✨ Connecting to your audience, and having the audience and user in mind is #1 to Mahin for her installations
✨ Emotional intelligence is very important in this field
✨ Nonotak — Female, male duo who create light installations that are interactive
✨ Angélica Negrón — Puertorican born composer, now in Brooklyn. Multi-media instrumentalist. For live performance, she had a table of fruit to create live music. She uses the Ototo synth. She is also in collective Balún (check out their NPR Tiny Desk here). Video of her using synths.
✨ Jen Grossman — Mahin went to school with her, she is a sound artist. She keeps acoustics in mind
✨ Shelley Washington — A new music composer. She has a piece called ‘Big Talk’ written for two baritone saxophones. It is a response to rape culture and female experiences of harassment
✨ Pauline Oliveros — aka Mother of Electronic Art Music. American composer, accordionist, and experimental electronic art musician. Passed away in 2016. Paved a way for women in this field. Mahin highly recommends reading her ‘Deep Listening’ series where she talks about using listening and audio as a way of activism
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