What happens when you make music with vibrators?

Recently, I started taking my philisophical concepts about non-authoritative relationships between musician and instrument in to the real world. I started by experimenting with my primary instrument the traditional piano. Very logically, I deduced that putting vibrators in the piano would make it speak to me and  drastically change my conversation.

I did a short improvisation with one vibrator and posted it on Facebook for friends and colleagues to see and the next morning, I wake up to a sea of questions about my work. Ray Roa from Creative Loafing did a great interview with me for an article and that led to requests for radio performances and other opportunities.

I must say that I am very pleased that people are embracing my work, and interested in the concepts behind my methods. Since there have been so many inquiries about my piece Command Voices for Piano & Vibrating Objects, I created a couple of videos. The work always spins out in a new way because each piano has different quirks and in many ways this parallels the life of a psychotic patient, who has a variety of responses and interactions with their auditory hallucinations from day to day, week to week, month to month, and year to year.

On July 14th at St, Petersburg Opera, I will present my first public performance of Command Voices alongside many other works by local choreographers, Helen Hansen French and Kellie Harmon; in addition to new compositions by my duo with Erich Barganier.

For now, please enjoy some iterations of Command Voices!

Perpetual Motion

Perpetual Motion

Everything is in a state of perpetual motion and everything is changing. Often it can seem like the whole world is moving forward and your consciousness is lagging behind a physical ship traveling at warp speed through the stars. There is so much of our lives that lives in an oscillating state of misalignment, our personal lives, our artistic lives, our quiet movements for self-reflection.

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Changes & Ideas Abound

The last week and a half has been highly productive, though I have to admit, it has also been quite exhausting and so my planned blog for last week has morphed into a late blog for this week.

Last week, I went down to Naples to introduce students to experimental music making devices, thanks to an invitation from Barron Collier High School's Orchestra Director, Jordan Lamb. I played for the students using my small format setup (mini grand toy piano, Mother 32, Organelle, and Indian Harmonium) along with a visual synthesizer. I also, brought down two 25-key tabletop toy pianos, my Wiimote/Wii Balance Board interactive synthesizer rig, and a theremin. After performing for the students and fielding many insightful questions about music for commodity and art music, I allowed them to have "petting zoo time." It was interesting and amusing to see how following initial teenage reluctance, they embraced the instruments with childlike creativity and had a wonderful time. I have to say that I felt completely worn out and yet fully energized by this experience. I love to perform and create works for dance as well as film, but introducing other people to different ways of thinking about music is always a highly rewarding aspect of my life as a performer.

Baker-Barganier Duo Rehearsal & Album Planning...

Baker-Barganier Duo Rehearsal & Album Planning...

The past week has also, been full of album planning. Erich and I  mapped out a summer recording schedule and came up with the title for the Baker-Bargainer Duo's first full-length album. I should mention that we have a unique way of coming up with titles for pieces and albums... we start tearing apart my library and opening to random pages in books to find fragments of sentences that we find particularly appealing. I'll reveal the title in a later blog post but after reviewing several books including: The Andy Warhol Diaries, The Zombie Survival Guide, Psychology of Music, and a variety of other titles; we settled on a passage from *The Bible*!

As if planning to record a duo album wasn't enough to fill my plate, I finally became highly inspired yesterday for a new solo concept album. I have been reading an incredibly thought provoking book called Digital Stockholm Syndrome in the Post-Ontological Age by Mark Jarzombek, which I picked up last month while I was in NYC for a performance and lecture. All of a sudden, I happened upon a phrase "Microbes + Algorithms = Life" and this resounded with me in a deep manner. As I sat at Bandit Coffee enjoying my typical Kyoto drip iced coffee and lavender macarons, the words kept drawing me in... the multitude of people in the coffee shop began to melt away, and it was if I was being physically pulled into the pages of the book through a tunnel. I kept reading over the equation over and over again, then the paragraph directly above it, then the passages right below it... the narrative came to me as if from another dimension beyond myself... I had begun to completely envision the flow of the album and the instrumentation... I could hear... I could feel the vibrations of the music, the text coursing through my veins, I could see the choreography and visual performance aspects, and then... RogueDance's Artistic Director, Kellie Harmon brought me out of my trance! It was time to work on RogueDance planning and branding.

Later that evening I downloaded a new minimalist word processing  program and began fleshing out further details for my upcoming solo album. I have to say, I am absolutely in love with the minimalist markdown method of writing and the focus feature of the program. My ideas are flowing so seamlessly because I am not hindered by formatting and other elements on the screen. Tuesday, while at work, I was completely able to finish the outline for the album in both text and musical form, thanks to the new interface, there were no distractions to hinder my progress.

While productivity and the ability to be a self-starter has never been much of an issue for me, the structure of having to maintain a regular blog has also caused me to delve back into a project in which my participation over the past year has been quite spotty. The Iteration Project, founded by the wonderful Harper Addison in Tennessee, gives participants a prompt each week and then asks them to interpret the prompt in any medium of their choosing. The prompt for the week of April 10 was *Falling* and, I took on the task of interpreting the prompt as well as experimenting with my new gear to create a short piece, which I then posted on Soundcloud. My interpretation of falling came more from the idea of "falling from grace" and those that fall from grace in our society are seen as outcasts. While I didn't broach the subject further, on a publicly traceable platform, I did ruminate on the subject of falling from favor throughout the week. How often in our lives do we fall from the grace of our friends, loved ones, and professional colleagues? Quite often throughout our lives, because nobody on this earth is perfect... How do we rebuild our reputation after a fall from grace? Can we rebuild our relationships after a fall from grace? These last two questions are highly subjective and do not have universal answers... thus leading me to an intellectual impasse.

Perhaps, this impasse is a great place to stop for the time being... for now, I leave you with my product of Iteration 30: Falling.

Elizabeth A. Baker

Celebrated for her “terrifying dynamic range,” cleanliness of sound, as well as unique sensitivity and ability to sculpt her performance for the acoustics of a space, Elizabeth A. Baker is a dramatic performer with an honest, near psychic connection to music, which resounds with audiences of all ages and musical backgrounds. As a creator, her understanding of sonic space from organic intuition and studies in music production, pair with a unique eclectic voice, making for a spatial and auditory experience of music. Eschewing the collection of traditional titles that describe single elements of her body of work, Elizabeth refers to herself as a “New Renaissance Artist” that embraces a constant stream of change and rebirth in practice, which expands into a variety of media, chiefly an exploration of how sonic and spatial worlds can be manipulated to personify a variety of philosophies and principles both tangible as well as intangible.

An active performer highly sought after for her unique concert presentation methods, which break the fourth wall and draw the audience further into the music by asking them to listen beyond the surface through interactive dialogue, reminding them that there is no such thing as an incorrect interpretation of a work. Elizabeth firmly believes that every person will encounter music in a unique manner because each person comes from a different set of cultural norms, life experiences, and even the way they physically hear can be a factor to consider when seeking to relate with a work. Her solo performances have featured engagements at Lamar University (Beaumont, TX), Flying Monkey Arts Collective (Huntsville, AL), Eyedrum (Atlanta, GA), Southern Methodist University (Dallas, TX), Georgia Museum of Art (Athens, GA), Spectrum (NYC) and the Good Shepherd Chapel (Seattle, WA).

Emmy-award winning composer Larry Groupé has referred to her works as “Perfect.” and compared one of her early works to Debussy’s Engulfed Cathedral. Elizabeth’s works have been featured by Composers Circle, FIVE by FIVE, TEDxYouthTampaBay, Tampa Mini Makers Faire, Orlando Mini Makers Faire, as well as at the 2014 Electronic Music Midwest Festival and the 19th International Festival of Women Composers. Her compositions have been studied in academic institutions throughout the United States including USC-Thornton and the University of Georgia – Athens.

Elizabeth is author of Toyager: A Toy Piano Method, the first comprehensive instructional book for toy piano, featuring principles of technique, practice strategies, music notation, as well as improvisational tactics. Additional books include a multimedia collection of writings and photographs called Musings of a Young Composer and Compositions for the Contemporary Student Pianist, an anthology of solo piano pieces

Elizabeth is Founder and Executive Director of The New Music Conflagration, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and 509(a)(2) public charity founded in the State of Florida to promote the work of contemporary composers and musicians. She is also, Founder and Director of the Florida International Toy Piano Festival. Elizabeth is Music Director of Rogue Dance, an innovative modern dance company based in St. Petersburg, FL.