A selected bio from www.interlog.com/~speeb

Sarah Peebles is a Toronto-based American composer, performer, and broadcaster. She pursued violin, composition, and theatre studies in her native Minneapolis, MN, and received a Bachelor of Music degree in composition in 1988 from the University of Michigan School of Music at Ann Arbor. Peebles studied traditional and contemporary Japanese music at Toho Gakuen School of Music (1985), and studied and performed traditional and contemporary music in Japan independently and as a Japan Foundation Uchida Fellow over extended periods between 1985-1993. She has composed for electroacoustics, small ensemble, dance, installation work, video and film, animation, inter-disciplinary collaborations and music-theatre. Her current music focuses on computer-assisted composition and improvised performance using Max programming with internal sampling software, often together with live and/or prerecorded sh™ (Japanese mouth-organ), and often explores alternative performance settings, such as museums, bamboo groves, temples and parks. She is a member of "Smash and Teeny" (with guitarist Nilan Perera) and "Cinnamon Sphere" trio (with Perera and calligraphy performance by Chung Gong Ha).

A selected bio from www.interlog.com/~speeb

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I'm interested in finding out more about what the response has been to your music from audiences that have not had as much exposure to experimental or leftfleld music? I'm sure many into Max, sound design, and sound work have their own approach and interests but how have others reacted?

It's been surprisingly positive and gratifying. I've received many positive responses from all sorts of people, many who have expressed they enjoy working to the music, doing yoga to it, even listening to certain works in times of personal introspection..... and they just seem to enjoy it. Still, to be realistic, most people just don't get it - but that doesn't surprise me.

I'd like to know a little about the ideas or concepts behind the "Insect Groove" album.

The CD is a collection of performances, studio works and field recordings which I felt, at the time I compiled it, in the year 2000, represented my strongest work, and, which could exist together in a way that flowed well. The sonic materials themselves have common threads because I tend to work by drawing from an ever-expanding library of sounds which I collect. During this period of work, I collected a lot of insect sounds.

There seems to be some political motives with regards to the issues you address regarding the forests in British Columbia?

Absolutely. Canadian forests everywhere are being mowed down - rather than judiciously regulated - and BC wood, much of which is 200-600 years old, is sold mostly these days for millions of shiny new homes constructed in the U.S. The issue, I think, isn't really the need for such a huge volume of houses, it's about a money-driven industry, and it's about consumption - as with highways, build them and they will come. I suggest your readers check out the web site I listed on the CD: www.ran.org. Oh, and of course, without forests, much of our insect diversity would vanish.

Many are familiar with writer and musician David Toop but could you tell me a bit about the other artists you worked with on the album?

One of my primary improvising partners is Nilan Perera, a Toronto-based sonic explorer, improviser and composer whose work expands the language and techniques of experimental electric guitar performance. Together, we've worked in the mixed media trio "Cinnamon Sphere" (myself, Perera and calligrapher Chung Gong Ha) since 1996, and in our duo "Smash and Teeny" since 2001. Perera is an extraordinary musician whose approach to working with sound is always fascinating and mesmerizing: he utilizes preparations of assorted paraphernalia such as swizzle sticks, paper clips, metal brushes and the like, as well as feedback and a variety of electronic effects.

Cinnamon Sphere invited Jin Hi Kim to perform with us in 1997. Jin Hi Kim is an internationally recognized komungo (a fourth century fretted board zither) virtuoso and composer. She's pioneered a wide array of compositions for the komungo in combination which she has performed with the likes of the Kronos Quartet and the Xenakis Ensemble, and has been very active composing cross-cultural mask dance music theater and other collaborative forms between cultures. Kim has also co-developed the world's only electric komungo with Joseph Yanuziello, which you can hear in the track insect groove. Kim is also unique, I think in that she's developed a series of compositions, "Living Tones" , where each tone is alive, embodying its own individual shape, sound and subtext.

Kô Ishikawa is one of Japan's principal shô (Japanese mouth-organ used traditionally in gagaku, court orchestra music) performers and improvisers, who also works with electronics. His work with leading composers of written music and with ensembles performing new and traditional works around the world is extensive, and in recent years his activities as an improviser and performer works involving electronics, including Cathode with Otomo Yoshihide and Let there be Light with Nami Hotastu, have been substantial. He and I met many years ago in Tokyo and worked together on some projects in the early Î901s. We invited him to participate in our Cinnamon Sphere concert at Space Alta, and our connection was especially rich because his father had been a calligrapher..

How did your relationship start with C74?

They sent me an email announcement that they were starting up a label. I was on their list because I'd bought a copy of Max/MSP software from them. As most of my music has utilized some version of Max since 1995, it made sense to approach them with my work.

Open discussion of your software seems to be important to both you and C74 while others seem to keep their methods behind a curtain. What are your thoughts?

I haven't experienced others keeping their methods a secret. On the contrary, there's a very open attitude in general among software users who create experimental music.

How did your studies in Japan effect your current work? Could you tell me a bit more about the sh›?

That's hard to pin down for me. Living off and on in Japan provided me with a large variety of really interesting experiences which were both social and artistic. I think that just taking in what that scene has been has influenced my aesthetics, from musicians/composers such as Yuji Takahashi, Takemitsu and Somei Satoh to mixed media artists like Sakaguchi Hirotoshi to Butoh people like Anzu Furukawa and Min Tanaka to traditional musics such as Gagaku (court orchestra music) and Edo Sato Kagura (Shinto pantomime mask dance dramas from the region of pre-Meiji Tokyo). The sh™ has a unique and fascinating timbre, and it has a rich and somehow mysterious acoustic presence Ü you could say it throws sound in unexpected ways. I've always been mesmerized by it. I1m not the greatest player, but I love playing and exploring new territory with it.

What interests you in the type of music you create and what pushed you in that direction?

I suppose it's timbre and form that interest me the most.

Do you feel their is an equal part of theory/development vs. emotion driving your music?

I'd say there's some kind of balance between intuition and intellect at work when I approach a project, maybe it's 50/50.

What instruments and software are you currently using in your work?

Macintosh G3 Powerbook (333), Max/MSP (Cycling 74) - an object-oriented programming environment - for both real time MIDI control and digital signal processing; Unity DS-1 (Bitheadz) as in internal sampler (which is software-based); on special occasions the Hammerfall DSP Multiface (RME) for converting my stereo output into 8 discreet audio channels which are then routed to the Richmond Audio Box (Richmond Sound Design), which work in conjunction with ABControl software, via which I spacialize discreet channels simultaneously in real time. In those cases, the ABControl is used on a 2nd laptop and directed to the Audio Box via a SCSI connection. Additionally, the sh™ (mouth-organ), which I use either acoustically (without amplification) and/or which I process. I have some images of these set-ups on my web page. (www.interlog.com/~speeb) for now. Regarding the 8-channel stuff, I had the pleasure of doing 8-channel spacialized performances recently - Cream Test Centrifuge - with David Toop, Nilan Perera and Darren Copeland in Toronto and Montreal, which launched both 3Insect Groove2 and 3108ÜWalking Through Tokyo at the Turn of the Century2 (enhanced Cds; more on my site).

While a lot of artists seem to power up their laptop on stage and go to work for live performances, I see you are involved in a lot of multimedia work.

Yes, but I do both.

Could you tell me about what your live performances are like and what you try to accomplish with them?

I don't try to accomplish anything in particular, except making good art. And good art defies description for me. However, there's a lot documented on my web site, and I think that pictures do go a long way to getting a feel for what went on across. The work spans Îmulti-media1 performance, film, video, studio works and such.

And maybe a bit about Cinnamon Sphere?

We decided to call it 3ritual, cinematic performance for the eyes and ears2, because Nilan Perera and I felt that describes what it's like to create a sonic representation or reaction to large brush and ink paintings which shift each and every moment they are created; Gong being the painter - sort of like a Korean version of Jackson Polluck's approach. It's a bit like watching a movie, for both us and the audience.

How did you get involved in the Whose Forest project?

I instigated it, produced it; spent 6 months doing it. Our Conservative Ontario Government was doing a big big move to permanently redefine the usage allowable for the vast areas of forestlands in the province (as usual). I wanted to see community involvement in backing the project and was quite surprised and gratified at the enthusiastic artists and business support it received.

What new projects are you working on currently?

I'm attempting to enjoy doing nothing. The rest is a secret.

One last little question...when you're not working, what do you like to listen to?

Folk music from various countries (I play fiddle), new music of various kinds, Kid Koala, wind in the trees, surf and bugs.

Justin Hardison

 

 
 
 
 
 

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