The beauty of Portugal...

   Having now finished what seems like an exhaustive set of posts about June in Buffalo, I turn my attention to another side of my output. In my spare time, I research the analysis of interactive music, with extensions into multimedia as well. I've got a previous paper published in the proceedings of EMS-2012, and I've worked up a fair amount of future material as well. But this post isn't about my research--it's at best fledgling and somewhat naive, even though I'm doing what I can to tackle some difficult materials.

   Instead, it's about another conference. This time, I traveled to Portugal for EMS-2013--Electroacoustic Music in the context of interactive approaches and networks. Ah, now you see the relation to my preamble. My research is the reason I was able to participate in this great yearly event.

    Strangely, I didn't write about my experience last summer. More than likely I was in one of my lulls, moments when existence seems its most futile. Or perhaps I didn't have the words for the experience. So, a year later, I'll sum up briefly before hitting 2013.

    EMS-2012 was in Stockholm, Sweden. Coincidence? Not really--I had the idea for my Fulbright, but going to Stockholm, meeting people, and spending time at the conference cemented my resolve, and helped start important contacts. I presented the paper linked above. This paper was originally written for a course at UMKC taught by Paul Rudy--the analysis and aesthetics of electroacoustic music. Not too many of those courses taught in the US, and, obviously, it was worth every moment of my time.

    The conference itself was inspiring. I had never even tried to get into an academic conference before. First try and I'm off to Stockholm for one of the big EA conferences (the biggest of course being ICMC, but that one is a bit too big...and tech rather than analysis heavy. At least the organizers of EMS thought so...and most were on the board of ICMA!). It was an astounding experience. As with all conferences there were highs and lows. But I met Simon Emmerson, Michael Clarke, Rosemary Mountain, Bill Brunson, and many others. I even made friends my own age, that even a year later I still talk to online. And not just about research. LOL

    So, I entered EMS-13 with high hopes, but also with a clear mind. I'm not so foolish to think that my experience wasn't coloured. Oh no, as I slept and prepared my powerpoint between JiB and EMS, I knew full-well that the high of last year would not be repeated. That first experience is always memorable.

    And with that I flew to Portugal. Much was the same--I reacquainted myself with Simon, Michael, Rosemary, and Bill. I made some new friends, drank inexpensive beer, and talked about a great many things with a large number of people.

    I won't go through the papers, abstracts, and discussion with the same level of exactitude that I did with JiB. There's one major reason--my poor little head, even with my notes, the program book, and online resources, couldn't possibly wrap itself around so many topics.

    One of the few disappointments I saw in this conference compared to 2012 was the lack of cohesion. There was a topic (see above). And there were papers on it--Simon Emmerson, Pierre Couprie, a nice discussion of an installation by Ola Nordal (forgive the lack of accents...), a presentation on the Emo-Synth by Valery Vermeulen (MIND BLOWING!), John Colter's discussion of his sound-dome, and a few others. Again, I'm purposefully not being exhaustive. But there were, at most, maybe 8 presentations of the topic. The rest were wide-ranging, from philosophy and ontology, to listening strategies, to analysis of acousmatic works, to pedagogy. Many great presentations...but with the breadth of people flipping from subject to subject, it made it very difficult to follow and keep my head straight. Having a session with 3 papers, with 3 different topics, in 1.5 hours was a bit rough on my poor noggin.

    But that's a small complaint. What's really important is the context.

    Why would I fly all the way to Lisbon, Portugal for an academic conference about electroacoustic music?

     I reference a bit of my earlier post on why JiB is important for participants. One huge, but simple point--while we live in a world where information travels easily from continent to continent, we are all still very localized.

    Our concerns are, first, to our own lives. My life is currently in Kansas City. If you ask me about the contemporary music scene, or the electroacoustic scene, I know what's happening fairly well. I'm clued in slightly to the NY scene as well thanks to living in the region for a while. I know bits from friends who live all over the country.

    I do not know about the scene in Portugal beyond the existence of Joao Pedro Oliveira, and he doesn't currently live in Portugal. I do not know all the current research being done at De Montfort University in the UK regarding teaching EA music to K-12 learners. And even though I know Michael Clarke, we're not great friends, and I don't email him constantly asking about the development of TIAALS. And I just met Fredrick Dufeu (sorry, no accents), so I couldn't very well email him either.

    Even though these are people and places dealing specifically in what I do, I don't have constant contact with them. I'm worried about my local environment--as are most people.

    And that's the real reason I flew to Portugal, and why i'm going to do my damnedest to get to Berlin next year. Yes, presenting a paper, getting a publication possibility, and the professional side is great. Meeting all the people and making new friends, also great.

   But it's the ideas, the information, the reconnection to the global community that is so important for me. I come away with tons of new ideas, ideas that are not anything like what is happening locally. Things that, at times, stretch far beyond even what's happening on a state level or national level. And it puts into perspective just how different the systems are, how diverse interests worldwide are, and where I fit within a global society of musicians.

    It's invigorating to me, important professionally and pedagogically, and entirely worthwhile.

    FPV 2014--We're gonna change Berlin forever.

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