Buzz’s Maddy Marsan sat down with Dennis Reyes, a graduate student in the School of Music, to discuss his work in yesterday’s Transient Images concert.
The end product of electroacoustic music is not about production or about the amount of hits on YouTube.
Rather, the end product is about art.
The University of Illinois’ Experimental Music Studio has been on the top of its game since the 50s. The studio is run by the dedicated and highly regarded Scott Wyatt. Wyatt has been running the program for the past 40 years, acting not only as a successful teacher but also a father figure to his students.
The program encompasses composers such as John Cage along with musicians who have worked with King Crimson, The Talking Heads and David Bowie. These studios in the fifth floor of the music building are like hidden gems, enclosed by locked doors.
Dennis Reyes is an internationally recognized electroacoustic composer and doctoral student at UIUC. Dennis has been featured in notable concerts and festivals, and was recently chosen to perform works at the University of Kent and Staffordshire University in the UK.
“The experimental studio is not the same as other studios around the country. Around the country they use the studio as means to produce music,” said Reyes.”They teach music technology to know how to run a studio.”
The UIUC program has a slightly different approach, said Reyes.
“But here we are learning how to create music using the technology that we have,” he said. “The emphasis is on creating music. We are using the studio as a means to create a masterpiece.”
Reyes’ piece “Bolgia” was part of Tuesday night’s Transient Images concert in the Music Building Auditorium. This was one of his last performances as a student.
The Transient Images concert featured an alumnus and grad students of the School of Music performing with a custom multi-channel surround system. These pieces used fixed media by the use of ‘Musique Concrete’ – a method of recording raw materials to create natural sounding compositions.
“You don’t know what the objects are. When you hear it you won’t recognize what it is,” said Reyes. “The material is built up, like an orchestra – but that doesn’t mean you use everything that is pure about that instrument. It’s about mixing colors and timbres.”
Reyes’ piece, “Bolgia”, uses every day objects – like a ruler and stapler – to represent 14th century poet Dante Alighieri’s “Inferno”, a poem from his Divine Comedy. “Inferno” tells the story of the journey of hell through the nine circles of suffering that are placed around the world. The piece exerts this energy through three movements: Heaven, Purgatory and Hell.
In the dimly lit auditorium, the sounds came to life. There was no recognition of staples and rulers in “Bolgia”. Instead, strange, almost extra-terrestrial noises spewed out at all angles of the room. The carefully crafted journey through hell completely encapsulated the audience.
Scott Wyatt mastered the concert into an album, making this experience last a lifetime.
The exquisitely produced electronic composition style is what propels this program, said Reyes.
“The most important thing is that the students of the U of I have a specific style of writing music. With that alone, we are beginning to have an indelible mark.”