At 11:00AM, on Monday, October 16, 2017, I successfully defended my Ph.D. dissertation, entitled Doing Sound: An Ethnography of Fidelity, Temporality, and Labor Among Live Sound Engineers. The defense took place in the Center for Ethnomusicology at Columbia University. I am honored by each committee member’s close reading of the work and their commentary, and I am deeply proud of this accomplishment! The committee included John Szwed, George Lewis, Walter Frisch, Chris Washburne, and Aaron Fox. John Szwed http://anthropology.yale.edu/people/john-szwed George Lewis https://music.columbia.edu/bios/george-e-lewis Walter Frisch https://music.columbia.edu/bios/walter-frisch Chris Washburne https://music.columbia.edu/bios/chris-washburne Aaron Fox https://music.columbia.edu/bios/aaron-a-fox
In conjunction with the Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University and Jazzmobile, Inc., I organized a special event entitled Jazzmobile, Community, and the Harlem Soundscape that took place in Columbia’s St. Paul’s Chapel on Tuesday, September 19, 2017. The event included remarks by the Center’s director, Professor Robert O’Meally, a performance by the Danny Mixon Trio, a presentation of my research that represented my ten year experience as the sound engineer for Jazzmobile, and the significance of its audience’s engagement with live jazz sound in Harlem’s outdoors. A video…read more
I am delighted to announce that I have been appointed to the Assistant Professor of Contemporary Music, Music Technology position in the Contemporary Music program at the Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts at The New School during the Fall 2017 to Spring 2018 academic year. My involvement with the students and faculty has been exceptionally positive, and I am looking forward to continuing my work there as a member of the faculty.
On May 4th, I presented a research paper entitled “Voicing Artis, Pianolizing Gershwin: Piano Rolls in the Post-Digital and Post-Industrial Era” in the panel entitled “Player-Pianos and Piano Rolls: Arrangements, Engagements, and Re-engagements” at the Ghosts in the Machine: Technology, History, and Aesthetics of the Player-Piano Conference. The conference was sponsored by the Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies and took place at Cornell University. The following is the abstract for the paper: Voicing Artis, Pianolizing Gershwin: Piano Rolls in the Post-Digital and Post-Industrial Era Artis Wodehouse’s “Gershwin Plays Gershwin”…read more
On April 7th, I presented a research paper entitled “On the Poststructuralism of Loudspeakers: Transduction and the Digital Humanities” at Reembodied Sound: A Symposium on Transducer-Based Music and Sonic Art at Columbia University. The following is the abstract for the paper: On the Poststructuralism of Loudspeakers: Transduction and the Digital Humanities How do transducers analyze power? How do transducers critique digital audio? How do loudspeakers construct and deconstruct musical culture? This paper points critical attention to the perpetuation of modern ideology in media technologies and the complications of such ideologies…read more
In the fall of 2015, I was the session producer for the Arthur Bird: Music for the American Harmonium recording project at Church of the Epiphany in Manhattan. I worked closely with Artis Wodehouse, the keyboardist and the project’s executive producer, in auditioning a number of recording venues around the metropolitan area, discussing instrument technicians and recording engineers, as well as the best recording techniques that would not only faithfully represent the sound of the repertoire but the sound of the Mason & Hamlin harmonium and the sonic emulation of an…read more
I advised Brielle Leibman’s ethnographic honors thesis entitled, “Eat, Pray, Love: Situating Gender, at a Dhurpad Gurukul Within and Beyond India” during the 2015-2016 academic year at William Paterson University. I met Brielle with other bright students in the Popular Music and Genre Study I and II course sequence, required courses that I designed for the Popular Music Studies Program. In those courses, I introduced students like Brielle to the histories and current trends of ethnomusicology, the anthropology of music, cultural studies, as well as an array of studies of…read more
I had the distinct honor to co-advise and be a committee member for Jasmine Henry’s masters thesis in the spring of 2016 at William Paterson University. Her thesis entitled, “‘Is R&B Having an Identity Crisis?’ Examining the ‘R&B Identity Crisis’ Phenomenon in the Contemporary Music Industry,” examines the intersection of musical style, anxieties of changing representations of racial and class identity, and the changing state of genre categories within the music industry. In addition to her important work of music industry analysis led by her advisor, Dr. Stephen Marcone, Jasmine…read more
On April 10th, I presented a research paper entitled “Amplifying Jazz as Cultural Repatriation in Harlem: Jazzmobile and the Urban Soundscape” at the Locations and Dislocations: An Ecomusicological Conversation conference at the Westminster Choir College of Rider University. The following is the abstract for the paper: Amplifying Jazz as Cultural Repatriation in Harlem: Jazzmobile and the Urban Soundscape Whitney Slaten, Columbia University Harlem serves as a global headquarters for historical and current black cultural production. Along with literary, political, architectural, culinary, and religious cultural phenomena, scholars have situated jazz as central in…read more
On April 3rd, I presented a research paper entitled, “Amplifying From the Shadows: Representation and Metarepresentation in Live Music Production” at the Music and Labour conference at the University of Toronto. The following is the abstract for the paper: Amplifying From the Shadows: Representation and Metarepresentation in Live Music Production Whitney Slaten, Columbia University How does a modern industrial ideology of transparency figure in the work of live sound engineers of pop music and effect an ethnographer’s study of live sound engineers? While amplifying music to intelligible sound levels for…read more
I had the honor of being invited to speak at the Columbia Black Law Student’s Association’s annual Paul Robeson Conference on the 27th of February. As a member of the panel entitled, “Art, Citizenship and Community,” I discussed my experiences conducting ethnographic fieldwork at Jazzmobile productions in Harlem, rock productions in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and music theater on Broadway.
On Sunday, November 8th, I presented a research paper entitled, “Liveness, Sonic Color, and Transparency: The Creative Agency of Mixing Recorded and Live Broadway Productions of Porgy and Bess” at the Art of Record Production in Philadelphia. The following is the abstract for the paper: Liveness, Sonic Color, and Transparency: The Creative Agency of Mixing Recorded and Live Broadway Productions of Porgy and Bess Whitney Slaten, Columbia University How do sound engineers’ consideration of social and technological transparency both clarify and obfuscate colorations of musical sound in the process of…read more
The following is an excerpt from a masterclass by Randy Weston and Abdellah El Gourd detailing the highlights of Randy Weston’s prolific career, as well as the healing practice of the Moroccan Gnawa people by Abdellah El Gourd. This masterclass was a part of the World Music History course at the School of Jazz and Contemporary Music at The New School.
This is a lecture/demonstration of a 1904 Edison Phonograph to students of the Technologies of Global Pop course at Lang College at The New School.
I presented a research paper entitled, “Transparency, color, and liveness: An ethnographic study of the live sound engineering of Porgy and Bess on Broadway” at the International Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres (IAML) and International Musicological Society (IMS) Congress entitled Music Research in the Digital Age at Lincoln Center in New York City. The following is the abstract for the paper: Transparency, color, and liveness: An ethnographic study of the live sound engineering of Porgy and Bess on Broadway Whitney Slaten, Columbia University How do live sound…read more
I presented a research paper entitled, “Sonic Color and the Transparency of Live Music Production: Mixing Porgy & Bess on Broadway” at the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM) Canada conference at the University of Ottawa on May 29th. The following is the abstract for the paper: Sonic Color and the Transparency of Live Music Production: Mixing Porgy & Bess on Broadway Whitney Slaten, Columbia University How do live sound engineers’ consideration of social and technological transparency both clarify and obfuscate colorations of musical sound in the process…read more
On February 21, 2015, the world lost a great leader, social theorist, jazz artist, master of the trumpet and flugelhorn, my mentor and friend: Clark Terry. Terry bestowed upon music an unfading contribution, one that everyone should encounter in his masterful craft that has impacted popular culture for generations. Each of us must critically engage his works across multiple forms of media, never resting on the simplicities of his entertainment but reverent to the cultural critiques and the personal humanity that he has always encoded in his sound. However, at…read more
Last Friday, I recorded Melodeon, a chamber ensemble that specializes in American music from the 19th century, at The Church of the Epiphany in New York City. I used three Nikon HDSLR cameras and only Earthworks microphones in a stereo pair and as spot microphones, all time aligned. I will be working on it all in post production soon, and I’m looking forward to the finished product.
Columbia was well repesented in the panel discussion orgaized by Ethnomusicology PhD Student Whitney Slaten at the 2015 annual conference of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM-US) in Louisville last week. The title of the panel was “Representing Labor in Digital Media: Radio, Records and Live Performance” and it represented an extension of Slaten’s research on the relationships between music and labor, sound engineering and reproduction technologies, and popular music. Slaten presented a paper entitled “Sonic Color and the Transparency of Music Production: Mixing Porgy & Bess…read more
As a recordist for The Center for Ethnomusicology at Columbia University, I recorded John-Carlos Perea’s performance of “Prayer” and “Don’t Cry” at the Center’s 2012 Native Sounds, North and South Conference and Performance Series. I am honored that John-Carlos chose to include these live recordings in his “Creation Story” album, released this year. The following is a link where you can hear the recording: https://johncarlosperea.bandcamp.com/releases
I was invited to present a research paper entitled, “Faders, Engineers and Genres: Mixing Live Music in New York City” at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, in association with the Africana Studies Department of Oberlin College. The following is an excerpt from the paper: “I have chosen to focus on the relatively inconspicuous social encounters between engineers and audiences during performances, those in which audiences mostly attribute the entirety of musical dynamics to the agency of musicians, while engineers continually adjust and readjust dynamic properties of the live mix in subtle…read more
I attended the NAMM Winter 2012 Convention in Anaheim, California in January. With over 90,000 attendants at the venue and hundreds of booths, it took me two full days to visit all of my favorite manufactures. I spent a significant amount of time at Electro-Voice. Their booth was one of the largest at the convention, it contained a large isolation booth where EV workers and sales representatives demonstrated their two relatively new portable loudspeaker systems: LiveX and ZX. I primarily listened to the LiveX ELX112P and ZXA1 full-range powered loudspeakers,…read more
I recently acquired an Apogee Duet firewire audio interface. Of course, Duet 2 became available only a month before my Duet package arrived. This is fine by me. I payed very little for the Duet and I am completely content with any Apogee product, even if it does not use USB 2.0 connectivity or a sampling frequency that extends upwards of 192kHz. Firewire 400 and and a top sampling frequency of 96kHz works perfectly well for me. In fact, this interface has significantly improved the quality of my recorded sounds…read more
The Shure SM58 is a dynamic cardioid microphone. Engineers typically use this microphone for the human voice and in live sound reinforcement applications. Its rugged construction, affordable price, worldwide availability and predictable sonic characteristics have made this microphone a very popular choice for many music makers. On one hand, the widespread use of this microphone seems to produce a sound that is very familiar among listeners, engineers, and musicians. On the other hand, expectations for this microphone sometimes trump the possibility for engineers and musicians to experiment with different vocal…read more
I had the distinct honor of mixing Courtney Bryan’s 2010 self released album entitled, “This Little Light of Mine” at the AM Studios in New York City. ProTools was the primary digital audio station that I used for the mix, as well as the use of strategic automation of parameters such as EQ and pan in conjunction with Bryan’s vision for changing sonic perspective and movement for certain tracks in the album. The following is a link to preview and purchase the album: https://play.google.com/store/music/album?id=Bomqck7rjekxuam7c2eyod7rmoe&pcampaignid=music_preview_share&rdid=album-Bomqck7rjekxuam7c2eyod7rmoe&rdot=1
I am thankful to have performed on a second album with Clark Terry, and my first with Louie Bellson entitled, “Louie & Clark Expedition 2.” The recording session took place at Clinton Recording Studios in New York City. Hearing all of the stories and being so close to expert musicianship in one room was inspiring. My tenor saxophone solo can be heard in the track entitled, “Well Alright Then.” The following is a link to samples of the recording and a description of the album: http://www.allmusic.com/album/louie-clark-expedition-vol-2-mw0001639865 With a title like Louie & Clark…read more
As a tenor saxophonist in Clark Terry’s Young Titans of Jazz Big Band, I performed during a six night engagement at the International Jazz Festival in Bern, Switzerland in 2004. With members of the Count Basie Orchestra in the audience, we recorded during two nights of the festival. These performances comprise the 2005 release entitled, “Clark Terry & The Young Titans of Jazz ,Live at Marian’s.” I had the great honor and pleasure to improvise a duet with Clark on the track entitled, “I Want a Little Girl.” The following is…read more
I performed with Babatunde Olatunji at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California during a week of drum workshops and a performance on the final day during the summer of 2002 before his passing in 2003. I spent a lot of one on one time talking with Baba about his life, West African musical aesthetics, John Coltrane attending his school in Harlem, and the two of us listened to the singing of Ali Farka Toure into the late night hours while overlooking the Pacific Ocean from his cabin at the…read more
I had the great honor of performing with Babatunde Olatunji and his band at Sounds of Brazil (SOBs) in New York City for their annual Kwanzaa celebration. We were also joined by Miriam Makeba.