As a sound engineer, producer, jazz musician, and ethnomusicologist, Whitney Slaten is sensitive to the social and cultural significance of media presentations of music, paying close attention to the special needs associated with asserting live acoustic music in the sound quality at events, in recordings, and aural/visual representations in online social media. In particular, he is interested in technologically supporting representations of live acoustic music in ways that foreground these performance practices as vividly as industrially produced examples of popular music. Slaten has provided live sound reinforcement engineering services to Jazzmobile, a not-for-profit organization that produces outdoor professional jazz performances throughout neighborhoods in Harlem and various communities in New York. He has also regularly record and archive the rare American keyboard instruments of Artis Wodehouse, as well as her performances of the music of early American composers.
As a record producer, Whitney crafts recordings in collaborative processes that equally assert his artistic vision and the expressive sounds of performing artists, engineers, and recording labels. In this effort, Slaten respects the historical and current social contexts of musical repertoire, as well as the character of the performer’s improvisations, the sounds of the instrument and venue. His primary aim during recording sessions is to encourage the performer and engineer to be comfortable and confident in their production of sound.
Rhythm is a musical parameter that Slaten works to foreground as much as spatialization and visual scope in video production. He switches between camera angles rhythmically in relation to musical phrases and/or sections of musical form. Sometimes he follows these phrases and cadences, alining the movement between different camera angles with the direct musical intentions of the composer or performer. Other times, he does not follow these aspects in the music, as a way to produce irony or hasten and delay the viewer’s optical experience of tonality/atonality that they also hear.
Harry T. Burleigh's Annual Service of Negro Spirituals at St. George's Church: A Tribute
Steven Kirby "One Year 1914-1915" Harry T. Burleigh Society Tribute
Steven Kirby "Go Down Moses" Harry T. Burleigh Society Tribute
Omar Bowey "Her Eyes Twin Pools" Harry T Burleigh Society Tribute
Omar Bowey "Deep River" Harry T. Burleigh Society Tribute
Amanda Finch "Jean" Harry T Burleigh Society Tribute
Amanda Finch "Scandalize My Name" Harry T. Burleigh Society Tribute
Marti Newland "Lovely Dark and Lonely One" Harry T Burleigh Society Tribute
Marti Newland "I Got a Home in a-dat Rock" Harry T. Burleigh Society Tribute
Artis Wodehouse, arranger "Old Songs and Spirituals for the American Reed Organ" Harry T. Burleigh
Janacek Good night! on Mustel harmonium Artis Wodehouse
Janacek Our Evenings on Mustel harmonium Artis Wodehouse
Janacek The barn owl has not flown away! on Mustel art harmonium
Confederate Waltz on Steinway square piano
1855 Express Galop train music Steinway square piano
Live Sound Engineer
Slaten’s work as a live sound engineer has been extensive. He has “done sound” at an array of different musical events, such as Hasidic musical theatre performances, gospel concerts at church revivals, Indian classical music performances, and jazz festivals. Slaten’s experiences doing this work over the years has been the primary inspiration for his scholarly research about the topic. As an engineer, he aims to evenly build and maintain a momentary trust among both performers and audiences, amplifying what he and they define as musical sound at each event.
As a sound recordist, Slaten is interested in representing the boldness, fullness and “color” of sound sources, as well as the unique and significant acoustic contributions of the space of the performance. Finding the balance of these features is both the challenge and reward of this activity. For these reasons, Slaten especially prefers to use omnidirectional microphones and spherical baffle configurations to encourage immersive listening through headphones and loudspeakers.