Back in August, we started rehearsing for Color Play, a collaboration between Center of Creative Arts (COCA), and Lawrence Arts Center (LAW).  This entire process was very new for us, not only because we did some light acting, but the approach to scoring a play musically was nothing we’ve experienced before.

The video above gives a quick look at the rehearsal and creation process, while the video below explains the early educational research for the production led by Amanda Pintore.

We were lucky enough to be interviewed by Arizona State University’s Early Childhood Network Newsletter digging a bit deeper in our process, as well as Rachel Allai from the Lawrence Arts Center, of creating the music for Color Play.

Follow the link here:  The AATE Early Childhood Network Newsletter: Fall/Winter 2018!

Syna So Grateful for the budding partnership we have with St. Louis Public Library’s Creative Experience..  We’ve successfully completed our 4th workshop within the space and we feel this was the best one yet.

The goal was to interactively allow participants to score original music from passages of text, an image, as well as a short silent video clip.

We’re learning what works and what doesn’t as far as formatting and presentation, but we feel this presentation hit the perfect sweet spot.  We plan to put on another 4 workshops for 2019, and we think this will be one that we will repeat!

Enjoy the clip of the participants working below!

We recently auditioned for Metro Theater’s “Wonderland” as a musician and actor(?) and although we felt extremely uncomfortable, choked on the guitar, and wished we did more audible sounds in our physical acting exercise, we’re excited to have been offered two speaking roles and to play music throughout the production.

Down the rabbit hole we go!  More info as it comes!

Syna So Expanding!
Wonderland

We’re having a wonderful time utilizing Central Library’s Creative Experience!  This will be our third workshop we’ve done in the last year, with two more slotted throughout the rest of 2018.

We decided to do this workshop as an answer to the many folks who’s asked us to give them looping lessons.

“Looping lessons“, we thought.  “How would we do that?”

Understanding that some people want to master their equipment as quickly as possible, or they are having trouble figuring out the signal pathway, or visualizing the many ways loops can be utilized, we thought the easiest option was to do a free workshop on the subject.

Live Looping Best Practices

The workshop was interactive, giving the participants intermittent times throughout the 2.5 hours a chance to execute what they learned.  One they got a handle on a topic, we gave them more directives and advice to consider and dropping them back into the loops they were creating.

At the end of the workshop, we played everyone’s final loop they were tweaking, building, layering and mixing for all participants.

We had the honor and privilege to be apart of A Call to Conscience, Inc‘s production of Beah Richard’s “A Black Woman Speaks” poem.  She was a political artist and activist with a long career on stage, screen and television. She is better remembered by her stage name Beah Richards and the 1967 Oscar-nominated role as Sidney Poitier’s mother in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, her Tony Award- nominated performance in James Baldwin’s The Amen Corner (1965), or even her role in the 1990’s as Dr. Benton’s mother on the long running television series ER for which she won two Emmy Awards. Her political commitments led her to make a career out of playing older women in a range of politically charged films and stage performances.

Watch Beah herself perform her poem below.

Our role in the production was to provide sound design, soundscapes and music to accompany the poem.   Thomasina Clarke was the sole performer for the poem and sent chills down our spine all three nights at The Griot Museum of Black History.

Bob Wilcox and his crew had this to say about the production:

We were very pleased to work with Fannie Lebby, Linda Smith, Thomasina Clarke and Vivan Watt.
ABWS

Last November was the month of collaborations!  We did our first Gaslight Sessions with Lydia Caesar as well as a session inside of Nelly’s Ex’Treme Institute, and participated in St. Louis Ensemble with 17 other local musicians for John Weise’s Collaboration presented by New Music Circle.

Lydia Caesar is an ASCAP award winning artist who’s had her voice featured in commercials for international brands such as Vicks, Reese’s Pieces and BET Music Matters.  After releasing her “Queen of Hearts” record in May of 2018, she do a live recording of her songs with a stripped down feel to showcase her vocal talents.  Below is video of the Gaslight Sessions with us on guitar.

John Wiese is an artist and composer living in Los Angeles, California. He is a native of St. Louis, where as a young teenager he began experiments with home-recording on a cassette 4-track. He has since solidified his name as a tremendously prolific performer and recording artist, with expertise in composition, texture, and sonic experimentation. Wiese says he doesn’t really think of himself as a musician in the traditional sense, and instead of writing purely notated music he works with manipulating, cutting and arranging sounds electronically. The end product is more like a meticulous collage, built upon dense, nuanced sounds ranging from the minimal to the frenetic.

With a lengthy résumé of solo releases, Wiese’s projects as a collaborator have increased over the last decade to produce works with the likes of veteran jazz-improviser, Evan Parker, rock bands like No Age and Wolf Eyes, and metal groups such as Sunn O))). Recently, he has lead collaborative projects for large groups, developing a method of “text-based scores”. For his St. Louis performance he will debut a site-specific composition that includes over 20 local musicians, utilizing both traditional and non-traditional instrumentation.

Below is a video recorded and produced by Foveal Media, where you can see us contribute our vocals to the ensemble.

St. Louis Enemble
Darin Gray – upright bass
Danielle Taylor Williams – harp
Julio Prato – electronics
Coby Pear – modular synthesizer
Drew Gowran – percussion
Michael Williams – tapes / electronics
Chris Trull – Guitar
Fred Tompkins – flute
Sarah Vie – violin
Alex Cunningham – violin
JJ Hamon – pedal steel guitar / trombone
Necia Baxter – turntables
Dave Stone – Saxophone
Syrhea Conaway – vocals / electronics
Josh Kahl – Modular synthesizer
Alberto Patino – drums
Louis Wall – cymbals

We have been continuing the trend of teaching musical/audio workshops within the Central Library’s Creative Experience.  We feel like this is our 2nd home for the latter half of 2017 after being within these walls for 10 consecutive weeks for Sonic Arts United‘s Loud and Clear STL Fall Program.

In this FREE 2 1/2 hour workshop, we lead participants in on the creation of instrumental music with focuses on combining rhythm, melody, harmony, song structure, and mixing (volume and panning).   We played various instrumental tracks we’ve been working on while guiding participants to listen with a producer’s ear.

Intro Excerpt below!

 

Definitely enjoy this type of work and we’re looking forward to more opportunities in 2018!

Loud and Clear STL, a Sonic Arts United initiative and Allied Media Projects sponsored project, is a 10-week program designed to support girls, and young women who have an interest in the sonic arts, by providing them with a safe space, and the technology to learn, create and share ideas.

Starting off with the physics of sound and signals, our girls learn how to define and demonstrate all that goes into sound creation. We will explore electricity by using the printed circuit board (PCB) of the Werkstatt by Moog as our guide. In the following weeks, participants are introduced to subtracted synthesis, sound design, midi, how to work with analog and digital tools by pairing the Werkstatt with the Ableton Push, and Live 9 software, investigate sonic branding, and development of their very own podcast episode.

The desired outcomes are to raise the self-esteem of participants, create bonds that foster mutual respect, and provide the necessary tools, training, and mentorship that shows girls and young women a career in the sonic arts, is an achievable career path for them to follow.

Fall session starts September 9th through November 18th and we are pleased to be instructing a couple sessions with Loren D!

 

 

We had the honor of collaborating with our dear friend, Kahlil Irving in his final exhibition at Washington University’s Mildred Kemper Gallery.  Kahlil is a talented multimedia artist (designer, writer, curator) more famously known for his pottery work.

In this exhibition, his work is about black nationalism and the fight that Black Americans have to continue to endure while walking in this life. The hopes and experiences within the piece, intended to share with the viewers attending the exhibition, is that we are here, we are healthy, and we are fighting for our liberation beyond the metaphorical and physical chains they have put on us.

Because of the setting and political social climate of the current United States, we chose to re-arrange James Weldon Johnson’s “Lift Every Voice and Sing” for 4 part female harmonies.   Below is a recording of our performance, with local vocalist/musicians, Alexis Coleman, Adria Nicole, and Loren Davis-Stroud (left to right).

Listen closely to hear Kahlil silently singing along with our performance.