Friday, October 12, 2012

Monica M. Tinyo ’13 on MiddletownRemix

CFA Arts Administration Intern Monica M. Tinyo ’13 talks about "MiddletownRemix", which is part of "Music & Public Life", a year-long campus and community-wide exploration celebrating and studying the sounds, words, and spirit of music, in this entry from the Center for the Arts blog.

Are we not formed, as notes of music are,
For one another, though dissimilar?

—Percy Bysshe Shelley

Technology can foster insularity and just as easily foster limitless synthesis. MiddletownRemix utilizes the synthetic faculty of technology and the internet, inviting all members of the Middletown community to share and remix the sounds of Middletown in an open, online forum. The program, part of Wesleyan’s year-long campus and community-wide exploration Music & Public Life, lets all residents express and share their experiences living in greater Middletown through one minute sound recordings that are organized by theme or location. The website brings together a perspectival spectrum of Middletown sounds to form a cohesive and collaborative record of Middletown as a place and as a creatively-charged community.

Sound bites can be posted and remixed by anyone—high school students or retirees, new residents or residents who have been in Middletown all their lives. MiddletownRemix, a subset of the Georgia Institute of Technology’s UrbanRemix program, “geo-tags,” organizes and presents every sound visually by the location of the recording as points on a map online. The creators of MiddletownRemix have made certain their website is easy to use and accessible: there is a step-by-step guide to recording and downloading sounds, a smartphone app, and by the end of this month, anyone will be able to check out an iPhone or iTouch for recording purposes from Green Street Arts Center.

I had the opportunity to talk with Wesleyan's Center for the Arts Program Manager Erinn Roos-Brown about MiddletownRemix. Erinn explained that Music & Public Life, and specifically MiddletownRemix, was created as a celebration of music in Middletown and music as activism. MiddletownRemix acts as a creative solution that allows the Wesleyan campus and greater community to engage their surrounding environment through music in a more interactive way.

Erinn explained further that all participants of MiddletownRemix can become composers in their own right, either by documenting sound or creating new acoustic identities in mash-ups. The sound recordings and remixes ask the questions: what is music, what is Middletown, and how do the sounds and remixes reinforce or redefine communal and personal perspectives on Middletown?

Participants are challenged to think not only about the sounds around them, but also about four Middletown locations: Main Street, Middlesex Hospital, the North End neighborhood, and the Connecticut River. There are also monthly themes like “Elections” or “Emotions” that can be taken as literally or abstractly as one would like. While participants can be guided by these themes and locations, they have the flexibility to record whatever sounds they believe represent their city.

Music and Public Life has partnered with Middletown Public Schools, Green Street Arts Center, and Middletown’s arts stakeholders group to create the broader range of participants for MiddletownRemix. The DJs of Wesleyan radio station WESU 88.1 FM will air the sounds and remixes that they find the most interesting every month. At Wesleyan University specifically, MiddletownRemix is incorporated into the Music Department's curricula by Professor Ronald Kuivila and Assistant Professor Paula Matthusen. More broadly, Music and Public Life is incorporated into every aspect of campus life at Wesleyan, from classes to performances to colloquia.

MiddletownRemix’s year-long exploration will culminate with a community-wide celebration on Saturday, May 11, 2013, featuring the world premiere of a composition for laptop orchestra by Jason Freeman of UrbanRemix.
Listen to this week's featured sounds and remixes, then start gathering your own sounds: sign-up, download the free app for your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch or Android phone, and start recording!

Music & Public Life
A year long campus and community-wide exploration, including concerts, lectures and discussions, symposia and colloquia.

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