This Thursday, students, community members and faculty gathered at the Kennedy Museum for “Phantom,” an experiment in musical performance by Ohio University’s New Music Ensemble. The event took place within the exhibit “Phantoms, Shadows, and Phenomena,” the visual backdrop for an immersive multi-media experience.
Musicians placed themselves sporadically throughout the gallery, some even facing the walls to achieve a sound that filled the three-room space. The audience was invited to walk amongst the musicians, who normally would be unobtainable because of a stage, were closer than an arms distance away and seemed almost vulnerable.
The experience seemed almost as much of a social experiment as musical one as the musicians were equally unaware as the audience as to how the process would work or occur organically. Movement was scarce until gradually members of the audience became confident enough to approach the musicians and circulate past the artwork. The audience, which was at first scared of the invitation for movement, became controlled by the sound as walking began to take a zombie-like quality that increased speed with volume and stopped completely when the audience intuitively felt the end of the first piece. The music seemed to dictate the behavior of those within the space.
The mood that director Dr. Andrew Trachsel desired for the performance was one in which the audience was just as much apart of the performance as those actually performing. This worked well within the first piece but seemed to diminish as the performances became more dependent on specific areas of the exhibit.
Within one of these stationary pieces, Aaron Butler, a graduate student in percussion, experimented with four triangles in a dark room lit only by projections of eerie short footage depicting paranormal behavior. Pedals were used to control different parameters of the software as Butler placed a microphone closely to the triangles he softly struck.
“The piece is basically an exploitation and exploration of the sound of a triangle. Triangles tend be thought of as a pretty little pointillist accents, but if you get in real close the overtones go on for a really long time and some of the coolest sounds of the triangle are the hardest to hear,” said Butler.
Audience participation was again instated during, “Waiting Room,” in which the musicians were separated from normal sheet music and instead given documentation in the form of circles and dots, which indicated what the musician should do. Breath was incorporated as well, as the musicians followed the rhythm of their own to keep a pace throughout the piece. Keys, shoes, and even The Post were all used towards the overall composition, as they were shaken, smacked, and ripped. In the spirit of musical inventiveness an audience member even joined in by playing the unattended gong featured in the center of the room.
In case you missed this musical experiment, come see the Nobrow Music Collective, which features members from the New Music Ensemble, Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, and Percussion Ensemble. The event will be free and tonight from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Arts/West.