June 29, 2013

Man Of La Mancha...

by Chris Randall

Okay, here's the deal: I'm not a millionaire. Or even a ten-thousandaire. But I was always told "dream big!" And I do have a big dream. I've had this dream for a while, but I've only told two people about it, because I thought it sounded kind of stupid. They didn't laugh in my face when I told them, so maybe it's not a stupid dream after all.

Here's the thing: I would like to (re)create a late-50s / early-60s tape-based electronic music studio (of the sort used by Stockhausen, Varese, Schaeffer, Dissevelt, Dockstader, et al) that was completely free for interested parties to use. My thinking here is that a facility like that is not a whole lot of use to a single person, but wouldn't it be interesting if, say, Richard Devine or Alessandro Cortini or other current experimental electronic musicians had access to a vintage electronic music studio? What would they make, bringing today's musical vernacular to that context? I think that's music worth hearing, honestly.

I have a firm idea of what equipment such a studio would have, and I have a good working knowledge of how that equipment is used. But I have no idea how to bring it about other than throwing a shit ton of money at it. My dream precludes financial renumeration (it would be fiscally impossible to make such a facility actually turn a profit, of course) so I would operate it on the following basis: if you have musical credibility in our peer group (and since it's not a terribly large group, that isn't even really a judgement call) and you can get yourself here and put yourself up and pay the expenses (tape ain't cheap), schedule permitting, it's yours to use as you see fit.

Okay, maybe it isn't silly. It would be tough to pull off, though. Go ahead. Have at it. Laugh and laugh. In the meantime, here's some vintage e-music studio porn:



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Jun.30.2013 @ 7:45 AM
Chris Randall
As an addendum, this sort of thing really isn't that complex, if you know the methodology. Check this video out for a quick example of pure tape music writing with just a tone generator, a shortwave, and three decks.

link [vimeo.com]


Jun.30.2013 @ 8:11 AM
Sounds like it could be a cool location to hold a synth meetup, an educational workshop/classes, or even a small demonstration/performance.

Jun.30.2013 @ 8:33 AM
Hey Chris

Read the history of the SF Tape Music Center at link [www.mills.edu]

SUbotnick and others put together just such a lab that you want with shared access but it looked like it only lasted 5 years before the "tape center" evolved into something else. The group/organization exists today and they sponsor performances but I wonder if any vetige of the old lab exists?

Jun.30.2013 @ 9:53 AM
It sounds to me like you found your Kickstarter. It's even the kind of project that Kickstarter was originally intended to fund.

Jun.30.2013 @ 11:17 AM
Here is an idea: run it as kind of a museum, and look for some grant money and donations. I am certain there are guys with too much money and a love for electronic music who would help in that regard (and you could probably find most of them in the Buchla section of muffwiggler).

I'm not rich, but I'd kick in a few bucks. I'd value this more than I do NPR and I give them $120 a year (and you don't even need to send me a tote bag).

Jun.30.2013 @ 1:13 PM
yip, grant money. or partner with a university. there should be funds at european art schools and universities that can help you making it real. maybe you should make it aprojet first. Get grant money to rebuild stockhausen's studio from 1958 for an exhibit, and then take all the stuff and "put it into storage" somewhere close to where you live.

Jun.30.2013 @ 1:28 PM
Yeah, I think you should be looking for a university to partner with. Honestly, I wonder if you couldn't piece the whole thing together from stuff I've seen sitting in the back of classrooms at the Columbia Computer Music Center - link [music.columbia.ed...]

It is an obvious Kickstarter, but I bet there are several universities out there with the correct gear sitting around gathering dust while kids take Ableton classes or whatever.

Jun.30.2013 @ 2:19 PM
Chris Randall
My major hurdle here would be that I know exactly zero about academia. Or making 501(c)(3) corporations. S-Corp? Done it half a dozen times? C-Corp? That too. But the other flavors, I just don't even... But that's what lawyers and accountants are for, and that brings us back full circle.

In any event, let's have a checklist of what such a facility would offer:

1. The obvious main function: being a free-to-use electronic music recording studio, with a heavy bias to the tape arts, but utilizing modern technology where not doing so would just be makework, and not bring anything to the process.

2. The obvious secondary function: performance space for the above.

3. A place for clinics (Ableton User Group meetings, etc.)

4. An art gallery. The location I'm thinking of is on the 1st/3rd Friday route, albeit an area secondary to the main route (Grand Ave, around the Pie Factory, for the locals), and while this may not mean a lot in other cities, it is a _very_ big deal here. Phoenix's First Friday is by far the largest in the country, and regularly draws 50K people, who are all predisposed to interesting things. Many businesses on the 1st Friday route do 100% of their commerce that one day a month, and aren't even open the rest of the month.

5. And this is in no way important to the discussion, but I just thought I'd add it: a place to put my coin-op arcade games. Or to put it another way, it would fulfill the same function for musicians that the VFW or Eagles Lodge fulfills to old guys: a place to hang out and bullshit.

Anyhow, I'm just spitballing here. I believe the idea is feasible. It wouldn't make anyone rich in dollars, but could conceivably be a good addition to the musical culture of this city, such as it is, and provide a valuable resource to people around the country and/or world.


Jun.30.2013 @ 2:48 PM
Mr. B
I think it's both crazy and an excellent idea. For whatever it's worth, you can put me in the column for those who'd be willing to donate or support a kick-starter style campaign. The one caveat is that my support would not quite reach the level of "guy who hangs out in Buchla section of muffwiggler" due to the confines of circumstance.

Jun.30.2013 @ 3:06 PM
You can solve the academia problem by finding a good grant writer who has experience with academic grants in the arts. "Grant Writer" is a fairly common job description in the nonprofit world, they live and die based on their ability to secure institutional funding.

Creating a 501(c)3 is more complex than just creating a corporation. You have to form your entity first, and then convince the IRS to accept your status as a nonprofit. This may or may not be hard to do for a music studio. I've heard that umbrella organizations exist that allow you to work within their 501(c)3 status. I have no idea how legitimate these are, or what the costs are. But it would probably be worth checking out.

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