Seriously - an interactive graphic notation piece for A/B Duo

January 5, 2018 update: Video from the November 15, 2017 performance at UC Riverside has been added to the end of this post.

"Seriously" Interactive graphic score hanging at the Light Club Lamp Shop in Burlington, VT, right before our show.

"Seriously" Interactive graphic score hanging at the Light Club Lamp Shop in Burlington, VT, right before our show.

I designed and constructed an interactive graphic notation piece for A/B Duo (my flute and percussion duo with Chris Jones). I created one other graphic notation piece in the past (more about Blueprint here) so I didn't want to do exactly the same thing again. This time I wanted to make sure that the audience could see the score even if we were at a venue that didn't have image projection capabilities. It was premiered on October 24, 2017 at the Canterbury Parish House in Canterbury, NH. It was during an outreach concert organized by the Avaloch Farm Music Institute. I finished constructing Seriously while A/B Duo was in residence at Avaloch.

I bought a few yards of durable canvas-like cotton fabric and learned to use a sewing machine. There's fabric paint, metal studs, hand-embroidered bits, buttons, LEDs, conductive fabric and thread (instead of metal wire or solder), and a bit of copper tape that you can see on the front. On the back, there's an arduino board made by Bare Conductive, a few batteries, velcro, and tons of blue painters tape! 

Some of the buttons turn on LEDs while some of the buttons and the conductive textiles trigger mp3 sound files on the arduino board. I sampled and processed vibraphone, cello, and vocal sounds. I originally intended the thing to be a kind of instrument to be played by Chris as another percussion instrument but after a couple run throughs and performances, it seemed to work best if I triggered the sounds and the lights during the performance. 

Because of the nature of graphic notation scores, every performance can vary a lot so I don't want to post one recording of it right now. Unlike Blueprint, Seriously was meant to be performed more than once. I'll upload a few different versions after a few more performances. On October 27th, we performed Seriously with double bassist Gahlord Dewald in Burlington, VT. I don't know if we will have others join us in performing this piece in the future but it's definitely a possibility and it will create many more versions of the piece. 

Next performances of Seriously:

A/B Duo at San Francisco State University
7:30PM - Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Knuth Hall, Creative Arts Building (Corner of Holloway Ave and Tapia Dr.)
San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Ave., San Francisco, CA 94132

A/B Duo at the Outpost Concert Series at UC Riverside
7PM - Wednesday, November 15, 2017
Culver Center of the Arts
3834 Main Street Riverside, CA 92501

Premiere of  Seriously  in Canterbury, NH. You can see the LEDs in action in this photo.

Premiere of Seriously in Canterbury, NH. You can see the LEDs in action in this photo.

This piece took me a solid month of work to finish, including a handful of all-nighters. Hand embroidering is no joke and working with conductive thread is infuriating. I don't think I'll ever do this again....but now I know what works and what doesn't so maybe I'll end up incorporating some of the things I learned from constructing this thing in a future project!


November 15 2017 performance at the Outpost Concert Series, University of California at Riverside. 

For your GRAMMY consideration

My album is on the first round ballot for the 59th Annual GRAMMY Awards®. 

PHEROMONE is on the ballot for:

Classical Instrumental Solo

Track Number 1, Fractus III: Aerophoneme for flute and live electronic sound by Eli Fieldsteel is on the ballot for: 

Contemporary Classical Composition

Media round-up

Also known as shameless self-promotion: Here are some of my latest CD reviews and interviews.

DePaul Magazine , the DePaul University alumni publication, has a little profile on me in the Spring 2016 issue.

DePaul Magazine, the DePaul University alumni publication, has a little profile on me in the Spring 2016 issue.

Bassist and radio host Gahlord Dewald was kind enough to invite me on his show Bleep Boop Beep on WRUV 90.1 (Burlington, VT) to talk about performing with electronics. Read more and listen to it here.

I had a really fun time as a guest on the two-hour long geekbeatradio show on March 7th. We talked about A/B Duo, chiptunes, and other geeky stuff. You can download the podcast here or listen to it from their website.

Pianist Jai Jeffries came to my November recital in Brooklyn and write a very nice review of my show and Pheromone.

“Rarely do I enjoy a concert with a pleasure so rich and so complete as the pleasure I experienced at the Pheromone preview. Put a flute in the hands of Meerenai Shim and she is a sorceress.”

Flutist Tammy Evans Yonce reviewed Pheromone in the December 2015 issue of The Flute View.

“Her first two albums are fantastic but Shim has outdone herself with this latest release. Pheromone takes her playing to a completely new level.”

Daniel Barbiero of Avant Music News reviewed Pheromone.

"a fine collection of new electroacoustic works, all but one of which were commissioned for this recording. The six compositions encompass their composers’ individual approaches to integrating the flute with electronics of various types, and reflect Shim’s own genre-challenging, eclectic engagement with new music.”

Flutist Amanda Cook reviewed Pheromone in I CARE IF YOU LISTEN.

“…Pheromone stands in a class of its own. This album’s dedication to all electro-acoustic compositions definitively breaks from traditional repertoire and instrumentation, unapologetically plays to Shim’s strengths, and highlights her incredible versatility as a contemporary artist.”

I made a video game, last year.

My Video Game. (Click screenshot to go to game page)

My Video Game. (Click screenshot to go to game page)

I made a video game last Fall.

Making a video game is not that big of a deal these days, especially in Silicon Valley where I live. Nor is it particularly impressive if you consider that I did not code it from scratch using all original artwork. I used a couple tools that helped me make video game creation process much quicker and simpler than the "from scratch" method. The unique thing about this video game is that I made it to go with one of A/B Duo's recordings, in lieu of a music video. (Sometimes we play the music while a volunteer plays the game, live and projected above/behind us, while we perform. I think it's the coolest thing ever.)

This was a true labor of love. I did it purely because it would be a cool thing to do.

I am also a bad video game maker. Well, this was my first video game and my last, I am sure. 

This was another example of my "jack of all trades, master of nothing" persona. Another example of "I have no idea what I'm doing, but I'm doing it!"

I am writing about it here/now because it seems to be one of those projects that I LOVED SO MUCH and gave so many all-nighters to, but it got very little appreciation. [If I can geek out a bit: There are two versions, a Windows executable AND an HTML5 version. Cool, right?? They both work too! Yeah, it's a little buggy and I made the first level WAY too hard...but that's my first/last time video game making showing through.]

The point of this post is to say, if you didn't know about the video game I made for A/B Duo last year, please check it out:

Introducing Aerocade Music

The big project I've been working on this summer is the launch of Aerocade Music, my new little independent record label. In addition to my own releases, Aerocade will produce a series of releases by A/B Duo in 2016. I am especially honored to release Post-Haste Reed Duo's debut CD on the Aerocade Music label in January 2016. 

I originally intended to just release my own projects on this label but an opportunity to work with Post-Haste Reed Duo sprang up so now I'm releasing other artists' music too! Aerocade Music and I are legit now! Most of the hard work these last new months were related to starting an actual company. 

Our first release will be my 3rd solo album, Pheromone, coming out on November 13, 2015. You can listen to one of the tracks now on the video I made for track 3 on the album: Pencilled Wings by Emma O'Halloran featuring Jacob Abela on piano.

Video shot on my iPhone 6. 

Carpe Diem

Today, one of the most beloved humans in the world died.

My favorite movie featuring Robin Williams is Dead Poets Society. Like many Americans of my generation, I didn't learn the meaning of the Latin phrase "carpe diem" until this movie came out. Every time I watched the movie I felt inspired and I could feel a little wind in my imaginary sails but this was always a temporary sensation. A couple hours later, I'd be back to my unremarkable existence doing my best to be responsible but not living life to the fullest. 

"Living my life to the fullest would be selfish, irresponsible, and foolish."

That's what I heard in my head for many years. The few years after college I also didn't know what would make me feel like I'm living life to the fullest. It took some experimentation with different jobs to figure out what kind of work would make life meaningful for me.

Now I know what I need to do to really carpe diem in my own way. This year I started to pretend that I would not live past the year. I asked myself the following: if I knew that I would die on December 31, 2014, what are the things that I would want to accomplish, attempt, or make before that date? 

This has been a really great way to help me prioritize the different people and things in my life. I ask myself, "is this something I want to accomplish or attempt before I die?" or "do I want to spend more time with this person/organization before I die?" If the answer to that previous question is YES, I do what I need to do in order to start or complete it. If the answer is NO, I find a way to stop or go a different direction. Maybes are put on the back burner.

I think that actually following one's dreams always seems impossible because there are so many perceived obstacles, including financial ones. I know that I have friends that say, "well of course I can seize the day and go on that dream trip around the world if I had a million dollars!" Or, "if were younger/older" or "if I didn't have responsibilities" etc. I think that most of those are just excuses. If traveling to 100 countries was an important thing I wanted to experience before death and I am not an oil tycoon, I can start by planning a shoestring budget trip to Canada or Mexico. One country at a time, one can live that dream. On December 30th I think that I would feel pretty good about my life by having gone on one small trip to Mexico rather than if I had worked every day that year trying to save thousands of dollars for fancy vacation that didn't happen.

Today, before I heard the sad news about Robin Williams, I got my first two tattoos. I wanted tattoos all my adult life and finally I got them. As I left the tattoo parlor I had a flash of panic that lasted about 1 second. My old self flinched but my new self is relieved that if I die at the end of this year, I would die having done one of the things I've wanted to do for a long time but never had the guts to do. 

There are many other things I want to do and I will keep chiseling away at those projects so that I can die happy knowing that I've earnestly made an attempt to seize the day, one thing or day at a time. 

I can seize the day as a compassionate, responsible, and sensible person.