Art is Everywhere: Chi Town

I’m currently sitting in my hotel room, drinking tea from my new “Christkindlmarket” mug hoping my flight gets out tomorrow. It’s just started snowing pretty hard with winds creating potential whiteout conditions. As I mentioned earlier, I went to Chicago to help The College of Arts and Media with recruitment at The Midwest Clinic. (If you didn’t read about that, you can here). However, to say I only sat at a table talking about our music program to prospective college students and band/orchestra directors would be false. Despite the cold weather, I actually did a lot of cool things in Chicago during my free time.

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For one, I saw Denver School of the Arts perform at The Midwest Clinic with their Jazz Workshop Orchestra. Under the direction of Dave Hammond, this group of young musicians performed an incredible set and simply blew my mind. The group was comprised of saxophone players, trombones, trumpets, violin, piano, guitar, bass, vibraphone, drums, and a vocalist. The group also had two guest artists, Brad Goode and Jovino Santos Neto. When Neto came on stage, he mentioned that he didn’t want to call these young musicians kids as, “age is only a number.” He couldn’t have been more right, as there really wasn’t a huge difference. The group was so professional and their songs were so good, it was so much fun to watch. All the musicians took solos with ease, and really brought a sense of interaction and fun to the performance. Of course, I’m no jazz band critic—but these students can sure play! I was so proud of the Colorado representation at The Midwest Clinic!

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During my time in Chicago, I also stopped by The Field Museum and took a look at the Tattoo exhibit. While many people associate tattoos with gangs and hepatitis C, tattoos actually have a long artistic and cultural history. They are found in many Asian cultures, Polynesian cultures, and African cultures. Many cultures would use tattoos as symbols of class, wealth, etc. It wasn’t until more recently, and really with the Holocaust that tattoos began being used as symbols of imprisonment, and later gangs. Overall, it was really interesting learning about the cultural and historical significance of tattoos, and how that shaped the art and evolution of tattoo art.

Chicago is just teeming with art and culture! I did so many things, however, I’ll let the pictures tell most of the story. From visiting some delicious eats in Chinatown, getting some cider at the Christkindlmarket, exploring the sculptures and architecture, to experiencing an American Christmas at the Macy’s department store, Chicago is definitely a great place to visit and experience city life and the people and cultures that created it.

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Good Eats:
The Gage—it’s right across Millennium Park. It might be a long wait, but if you’re okay with sitting at the bar, it’s speedy and delicious! I ate there for brunch and had the corned beef hash with poached eggs and hollandaise. If you’re a fan of hollandaise, this was maybe the best hollandaise I’ve had.

Hing Kee—in Chinatown. So maybe there’s better Chinese restaurants in Chinatown, but this one was cheap and delicious. I actually ate here twice it was so good. I highly recommend the soup dumplings or Xiaolongbao. They aren’t super available in Denver, and it’s been a Chinese dish I’ve been wanting to try for a long time. Culturally, they originate from the Jiangnan region of China—but I totally wish they originated from the region of China I was born. For me it was definitely a treat to finally visit a Chinatown as I share a cultural heritage, however for the average person, it’s a great way to experience a culture and spend less than you would on a typical meal in Chicago.

Recruiting at The Midwest Clinic

What’s in Chicago in the middle of winter? That’s right, The Midwest Clinic. The international band and orchestra conference. Because nothing says “location, location, location” like holding a conference largely reliant on metal things being held against peoples’ lips in sub-zero temperatures. Think Flick from A Christmas Story in the famous flag pole licking scene. However, despite the dangers, here are all these amazing musicians gathered at the McCormick Place in Chicago, the largest convention center in North America, for a week of performances, clinics, panels, and networking. Rewind. Did someone say huge gathering of talented musicians, networking, and a conference? Cue CU Denver’s College of Arts and Media. We go where the conferences go. So naturally, I’m on the next flight to Chicago!

The mission? Let directors and prospective college students at The Midwest Clinic know about The College of Arts and Media’s contemporary music programs. For me personally, I came from a classical background and high school program. I was fully invested in choir–CMEA, All State, the works—but I never really knew that contemporary music programs existed. I knew I didn’t want to do classical music performance as my career, so learning about CU Denver’s contemporary program was a game changer. Had I not been told about the program from a former high school friend, I would have never bothered to apply to CU Denver. Therefore, I definitely saw value in coming to The Midwest Clinic to talk to prospective college students who might be in a similar position. Of course at such a prestigious conference, we knew some people would be fully set on continuing their classical music education, however, we wanted to be there for those people who might be interested in something different.

That’s why Dave Walter, Assistant Director of Outreach and Admissions, music business student Emily Irwin, and myself spent the conference in the exhibition hall marketing CU Denver to The Midwest Clinic. We spent most of the conference in the exhibition hall tabling, however, we also went to College Night with other music programs from across the country. The exhibition hall was huge and we were able to talk to a lot of students and directors about our program. We mostly talked about the MEIS department and the various music and audio majors, however a few students we talked to were also interested in digital design and animation. By far, people were most interested in the LYNX camp because it wasn’t necessarily a commitment to our school, but an opportunity to see what CAM is like and the types of programs we offer. Overall, I think our time spent marketing CU Denver was worthwhile and more importantly, I hope some students consider coming to the LYNX camp and/or CU Denver.

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Sad to Go, Excited to Sleep, Filled with Vision

Wow. What an amazing experience and sense of the surreal. Upon returning home, I took a nap, and when I woke up, I thought, “wow, did a whole week just fly by? Or was that whole thing a dream?” But as evidenced by my suitcase full of business cards and schwag—and my vivid memories of the experience—it was most certainly not a dream, though it encompassed all the creativity, imagery, innovation, and vision of a good dream.

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Innovation and Vision. I think those are the two words that come to mind when I reflect upon this experience. This trip has inspired me with its innovation and filled me with vision for both my professional self and CAM.

One of the main things that hit home for me was the collaboration between the fields. There was technology and science and music and film everywhere. I went to a film about music, learned about music technology, science and music, science and technology, and every single combination in between. This was inspiring to me because so many different creatives are joining forces everyday and creating something new–a new field, a new technology, a new object, etc. I really felt at home in this notion because I think sometimes, there are three misconceptions. One, if you aren’t a musician, or actor, why are you in the industry? Why would you give up the performance and spotlight for something else? Two, if you have multiple passions, why wouldn’t you study something more stable like medicine? Three, I guess you chose the creative route because you aren’t smart enough to study a better field. These misconceptions are ones that I run into everyday, from people as loving as my family, to people as cruel as the comments section on social media outlets. I think SXSW’s strong messages of innovation and collaboration really strengthened my self confidence and confidence in the arts community.

I think Mayim Bialik, actress in The Big Bang Theory, and PhD in neuroscience, says it best, “I don’t think there’s anything particularly spectacular about me that I have both acting interests and science interests, to me that’s just who I am. Being a scientist is as creative, interesting, exciting, as being an artist, looking at the sunset, I love that my brain goes to color, wavelength, rotation of the earth, why the horizon disappears, why it looks different…that’s just how I see the world and I love it. It’s like being in love with every aspect of the universe.”

I have often felt guilty for having more than one passion, and studying music. I have felt a little out of place when I talk about my passion for space, 3D printing, or molecular gastronomy, and my interests to learn about coding and blockchain technologies. I feel guilt in that I didn’t choose performance and guilt in that I didn’t choose a more “worthy” field like medicine or computer science. However at this conference, while there were solely musicians, there were also scientists, computer coders, and some of the brightest most innovative minds–Disney Imagineers–and most of the panels explored all those aspects. I think my biggest takeaway from that is, creators are enough. Creators are worthy. A lot of folks argued that the Obama’s trip to SXSW was nothing more than a “celebrity move” and that they should be acting like politicians and getting “real work” done. However, I disagree with the notion that SXSW isn’t real work, and that creators aren’t worth the time of the President and First Lady. This notion suggests that creatives are unintelligent compared to the rest of the population, that their time would be best spent elsewhere, and that the these leaders would have nothing to say to us that would really mean something to us. Well, my argument, is we are the innovators. We are the Edison’s, the creators of 3D printing, VR, films and music. We are innovation and vision, and we are the people who can creatively think of solutions to change our world for the better. At SXSW I saw environmental innovation, discussion on disability inclusion, new technologies that will take over the future in the next few years, and more. The Obama’s didn’t go to concerts with us, and we didn’t smoke weed while we listened to them. They talked to us about innovation and social change, about education women, and progressing society. They understand that we have multiple passions, skill sets, a way with language, film, music, and technology; and most of all they realize we house the artists to encourage and draw the necessary emotions and empathy from people to make changes happen. I am frustrated when the public dismisses the creatives as being unintelligent, flighty, and moody. While I would agree that we possess different traits, many of which include poor attitudes before 10am, I think those same attitudes and plethora of passions give us a different lens in which we view the world. And I absolutely believe that we as creators are doing real work.

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Astronaut Scott Kelly and I

For The College of Arts and Media, I saw vision. Through this conference I realized how much collaboration happens in the real world. I met industry professionals interested in talking to students, finding interns, and wanting to speak and educate the future creators at CU Denver. The networking and collaboration potential that stemmed from this conference just by going as a University was massive. I have already started talking to professors saying, “Hey I saw this film and I think it’d be a perfect educational tool for the recording arts program” or “Hey I met this industry professional who would love to speak about bitcoin and blockchain to music business students.” The connections each of us brought home are wonderful, and on top of that, I think each of us see how important growth is for the college. I think we really united as CAM on this trip, and were able to cross fields and learn about each other and our programs. I think we could really be the next innovators and on the cutting edge in the industry if we continue to use this conference as a learning and growth point. We can attract intelligent future creatives and catch the attention of the industry, perhaps to even speak at a future SXSW panel on university education and the industry. I think our students could start bringing innovative and amazing ideas to pitch and become competitive not only within our school, but across universities, and within the industry itself. I’ve already heard students discuss possibilities on a music business app, new touch pads and synthesizers, and a variety of other creative innovations. We are a college full of intelligent and hard working arts students, and I think we need to maintain those expectations and quality of work in order to create growth and development within our university. I think if we collaborated as much in CAM as we did at SXSW, we could start reaching out within CAM and to other colleges like the architects, engineers, and computer programmers, to start making our big ideas come to fruition. It would be amazing if our students had the opportunity to work together to create new apps, build the best sonic-ally designed room, and engineer new types of instruments. Applying this across the majors, our projects could become so much more powerful if we had more tools and relationships to create and innovate together–not just as CAM, but as CU Denver. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we brought new innovations to SXSW in the upcoming years? Wouldn’t it be amazing if arts students formulated ideas, created works with the help of other majors, and went through the process of executing patents with the business and pre-law students? There is just so much possibility and vision that I see for how SXSW could continue to push us towards growth and new innovations that could come directly from CAM undergrads. I believe we have the potential–we just need the support.

Final Day, FLOTUS, and Friends

What a way to end a week. Woke up bright and early to stand in line at 7:15 am for the “Let Girls Learn” keynote with Michelle Obama, Sophia Bush, Missy Elliott, and Diane Warren, moderated by the one and only Queen Latifah. It was absolutely amazing and worth the wait (the keynote didn’t start until 11am). I could really speak about this panel, and more specifically its content, in an entire new post, which perhaps I will eventually, however, I will only provide some highlights and cool pictures for this post as I am simply too tired to elaborate on the effect of the panel in a coherent manner. Overall, the panel is an initiative by The President of the United States of America and the First Lady to allow girls in this country and globally access and ability to obtain the education they deserve. If girls become more educated, child marriage and trafficking decreases, girls have children later, have more stable jobs, are able to provide better for their families, and overall the economies of countries increases. This was a panel of powerful and fearless women, and they made it clear that this initiative is not only important among women, but among the men we work with. If men are not on board, listening to women, understanding the issues, and acting as advocates, the will not have the partnerships we need to truly create entire global change.

“We need you men, get it together” -First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama

While the women were talking about the need for education and equality, I was also inspired by the Secret Service at the panel–more specifically, the female Secret Service. I saw at least three kick-ass, strong, beautiful, and amazing women, standing around the room, protecting the First Lady of the United States at a conference about girls and education. I had to just think to myself–isn’t this the perfect example of female equality and empowerment? Here are three highly trained, intelligent, and agile women doing “a man’s job,” with little recognition other than the role they are playing to providing safety. That is inspiring to me. Those Secret Services ladies were inspiring, and I wanted to be them–the hidden roles of amazing women–as much as I wanted to be in a more public role of female empowerment. 

And as to the question about Michelle Obama running for President? She couldn’t have said it better–I believe her statement is a real testament to her character and her realization that in order to provide strength and change throughout the world, she needs to first show that in her own household.

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“No. And here’s why, I’ve got two young people at home….and they’ve handled it with grace and poise…but enough. Enough.” -First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama

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For the rest of my day, I attended two very different but good panels. The first was on 3D printing in the music industry. They talked a bit about the technology in general, then some of its applications. The concept that I found most interesting was how printing different shapes could create new musical instruments based on the new acoustic medium. If different shapes and densities were used for a new sort of “guitar” those acoustic properties could create different tones, notes, etc. The other interesting concept was using a shape as a MIDI synthesizer, meaning any sort of shape could trigger MIDI sounds and become a new touchpad. The other bit of technology I found interesting and artsy. The device was attached to a man who could only see black and white, but was given this camera device–attached to his brain–that would put sound into his head based on different colors. Therefore, this man could literally hear color. This was incredibly interesting because they had a 3D printer model created of him with a working device attached to the 3D sculpture. The sculpture was installed at an art museum, and people could hold up different colors and the man would remotely hear different sounds.The other panel I went to was on Music Management. This was really relevant to my field, which was awesome, and had a panel full of incredibly experienced music managers. I thought the information all of them had to offer was relevant and very honest. They made it very clear that great music managers don’t happen overnight, and there is a lot of experience involved. Their number one piece of advice was “patience” which I thought was important because it shows that there is the need to enter into this business like a marathon–to work hard, persevere, and exhibit patience. It was exciting to hear experiences from the management field because it is something I would really enjoy pursuing, and it was also humbling because it showed me I still have a long way to go.

As a closing to our last day, the we closed our trade show booth and prepared to come back to reality. I had dinner again with some fellow CAM Music students and newfound friends, and feel peaceful tonight packing my things and writing my blog post. Overall it was an excellent day, I felt inspired by all the people and panels, and energized by the connections and friends I have made during my time here. 

Blockchain and Bitcoin, Faux Pas, and Other Words

If you read my bio, or know me personally, you probably know that I love stories. So, given that, I thought I’d start my blog post with a funny story. As a self proclaimed “newbie” to SXSW, I must admit, I made my first SXSW faux pas. I’m the type of person who plans out everything in a good amount to detail ahead of time–I live by my calendar. Considering the overwhelming schedule of SXSW, I’ve been putting all the panels I want to attend in my calendar. In fact, the app allows users to transfer panels directly to their calendar, so of course I did so. I looked over my calendar today and was happy to know that two of my sessions were in 12AB. Excited by the fact that I wouldn’t have to walk as much, I finished my first panel, ate some snacks, and headed back into the room. It was only by the time that the panel had started, that I realized I was in the wrong panel! Apparently there are two 12AB’s–which upon recalling the day before I did recollect a 12AB ballroom and a 12AB conference room. Unfortunately I had sat towards the front, and it seemed super rude to leave once the panel had started, so I found myself in a pro-wrestling panel. Now, I’m a small-ish Asian nerd, and I just found myself in a room full of large-ish bulky men–with a few exceptions–so if you’ll just picture that for moment, I think you’ll find the situation rather comical. Nonetheless, considering I’d just committed a half an hour of my life to pro-wrestling, I thought I might as well try to look at the panel from an educational standpoint. Besides the obvious humor in the situation, I discovered the importance of music in pro-wrestling, and specifically in their ads and promos, the use and incredible amount of audio foley, both in the show and in the ads and promos, and finally I discovered the importance of ethnic and minority pro-wrestlers representing their countries and giving those young people a “superhero” to look up to. Though this was the last place I thought I’d be today, I ended up learning a little, double checking my locations, and laughing at myself.

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The weather today was perfect!

Moving onto my more relevant takeaways for today, I went to a great meet up and a great panel. My morning started off with a “Bitcoin and Blockchain” meet up featuring CEO for BitAngels Michael Terpin and Caterina Rindi an educator/consultant. We mingled and started off by introducing ourselves, then splitting off into groups. There were discussions more centered on blockchain, advanced bitcoin conversations, and a more “newbie” conversation. I found myself in the newbie group as the sophisticated tech talk happening in the room was too much to compete with. I found myself talking to Caterina Rindi, who explained the whole bitcoin and blockchain technologies to me, the value of bitcoin, and the new up and coming cryptocurrencies like Ethereum. We talked about the mystery of the programmer who created the bitcoins, Satoshi Nakimodo, a man, woman, or group of people, no one really knows for sure. While I’m fascinated by all of it, I will only briefly talk about the music side. For one, Tatiana Moroz, an artist, has created a kind of crypto coin called Tatiana coin. Users can obtain Tatiana coins to buy things like albums, merch etc. The worth of the coin can vary based on the popularity of the artist. If Adele released Adelecoin, it would probably be of much higher value than Tatiana coin. Aside from this small use, this technology could be used in a wide range of functions. I was mulling over the idea of using it as a type of currency to buy tickets, as each purchase provides information about who made the purchase, making scalping much more difficult. However, the ideas that really interested me were surrounded more around the new Ethereum. This new platform was set up to transfer larger amounts of data–meaning it could be integrated with applications and other things. In the future it could perhaps be used by record companies to track data on sound downloads and send song split information back. The meetup was so informative and so intriguing to all in the room that we went way over time, and literally got kicked out so the next session could start. Overall cryptocurrency has huge potential in banks, smart contracts, countries with suffering economies, and the creative industries. I highly recommend looking into the technology and perhaps even obtaining some BitCoin or Ethereum.

Ethereum

Though I went to a few panels throughout the day, I thought the best one was about music in movie trailers. As I am currently taking a music publishing course at CU Denver, I thought it was really interesting to hear the film side of music sync. I never thought about how important the movie trailer music is. Rather than just pulling music from the movie, it is a whole process that involves creating various stages of emotions through a short trailer to create suspense and engage audiences. Ultimately, the intent is to hook the audience into going to see the movie. The music supervisors talked about how they often send 10+ music briefs out a day. These music briefs are detailed sheets of what they want for the movie, without stating what movie it is. This way, the publishers can better send tailored music choices back, saving time on both ends. We were able to hear what some of the briefs consisted of, and they were really interested because they were sort of like reverse photographs. They listed everything that was wanted in the photograph, without showing the photograph. The other key thing they mentioned, that resonates in the recording side of me, is that bigger does not equal louder. Again, bigger DOES NOT equal louder. I think so often in these loudness wars, it’s hard to find good songs, and I believe that they recognized this because they aren’t looking for walls of sound, but rather a well built song that really captivates its’ audience. Therefore, I realized how important the songwriters are and the recording engineers and producers in creating balanced and well produced songs–and how important it is to have the right song for a movie trailer.

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Saw this wonderful slide during a copyright panel today. This slide displays actual reasons companies and law firms use as to why they used copyrighted content. Some of them are major major companies–think billions of dollars. Takeaways: Ignorance is not an excuse to break the law and these excuses don’t even warrant intelligent dialog.

After I finished my day of meet ups and panels, I had dinner with a few friends from CAM at CU Denver, who just got here to experience SXSW and have fun at all the shows. All and all it was a great day, and I got to meet some really cool people and connect with them.

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What a day!

Knowledge is my superpower.

Today I got to pick up my Music Badge for SXSW! During the course of the day I listened to international product pitches, went into an audio interactive art piece, sat on the dock of the Colorado River, went to an amazing panel, saw a great documentary series premiere, and went into the coolest music shop (which I will not disclose how much I spent at. I highly recommend it, with the caveat that your bank account may suffer).

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Entrance to Wild About Music store

The international pitches I attended consisted of all European countries, ranging from France to Spain, Virtual Reality to cooking, and everything inbetween. A few new startups in particular stood out to me either because of their technological advancements or just because they were cool. A French company called 4D Views attempted to integrate live action actors into virtual reality. By filming actors with a VR setup, they could integrate those actors into the virtual reality itself using software like Maya, so a professional BMX person could actually teach someone BMX tricks “in person” so to speak. Another company from Belgium called PlayPass created a system that integrates traditional festival wristbands with NFC technology. The idea of this is to integrate the ticketing, merch buying, food, beer, and everything else you’d experience at a concert into one cohesive wristband. The idea is that it will help control crowds and make the concert experience better for the attendee and better for the crew involved. Much like DisneyWorld is integrating wristband technology for their guests to have hotel access, park access, fastpasses, and even restaurant reservations or payment, this NFC wristband aims to do the same, but with the festival experience. Since the NFC technology would be loaded with the individual user’s information, this could significantly cut down on illegal ticket scalping, and well as providing user data for the artists and companies. The other pitch from Belgium that I thought was just downright fun sounding was a sort of hybrid between ridesharing and take out. The company, Flavr, created an app that will pair home chefs with hungry citizens. A user can input what they have in their fridge, or just order food from the home chef, at which point the user will directly pay the home chef for their services and either pick up or have the food dropped off. This intriguing idea certainly comes with some issues such as liability, licenses for restaurant services, ensuring food safety is considered, and other logistics, however the idea of food sharing though the user of home chefs certainly sounds intriguing. As an aspiring home chef myself, this idea really popped out to me.

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VR meets R

My big music business take away for the day was a panel I attended on Livestreaming, featuring the service YouNow. While my industry colleges might be familiar with Periscope, YouNow is another service that creates a more user friendly experience, mostly attributed to the fact that it’s newer and has learned from its predecessors mistakes. Though I won’t get into the whole details of the panel, because I could probably write a whole paper on how livestreaming could be integrated into education and monetization of music, I will go over the highlights. The most import part is one of the panelists, Zach Clayton, was 15. 15! He is an influencer on YouNow (influencer is the new term I learned that encompasses the YouTubers, the vloggers, etc. that influence other people through their videos and monetizer or inspire based on the content they create) and has over 700,000 likes/followers. This in itself was inspiring and a kick in the pants to get a move on! I’d love to share a lemonade with this guy. Aside from Zach’s amazing success in livestreaming, the technology of YouNow itself allows a completely interactive experience. YouNow is NOT the sort of product to entertain you immediately. Rather, it’s more of a hangout session. You can tip the person, ask them requests for a fee, or a plethora of other types of interactions like GIFS, Emoji’s, etc. for small dollar amounts. During the panel we asked a livestreaming artist to send out a birthday wish to one of the attendees, and she immediately incorporated that into her set. This type of immediate connection with artists is something that could really be monetized. People want to interact and get to know their favorite artists, and this technology puts the humanity and human error back into the artist–allowing people to truly connect with them as people. Another example of the monetization aspect is through live music performances, Pentatonix recently did a live stream where they said if 100 people bought their album (through a link they provided on the site) they would perform an encore song–they got to several encores and hundreds of albums sold. Actual album sales in a matter of hours. Again, I could go on and on about the possibilities with the technology when implemented with the right brand, however, I think from these few examples, it’s possible to see the–well the endless possibilities not only in music but through all creative industries.

The second part of my journey appealed more towards the recording arts side in me. I went to an interactive art piece by Simon Heijdens called the “Silent Room.” In short, this was an anechoic chamber. If you’re at all into audio, you’re probably super excited by the notion of stepping into one, if not, feel free to skim. An anechoic chamber is a room or box of sorts that acoustically engineered (in this case with the help of the University of Texas at Austin’s Department of Acoustic Engineering) to eliminate all sound from inside the box, producing negative decibel levels. Since this art installment could not be completely lifted from the sidewalk and was travel size, I did hear some of the sirens from outside as they passed by, and perhaps a low frequency? Though for the low frequency it was hard to tell whether I felt street vibrations or whether I was hearing what was inside my head? Either way, overall it was really really quiet–and a super cool experience as an audio student. Since I only got one minute to take it all in and analyze it, I’d really love to go into a chamber again and experience the silence more.

A wrap up for the night was my first premiere of really anything. I attended a documentary called Soundbreaking–Stories from the Cutting Edge of Recorded Music. Though we only saw 2 episodes (it’s a total of 8 hours so…) it was a fantastic two hours. This documentary series is set to air on PBS in November–hopefully November 14th. The two episodes I saw went over the producer’s role and painting a picture with sound. The project worked a lot with the late Beatles producer Sir George Martin, and he was featured a lot in the documentary. This premise is really cool because it’s an entire documentary series focused on the producers and engineers rather than the artists or business. I think this would be a great resource to use back at CAM in the recording arts program! Additionally, the producers, an editor, and music supervisor were present at the premiere, which was a fun experience. All in all, today was a great day, and I had a lot of fun.

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Click for more info

 

Innovation in the Creative Industries

Today my mission was to work the trade show booth for the College of Arts and Media. Since the music students can’t pick up their badges until Monday, this was the perfect day to hang out at the trade show. While we told over 100 people about CU Denver and CAM, over half of those people spent time talking to us, swapping business cards, and asking about our future careers. This opportunity was a great two-way street, and the trade show itself housed many opportunities for us to meet various companies, as well as gather intel for the University.

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Milo goes South by Southwest

The overall trade show was fantastic, incredibly informative, and innovative–not to mention fun! One of the main themes of the trade show was new technology and use of that technology through different mediums to create advancements in various industries. The only limit is imagination, as proved by the “Silicon Valley” broadening its horizons to virtually anywhere or completely virtual! I am constantly amazed by the imagination of creatives, and that imagination, paired with a little coding, can create an entirely new model of how a creative business is run. I think keeping up with, and changing our law and business models to reflect the ever growing technology is necessary for the survival the music industry. Without the symbiotic relationship between music and technology, the technology industry will leave music in the dust, but will also lack the genius of music. Therefore, I’m very excited about the upcoming music panels on how technology and music can integrate, and the legislative changes that might occur in the next few years to grow with the technology. The trade show, and SXSW in general is amazing, because everyone around me is an innovator. They understand the importance of music and technology, and are bringing a plethora of new innovations to the trade show to show these relationships at work.

One of the innovations I saw–not completely related to music, but an example of the possibilities of technology–was a 3D food printer. The printer housed various food components, dough, marinara sauce, and cheese. The program was then coded like a normal 3D printer to print out a picture of the United States, but in dough. Once the basic outline was finished, the printer switched to sauce and piped out sauce and cheese. Eventually the United States pizza got cooked, though I wasn’t sure if the oven was the bottom of the 3D printer, or whether the placed it in a toaster over. Nonetheless, this incredibly possibility for the food industry showed how taking one cutting edge technology in 3D printing, and applying to various industries, can truly change the way our world works. I believe the possibilities of 3D printing are huge, and will not only permeate in the food industry, but will somehow be used in the music industry as well. I hope to attend an upcoming panel on 3D printing in the music industry, to see how creatives are planning to implement this technology into the music scene.

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3D Pizza Printer

Many of the booths at the trade show combined both technology and music to create brand new types and platforms of synthesizers. Some of the synths corresponded to a white steering wheel looking object, which have several touch points of sensitivity so the person could play different parts of the wheel for various synth noises. The Japanese booths even had thick hair ties that had LEDs embedded and worked as hair tie synthesizers. While we currently have an InWorks class taught by Jeff Merkel, I think we could go even further. We could have the InWorks students create final projects for the Mobile Device ensemble, that would show a performance representation of the works they created, and additionally, we could integrate more with the mechanical engineering and computer science majors to combine coding with the creative. It would be amazing to see all student made synthesizers at the Mobile Devices ensemble, and would further allow for inter-campus connections so CAM students could provide a creative vision, while the coders could create that new technology.

The other great use of technology at the Trade Show was a robot that educated people on the importance of patents. Though this robot attracted a huge crowd because of its size and movement, the organization used this technology to educate. The robot was made out of all patented materials and the idea of the piece was to show the importance of patents in the creatives industries. By artful integrating technology to make a business point, people really understood and took the time to learn about patent importance. I thought this was incredibly important because while our general public often doesn’t understand the industry or its issues, this piece of technology can intrigue anyone to stop for a moment and listen. If we were able to create a piece similar to this to fight the pirate bay through advanced technology, I think more people would listen. In a technological era, it doesn’t make much sense to take technology away from people as a solution, but rather if we could integrate that same technology into education about piracy, the public may actually listen, and most importantly care about these industry issues.

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Robot made up patent technology

I think one of the most important things about this Trade Show was how willing and eager people were to collaborate. A lot of the new technology requires several different parts, the coders need a creative idea, the creatives need coders, and idea needs marketing, etc. For almost all the booths I talked to there was a desire to connect and collaborate. I spoke to a coding company who creates apps for other users and we talked at length about the possibility of having a CU Denver app. I know The Office of Student Life has played around with the idea, but has never had the coders to back the project. This technology is coded to be completely user friendly, but also matches the needs of the University, and is totally customizable. The app could be used for New Student Orientation by creating a scavenger hunt, in which students had to find specific buildings, through the use of geo-perimeters and maps, once the student found the location, that information would be saved to the app. Therefore, once they had visited all locations, read about them through the app, and anything else, the app would display a message that the student won a piece of CU gear for completing the scavenger hunt. This would be huge for recruitment because prospective students could take a tour of the campus without the need to even book an appointment. As the student found various building, automated messages can be generated to share vital information about that building, or even pull up samples of textbooks for that area of study. The prospective students or freshmen would be guided to the Office of Student Life at the end of their tour to pick up some CU gear and have a real person answer any other questions. The app could also be used for current students to show them upcoming CU Events on campus. For instance, if a student entered a geo-perimeter such as the Tivoli, they would get a notification that stated there was an event in the Tivoli Turnhalle with free food. Event preferences could even be customized by the user, such as “music,” “arts,” “housing” so students would get notifications more targeted towards their interests. The app would work on both Apple and Android and is constantly customizable by the user, meaning the coder doesn’t need to do the update every time. The purchase of this is fairly expensive, but based on a yearly subscription, so, if purchased for the entire University could be a really useful tool for aiding prospective students, freshman, and students who have been on campus for years but might not know about events.

The Journey Begins…

Today is the day we fly to Austin, Texas to embark on our SXSW journey with the College of Arts and Media. It’s all becoming very real that this is happening. I think I have everything, but I feel like I’m bringing too much and forgetting something at the same time. Nonetheless, I’m here, sitting at DIA sipping on iced tea and writing this blog, all the while marveling how I got accepted to the program just a few weeks ago, and am now sitting here waiting in the terminal.

While this experience is brand new, and I’m teeming with anxiety and excitement, I realize that these feelings are the starting point to growth and opportunity. A while back, I received some great life advice from a former teacher, Sean Gillespie. I had attended the school, Ricks Center, for 9 years, so I had many feelings of anxiety and excitement for what was to come in the next chapter of my life. Sean told me that wherever I went, or whatever I did, to “jump in with two feet.” By this he meant don’t be shy or timid to experience something new, go into the experience wholeheartedly and fully committed. This concept was life changing, because it showed me that my unsettling feelings of anxiety and excitement were really the point at which change could occur. From this point in my life, I’ve done my best to follow Sean’s advice, and since then I’ve had numerous experiences that have bettered my professionalism and personal growth because I made the effort to engage. Sitting in the airport, I recognize the same feelings I felt 7 years ago, however, instead of feeling unsettled, I recognize that these feelings are important and necessary to reach my full potential. After all, if you’re never uncomfortable, where do you actually go in life?

Upon arriving to Austin, the streets are already crowded with people from SXSW. We checked into our hotel, and headed over the convention center to set up our trade show booth. The trade show room looks amazing, and already I can’t wait to spend some time there to see all the innovations people are bringing. Between the speakers, panels, and people I will have the chance to meet, I’m simply overwhelmed by how much there is to do, and how much I will experience in the next few days.

Thanks so much to all my friends, family, mentors, instructors, and the wonderful donors for their support and this amazing opportunity! Follow me on twitter @smithENIGMA for updates throughout the day!