Avantgarde cellist Zoë Keating plays “Escape Artist”

Posted: May 7, 2009 in creativity

From the Wired Gadget Lab blog:

Zoë Keating makes entrancing, hauntingly beautiful music using a traditional French cello, a MacBook, and an arsenal of audio-crunching software and scripts.

“My music is the fusion of information architecture and classical music,” Keating says in this Wired.com video. “The way that you problem-solve in the world of technology … really lends itself to problem-solving with the kind of music that I do.”

She’s one of a growing group of musicians who use computers to record snippets of music as they play. The computer records these snippets and then plays them back in loops, allowing Keating to create complex, layered compositions.

Keating, who was an information architect during the dot-com boom, sees work of making her music as similar to that of planning and building websites: In both cases, she says, she’s building large structures out of simple building blocks.

“It’s really neat when you build up all these little, small things, you can make something that is otherworldly,” Keating says.

A Keating performance is the audio equivalent of watching a bricklayer build a house: Her compositions start out simply, but as they progress, she adds successive layers of sound, stacking and removing them to create music that without computers would require a dozen musicians or more.

She makes it all happen using a MacBook Pro running Ableton Live and SooperLooper. She controls the computer primarily with her feet, tapping on a bank of 10 MIDI foot pedals near her chair. The pedals activate custom AppleScripts she has created, which in turn control the audio software, enabling her to create and play back sometimes dozens of simultaneous loops.

Wired.com visited Keating’s Bay Area studio to find out how she makes her music, what technology she uses, and whether becoming super-popular on Twitter (where she posts as @zoecello) has changed her life.

If you want to know more, you can watch the longer, director’s cut version of Wired.com’s Zoë Keating interview (playing time: 10 minutes 15 seconds) on the Gadget Lab blog – highly recommended!

[Thanks Harry]

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  2. Plavuse says:

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