Inside Rensselaer
* “Call and Response” Project Helps  Students Explore Experimental Music
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“Call and Response” Project Helps Students Explore Experimental Music
A group of elementary and middle school children had an opportunity to explore music as part of a technology-infused interactive project designed by recent Rensselaer graduate Whitney Coleman ’10, an electronic media, arts, and communications major from Etiwanda, Calif. Through the “Call and Response” Project, more than 25 students participated in a New York State Museum afterschool program that was focused on creating a telematic connection; specifically, incorporating all environmental sounds into a musical performance through listening and a real-time musical collaboration via the Internet.

“This project created a wonderful opportunity for me to introduce young students to music in a different way,” said Coleman. “The telematic/experimental/improvisational performance involved not only the processing of vocals and room noises, but also allowed students to explore possibilities for creating their own music.”

Several performers and musicians who are part of Tintinnabulate (a telematic experimental music group at Rensselaer) volunteered to support the project. Working in spaces at Rensselaer and also within the museum, the two groups were able to connect with each other through the use of an Internet application called Skype. The program allowed the students and musicians located at the museum to not only see the Rensselaer group on screen, but also provided each group with the opportunity to interact with each other by either calling or responding to sounds made by the group on campus.

“In music, a call and response is a succession of two distinct phrases usually played by different musicians, where the second phrase is heard as a direct commentary on or response to the first. This usually corresponds to the call-and-response pattern in human communication which is also a basic element of musical form, such as verse-chorus form, in many traditions,” Coleman added.

Coleman noted that Pauline Oliveros, who is the telematic groups’ adviser for the Experimental Music course, suggested the project be titled “Call and Response,” which is an improvisational and deep listening practice, where one group produces sound and listens for the secondary group to respond.

“The most important component of an improvisational performance like this is listening,” Coleman said. “The students had a lot of fun, and we really wanted them to take ownership of the experience. Music has had an amazing influence on my life, and the core purpose of this project was to empower the children in a creative process so that they could realize that there are no limits on music and they are not limited in their abilities to make music.”

To read more about Whitney Coleman, go to http://news.rpi.edu/ update.do?artcenterkey=2553.
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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 4, Number 11, June 18, 2010
©2010 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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