Interview with PA Tremblay

Key Insights

-the context and cultural background could be important to digital musician’s path i.e. he was presented with the opportunities to experience studio production and interaction with influential mentors at an early age

-there is a privilege in this, as the interviewee realizes, and not everyone would be able to experience this but after all every musician’s path is unique

-technology as a tool to go further in one’s musical development towards techno-mastery

i.e. studio production, coding, aural awareness and in-situ musicking skills, all propelling PA towards an elevated level in his digital musicianship

-the digital tools/instruments are not a Digital Score because there is no timeline but an environment for musicians to musick in

-the tendency of the evolving digital set up is to move towards complexity and saturation

-hybridisation of influences in which the artist becomes a ‘taxonomy solver’

-luck and serendipity in digital musicking – like in research, you have an objective but have to stay open for other things to happen in the moment

Analysis

The conversation on digital musicianship with PA Tremblay links to four main critical insights which we have been investigating as part of the Digital Score project:

-Context and musical/techno literacy

-Skills and awareness

-Creativity and Identity

-Knowledge and perception

The conversation gave critical insight into the importance of context in which the acquisition of musical and technical literacy takes place. PA’s evolution of his development as a digital musician happened very organically as he was able to build his technical and aural skills through studio practice, playing the bass on recordings and in performances, coding and transcribing hyper-produced pop music. There is a certain privilege to PA’s stages of development that he acknowledges during the interview as well as luck as he was able to be introduced to studio tools and methods and have the right mentors at an early age when he was ready to absorb their insights into his practice. The skills of the new tools he was acquiring as well as the awareness of their limitations contributed to his critical self-examination and pushed him towards the further acquisition of knowledge in digital musicianship. Thus in the earlier stages of his development, he wanted to sublimate the technical tools to do with coding and studio work but already had an awareness that the tools were influencing his musical thinking in composition and performance. In later stages, wanting to go beyond the tools and change to other methods of coding such as Supercollider to see how his process of composition could change. Currently, PA is completing an ERC funded project FluCoMa. The project is dedicated to exploiting banks of sound within the digital composition process through digital signal decomposition and machine learning. It seems that the inspiration for FluCoMa derives from PA’s hyper-aware processes of coding and musicking and the hybridisation of these which he views as the processes of ‘splicing complexity’ in which the artists are ‘taxonomy solvers’. Our interview suggests that the creativity and identity of PA’s musicianship are indebted to the skills and awareness he had acquired as a studio and gigging musician having absorbed techno literacy and instrumental musicianship as a student in Montreal. All of these factors contribute further to the knowledge and perception that PA continues to share through his valuable output as a musician/composer and researcher in the field of digital musicianship today.

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