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Interview with performer/composer Terri Hron

Key Insights:

-digital technology is a tool but also part of Terri Hron’s process

-currently, Terri is thinking about big questions in her work to do with archiving and ecology

-main tools for Terri are collaboration, listening and understanding the technology that she is working with

-making ethical decisions about recordings, how they were recorded and for what purpose

-sometimes the spaces that are well equipped for the kind of spatialised work that Terri is interested in require going through gatekeepers which makes them less attractive 

-Terri is self-reliant in having to reproduce spatialised settings with fewer high-end speakers in her studio

-high fidelity of sound is not as important for Terri’s music as the connection that the musicians form with her music – having a response from the performers as well as from people who are listening

-she is using more and more visuals in her performances with video and animation, sometimes the visuals are just artefacts of the work like spectrograms, etc. 

-she is aware of the audience’s overreliance on the visual medium and our hyper-mediation of art, therefore her music is trying to consider this 

-we should be more aware of the technologies that we are using and what effect they have on our music and the audiences

-for Terri, technology allows sharing of perspectives on how others work and how they listen to their work

-technology enables one to learn from others through collaboration how others use their tools such as recording tools or software

Summary

Terri’s work with digital technology is very multi-faceted. Digital technology allows Terri to make music that she or other people that she is working with would not be able to make just on their instruments. Even though Terri uses many tools such as Ableton Live, GRM, Isotope tools, Native Instruments, Adobe Suite, Resolume, etc., the most important aspect of her work is collaboration. Collaboration enables her to listen to and understand the technology that she is working on, facilitate avenues for knowledge exchange and expand the work to new horizons. Currently, she is thinking about big questions in her work such as archiving and ecology and finding inspiration in the writings of Susan Kite.

Digital tools influence Terri’s work as they form part of her practice. In this work, she can find details she is interested in, to dive deeper into the work. Recently, she has also become interested in including the audience in her performances through visual representation or traces of what her sonic works are about. This could include parts of waveforms/spectrograms and documentation of the work that becomes part of the performance. However, she is also aware that overreliance on the visuals for the audience may take attention away from a deep listening experience and one’s body. While enjoying the exploration of the visual tools in her work, she is not sure where this might be heading in general.

Terri does not find that she had a traditional path in her music training that led her to use digital technology; however, she does remark that she loved composition from the start. Her discoveries about music come from her instrumental training and when she found out how different pieces work on her instrument (recorder). She also finds that the way she works with digital technology comes from her habit of practising different digital tools. In this way, she can be more spontaneous and trusts her intuitive processes. Overall, she likes to focus on doing things in her work rather than conceptualising, and she finds this to be an attractive aspect of the work of others.

Terri thinks that the ubiquity of technology in our lives has made us less surprised by it and more ready to immerse ourselves in concert experiences using high-definition visuals and sound. However, this too places more importance on the visuals, which sometimes can be very demanding for sound artists to incorporate into the performance. These days, she is trying to balance how much she needs to be performing and how much space she needs to take up. She is also thinking about equity, supporting and engaging with other artists. 

Terri also brought up an example of a work by Hildegarde WesterkampBeads of Time which allowed her to deepen her knowledge and perception of working with digital technology. There was a two-year hiatus between the initial collaboration with Hildegarde and the premier. When they resumed working on the piece, Terri could rely on the pre-recorded audio of her improvising in situ at the recording place in Germany. This allowed her to remember the playing techniques and compositional choices she had made then. In this collaboration with Hildegarde, there was a lot of knowledge exchange on recording techniques, editing software and learning about how Hildegarde listens to sounds when she works. This Terri understood because of the digital tools that they were using, similarly using visual interfaces to talk more specifically about the recorded sounds. The interfaces enabled them to visualise the recorded sounds as they became a point of contact between them.