Started things off with introductions and mention of our favorite sources of light. Mickey said campfire, Zach- camera flash, Ross- candles, Elisa- the moon, Kyle- microwaves (with or without tin foil inside), Micah- light off the water, George- the sun, Ben-bio-luminescence of immature-stage lightening bugs (resident entomologist), Kate- frosted globe bulbs, Melanie- light up sneakers, Bobak- neon signs, Jocelyn- 70's lamp from her family's house with an orange bulb, Ari- inner light exuding out.
And with that “brilliance” we moved on to the audio portion of the night- well, actually no. First we were teased with an audio temptation from Mickey who almost played us the hold music from Uber Eats, since he had ordered a pizza to share with the group...but then there was some drama about that so we didn't hear the audio, but we did get the pizza.
Kyle kicked things off with audio from a 2016 summer night in DC's Trinidad neighborhood- featuring 10yr old Donnie on guitar, a neighbor sharpening his knives and other porch-side-sonic delights. This lead to chat about the anti-social nature of air conditioning and the specialness of sonic snapshots as a audio glimpse of a place in time.
Mickey moved us from the stoop to the Sidewalks. Sidewalks is his podcast and he played us a beautiful descriptive episode that was born from a post on Medium and read by Molly Jane Bennett. This lead to some voice coaching tips. 1. have the person read the copy all the way through first at least once. 2. when interrupting try to get them conversational- “imagine what you see at that moment x” 3. try to guide the speaker as if they are a character that an actor is attempting to know and convey.
Elisa shared a clip from a conversation recorded during the 3-day festival “Freedom Sounds” marking the opening of the African American Museum of History and Culture. Artist RhymeFest participated in a panel discussion about the social power of music and his reply to one discussion question seemed to call for sound design- so Elisa generated one and posted it to the Smithonian site. This lead to a vibrant discussion about the ethical editorial choices when working with poetic turns of phrase that may or may not be actually factual (such as saying “Marvin Gaye ended the war in Vietnam”). Disturbing and highly contrasting examples were debated thoughtfully and with humor and the concepts of truth v. truthiness all seemed like a timely precursor to the third Presidential debate which would be airing later that night.
Ross shared a self-made composition from his expanding video game music portfolio and some composer favorites were mentioned later (Disaster Piece, Hyperlift Drifter)as well as reflection on how much activity is too much activity in a video game (when does sound guide and when does it compete?).
Ben shared an audio postcard, somewhat covertly or at least somewhat surreptitiously recorded in the Caribbean across a few different years which was a windy expression of shifting US politics/political influence with the threat of sharp blades nearby.
Zach offered a video game version of the Cars song created using chiptune.
Melanie shared an audio mix that she constructed using the voice memos she commissioned (aka requested) from friends to construct a day out watching the Cubs (this was before the Cubs won the World Series!). Which lead to a chat about the value of anonymously uploading sounds both silly and/or innocent and revealing secrets.
And Jocelyn created a compelling new sound design for the opening of the third and final Presidential debate – a live mix, using only sounds recorded at the 2016 NEA Heritage Awards concert. Highlights included an Irish reel, Alaskan three part vocal harmony and some well-timed aching Native American hand crafted flute.
If only the night had ended there- but instead many of us stuck around the watch the third Presidential debate. Thanks so much Mickey for hosting.
Everyone- get to the voting booths!
See you in November the next DC Listening Lounge (which is not on election day).