Marginalia, Graduate Blog

Sound and Sonorous objects

Justin Botz

Whether it was the speaking of a text or the composition of something more musical, sound has always been an important part of my work. This might be due in part to the fact that my mother was a speech pathologist and Audiologist, or to the fact that my older brother was a prodigious classical pianist. Before moving to Chicago, my work with sound was very musical in a traditional sense. I used to play in a folk punk band in college called Innocent Smith’s Musical Circus and I loved it. This was one of the highlights of my life. Playing and performing in a band with some of my closest friends was magical.

Since moving to Chicago my use of sound has been predominantly experimental but this summer I had the opportunity to compose music for choreographer Courtney St. Clair.  This was great for me. Though I love experimentation I missed playing with more musical sounds.

Speaking of loving experimentation, I’ve recently been exploring the world of sound and robotics. I’ve been messing around with the Arduino micro controller to control solenoid motors and servos through Ableton live.  Below are a few of my experiments.

Some of the interesting feedback I’ve received on these sound objects has had to do with the anthropomorphic qualities of these objects. People want to assign personalities to these objects and give them back stories. I want to play with this more in future experiments.

As I’ve been making these objects I have found the book Hand Made Electronic Music by Nicholas Collins to be tremendously helpful. The book comes with a DVD that has a few fantastic instructional videos on making your own contact mics and circuit bending. I highly recommend it if you are interested in experimenting with sound yourself.

Sound and Sonorous objects

Whether it was the speaking of a text or the composition of something more musical, sound has always been an important part of my work. This might be due in part …

Interdisciplinary Arts & Media MFA Justin Botz, justin.botz@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

The Graduate Experience