Sound Research Group: Alternative Musical Interfaces


Date: Wednesday, September 19th
Times: 7pm – 8:30pm
Cost: $5 – $20 suggested donation (no one turned away for lack of funds)
Location: GAFFTA, 923 Market Street Suite 200, San Francisco, CA 94103


We’ve seen many shifts in ways to control sound over the millenia; everything from animal skins and bones to hacked Game Boys and everywhere in between. We find ourselves positioned at an interesting point in time for how we manipulate sound in a post-instrument world. The topic of alternative musical interfaces has been discussed by those attempting to redefine how we’ve shaped sound since the tribal era, but the discourse seems to be thriving. We’ve brought together three specialists (see below) who have dedicated large portions of their lives to the noble task of constructing new musical interfaces and pushing musicians to interact with their instruments in new and different fashions.

The object of this evening is to gather together those interested in redefining our physical relationship to sounds and music. If you are interested in audio we recommend that you come join in the discussion with us.


7:00pm – 7:15pm : Introductions / Cocktails
7:15pm – 8:15pm : Panel / Group Discussion
8:15pm – 8:30pm : Open Discussion / Q & A

Michael Zbyszyński


Michael Ferriell Zbyszyński is a composer, sound artist, performer, and teacher in the field of contemporary electroacoustic music. Currently, he teaches at California College of the Arts, contributes to Make Magazine, and plays with Respectable Citizen and the Brass Liberation Orchestra.

Dr. Zbyszyński plays flute, saxophones, clarinet, Yamaha WX5 (MIDI wind controller), and things made from coffee cans and PVC. His 2006 piece News Cycle #2, created in collaboration with video artist Anthony Discenza, was jointly commissioned by the Getty Center and the Montalvo Arts Center, where they were in residence in 2008. In 2004, Zbyszyński finished a permanent sound installation at Edgemar in Santa Monica, CA, in collaboration with Hugh Livingston. He has appeared, collaborated, or worked with Roscoe Mitchell, Myra Melford, Frank Gratkowski, , HPX Multimedia, the Capacitor Performance Group, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company (the American premier of John Cage´s Ocean 1-95), Frances-Marie Uitti, and David Wessel, as a soloist with the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, Composers Inc., UC Berkeley Symphony, Cultural Labyrinth, Berkeley New Music Project, and Common Sense Composer´s Collective, and at the Other Minds Festival, the Oregon Bach Festival, the Montréal Jazz Festival, the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies, Cal Arts, UC Santa Barbara, UC San Diego, University of Washington, Reed College,Portland State University, and The Western Front Lodge (Vancouver). He has recorded and mixed sound for diverse artists, including Debashish Bhattachaya, Amelia Cuni, Fred Frith, DJ Spooky, and Bertram Turetzky. He can be heard on the ARTSHIP Record Label and is included in the Rhizome Artbase.

Dr. Zbyszyński teaches workshops on interactivity programming and sensor design in the San Francisco Bay Area, and has consulted on performances by the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players and the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra. He has taught composition at Berklee College of Music and Northeasten University, and was a Faculty Fellow in Music Technology at the University of California, Irvine. In fall 2000, Dr. Zbyszyński earned his PhD in music composition from the University of California, Berkeley, having earned his MA in 1996. His doctoral dissertation, Labirynt for saxophone and orchestra, draws on minimalist, spectral, and sonorist musical styles; his primary advisor was Jorge Liderman. In 1998 he was awarded a Fulbright Grant to study at the Akademia Muzyczna w Krakówie, Poland with Zbigniew Bujarski. While in Poland, he composed the string orchestra piece Beneath a Liquid Paper Sky, which was premiered by the Penderecki Festival Orchestra, under the baton of Pawel Przytocki, at the Teatr Wielki in Warsaw. This concert was part of the 40th anniversary celebration of the Polish-American Fulbright Commission, and subsequently aired on TV Polonia 1. In 1992, he received a BA in music from New York University, where he studied composition with Louis Karchin and improvisation with Joe Lovano. He participated in the Composers´ Symposium at the 1996 Oregon Bach Festival (studies with John Harbison and Robert Kyr) and the 1998 Académie d´été at Paris´s Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM: studies with Philippe Manoury, Kaija Saariaho, and Salvatore Sciarrino).

Peter Nyboer


Though I’d like to be described as a raconteur, a bon-vivant, or even a nomme-de-guerre, I’ll content myself by having largely avoided a life described by French pejoratives. Dressed simply and comfortably, I have pursued the satisfaction of trying to bring music and video to life through software. Math and physics were degreed at UC Santa Cruz, but their workings were made explicit in the electronic music studio, and I have been entranced ever since. I was introduced to Max/MSP and “physical computing” as a way of re-imagining music, and then my clumsy attempts at guitar were quickly supplanted by the worlds of digital and analogue signal processing.

I have created a variety of interfaces for audio and video, first trying out a solo software project for realtime video as YOW*, the first commercial quicktime video mixer. I worked with Naut Humon at Sound Traffic Control and Recombinant Media Labs in San Francisco, which was pretty much the greatest incubator of out-there music expression, with multiple audio channels and video screens. We had to figure out ways to make it all sync up, and be “performable,” and in some ways, Livid software is a product of those challenges and problems that are still looking for a solution.

When I’m not obsessing about software architecture, user interaction, or a new video effect, I like to play some basketball, take a trip in the pop-up, fix up a bike, roast some meats, make a cocktail, and grow some veggies in the yard.

Spencer Salazar


Spencer Salazar is a doctoral student at Stanford CCRMA, researching computer-based forms of music performance and experience. In his past he has created new software and hardware interfaces for the ChucK audio programming language, developed prototype consumer electronics for top technology companies, architected large-scale social music interactions for Smule, an iPhone application developer, and composed for laptop and mobile phone ensembles. He has worked on mobile applications ranging from Ocarina, a virtual wind instrument for iPhone, to I Am T-Pain, which gives iPhone users the ability to auto-tune themselves in real-time. I Am T-Pain is consistently one of the top 10 music apps in the iPhone App Store.

Marc Weidenbaum


Marc Weidenbaum founded the website in 1996. It focuses on the intersection of sound, art, and technology. He has written for Nature, the website of The Atlantic, Boing Boing, Down Beat, and numerous other publications. He has commissioned and curated sound/music projects that have featured original works by Kate Carr, Marcus Fischer, Marielle Jakobsons, John Kannenberg, Tom Moody, Steve Roden, Scanner, Roddy Shrock, Robert Thomas, Pedro Tudela, and Stephen Vitiello, among many others. He moderates the Disquiet Junto group at; there dozens of musicians respond to weekly Oulipo-style restrictive compositional projects. In Fall 2012 he’ll be teaching a 15-week class “Sounds of Brands / Brands of Sounds” at the Academy of Art in San Francisco. He’s a founding partner at i/olian, which develops software projects that explore opportunities to play with sound. He lives in San Francisco in a neighborhood whose soundmarks include Tuesday noon civic alarms as well as persistent seasonal fog horns from the nearby bay. He also resides at