About

Tate Carson is a composer and upright bassist from New Orleans, Louisiana. He studied jazz composition and performance at both Loyola University New Orleans and the University of New Orleans under the direction of award-winning composers and jazz performers James Walsh and Edward Petersen. Carson was active in the New Orleans jazz improvisation scene from 2009 until 2015 when he moved to Oakland, California. He is currently pursuing a MFA in electronic music at Mills College.

Living and working in New Orleans, where traditional jazz remains culturally predominant, gave Carson an appreciation for rhythm as a guiding force in his compositions. He began experimenting with electronic music after feeling hindered by the timbral limitations of acoustic instruments. As a result, many of his electronic compositions utilize both acoustic and electronic instruments, creating dynamic sound environments. He often draws from his interests in self-similarity, the rough geometry of nature, and generative processes.

Carson has written for large open ensembles, improvisers, and non-improvisers; acousmatic fixed media; and film and advertising. He has also experimented with sonification that incorporates visualization. He recently developed the laptop performance instrument, Sw͚a̎r̍m̸, for electro-acoustic live processing, which he premiered during two performances at Mills College with violin and pipa players.

Compositions

Entangled Spaces

Influenced Networks, 2016

with Ricardo Saavedra

Entangled Spaces is a performance that employs networks of influence. Using gestural control the performers explore different parts of the same synthesized soundscape. As the piece develops, each player has the option to change the way the other performer interacts with their instrument. This puts the players in a situation where the system might surprise them at any given point. The sense of instability and uncertainty created by the instruments encourages the performers to listen more intently to the subtle changes, creating ever-changing and surprising sonic landscape.

The Laptop as Dwelling

Realtime Electronics and Computer Sounds, 2016

In this piece I sonify the innards of the laptop with a coil microphone. I wanted to examine an idea, borrowed from G. Bach, that a laptop can be a space we inhabit. As he says: “For Musician and audience alike, the laptop is interior space because we believe it to be so.” A side interest in the piece was to travel on a spectrum from noise to melody, tuning the laptop noise to different notes as I go along.

Shifting Migration

Fixed Media, 2016

Shifting Migration was recording with a set of binaural in-ear microphones while biking to and from Mills College for a week. At the end of the piece you’ll also hear waves recorded in La Jolla, California. I wanted to see if I could make a piece of soundscape music out of the sounds I encounter on my commute. During the extended listening to my environment I started to realize how close the sounds of cars driving to into the distance sounded like waves. I juxtapose these sounds at the end of the piece, as if the end of the journey isn’t Mills but a placid beach. With this juxtaposition I aim to reveal how much noise pollution we endure daily and what our soundscape should be.

Lamella

Realtime Electronics and Music Box, 2016

Lamella can either refer to a thin membrane in bone tissue or the metal tongues that sound in the music box. A contact mic is used to pickup the intricate, machine-like sounds coming from the box, in addition to the it’s melody. My interest is the intersection between these noise and harmonic sounds. The melody is treated plainly at the beginning and ending of the piece. Granular synthesis is used to decontextualize the melodic sounds into drones and shorter re-pitched sounds.

Four Petals

Chamber Ensemble and Electronics, 2016

Four Petals is based off of an electronic composition that I wrote in 2014 of the same name. The process of translating everything that can be done with electronics into an electro-acoustic real-time form is a transformative one. New electronics were developed to be played along with the chamber ensemble.

A Quiet Desert Future

Fixed Media, 2016

This piece is a result of the restrictions of recording directly to tape. Each sound heard was improvised without listening to the others and assembled afterwards in one take on a mixing board. I aimed to create interesting shifts in density and timbre, also to maintain the improvisational nature of the performances by keeping that same spirit in the mix down process.

Synecdoche

Fixed Media, 2015

In Synecdoche, there are eight basic sound events, five synthesized pitches, and three percussion samples. Two tempos increase at different rates, creating the form. As the tempo increases, out of the range where we perceive rhythm, each note is heard less as a distinct event and as more of a single sound with a shifting timbre. Synecdoche explores the limits of human rhythmic perception.

The piece uses self-similarity as found in nature—an object constructed entirely by repeated application of a single procedure. Self-similarity is reflected through the use of tempo changes. The listener may hear the faster tempo as a different event, but directly relates to the tempo in beginning of the piece.

S̜w͚a̎r̍m̸

Realtime Electronics and Pipa, 2015

S̜w͚a̎r̍m̸ is an live-sampling instrument. It was originally built for the singular purpose of capturing live instrument input and playing it back as a drone. Here, that idea is extended to include other sound possibilities.

Recursion

Improvising Ensemble, 2015

Recursion is the process of repeating something in a self-similar way. That is, repeating a thing in a way that’s exactly or approximately similar to a part of itself.  The whole has the same shape as one or more of the parts. In this case of this piece, the “thing” is an amount of musical time. Recursion is presented to the musicians using a graphic score. It shows a seven note melody plotted onto a series of circles, one large one, two half the size of the first inside the large one, and down smaller and smaller.

The musicians are to take this image and interpret it by playing the notes a many different speeds which are all related to each other in a self-similar way. It is meant only to be a starting point for an improvisation and not a formal structure for the entire piece.  

Microstasis

Fixed Media, 2015

Microstasis is generated entirely from one sample—an 18-second recording from Anthony Braxton’s record 529.315. It was chosen because of its unique timbre and folk-like melody. Though the sound material all comes from one source, its origin is meant to be ambiguous.

Granular synthesis is used to reorganize the sample to render it unrecognizable. The purpose of using only one sound source is to aid coherence in composition. The sample is reconstructed into phrases of drones and micro sound, two sometimes disparate sounds that attempt to coexist.

Diminishing Pt 2

Chamber Ensemble, 2015

Microstasis is generated entirely from one sample—an 18-second recording from Anthony Braxton’s record 529.315. It was chosen because of its unique timbre and folk-like melody. Though the sound material all comes from one source, its origin is meant to be ambiguous.

Granular synthesis is used to reorganize the sample to render it unrecognizable. The purpose of using only one sound source is to aid coherence in composition. The sample is reconstructed into phrases of drones and micro sound, two sometimes disparate sounds that attempt to coexist.

Si

A tempermental six year old gets a goldfish from her parents after begging for a puppy

a short film by Samantha Smith, original score by Tate Carson