Writer and musician Jace Clayton, 2017 Duke/UNC Nannerl O. Keohane Distinguished Visiting Professor, seeks Duke and UNC undergraduate and graduate students to assist him in making set of unique digital music-making tools, inspired by and produced in conjunction with local North Carolinian non-Western music practitioners. This project is a second iteration of his Sufi Plug-Ins and offers students the opportunity to directly collaborate with and learn from Clayton. More about Clayton and his work can be found one his website.

Carried out over the course of the term, the project has six principle stages that require diverse skill sets (see below). Clayton seeks participants across fields who are excited to be present for the entire cycle (or as far along as the team gets); the cross-talk and interdisciplinary connections are a key aspect of the project.

The stages are:

  • community outreach – anthropological/ethnographic fieldwork in order to locate local musicians (or music fans) and explain the project.
  • music research –an anthropological / musicological / performance studies approach to learn about the music at hand. What, to the practitioners, is important? What are some of the musical, cultural, or performative functions? The goal here is to get a basic understanding of what’s at stake for those involved in the music, and then start to discuss with them what aspects of that might be possible to translate into the digital.
  • tool brainstorm / design maquette – This stage involves brainstorming various possibilities for digital tools/functionality and user-interface design. Students will not need technical skills here; this is about envisioning what aspects of the music could translate or inspire a digital tool.
  • tool coding / testing – For the actual creation of these tools, proficiency in Max/MSP, Supercollider, or PD is ideal. For the UX design, proficiency in vector graphics particularly Illustrator is idea.  The testing stage involves getting the tools to various musicians and getting experience feedback from them.
  • collaboration practice / performance – Once a few plug-ins are functional, the next step is performance – ideally a collaborative performance involving some of the locals musicians.
  • project documentation – Last but not least, the group will work together on how to document the process and present it to the public. The tools themselves are a kind of documentation (software tool as knowledge archive) and the performance will be public, so here the emphasis is on finding appropriate ways to share the tools & project process online.

If you are interested in meeting Jace and learning more about joining his team, please respond by Tuesday, October 10 to aripp@email.unc.edu.

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