February 22, 2017
Erich Burnett
TIMARA: Electroacoustic music at Oberlin

Oberlin Conservatory’s TIMARA studios, which came into existence when vinyl records and eight-track tapes ruled the audio world, has released a recording this month that showcases the work of current and former students and faculty in the department.

And of course, it was released on vinyl.

TIMARA: Electroacoustic Music at Oberlin consists of nine disparate-sounding tracks that came together through the use of various means, from traditional instruments to synthesizers to field recordings. It was pressed by Hanson Records, located in downtown Oberlin.

TIMARA—an acronym for Technology in Music and Related Arts—was founded in 1973 by Oberlin Conservatory faculty members; by 1987 it was a freestanding major. Two of TIMARA’s longtime faculty, Tom Lopez ’89 and Peter Swendsen ’99, are former students of the program.

"The combined student and faculty creative output is truly remarkable,” says Lopez. “Every year I witness inspiring work by my colleagues and students alike. These are the pieces that enable our students to pursue graduate degrees at prestigious institutions, tour the world with their music, begin careers in recording studios, and launch innovative tech startups.”

Electroacoustic Music at Oberlin marks TIMARA’s first dalliance with vinyl, following a run of five CDs and a DVD issued over a 10-year-span beginning in 2001. The recordings served the dual purposes of getting the word out about TIMARA while providing students a hands-on education in music production.

In recent years, Lopez began to notice students gravitating away from CDs and toward online music—then coming back to where the department started so many years ago. “By about 2014 we realized that record albums were making a comeback,” he says. “We asked our students, ‘What if we handed out records?’ and they said ooh yeah!

The new album consists mostly of the senior projects of current students and recent graduates, though it opens with a piece by former TIMARA visiting professor Lyn Goeringer that incorporates field recordings of a northeast Ohio maple syrup festival. Also included are two pieces by Lopez: one created in 2004, the other in the late 1980s, when he was a student who went by the name “Alx Lopez.” That creation, a collaboration with fellow student Stephen Sloan, is called “That’s Quiet Alright.” It is the only track on Electroacoustic Music at Oberlin that was recorded using reel-to-reel tape.

Other recordings featuring TIMARA musicians have appeared in recent years on Oberlin Music, the official record label of Oberlin Conservatory. In 2014, Swendsen released Allusions to Seasons and Weather, a suite of four works that incorporate electronics and field recordings captured in Norway. The following year, pianist Thomas Rosenkranz ’99 released Toward the Curve, featuring music created by TIMARA alumni.

For more information about Electroacoustic Music at Oberlin, contact Hanson Records.

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