Catalyst Berlin at the Funkhaus

5 Concepts to Explore in our Innovative Creative Production Masters Degree

Posted by Dee Cunning on 6/17/2019 in Catalyst

We explore five possible concepts for our Creative Production Masters Degree in music with the help of our tutors and students. 

You know what they say about music: if, as the creator, you don’t have clarity of ideas, all you’re communicating is sound. Great music, so rich in concepts and emotions, is vital to a culturally literate society, allowing us to deeply connect and broaden our thoughts and feelings. Our Creative Production Masters Degree (MA) course is all about exploring these intricacies; applying a creative, critical and curious approach to whatever interests you most. Your imagination is the only limit!

What ideas are the Catalyst community most interested in exploring musically? We asked Masters student Pablo Diserens to share the concepts behind his current project. Then we spoke to four tutors about what they would choose to study, or are planning on studying, on the eye-opening MA course. Check out their answers below.

Pablo Diserens, aka Ōtone

Creative Production MA student

Catalyst Berlin Creative Production Music MA student Pablo Diserens

“The project focuses on the physical and sonic properties of the water element and its relationship to its surroundings, while putting an emphasis on current environmental issues”

My project is a sonic study of hydraulic sceneries, with the practice of field recording as a gateway to environmental awareness and electroacoustic composition. Struck by the latest scientific reports on the state of the world – which are much worse than I expected – I found myself stuck, hopeless in a harmful overlapping of thoughts. It was hard to see any solution. Overwhelmed, I started questioning the futility of human undertaking, of my own work and my ability to act. How can I contribute to the world’s preservation? The only answer seemed to be – not only in the alteration of my habits and everyday consumption – but also in linking my artistic practice to a broader political landscape.

Below: Pablo Diserens – Crack (2019)

Pablo Diserens – Crack (2019)

Based on the practice of field recording and electroacoustic composition, this artistic research studies the various states of water through its cycle. The project focuses on the physical and sonic properties of this element and its relationship to its surroundings, while putting an emphasis on the current environmental issues. This will take form through two articulations: an audiovisual archive and a sound installation, in which sound will be considered as a tool to raise ecological and sonic awareness. The archive will consist of selected recording, and photographs and writings that document the various field trips undertaken. It will demonstrate the conceptual and technical aspects of the field recording practice, as well as its embedment in the philosophical and political sphere of acoustic ecology. This first stage of the project will also be the fundamental to the electroacoustic composition process, making it a tool to nourish an imaginary for artistic creation.

With these recordings as starting material, different compositional techniques will then be explored in order to create abstract electroacoustic matter. That will then be blended with the untouched archive’s recordings to elaborate the sound installation. This research is conceived as a multimedia project that investigates the broad sonic and physical occurrences of water – and its environments – that one can witness today. Thus it becomes a testimony of the current state of these endangered hydraulic sceneries, while navigating between two extreme considerations for sound: documentation and abstraction.

Follow Pablo on Bandcamp, SoundCloud, Facebook and Instagram, and read about his 2018 EP ‘Polaris’ here.

Doron Sadja

Tutor of Electronic Music Production & Performance, Creative Music Production & Sound Engineering and the Creative Production MA

Audiovisual artist and Catalyst Berlin music tutor Doron Sadja

“To have a dedicated year to focus purely on spatial sound theory and give a new context to my work would be inspiring and transformative”

I’ve always been fascinated by our perception of space through sound, and my own artistic practice has explored this again and again. But, as a working artist, it can sometimes be hard to find time for in-depth research beyond whats required for individual pieces. The Masters programme at Catalyst is not just about creating a large-scale work, but about developing a rich contextual insight into the field in which you’re working. To have a dedicated year to focus purely on spatial sound theory and give a new context to my work would be inspiring and transformative. There’s an eight-channel sound studio at the school, MONOM is next door, and there are many interesting acoustic spaces in and around the beautiful old Funkhaus building. Plus, I hear there’s a great teacher there who has a lot of experience in spatial sound 😉

Follow Doron on Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, Bandcamp, Instagram and his website.

Philippa McIntyre

EMP tutor and Creative Production MA student

Catalyst Berlin Electronic Music Production & Performance tutor and MA student Philippa McIntyre

“I’m interested in the human voice and its significance for us as spiritual and emotional creatures, as expressed through sound and music

It’s difficult to pin down exactly what my research focus is for the MA as it’s continually evolving. Essentially, I’m interested in the human voice and its significance for us as spiritual and emotional creatures, as expressed through sound and music.

The area I have focused on already – via theoretical research – is the voice used in spiritual and religious traditions. For example, chanting meditation, religious cantation, choral singing, and so on. I’m also interested in the use of the voice as a conduit for experiences of presence. The word presence has significant contextual weight to it. It has been addressed many times in 20th century philosophy, and it is used in common parlance these days with reference to mindfulness.

The musical area I wish to focus on next will be to write some four part choral harmony. At some stage, I will take voice recordings and process them through the electrical and digital world of the modern studio. Where all this experimenting will lead I have yet to discover. However, I know I will always be trying to locate the thrill I feel from a particular warmth and presence that comes from the voice, or voices used in certain contexts.

Follow Philippa on SoundCloud, Facebook and Instagram.

Bridget Ferrill

EMP and CAP tutor

Bridget Ferrill | 5 Concepts to Explore in our Innovative Creative Production Masters Degree | Catalyst Berlin

“I would love to spend more time researching and creating work around the question of defining folk music in the age of electronic music”

I would love to spend more time researching and creating work around the question of defining folk music in the age of electronic music. This would begin with an exploration of glitch music and handmade electronics interpreted as contemporary technological folk culture. I would research possibilities for accessibility, agency, and participation in technology now and in the future. Special attention would be given to the sustainability of electronics – following the material trail of the machines we use and pursuing the political, human, and ecological stories that are woven into our tools. Bonnie Jones is a great example of an artist who demonstrates similar ideas.

Richard Scott

Creative Production MA programme lead

Catalyst Berlin Creative Music Production Masters lead Richard Scott

“I would love to do a year-long project investigating voltage-controlled spatialisation techniques”

If I was studying the Masters degree I would love to do a year-long project investigating voltage-controlled spatialisation techniques. I’d study the history of multi-speaker diffusion systems. Then, using a modular synthesizer as a sound and control source, I’d work out different ways of mapping control voltages to create stereo, quad and octophonic stereo images. For my final project, I’d make a piece with the 57-speaker system next door at MONOM.

Follow Richard on Facebook, Instagram and his website.