School of Music hosts unusual sound artist duo

February 22, 2018

Guest Artists "Clip Mouth Unit" (Jen Baker-trombone/voice and Dafna Naphtali -voice/live-sound-processing/electronics) will perform at Penn State at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 26, in 128 Music Building II on the University Park campus. The duo creates a unique set of open form compositions for their multi-faceted performance concept — merging electro-acoustics, multi-phonics, and extended techniques, integrated directly with scalar and rhythmic concepts. Admission is free.

Baker and Naphtali have been performing and creating together since 2011, including presentations at the International Society of Improvising Musicians Conference, Bucknell College, and NYC Electroacoustic Improvisation Summit,  and preparing a unique set of open form compositions for their multi-faceted performance concept merging electro-acoustics, multi-phonics, extended techniques, integrated directly with scalar and rhythmic concepts.

Since 2014, Baker and Naphtali have been developing “Clip Mouth Unit: Deck Score,” a score in the form of a deck of cards/”Post Its” each with a different behavior or electroacoustic process and outlining relationship between instruments and processing. Using this unique set of open form compositions, the cards are organized differently for each performance of the work, merging classic electro-acoustics, multiphonics, and extended techniques (for both voice and trombone), integrated directly with tonal and rhythmic concepts. 



“Metathesis” is the transposition of phonemes, letters, syllables, or words, linguistic phenomenon informing sound. This is the first sounding of an excerpt of a larger work-in-progress for trombone, multiphonics and multi-channel sound. 

“Phasing-Feedback-Hands” is a solo exploration of Naphtali’s no-input-processor and feedback as an instrument with gestural controls. 

“Dripsodisiac” was inspired by a 1955 piece titled “Dripsody,” using accelerating vocal arpeggios suggested by Hugh Le Caine’s tape experiments and complement processed audio snippets from the original work.

“Silo Songs” is an evening length work: part installation, part concert piece-- conceived, composed, recorded, and performed entirely inside of a concrete grain silo, approximately 20 feet in diameter. An assembly of distinct vignettes, some of which are melodies I used to sing to the cows when I was younger, Silo Songs is a reflection of the once bustling and active farm on which it was recorded, now in disuse for many years. The American farm, once a symbol of prosperity and sustenance was also a business, home, and childhood playground. Since the 80s when “Big Farming” pushed most small farms out of business, the American farm is seen all over the country in various forms of disuse, decomposition, and re-purposing. My relationship to the farm as a child was the foundation for my perception of these lands that may strike the outside observer as impossibly barren. Instead, I see a multitude of conflicting memories and changes: daily chores (no breaks even for holidays!), a veritable hands-on classroom with real tools, tractors, feed storage, insects of all types, kittens to play with, crop management, a home and business torn apart, and cows shipped away for slaughter.

Jen Baker, trombonist/composer, has collaborated with artists all over the world in site-specific mixed media performance, concert halls, solo and chamber commissions. As an improviser, she is featured on the soundtrack to Werner Herzog’s Oscar-nominated “Encounters at the End of the World.” She has performed internationally in festivals and has toured with Arijit Singh, Karole Armitage, and Mansour, and new music ensembles S.E.M., TILT brass, and the mobile ensemble Asphalt Orchestra (founding member). Her well received new book, Hooked on Multiphonics, is a treatise on extended techniques for trombone for composers and trombonists to aid in understanding and executing the deep complexities of multiphonics.

Dafna Naphtali is a sound-artist, vocalist, electronic musician, and guitarist. A performer and composer of experimental, contemporary classical and improvised music since the mid-90’s, she creates custom Max/MSP programming for sound-processing of voice and other instruments, music for robots, audio augmented reality sound walks, and “Audio Chandelier” multi-channel sound projects.

  • Clip Mouth Unit

    Jen Baker and Dafna Naphtali

    IMAGE: Penn State
Last Updated February 28, 2018