Thornton professor mixes classical and electric sounds

first_img“It keeps things really, really fresh because … we’re kind of playing on a razor’s edge in many respects,” Loynachan said. “There was a joie de vivre, a certain danger and element of surprise and discovery.”   SH[eye]N’s “Opus 7: Psychiatica!!” and “Opus 17: Towers of Need (Balancing Presently) the Album” are available for streaming on Spotify. “Opus 1: Gnawing the Straps” is available on their website. “Since it is electronic, one of the elements actually, it failed on me,” Loynachan said. “So what I did is I had to go to plan B and try to keep things going but that’s part of the whole rich, that kind of dangerous aspect of it all.” Held on campus, the show presented a unique opportunity for Biersach’s students to observe the application of all the music knowledge he teaches them. Charlie McCollum, a freshman majoring in cinematic arts, film and television production, took Biersach’s freshman seminar “Musical Subcultures of the Sixties” and attended the concert.  “I never heard a drummer say anything like that, so we became friends instantly and we’ve been working since 2014,” Biersach said.  Biersach was not the only one who saw an immediate partnership. Loynachan also identified with Biersach’s musical style and saw an opportunity for them to combine their strengths to create something special.  Lecturer Bill Biersach plays the Chapman Railboard Stick, a ten-string metal instrument that allows him to control pitch, intonation and tone. (Photo courtesy of SH[eye]N) Their music is not the only thing innovative about this band. Biersach and Loynachan met completely by chance, waiting in line for a lecture on The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album, where Loynachan’s self-description as a third-generation percussionist intrigued Beirsach.  “Being in communion with Bill in this very non-verbal, ever-expansive way really forges this really fresh path,” Loynachan said. “We’re hoping to take the audience on this fanciful journey where you might sense that there’s a palpable sense of trust and vulnerability.” The musical evening was not only a performance but also a whimsical experience overall. Entering the concert venue, the performance began with a black-light-face-painting station, where concertgoers painted glow-in-the-dark designs on their faces and bodies. The playful ambiance carried into the performance room itself, with laser projections swirling overhead creating a psychedelic atmosphere, preparing listeners for the avant-garde music. center_img Both the musicians and the instruments of SH[eye]N bring an immense amount of creativity and originality into the band’s compositions and performances. The band has a core value of improvisation that allows the music to flow naturally to new places of discovery.  A hexagonal speaker system strategically placed around the audience provided a 360-degree sound experience that fully immersed listeners. After the opening number, the fluorescent lights turned off and were replaced by a black light, illuminating the LED strips on the instruments and the paint on everyone’s faces. “It was super cool to see a professor that I had in a completely new light and also listen to some music that I probably never would have been exposed to if he wasn’t my professor,” McCollum said. “It was interesting to see a professor do what he’s passionate about, and it was a very enjoyable experience because it was unlike anything I’ve really witnessed before.” “He said, ‘Have you ever heard of the Chapman Stick?’” Loynachan said. “I said I hadn’t per se, but I ventured up to his studio at Rock Haven. I was quite smitten over his embrace of improvisation and the organics.”  The element of danger Loynachan referred to came into play in the evening show, when, unbeknownst to audiences, a part of the Electronic Batterie stopped working.  At the heart of SH[eye]N is the relationship between the two frontmen and their love of exploring sound. On stage, they work in harmony, even when the music is atonal.  Though there were only two instruments on stage, they produced a wide assortment of sounds, ranging from percussion and piano to synth and guitar. The sound SH[eye]N created goes beyond electronic. The duo used many samples of classical percussion, and the Chapman Railboard Stick brought an innovative string section to expand on the electronic music genre and create something entirely new.  USC Composition and Theory and Analysis lecturer Bill Biersach’s band SH[eye]N played at Schoenfeld Symphonic Hall on Sunday night. SH[eye]N is a duo composed of Biersach, who plays the Chapman Railboard Stick, a ten-string metal instrument that allows for specific control of pitch, intonation and tone, and electronic percussionist Ralph Loynachan, who accompanies on the Electronic Batterie, an instrument that uses over 50 sampled and synthesized percussion sounds to create harmonic and atonal tunes alike. The band performed “Fractures,” an hour-and-a-half-long opus with the intention of inviting the audience to “think of the music as underscore to the movies they create in their own imaginations,” according to the program.last_img

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