Conductor introduces new sound and method at Brown Bag

By Kelly Lisanti

Professional trumpeter and conductor, Bruce McKinney, welcomed Thursday’s Brown Bag crowd with a cacophony of sound in the Ernest and Mildred  E. Mayo concert hall on Oct. 21.

“I can’t imagine what I’d do without my trumpet on a day to day basis,” said McKinney, who studied composition at Princeton University and Columbia University.

McKinney briefly discussed electronic music  and shortly after picked up his trumpet and played a short etude to demonstrate.

The sounds that resulted were a mix of other trumpets, squeaking clarinets, a marimba and obscure sounds that could have been heard in a jungle or a garbage disposal. It was by no means classical, and at times it was almost a little uncomfortable,

McKinney explained that the resulting sound came from a small microphone that clipped onto his instrument. Software picked up the notes being played and produced notes that “matched” what was being played with other sounds.

McKinney broke down the concept in to three basics sound groups. The first set of sound was the sound of the original trumpet, but it was stored and played later on. The second set was the original trumpet, and the third group consisted of other sounds, which were triggered by the sound of the trumpet.

“It works with anything that is played into the microphone, including the human voice,” McKinney said.

McKinney told the audience that he doesn’t stray too far from the trumpet.

“I’m limited by my musical gene pool,” he said. “Other instruments have many more possibilities.”

For this reason, McKinney had a violinist give another demo. The sounds produced through the computer sounded similar to the sounds produced by the trumpet, but sounds changed more often. The sounds fit so well together that, at times, it was hard to tell what was real and what was electronic.

Ashley Ernst, a sophomore nursing major, described the performances as an odd but interesting experience.

“It’s not something I’d want to listen to everyday, or even go out of my way to listen too,” she said. “If I heard it, though, I would notice it.”