The TIMARA department welcomes Christopher Poovey as a visiting professor this school year!

Headshot of Chris Poovey in a dark patterned shirt with a grey background
Visiting Assistant Professor Christopher Poovey. Photo courtesy of Christopher Poovey.

Chris is an accomplished composer and technologist who recently completed his doctoral studies at the University of North Texas. His work focuses broadly on the use of electronics to extend the natural capabilities of traditional instruments – a modern electronic interplay with his traditional composition background.

Vessels, a virtual reality “micro-opera” composed as part of his dissertation, is an exemplar of Chris’s combined approach: custom software written for the program Max MSP fragments and affects the opera singers’ voices. Similarly, in pieces like “Within Waves” (2020), the sounds of a physical hi-hat are modulated in real time by a custom-built, virtual model of a hi-hat. The software absorbs and modifies the sound of its physical counterpart, resonating the impulses through virtual metal and distributing the sounds through space with a watery effect. Software and acoustic instruments and voices are shaped into twisty, twining patterns of behavior and response, neither one just an augment of the other.

In Chris’s words: “I think of myself a bit like an explorer and tinkerer when I create art. I am always trying to uncover techniques, effects, and ways of working that help me write work that seems like it is uniquely mine.” Often those unique effects require the development of unique software, another of Chris’s focuses. He’s coded external packages for Max MSP, VST plugins, and Max 4 Live devices, all of which are freely available on his website. His latest project is the Grainflow package for Max MSP, a suite of objects that explore the possibilities of granular synthesis.

This semester, Chris will be teaching TECH 202: Realtime Techniques, and TECH 170: Electroacoustic Interpretation and Performance Practice. Chris will also be leading the Oberlin Improvisation and New music Collective (OINC), one of TIMARA’s main student ensembles.

“In my short time in TIMARA it strikes me that each one of my students has such a unique set of interests and goals. I have students working with found sounds in both a “plunderphonics”  and “glitch” sort of way, students interested in writing for live electronics with instruments and other elements of liver performance, and students who are interested in working in visual media – some without sound at all! I hope this wide range of interests results in students having all sorts of interesting discussions about aesthetics, technique, and artistic philosophy – really thinking about the art they are creating and how it exists within the world.”

“My goal in working in TIMARA is to inspire my students to explore their possibilities and find a way of working that allows them to both have an artistically fulfilling relationship with technology while expressing their ideas in their own voice.”