Madalyn Merkey

The Graham Foundation

Madlener House
4 West Burton Place
Chicago, Illinois 60610

Madalyn Merkey makes her Lampo debut and premieres Digital Concert Creatures, a quadraphonic work for synthetic computer sounds and voice. Merkey sets autonomous sonic characters, or “creatures,” in motion, building sound by layering frequencies.

“The main idea is that each letter on the keyboard has a different personality defined by four columns of numbers on the computer screen,” she writes. “Each keystroke catches a snapshot of the ‘creature’ as it moves along a compositional path, which then becomes complicated or influenced by the other keys being pressed.”

Through a mix of control and chaos—and informed by mathematics more than traditional musicianship—Merkey’s new work is as playful as it is dense.

Madalyn Merkey (b.1988, Oklahoma City, Okla.) is a composer and performer of live computer music based in Oakland. Her practice began as a visual artist at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she transitioned to sound and time-based art in 2010. Her recent work is concerned with using principles of logic to create computer programs that generate distinct sound surprises in a live setting.

Merkey is also the English translator of Due scuole di musica elettronica in Italia, a pioneering electronic music text written by Enore Zaffiri in the 1960s. Her translation, Two Schools of Electronic Music, is forthcoming from Die Schachtel. Recordings of Merkey’s work Scent (2012) and Valley Girl (2014) are available on New Images Ltd.

Presented in partnership with the Graham Foundation

Artist Talk: In 2013, Madalyn Merkey used her spring break to look through every book about electronic music in the Mills College library. There she found Due scuole di musica elettronica in Italia (1968) by Enore Zaffiri. At first, drawn to the Italian composer’s simple visual scores, she used Google Translate to decipher the text and found unexpected parallels to her own development as a sound artist. Due scuole… became the focus of her M.F.A. thesis, with additional research completed at the Conservatorio di Musica Luigi Cherubini in Florence. In this artist talk for Lampo, Merkey discusses Zaffiri’s early work and provides visual and audio examples from her translation process, along with unreleased historical recordings from the first Turin course of electronic music. Lampo Annex, Monadnock Building, 53 W. Jackson Blvd. #1656. Friday, November 16, 6 p.m.