Song Cycle for Haruki Murakami

single-channel video

Matthew Dotson commissioned a video to the sound composition heard here. His initial request was to have only simple, elegant white on black text. That posed a significant challenge to the creative process, as my goal was to visually link the textual elements of Murakami's writings with the dynamics of Matthew's composition. To accomplish this, I visually imitated themes from each movement ("insect wings", "earth", "dust", and "lock") through animating their elements by properties of the sonic spectrum (brightness, noisiness, amplitude, and pitch).


The impetus of this work was four quotes out of Haruki Murakami’s novel “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles.” The intention was to create a kind of pseudo-narrative out of just these four quotes; creating a new story out of fragments of the original story. But beyond this, I wanted each quote (or movement) to be markedly different, thus depending on the visual presence of the quotes to keep the work coherent. Sonically, Murakami’s work made it very evident to me that, in the words of his main character, it should be “something concrete” (a phrase he often used to try and make sense out of the baffling world that surrounded him). Thus, the foundation material was derived from several ambient recordings that took place both inside and outside of my apartment in Chicago. These recordings were used to symbolize the “inner” and “outer” worlds; the interactions and tensions between which served to be the conceptual focus of my piece as it likewise was with Murakami. Soloists (cello, drum set, flute, and clarinet respectfully) were added in order to comment on these sonic environments and lend a sense of humanity and drama to the work. - Matthew Dotson, 2007.


Music: Dr. Matthew Dotson


2011 Scream Festival, Red Cat, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, California


2011 7th Annual Berlin Directors Lounge, Meinblau Gallery, Pfefferberg, Berlin


2011 RAFLOST, Reykjavik, Iceland


2010 Retinal Cochlear Spasms, Recital Hall, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL


2010 Vox Humana, Hulsey Recital Hall, The University of Alabama at Birmingham


2010 Sound, Sight, Space and Play 2010, De Montford University, Leicester, England, UK


2010 Indianapolis Intermedia Festival, Indianapolis Marion County Public Library, Indianapolis, IN


2010 MicroCHIP, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, MI


2009 Ball State University New Music Festival, Muncie, IN


2009 Kansas City Electronic Music Alliance, Kansas City, KS


2009 University of Central Missouri New Music Festival 2009, Warrensburg, MO


2009 Wired for Sound 2009, Pickman Hall, Longy School of Music, Cambridge, MA


2009 Western Oregon New Music Festival, Western Oregon University, Monmouth, OR


2009 Midwest Graduate Music Consortium, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL


2009 6th Electroacoustic Music Concert, Washington State University, Pullman, WA


2009 21st Celebration of Light and Art, Arts Center of the Capital Region, Troy, NY


2008 SoundImageSound V, University of the Pacific, Stockton, CA


2008 17th Annual Florida Electroacoustic Music Festival, University of Florida, FL


2008 T–10 Video Festival, Oakland, CA


2008 1st Annual International Festival of Electroacoustic and Polymedia Art, Belgrade, Serbia


2008 Vertical Gallery Showing, Folsom Library, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY


2008 International Festival of Electroacoustic Music of Santiago, Ai-maako 2008, Salvador, Chile


2008 SCI Student Conference, Ball State University, Muncie, IN


2008 University of Central Florida’s Electroacoustic Music Series, Orlando, FL


2008 Midwest Composer’s Symposium, University of Iowa: Iowa City, IA


2007 EMM, Kansas City Community College, Kansas City, KS


2007 Urban Video Project Volume 5, Syracuse, NY


2007 Electroacoustic Juke Joint, Delta State University, MS