It was recently announced that Mills college in Oakland will likely be closing. Among the many treasures that Mills has offered the Bay Area is its music program. Lou Harrison, one of the pillars of contemporary musical composition, so-called “New Music,” taught at Mills (as well as other institutions) and lived in Northern California for more than 50 years.
Mr. Harrison passed away in 2003, but his hundreds of homemade instruments still exist at Mills. It’s my goal to record each instrument for use in compositions by anyone, anywhere, for free. Because Mills may shut down as soon as 2023, there is a great deal of urgency to record these instruments before they face an uncertain fate.
I plan to record each instrument several times, each with a unique intensity, so that even a percussion instrument that does not have any ability to change pitch may still have 5-10 sounds captured, enabling anyone using the recorded sounds to create expressive works as if they had access to the actual instruments. Pitched instruments will require a much greater set of samples.
The sounds will be available as “sample packs,” so that anyone with audio software or a sampler / drum machine would be able to use these sounds in making original works, free of any licensing fees.
Funded by San Francisco, CA (April 2021)