[June 11] Vintage Machines Workshop with David Morneau


Register for Workshop

FREE             3PM SATURDAY JUNE 11TH 2016

Governors Island Nolan Park Building 5b

FREE Workshop on Saturday June 4, 3 – 5 pm

Ferry Schedule:

New computer and video game systems are released at regular intervals, often before the full limits and possibilities of existing systems are reached. Communities of artists and musicians use these legacy systems to create new work. The goal of this workshop is to introduce students to the practice of using legacy video game systems to make music. We will listen to a small sampling of music from these communities, including some of my own, and then we will explore different creative software using emulators of Nintendo Gameboy hardware. The advantage of working with emulators is that they offer the opportunity to test ideas and experiment in these environments without having to invest in the vintage hardware first.

For this workshop, students may  bring a laptop computer but it is not required. We will provide emulators, software sequencers that run in these emulators, and example files that demonstrate how I build a composition using these tools. During the workshop we will explore both emulator environments and learn how to use the provided tools. Students will spend time working on their own pieces, with regular feedback and assistance. Each will leave the workshop with copies of all demonstrated software and the beginnings of their own pieces.

My own work with the Nintendo Gameboy began in 2006 through a collaboration with choreographer Boris Willis titled Abandoned Revolution—a dance work that incorporated video game story elements. I composed and performed a score that supported the dance and added emotional underpinnings to the story elements in his piece. My work since then has focused on the Gameboy as a performance and production tool. I have presented new work in concert halls, clubs, and on air, including an 8-channel surround sound piece that was premiered at Electronic Music Midwest and then presented at Stony Brook University and at Circuit Bridges in New York.

Often, the use of these gaming systems to make music is rooted in nostalgia. I try to explore beyond that impulse. Using a legacy system in the context of current and emerging media and practices embraces the limitations of the earlier technology in the pursuit of self-expression. Within these limitations—such as the Nintendo Gameboy’s severely limited sound crafting capabilities—I find the landscape of possibilities inspiring and fertile, and capable of expressiveness. My goal in this workshop is to provide students with both the tools to explore and an appreciation for the aesthetic of legacy gaming systems.


95fa39c1-891c-45cf-a5e0-cdc287896489David Morneau is a composer of an entirely undecided genre. Described by Molly Sheridan as a “shining beacon” of inspiration, his diverse work illuminates ideas about our culture, issues concerning creativity , and even the very nature of music itself. His eclectic output includes Love Songs, an album of hybrid pop/art songs that combine Shakespeare’s Sonnets with contemporary poetry (described in NM421 as “elegantly rendered”),60×365, a year-long podcast project for which he composed a new one- minute piece every day (labeled “impressive” by NPR’s All Things Considered), and Broken Memory, an album of noisy drones and beats extracted from a vintage Nintendo Gameboy . A review on Grindthieves International exclaims that Broken Memory “absolutely wrecks shop…. For that, David Morneau wins.”

His current projects include Not Less Than the Good, a secularized morning prayer service based on Henry Thoreau’s Walden, which is being composed for New Thread Quartet (a New York based saxophone ensemble) and will include field recordings made at Walden Pond and read excerpts from Thoreau’s book, and Photon Ecstasy, a collaborative concert-length spatial performance with composer Melissa Grey to premiere at the  Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts at the University of Pennsylvania and held in conjunction with the exhibition of artist Dan Rose’s DNA-Photon Project.

Morneau is Composer-in-Residence with Immigrant Breast Nest, a New York City netlabel. Morneau and Melissa Grey collaborate as l’Artiste ordinaire, creating compositions and performance projects and producing Soft Series, a series of soft premieres by composers and performers in a loft in the NoMad neighborhood in New York City.

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