Tonal Masher / Zachary James Watkins / Aram Shelton & Damon Smith Duo

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Tonal Masher / Zachary James Watkins / Aram Shelton & Damon Smith Duo
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Tonal Masher is the solo electroacoustic project of Aram Shelton. To find a different application of the resonant characteristics of the instrument, Shelton removes a necessary component for traditional saxophone performance: the mouthpiece and reed. The fundamental sonic characteristics of the saxophone are harnessed by using the resonant feedback produced by microphone position and non-traditional saxophone key fingerings. Electronics are integrated via a custom made Max/MSP software patch. Shelton is a improviser and composer who makes music with saxophone and electronics. Since 2001, he has been using computer based live sampling via Max/MSP in a variety of settings to process acoustic instruments. He received his MFA in Electronic Music from Mills College, and his 2007 thesis focused on the use of live sampling to extend and rearrange the sounds of acoustic instruments in a live performance setting. He has taught at the Oakland School for the Arts and has led improvisation and electroacoustic music workshops in San Francisco, at UC Santa Cruz, Evergreen State University and the jazz school in Luzern (CH). In 2002 he formed the duo Grey Ghost (482 Music) with the drummer Johnathan Crawford. The Wire found their music to be a “focused symbiosis of breath and circuitry”. From 2010 to 2012 he joined Michael Coleman and Alex Vittum in the trio Stratic. All About Jazz compared their music to “a waking dream memory of music”. In the past year, Shelton has focused on solo electroacoustic music that is based on explorations of the resonant feedback frequencies that are unique to the saxophone. Due to his ongoing fascination with sonic rearrangement, Shelton has chosen the anagram Tonal Masher as an apt moniker.

Zachary James Watkins uses alternative just intonation tunings and systems of resonance to create immerse environments. He a sound artist who has earned degrees in composition from The Cornish School and Mills College. Zachary has received numerous grants and commissions and presented works in festivals across the United States, Mexico and Europe. He releases music on the labels Important Records, Cassauna, Touch, The Tapeworm, Confront, Land & Sea and Sige. Zachary has enjoyed artist residencies at the Espy Foundation, Djerassi and the Headlands Center for the Arts. His 2006 composition Suite for String Quartet was awarded the Paul Merritt Henry Prize for Composition and has been performed as part of the 2nd Annual New Music Marathon in Seattle, WA the Labs 25th Anniversary Celebration and the Labor Sonor Series at Kule in Berlin.
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