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"Bits" Of Music Come To The Hopkins Center

Charlotte Albright/ VPR

Some weird sounds have been floating around a gallery at the Hopkins Center at Dartmouth this week. They’re part of a multi-media exhibit and residency by avant-garde artist Tristan Perich.

The New Yorker  loves writing computer codes. He also loves musical instruments because they are solid and tactile.  So, as he told a Dartmouth class in advanced sound design, he likes to make digital sounds into tangible objects.

He calls one  CD “One-Bit Symphony,” and you can find it here on Youtube. But it’s not really a compact Disc.

“It’s basically an album of electronic music I wrote for microchip,” Perich told the class.

Yes—microchip. Inside the CD jewel box is not a disc, but an electronic circuit with a headphone jack on the side. Students sampled similar sounds through headphones at a gallery installation next door to  the classroom.

Sophomore Andrew Beaubien was fascinated by circuitry mounted on the wall beside framed computer code.

“I imagine it’s just a whole bunch of ones and zeroes that he has programmed himself to make music, which to me is just fundamentally amazing,” Beaubien said.

He wandered to another exhibit called “Breathing Portraits,” and puts his ear to speakers on pedestals.

In this work, Perich maps the movement of four people sleeping, converting their breathing into audio signals.

He  also composes for musicians who actually touch things. On Friday night his electronic sounds will blend on the Hopkins Center stage with vibraphone, triangles and cymbals played by the Meehan-Perkins duo. No headphones necessary.