frozen music

Frozen Music ( FM ) is an experimental sound artist collective and performing ensemble that designs and realizes immersive sound environments in response to the acoustical characteristics of a given site. It focuses upon the making of otherwise inaudible phenomena audible in science, nature and architecture. Each performance is a kind of acoustical “tuning” or redrawing of the existing aural landscape through direct sound generation and amplification

FM events are unique electroacoustic experiences of extended duration lasting in average 4 hours and at times lasting upwards of thirteen. Its founding members are David Dunn, Santa Fe, New Mexico, US; Rene Barge, Miami, Florida, US; and its founding director, Gustavo Matamoros, Miami, Florida, US

Rather than a traditional ensemble—where each musician contributes a single voice to a collective—FM arises from a confluence of sonic activation strategies where each performer engages with their own autonomous audio gestalt and unique instrumentation to simultaneously occupy and stimulate the same acoustic environment

FM germinated from ideas explored in the Subtropics 20 exhibition SOUND at The Bass Museum of Art in March 2009. Similar to current discourse in the art world concerning the concept of art as a research activity, FM takes this notion seriously and attempts to transcend mere theoreticism by focused efforts to combine both aesthetic and scientific insights, thereby creating experiential understandings and descriptions of reality based in aural perception

It’s first piece, Canal, was witnessed by 50,000 people attending Miami Beach’s Sleepless Night, November, 2009. FM was featured in a 24-hour-long performance during ISEA2012 Albuquerque: Machine Wilderness Conference in September, 2012


Three highlights

FM: CANAL (2009)
A dramatic public sound installation and the world premiere performance by Frozen Music created for Sleepless Night and performed November 7, 2009 along the Collins/Dade Canal, between Convention Center Drive and Washington Avenue in Miami Beach

FM: Canal (2009) [ 5:02 excerpt a ] | © 2009, Subtropics Editions.

Canal is the inaugural performance by Frozen Music. It brought together the talents of David Dunn, Rene Barge and Gustavo Matamoros for the first time as a collaborative trio. Commissioned by the City of Miami Beach for its 2009 Sleepless Night event, Canal was a one-night-only public sound art installation performed live over 13-hours from 6PM to 6AM on the longest night of the year

The Site

The Installation

For Canal, a Sennheiser wireless 8 channel system transmitted FM’s audio signals to 8 discrete speakers evenly positioned along the 1000ft extent of the Collins/Dade Canal behind the Miami Beach Convention Center. The speakers were locate on the street side of the canal ( the white dots on the image above ) so that the sounds would be projected on the water ( shown in the image below ) to the people walking the pathway from Convention Center Drive to Washington Avenue. The walkway lights were treated with magenta tones

The Content

The content of Canal featured autonomous sounds from David Dunn’s chaotic oscillators, sounds generated by small objects by Gustavo Matamoros and other electronic sounds by Rene Barge, that at times wove dense textures of sound mass and other times changed locations and moved organically across the length of the site to finally settle on a more static texture of sounds that took turns expressing themselves individually

A quiet moment along the walkway by the canal during performances taking place at other Sleepless Night sites | photo: Luis Olazabal | © 2009, Subtropics Editions.

FM: Canal (2009) [ 5:00 excerpt b ] | © 2009, Subtropics Editions.

The total number of people attending Sleepless Night that evening was roughly 120,000. This letter from the organizers of the event estimates that 50,000 people experienced Canal during its 13-hour performance

Stories and Reviews

sound expanse
knightarts: already sleepless dreaming of frozen music
networked music review: introducing frozen music
Frozen Music support letter


FM: SOUNDSPACE (2015)
A dynamic 120-point source public sound art installation and World Premiere by Frozen Music created for the outdoor Constellation Sound System at New World Center’s Soundscape Park in Miami Beach, presented February 18, 2015 as part of Subtropics 23

SoundSpace (2015) by Frozen Music was a 120-point source environment commissioned by Subtropics 23 with funding from Culture Builds Florida and The City of Miami Beach, and was presented during the 2015 festival in collaboration with The New World Symphony with invaluable assistance from its Director of Audio Services, Roberto Toledo and his 2015 Audio Fellow. The score of the piece outlines a series of spatialization strategies and trajectories that move sounds about the space from speaker to speaker to 120 points in space.

Reviews

SoundSpace (2005) by Frozen Music
review and video by composer Fast-Forward

During a visit to Miami recently, I had the pleasure of experiencing the installation work ‘Soundspace’ by Frozen Music (David Dunn, Rene Barge and Gustavo Matamoras). Soundspace was installed at Soundscape Park, a 2.5 acre public park situated directly outside New World Center, the home of Miami’s New World Symphony. Half-an-acre of the park (designed by the Dutch architectural firm West 8) is dedicated to an outdoor projection area which allows visitors to experience live, free “wall casts” on a 7,000 square foot projection wall (the largest permanently established projection surface in North America). In addition, the projection area also includes a sound system comprising of 167 individually tuned speakers. This sound system was the vehicle for Frozen Music’s incredible sound installation. 

It almost seems futile for me to even attempt to explain the experience of visiting ‘Soundspace’, something akin to describing what food tastes like. No amount of words can replicate the live experience. As I walked towards the installation, a few sounds infiltrated the everyday sounds of the city. Arriving at the center of the installation I found myself surrounded by sounds. A somewhat thick, complex curtain of sounds which seemed both natural and electronic at the same time. The combination of a high quality sound system and the care and layering of the chosen sounds were euphoric. It felt and sounded like a sonic urban jungle with extreme clarity. At any given moment, it could sound like an aviary, dinosaurs chomping on digital greenery, or a factory stamping out car parts. What I do know, is that the experience evoked extreme happiness within me. It seemed to be capable of opening up memories and emotions, some of which I didn’t even realize were there. 

I observed no particular ‘type’ of sound, no particular rhythm, no particular progression, or theme. Actually, not that much I could pin-point at all. I had the impression that ‘change and chance’ were a strong inherent intention of the work. A quest for volatility and unpredictability, yet very confident in it’s stability. Not unlike all the surrounding sounds of the city, yet carefully and expertly crafted. Car horns, dogs barking, children playing, the wind whistling all become part of Frozen Music’s composition. The late american composer John Cage used a similar approach in his music to great effect and it became one of his signature compositional tools.

Soundspace delivered a challenge to me, a dichotomy between natural and synthetic sounds. I found myself always referencing it while I was there. But, I surrender, it was impossible for me to determine the origin of a sound at any given moment. Situated with vegetation on one side and 4-lane traffic on the other, Soundspace encompasses both urban & rural at the same time. It kept me continually guessing and thinking and observing. An intelligent artwork in a pristine spot.

Fast Forward (composer NYC).
Aug 18, 2015


FM: MARCH IN NY (2018)
A 2.5-hour-long eight-point source world premiere and the New York debut of Frozen Music presented as part of the Interpretations Series on March 1, 2018 at Roulette Intermedium, Brooklyn, NY

FM: March In NY (2018)
photo by Stephen Malagodi documenting the setup for FM‘s NY debut performance at Roulette in Brooklyn as part of the Interpretations Series. To my right, our accomplice, the late Chris Mann; followed by David Dunn (laughing); and Rene Barge (at the head of the performing table)

FM: March in NY (2018) [ 7:40 excerpt ]binaural recording made by Gustavo Matamoros. © 2018, Subtropics Editions

From my particular perspective, where the Small Sounds series is about the microscopic and introspective, the Frozen Music project is about the telescopic and the vast. It’s about abundance. That is why it requires a team and not an individual.

Together, the artists in FM explore what happens to architecture and open space in response to sound. It is all about the larger scale, so there is a public art interest in all of it. Frozen Music mimics nature—by that I mean the inner workings of things that apply to society as an environment—and its approach is informed by science, technology, art and the qualities of human perception. FM has been one of the most intriguing and satisfying art projects I have had the privilege to be involved with.

The New York debut of FM represents the current evolution of our performing strategies for interacting with architecture as an immediate response to the given conditions, in this case, provided by Roulette. The excellent quality of the eight channels of amplified speakers and the elegant acoustics in the space made this one of the easiest and most rewarding interactions to date.

Special thanks to Jim Staley and his crew, and to Thomas Buckner for curating Frozen Music into the 2017-18 season of his prestigious Interpretations Series.


Frozen Music
Performance Chronology

20180929-1216 | 4-6PM ( D, G & R )
FM: ADAPTATION
12CH adaptation of the 16CH T.H.T. performance
AUDIOTHEQUE 2.0
924 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach

20180301 | 6-9PM ( D, G & R )
FM: MARCH IN NY
8CH performance
Interpretations Series
ROULETTE INTERMEDIUM, Brooklyn, NY

20180228 | 10AM-9PM ( D, G & R )
FM: RESIDENCY
16CH performance
THE HONK-TWEET, New Jersey

20150218 | 5-9PM ( D, G & R )
FM: SOUNDSPACE
120CH performative installation
Subtropics 23
SOUNDSCAPE PARK, New World Center, Miami Beach
additional performances: FEB 25, 27, & MAR 4 | 3-5PM

20140921 | 1-6PM ( D, G & R )
FM: PICNIC 5
4CH performative installation
MIAMI BEACH BOTANICAL GARDEN, Miami Beach

20140420 | 1-6PM ( D, G & R )
FM: PICNIC 4
4CH performative installation
MIAMI BEACH BOTANICAL GARDEN, Miami Beach

20130303 | 1-6PM ( D, G & R )
FM: PICNIC 3
4CH performative installation
Subtropics 22
MIAMI BEACH BOTANICAL GARDEN, Miami Beach

20120922 | 4:30PM ( 24 hours ) ( D & G )
FM: POND
24-hour event, 4CH performative installation
ISEA 2012 Machine Wilderness Conference
DUCK POND, UNM Main Campus, Albuquerque

20120815-0904 ( D, G & R )
FM: AWNING reprise
16CH sound installation
Sleepless Night 2012
LISTENING GALLERY, 800 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach

20111105 | 6PM-2AM ( D, G & R )
FM: PLAZA
4CH performative installation
special guest: Russell Frehling
Sleepless Night 2011
CIVIC PLAZA, 1701 Meridian Avenue, Miami Beach

20110905-0930 ( D, G & R )
FM: AWNING
16CH sound installation
Sleepless Night 2012
LISTENING GALLERY, 800 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach

20110910 | 6-11PM ( G & R )
FM: WAREYARD
4CH performative installation
ArtWalk
AWAREHOUSE, 550 NW 29 street, Wynwood

20110904 | 7-10PM ( G & R )
FM: ALLEY
4CH performative installation
BRIDGE RED PROJECT SPACE, 12425 NE 13 avenue, North Miami

20110515 | NOON-6PM ( G & R )
FM: PICNIC 2
4CH performative installation
special guest: Kerry Ware
MIAMI BEACH BOTANICAL GARDEN, Miami Beach

20110513 | 7-10PM ( G & R )
FM: CORNERS
4CH performative installation
special guest: Kerry Ware
FAT VILLAGE ARTS DISTRICT, 519 NW 1 avenue, Ft. Lauderdale

20110415 | 7-10PM ( D, G & R )
FM: TERRACE
4CH performative installation
special guest: Kerry Ware
MUSEUM OF ART, One East Las Olas, Ft. Lauderdale

20110313 | NOON-4PM ( D, G & R )
FM: PARK ( PICNIC )
4CH performative installation
COLLINS PARK, 2100 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach

20110312 | 6-10PM ( D, G & R )
FM: WALK
4CH performative installation
special guest: David Behrman
Subtropics 21
DORSCH GALLERY, 151 NW 24 street, Wynwood

20101202-03 | 6-10PM ( G & R )
FM: POLYPHONY
8CH performative installation
ARTCENTER SOUTH FLORIDA HALLWAY, 924 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach

20100916 | 6-9PM ( G & R )
FM: SCAFFOLDING
4CH performative installation
MIAMI ART MUSEUM, 101 W Flagler street, Miami

20100523 | 2-10PM ( D, G & R )
FM: EMERGENCY RADIO BATTERY-CHECK NIGHTTIME EVENT
4CH plus FM-radio transmissions
MIAMI BEACH BOTANICAL GARDEN, Miami Beach

20100418 | NOON-6PM ( D, G & R )
FM: KEY
4CH performative installation
Earth Fest 2010
CRANDON PARK, Key Biscayne, FL

20100325 | 7-9:30PM ( D, G & R )
FM: SUBTROPICALIA
4CH performative installation
NORTH BEACH BANDSHELL, North Miami Beach

20100213 | 7-11PM ( G & R )
FM: SWEAT IN C
4CH performative installation
International Noise Conference 2010
SWEAT RECORDS, 5505 NE 2 avenue, Miami

20091204 | 7-11PM ( D, G & R )
FM: AUTONOMOUS SOUNDS II
4CH performative installation
CARL FISHER CLUBHOUSE COMPLEX, Washington Avenue, Miami Beach

20091203 | 7-11PM ( D, G & R )
FM: AUTONOMOUS SOUNDS I
4CH performative installation
CARL FISHER CLUBHOUSE COMPLEX, Washington Avenue, Miami Beach

20091107 | 6PM-6AM ( D, G & R )
FM: CANAL
8CH performative installation
Sleepless Night 2009
COLLINS CANAL, Miami Beach


The Sound Practice of Frozen Music

Frozen Music is less an ensemble than a confluence of strategies for sonically activating space. We simply trust each other to approach this task in our own individual manner and with our own choice of tools. These can vary with every event. Rene and Gustavo tend to use prerecorded audio samples and extracted resonances from each new performance site. They may also amplify small sounds made from an assortment of objects, either brought to the location or borrowed from the site. I often use custom designed analog circuits along with amplified live signals from a variety of transducers placed at the location

We do not interact with each other in the traditional sense of a free improvisation but create a collective fabric that is infinitely variable and to which we all remain attentive. Shifting our actions in response to this dense cloud of sound, we often cannot recognize our individual actions or audio streams within the emergent texture and simply make incremental changes so as to keep the torrent of sound alive

Our preference is to engage within a specific place for extended time periods, several hours if possible. This gives us a sufficient duration to really explore the unique properties of a site; the otherwise hidden sound sources, resonances, and auditory history. Sometimes this has been a purely human dynamic where architecture is interrogated with sound to yield its unconscious potential but at other times the non-human world has chosen to respond with extended dialogues between our electronic world and a variety of insects, birds, and amphibians; all becoming a foreground feature

Always we are less concerned with satisfying the expectations of a human audience than with a pure exploration of the world through sound. Whoever or whatever passes through our web, or stops to listen, is welcome to make use of the sounds in whatever manner may please or excite them

— David Dunn


Frozen Music

David Dunn, Professor of Sound Art and Design, University of California, Santa Cruz

Rene Barge, Graphic Art and Web Design instructor at Miami Springs Senior High for Miami-Dade County Public Schools

Gustavo Matamoros, Artistic Director of Programs, SFCA [isaw+subtropics]


special guests:

David Behrman

Russell Frehling

Kerry Ware


Additional Coverage

miami new times: electronic music guru david behrman
miami new times: gustavo matamoros talks about subtropics xxi
npr, all things considered, music news: composer records beetles to mark climate change