Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Music Media and Technology (CIRMMT)

Music and technology in perfect harmony

When Aiyun Huang, a Professor in the Department of Performance, set out to create “Saving Percussion Theatre,” a professional-quality DVD documenting percussion theatre from the 1970s and 1980s, she didn’t even have to leave the building where she teaches. Instead, thanks to the generosity of donors to Campaign McGill, she shot the film on Sony HD cameras and edited both audio and video in the new A/V editing lab at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Music Media and Technology (CIRMMT), based in the Schulich School of Music.

The cameras and editing equipment, purchased through a generous gift from the Maurice Pollack Foundation, offer researchers like Huang extraordinary new possibilities in music exploration and documentation. “We are now able to produce our own professional-quality DVDs and CDs, which is huge,” says Fabrice Marandola, Assistant Director of CIRMMT and himself a percussionist who has used the new technology in a recent collaboration with Montreal’s Nouvel ensemble moderne.

The recording and editing suite also allows students to record their research, creating everything from public relations materials to documentation of performances with new instruments such as the T-Stick – a long flexible pole covered with sensors, which makes music according to how one presses, twists or swings it.

The HD cameras are also used to film CIRMMT’s visiting lecturers, whose talks are then edited in the A/V lab and posted online. “The Centre gains a lot of visibility as a result, because people around the world can watch these presentations at CIRMMT,” says Marandola.

The Pollack Foundation has also funded fibre-optic links between CIRMMT and other performance spaces, allowing musicians to stream live HD video and data, while their most recent gift will result in significant improvements to the technical infrastructure of Pollack Hall, McGill’s largest concert venue and one of Montreal’s finest music facilities.

“Our connections are so much faster now,” says Marandola. “It’s like going from telegraph to internet.”