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Theme From (Elevator) Shaft

Think musical minimalism can't be cool? Shut yo' mouth!

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Would St. Louis be the hip-hop capital of the world without ProTools? How many multi-platinum hits would tuneless lunatics crank out every year without the laryngeal grace bestowed upon them by the miracle of digital-signal processing?

Actually, these questions are tangential to the point. What's meaty is the miracle of digital-signal processing itself. Without the advent of computer programs like ProTools and SoundForge, audio necromancers would still be cutting and splicing magnetic tape and dangling vocalists from the ceiling to breathe life into that which is...well, not so alive. Working within a visual medium with an endless array of editing and synthesis tools has rendered the world of sonic creation infinitely more exciting and vastly more accessible. Ignore the three-chord dirt rockers telling you that a "vintage analog sound" is the only way to go. Tell them to talk to the damn hand. The digital-audio realm is a means to creative divinity. If you don't believe it, ask composer and music professor James Hegarty, who'll give a free performance of his electro-acoustic multimedia work, Elevator Music, at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 3, in St. Louis Community College-Forest Park's Mildred E. Bastian Center for Performing Arts (5600 Oakland Avenue, 314-644-9769, www.NoiseReductionSociety.com).

"The recording and processing of environmental sounds has been an interest of mine for about fifteen years," says Hegarty. "At first, the pieces centered on nature environments -- water, birds, wind. More recently, I've been attracted to mechanical sounds."

Hegarty, who's also a prolific recording artist and 3D animator, says that "Elevator Music uses a vintage 1960s elevator as source material, both audio and visual. This particular elevator is not very noisy, so most of the sounds have been extensively amplified or time-stretched. This has allowed us to focus on some new techniques that create music out of minute fragments of time -- short clicks and pops. The images focus on the steely minimalism of the details such as the buttons, fan and lighting."

Don't miss this golden opportunity to have all of your buttons pushed at once.

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