I conceived the ALGORHYTHMS project for Snow City working with children on the notion of mapping using sound. I invited young patients to choose an event taking place around them that we could translate into a musical composition.

First we decided what to translate, and then we created a key for the translation. Patients, for example, might observe different people passing in the hospital hallway over 10 minutes. We would assign a note value to each person we saw: Nurse Nancy could be represented by a C#, Doctor Lyons was a G.

By choosing our time signature, and defining how much real time would be represented by a quarter note, our song was born. Then as things happened around us we plotted them onto staff paper, translating data from our environment into melody. This was also a great way to introduce kids to musical notation.

In one true sense, this is the music of everyday life. The act of composing music is itself a translation process- the expression of an experience using sound. I wanted to introduce patients to this idea by offering an equation for working creatively with the world around them and finding the music within.

PROJECT HALLWAY

Hillary, age 15, had to spend more than eight hours a day sitting in the hospital hallway in view of the nurses' station. She became very bored, but also very good at observing the goings-on in that hallway and the rhythms of the day. We chose to translate 30 minutes of hallway time into music. We listed each person that passed, randomly assigned note values to each, and then plotted their movements as a series of quarter notes whose placement was determined by when they had appeared in the hallway. If two or three nurses gathered together for a moment to talk, that would translate as a chord.

After Hillary left the hospital, I worked with J.J., age 16, on the arrangement. We put the information into Finale to hear how it sounded. A musician himself, J.J. suggested a few alterations to improve the piece. Initially, he wanted to resolve the final chord, but then decided to leave it sounding uncomfortable, as he imagined Hillary's time in the hallway to be a bit uncomfortable too.

This recording features fellow musician-in-residence Ronnie Kuller who, upon hearing this piece, asked if she could interpret it on piano.

VIEW FROM BED #2

Cortina received her treatment in one of a line of beds in a long room, and the nurses walk back and forth tending to patients. We decided to make a composition by tracking exactly when each nurse passed by Cortina's bed over the course of 10 minutes. We assigned each nurse a musical note. If a nurse paused at her bed, that note would be held for a corresponding amount of time (a quarter note equals up to 5 seconds). Other passing nurses would create chords. Initially each nurse was represented by a type of horn at a specific pitch. We used the program Finale to listen back, and the result sounded horrible. So, we decided to replace the horns with cello, and accent with the nurses' own voices saying their names.

CHECK YOUR EXTREMITIES

One patient noticed that her doctors performed the same set of actions during their morning check in: weigh in, listen to heart, listen to lungs, listen to tummy, check extremities, and ask a few questions. However, the order these things were performed varied from day to day. She decided to track her doctor's actions over four mornings. We composed short melodic lines to represent each action, using her emotions about each one as a guide (some were emotionally charged) and created this composition.

PREGNANT CHIHUAHUA: Baby Gives Birth

Iset, age 17, told me that Baby, her pet chihuahua, had just given birth. As she told the story, I noticed that she knew exactly when each step in the process happened, over the course of three days. We mapped out the three days, noting who was present in her house and when. We then found an instrumental voice to represent each member of the family. Iset composed and recorded a melody for each voice, thinking of personalities, and we began plotting the sounds according to the timetable. This was reminiscent of 'Peter and the Wolf' in which each character has their own mini-theme song to announce their presence. However, the resulting music alone did not tell the story of the birth clearly enough for our taste, so we decided to record the narrative overdub. Iset was shy so Cortina read for the recording.

LAUGHTRACK

When I came by to see Melody she was watching TV, but she was interested in the Algorhythms concept. We decided to watch one sitcom together, and track the exact times when something happened that she considered kind of funny, very funny, or not funny at all. She is a fan of bebop music, so we found a Garageband sample in that style, and three samples of laughter with varying
levels of energy. We arranged the piece using the timing of her personal laughtrack to determine when the changes in the music would take place.

ALL IN A DAY

JJ, an accomplished musician and composer at age 16, was familiar with musical notation. He chose to compose his piece and play it himself on electric bass. He mapped and interpreted 24 hours of one of his stays in the hospital, including interruptions by nurses, bizarre television programs, and the warping effects of his medicines.

I conceived the ALGORHYTHMS project for Snow City working with children on the notion of mapping using sound. I invited young patients to choose an event taking place around them that we could translate into a musical composition.

First we decided what to translate, and then we created a key for the translation. Patients, for example, might observe different people passing in the hospital hallway over 10 minutes. We would assign a note value to each person we saw: Nurse Nancy could be represented by a C#, Doctor Lyons was a G.

By choosing our time signature, and defining how much real time would be represented by a quarter note, our song was born. Then as things happened around us we plotted them onto staff paper, translating data from our environment into melody. This was also a great way to introduce kids to musical notation.

In one true sense, this is the music of everyday life. The act of composing music is itself a translation process- the expression of an experience using sound. I wanted to introduce patients to this idea by offering an equation for working creatively with the world around them and finding the music within.

PROJECT HALLWAY

Hillary, age 15, had to spend more than eight hours a day sitting in the hospital hallway in view of the nurses' station. She became very bored, but also very good at observing the goings-on in that hallway and the rhythms of the day. We chose to translate 30 minutes of hallway time into music. We listed each person that passed, randomly assigned note values to each, and then plotted their movements as a series of quarter notes whose placement was determined by when they had appeared in the hallway. If two or three nurses gathered together for a moment to talk, that would translate as a chord.

After Hillary left the hospital, I worked with J.J., age 16, on the arrangement. We put the information into Finale to hear how it sounded. A musician himself, J.J. suggested a few alterations to improve the piece. Initially, he wanted to resolve the final chord, but then decided to leave it sounding uncomfortable, as he imagined Hillary's time in the hallway to be a bit uncomfortable too.

This recording features fellow musician-in-residence Ronnie Kuller who, upon hearing this piece, asked if she could interpret it on piano.

VIEW FROM BED #2

Cortina received her treatment in one of a line of beds in a long room, and the nurses walk back and forth tending to patients. We decided to make a composition by tracking exactly when each nurse passed by Cortina's bed over the course of 10 minutes. We assigned each nurse a musical note. If a nurse paused at her bed, that note would be held for a corresponding amount of time (a quarter note equals up to 5 seconds). Other passing nurses would create chords. Initially each nurse was represented by a type of horn at a specific pitch. We used the program Finale to listen back, and the result sounded horrible. So, we decided to replace the horns with cello, and accent with the nurses' own voices saying their names.

CHECK YOUR EXTREMITIES

One patient noticed that her doctors performed the same set of actions during their morning check in: weigh in, listen to heart, listen to lungs, listen to tummy, check extremities, and ask a few questions. However, the order these things were performed varied from day to day. She decided to track her doctor's actions over four mornings. We composed short melodic lines to represent each action, using her emotions about each one as a guide (some were emotionally charged) and created this composition.

PREGNANT CHIHUAHUA: Baby Gives Birth

Iset, age 17, told me that Baby, her pet chihuahua, had just given birth. As she told the story, I noticed that she knew exactly when each step in the process happened, over the course of three days. We mapped out the three days, noting who was present in her house and when. We then found an instrumental voice to represent each member of the family. Iset composed and recorded a melody for each voice, thinking of personalities, and we began plotting the sounds according to the timetable. This was reminiscent of 'Peter and the Wolf' in which each character has their own mini-theme song to announce their presence. However, the resulting music alone did not tell the story of the birth clearly enough for our taste, so we decided to record the narrative overdub. Iset was shy so Cortina read for the recording.

LAUGHTRACK

When I came by to see Melody she was watching TV, but she was interested in the Algorhythms concept. We decided to watch one sitcom together, and track the exact times when something happened that she considered kind of funny, very funny, or not funny at all. She is a fan of bebop music, so we found a Garageband sample in that style, and three samples of laughter with varying
levels of energy. We arranged the piece using the timing of her personal laughtrack to determine when the changes in the music would take place.

ALL IN A DAY

JJ, an accomplished musician and composer at age 16, was familiar with musical notation. He chose to compose his piece and play it himself on electric bass. He mapped and interpreted 24 hours of one of his stays in the hospital, including interruptions by nurses, bizarre television programs, and the warping effects of his medicines.