gets instruction on spinning a turntable
The rumbling, rambling, colorfully rambunctious Experience
Music Project in Seattle is having its first birthday this
Brainchild of Paul Allen, the culturally savvy co-founder
of Microsoft (and weekend guitar slayer), EMP celebrates the
raw creativity of pop culture and music. Frank O. Gehry designed
the building, and (were guessing) with Mr. Allen overseeing
there werent too many protests about its outrageousness.
(We at Mackie are a bit concerned about rain drainage, but
other than that...)
The first exhibit is Sky Church, an oblong chamber with the
largest indoor video screen in the known world and
a ceiling that literally reaches to the stars (when visiting,
look WAY up and youll see what we mean). A dozen or
so video and sound shows are in rotation throughout the day,
with a Mackie Digital
8Bus governing all the audio gymnastics. Theyre
Farther on, the museum becomes a dark, rich, comfy cave. Around
every swooping corner youll find clusters of ingenious
treasures. Be sure to dip into Guitar Gallery. Its like
a huge guitar store on time-warp steroids.
Upstairs is Sound Lab where the lines between virtual
and reality are mysteriously erased. Even if youve
never played an instrument, youll surprise yourself
while wrapping limbs and digits around a real guitar and following
the flashing lights on the fretboard. Go ahead! Strum, pick,
or pop the strings! (But please dont play it with your
teeth. Even Jimi had sense enough to smash his guitars after
chewing on them purely for sanitary reasons, of course.)
And you can actually do some mixing in the Sound
Lab. A half-dozen Mackies are available for hands-on experimentation.
One is set up with a video screen and teaches you the basics
step-by-step, while the others are primed for boisterous mixing
sessions. What a gas it is to watch a bunch of kids play
Mackies like many of the premier Electronica/Hip Hop groups
Also in the Sound Lab youll find Demo Lab a
small theatre for live and multi-media events. One video is
hosted by Mackoid Keith Medley. He does a superb job explaining
the concepts of mixing, aided by all sorts of fun and nutty
video special effects (Bill Nye the Science Guy should be
quaking in his cathode tube).
Controlling the audio in Demo Lab is another Mackie Digital
8Bus. Keep a look out for it but remember, its
not one you can play with. Its too busy
doing very important things.
Extra-curricular school activities and field trips were never
quite like this. Or looked like this. Or sounded like this.
Which is something thats been lost in all the hype.
Experience Music Project is bigger than the building, bigger
than the exhibits. Its an educational philosophy put
Education at EMP
As a cultural institution dedicated to exploring the
creative process and promoting critical thinking, education
is a core focus for Experience Music Project.
Bob Santelli, Deputy Director, Experience Music Project.
Along with being a first-class tourist attraction, EMP is
also an international educational center. During the first
year, over 70,000 teachers and students (along with over 800,000
of us regular folks) have shimmied through the museum proper,
stopping along the way for on-site artist-led workshops, master
classes, lecture and film series, educational concerts, and
other performance and classroom-based activities. EMPs
education staff works with musicians, ethnomusicologists,
performers, and other professionals to create world-class,
hands-on educational opportunities for kids, adults and families.
The Real EMP Grand Opening: Experience
Balloons! Glitter! Stale Popcorn! Music! Mayhem! Famous People
Standing Next To You!
Thats the way it was during EMPs Grand Opening
in the summer of 2000. Pre-opening tours of the cavernous
pop culture palace had guides stationed at a dozen or so key
exhibits, each outfitted with a small PA system. Mackie SRM450s
were scattered about like blue jewels. The Free Concert Stage,
Key Arena, and many other official venues had more EAW speakers
upfront and floating around than could be counted.
But the real opening was two years before, in the summer
of 1998. Experience Arts Camp admitted its initial slam of
students. It was the first tangible component of Experience
Music Project, says Alycia Allen, Director of Education
for EMP. Its what people saw and heard about first.
And now, its an icon an integral part of EMP.
Since then, the camp has evolved and expanded. For two weeks
(and two sessions each summer), students can major
in various subjects such as Animation, Glass, Musical Instruments,
Music Vocals, Drama, Photography, Film, and Drawing &
Painting. They start their day with hands-on activities and
projects in their chosen area, and then go on to mini-workshops
in Watercolors, Stage Makeup, Drumming, Mime/Improvisation,
Photoshop, Creative Writing, Capoeira (martial arts movement
exercises), or Dance. And this year, we had an Artists
Apprenticeship program! Alycia exuberantly mentions,
obviously with the same enthusiasm as the kids had participating.
Our older students, ages thirteen to sixteen, were put
in groups of five or six, and were mentored by master artists
in various fields. They received private voice lessons, composed
music, built a sculpture, did oil paintings
the apprenticeships, there were seminars about how to apply
for grants, how to put together a portfolio, how to apply
to a college
and for our next session, were hoping,
Mackie will come out
and do a mixing seminar
Oh, how we love GUILT! Its in the works, Alycia.
And it should be easy. We wont even have to lug along
any mixers. Experience Arts Camp has a bunch of em.)
While the education department at EMP continues to form alliances
with local socially-active organizations like The Boys and
Girls Club, Big Brothers and Sisters, WCIC (Womens Community
Impact Consortium), the long range plans include wider participation
with national and international students, mentors, and teachers.
One way theyre rolling the word out is with the
Electric Bus: A Traveling Cornucopia
of Melody, Rhythm, and History
At first glance, you might think EMPs Electric Bus
(sponsored by Microsoft Jobs, in association with the Grammy®
Foundation) is a roving promo for the museum, what with its
bellowing baubles of sounds and enticing interactive techno-trinkets.
But this aint no side show, folks. The synergistic exhibits
are layered, deep, and weighty methodically examining
history and sociology through song. After its
set up, there are five hexagon tents linked with smaller tents,
John Morrison, Director of Touring and Logistics, explains.
We take up about 10,000 square feet.
The theme of the bus is Making It Up As You Go: Song, Songwriters,
In conjunction with the exhibits and demonstrations, Electric
Bus provides study exercises and lesson plans for both high
school and college classrooms incorporating Artful
Learning the teaching method of the Leonard Bernstein
Center for Learning. Downloadable PDF files from www.emplive.com
include in-depth curriculum modules with courses in Civil
Free Speech, The Function of Song, American History of Popular
Song, and Songwriting in Cultural Perspective.
Mackie mixers (The Official Mixer of EMP) are used in all
live demonstrations, and in coordinating much of the complex
audio on Electric Bus.
But theyre also used as valuable teaching aids in many
educational venues at EMP. When listening to music, untrained
ears often hear a blob of sound behind vocals. By muting and
isolating various channels, students discover the many elements
that contribute to a song and/or recording. (Think of an Electronica
or Hip-Hop version of Peter and the Wolf.)
Education. Its why we at Mackie are thrilled to be associated
with Experience Music Project.
(...Okay, we like the frills n chills, too.)