SA6: The Maker Issue

Music is similar to philosophy in the sense that it attempts to articulate a non-empirical idea or concept. Though the science of acoustics, for example, allows us to understand the mechanics of sound through waves and the biomechanics of hearing, the human perception and decoding of a musical gesture in time and space is as difficult to definitively express as the concept of Freedom, or Immortality. There is nothing objective about the experience of music; the individual listener can never map how music affects him or her onto the human species as a whole, which is what makes the subjective arguments concerning the merits of certain compositions, musicians, and recordings so compelling. The desire to articulate a personal theory of what music is compels many musicians to while away the better years of their lives studying, practicing, and thinking about the construction of a melody, the minutiae of timbral differences, or the perfect transition from one melodic fragment to another. As in philosophy, the attempt to define a specific a priori truth from something as subjective as music becomes a game of how the musician expresses his or her point of view. Like the concept of darstellung in Walter Benjamin or Theodor Adorno’s writings, musicians define their position and their personality in the language and structure they use to convey their concept, in this case musical gesture or composition or song, to their audience. The majority of musicians’ choices in this regard are based on a historical model of a specific instrument (instrument being defined here as essentially a machine for making sound). Even those engaged in radical presentations of ideas on these instruments are relating their vision of language and structure to the entire history of that machine. For each instrument, there is a range of musico-historical context that the musician can choose to fit in to create their darstellung based on the history of the repertoire, famous practitioners, and cultural and stylistic norms. Some choose to use a historically reproductive language to express what they perceive as a variation on the elegant structures of the past (think period instruments and repertory jazz orchestras), while others choose to use this historicity as a set of guidelines of what to avoid in their attempt to radically recast the instrument’s history. In this issue, Sound American features a set of musicians that, while finding their own way of expressing a concept of music, have decided to sidestep this continuum and construct a system in which the language and the manner of speaking are outside of the agreed upon tradition of historical musical instruments. They’re expressing their “truths” by making new machines to create new sounds and add new dimensions to the human model of what it means to experience organized sound as something personal and worth experiencing. This doesn’t mean that they are stepping outside of the historical context but, rather, that they are choosing to experiment and engage with that sense of tradition to innovate. There are few examples as strong as the musical mind of Harry Partch: one of the great American musical revolutionaries of the 20th century, he chose to look to the work of the earliest musical practitioners and fashion a highly personal darstellung, building instruments like the Kithara and using intonations more in line with ancient Greek models than our accepted modern equal temperament. Other instrument builders have followed different models, to more or less the same effect. Hal Rammel’s take on the AACM and the organic exoticism of Lou Harrison and Lucia Dlugoszewski, Cooper-Moore’s connection to the vocal quality of the blues, and Neil Feather’s mad-science connection to futurism and funk all feature prominently in this issue. Sound American always strives to look beyond composition, to find connections within groups of artists and trace paths taken by specific musicians. In this, our sixth, issue, we feature a wildly disparate group that includes technology hackers, avant-garde improvisers, aesthetic engineers, and jazz storytellers. Yet they are all musicians in more or less explicit ways, engaged in cracking open the idea of music and trying to discover what is new inside.

Introducing Hal Rammel

Listen to Hal Rammel

There is something about Hal Rammel's instruments: their design and materials, the sound that they make, and his relationship to discovering the music within them, that embodies the patience and acceptance of a loving father and his daughter or son. Everyone I've talked to for this issue has certainly had this almost parental connection to what they make to one degree or another, but with Rammel you get a sense that the construction of each of his instruments is secondary to the discovery of "who" it will become as it matures. I was fascinated to discover how Hal has melded an early interest in free jazz, a background in art and literature, and study of American folklore to come up with musical instruments and a musical language that isn't derivative of any of these influences. Like the other interviewees in this issue, Hal is engaged primarily in the practice of improvisation, working primarily with a handful of rigorous free or non-idiomatic thinkers from the American Midwest: a group distinctly separate from the New York free jazz work of Cooper-Moore or the Baltimore New American Weirdness of Neil Feather. His approach to making improvised music encompasses the same excitement of discovery and passion for his materials that he brings to building instruments such as the amplified palette, triolin, and single stringed snath. The following is an interview I conducted with him in August of 2013 via email along with pictures of his various instruments and a track from his recent solo palette recording, Agog. Since words only paint a flat picture of an artist such as Hal, readers will find another page in which they can explore more of his music and instruments through audio files, photos, and video. - Nate Wooley SOUND AMERICAN: What is your background with music? HAL RAMMEL: In the middle of my high school years I flipped from a strong interest in the sciences to an equally serious interest in literature and music. I started writing, drawing, and listening to music (jazz). I realized very early, fortunately, that I had no talent for fiction or poetry, but I loved drawing. My interest in jazz and, soon after, in modern classical music and music from all over the world, was unstoppable. I had one year of college and left to get a job that would pay the bills leaving me free to work hard on my drawing. I lived in Chicago, working in record and bookstores, and, beyond being a dedicated listener, began to collect African mbira [an African percussion instrument with a wooden resonator and metal keys, often referred to as “thumb piano”]. Within a couple years (we’re up to about 1966 now) I learned about what was happening on Chicago’s southside in Hyde Park [with the AACM or Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians], and started following what Roscoe Mitchell, Malachi Favors, and Joseph Jarman were doing as composers and improvisers. [I] was intrigued with the way their work incorporated unusual instruments. I listened to Harry Partch, Lou Harrison’s early works, and Lucia Dlugoszewski to hear other ways that homebuilt and found instruments could be explored. I have no formal musical training. I just watched and listened and thought hard about what I was witnessing. SA: When did you first start thinking about building your own instruments? HR: My mother was a painter and sculptor; my father, a photojournalist and wood-worker. I grew up going to galleries and museums and figuring out how to make things. My folks were constantly busy with all sorts of projects. When I became serious about drawing, sculpture and other forms were a logical extension. It was all about improvising, so I felt my passion for music could find some active expression by applying those skills to building instruments and figuring out how to play them. And I felt, if I am seriously committed to these instruments, then I have a responsibility to take them out into the world and share my sense of discovery. The first instruments I built were mbira (mid 1970s) and eventually I got up the nerve to show one to Douglas Ewart whose work with bamboo I really admired. He was the only other musical instrument builder I knew and he was very encouraging. From mbira, I moved to a few clumsily built string instruments. I was already playing saw by this time and, again, encouraged by friends (Davey Williams and LaDonna Smith) gained confidence in my ability to improvise. As a public improviser, the string instruments (once I figured out how to make good ones) became an adjunct to my arsenal along with the saw. My musical life as a performer, and improviser and composer, all extends from those early experiences and encouragements. In that light, I also have to credit cellist Russell Thorne who I played with perhaps more than anyone else at that time and whose interests in electro-acoustics led to my development of the palette as an amplified instrument. SA: It sounds like your interest in music came out of being a listener first, as opposed to being grounded in theory and technique on an instrument like piano as a youngster, as most musicians are. Do you think that you would have been drawn to the idea of homebuilt and found instruments if you had had that kind of training? HR: I’ve always taught myself whatever I’ve needed to know whether it was how to build a camera (for pinhole photography), how to draw cartoons, or how to write about American folklore (for the book I wrote on the Big Rock Candy Mountain and other comic utopias in American folk and popular culture). Out of a rebelliousness that I can’t blame on my parents, I always saw school and institutionalized education of any kind as an interference with my personal studies. I had a thorough education in the joys of music as a child: opera from my mother and, from my father, show tunes, standards, and anything that fits into the ‘you name it’ category (going back to a record collection from the 20s which included everything from Bert Williams to ‘Haywire Mac’ McClintock). Neither of my folks played an instrument, but they clearly practiced the ‘go to the library, get some books and figure it out’ school of self-education. That’s how they built the house I grew up in, for example. I really don’t know how formal studies would have affected my musical course, positively or negatively. Perhaps I wouldn’t have had the idea or gumption to bypass any methodical investigation of pitch. I was always inspired by the found. SA: In reading some of your writing, I was surprised to realize what an influence Douglas Ewart was on your building and musical language, since I know him primarily as a saxophonist. Can you give a sketch of the sorts of things he, and other members of the AACM were doing that piqued your interest as a builder? HR: Essentially, Douglas Ewart was the only instrument builder I actually knew. I got to observe his music develop too. He joined Fred Anderson’s band (primarily playing saxophone) around the same time as George Lewis and Hamid Drake. I rarely missed an opportunity to hear that band. I also ran into Douglas selling bamboo flutes at art fairs, so I witnessed the steady elaboration of design and decoration as he learned more and more about his craft, about bamboo and other materials. He was also involved in this creative endeavor in the context of the extraordinary exploration of sound, instrumentation, orchestration, and composition that was happening among his peers in the AACM. These were really inspiring musical experiences. That’s not to diminish what I heard on recordings: Harry Partch’s instruments, Lou Harrison’s percussion music using brake drums and flower pots, the percussion instruments that Lucia Dlugoszewski designed for her compositions for brass, or the eccentric orchestrations I loved in the music of the Memphis Jug Band or Gus Cannon’s records. But I heard the Art Ensemble live many times before they left for Paris. I was able to follow the steady addition of Douglas’s arsenal of flutes all the way through his work with live electronics in the group he had with George Lewis called Quadrisect. Henry Threadgill’s work with the hubcaphone (an expansive array of hubcaps played with mallets) in the trio Air was really impressive. Beyond choosing one hubcap over another, the hubcaphone was found tuning, and played alongside his virtuoso comrades Fred Hopkins and Steve McCall. I heard Henry Threadgill many times bringing various versions of the hubcaphone or hubcawall to concerts by Air. They gave me the courage to try anything and everything that came to mind and to follow wherever those explorations led. All the musicians I have mentioned here have continued to do that to this day. SA: When you were talking about building instruments, I found it interesting that the attitude is one of approaching the instrument on its terms. For those that play, for lack of a better term, "historical" instruments, a lot of this discovery is done by learning the tradition of that instrument. When you approach something you've built, what's the process of discovery like? What's your physical relationship like as you start to work with it? HR: There are so many beautiful instruments in the world that play the world’s most beautiful music in perfect ways. I’m not interested in building yet another instrument that plays that same music as much as I love that music. I don’t mean that in any grandiose fashion. I’m not reinventing music by any means, but for me discoveries come in the interaction of the player and the instrument, not in the newness or unusual quality of the sounds produced. Perhaps I come to this from the point of view of a sculptor or collagist. What is the music within this object? I want the instrument to have as much to say or perhaps more to say about what its music is as I have. And this is a process that can take years. I learn new things about the palette all the time. If I didn’t learn anything new, if I felt I was repeating myself, then it would be time to move on. In the late 70s and 80s, I was seriously interested in single-string instruments. All the mechanical and acoustic issues around mounting a string on a ‘neck’ and positioning it in relation to a resonator sit right before your eyes. When I looked into how to play a single string, there are examples all over the world: the Brazilian berimbau, the endingidi from Uganda, the Japanese ichigenkin, and the diddley bow in the U.S. When I thought about improvising in the pan-idiomatic context of free improvisation all these techniques could be brought into play, not necessarily their idiomatic aspect note-upon-note in the phrasing and rhythm unique to these musical cultures, but in how string sounds are generated and modulated. These approaches might be considered ‘extended technique’ in the Western classical and popular music tradition, but extended techniques were often the building blocks of free improvisation in the late 60s and 70s. Jumping forward to the last decade or so in my work with the amplified palette [Rammel's primary instrument, combining an artist's palette as a resonating board with protruding rods used to manipulate the sound, see photo], I’ve really been inventing how to play this instrument all the way along; even to the extent that I build new palettes that force me to figure out new ways to play them. When I abandoned processing the palette’s signal and decided to focus entirely on building a repertoire of ways to play it (different kinds of bows and mallets, different ways to hold the palette), then my sense of discovery really unfolded. SA: How much do you value controlling the content you get from an instrument once you've built it and begun to discover what it's capable of? Is there a concept of possible virtuosity in an instrument like the amplified palette or is the point more to keep discovering as opposed to refining? HR: I certainly aspire to be a virtuoso on this instrument. I want to be an identifiable palette player, the Gene Ammons of the amplified palette if you will. If and when another palette player comes along I want to be able to stand my ground. I’ve played the instrument in many different situations over the years, from high energy ’free jazz’ groupings to more sparse ‘lower case’ expectations (pardon the broad characterizations which I otherwise would avoid) just to gain proficiency with the instrument’s possibilities. The palette hasn’t had the benefit of hundreds of years of technical refinement. Tabletop instruments might be said to begin with Hugh Davies' work in the mid 60s after his experiences with Stockhausen’s Mikrophonie. Amplifying small objects into electroacoustic instruments may be said to follow upon Cage’s work with phono cartridges in 1960. Contemporary development of the nail violin (from the mid-1700s) or the mbira (far, far older) might date from Richard Waters’ waterphone in the late 1960s and Nadi Qamar’s work with amplified likembe a bit later. That’s a very short historical summary. As someone who has over time concentrated on this particular unique variation I can’t make a sharp distinction between refinement of construction and refinement of technique. It’s all swimming around in my brain all the time. SA: Can you give an example of how you think of refining construction over technique? HR: I’ve focused almost entirely on the palettes for the past 15 years, so there is an ongoing process of discovering and refining that content. I’m not sure how many palettes there have been. Likely there have been more than 25 and a number of these have been broken down for parts, others simply abandoned. I may build a new palette because I want to try a different arrangement of rods (e.g. a horizontal arrangement like spokes on a wheel in a circular cutout in the board), to add some additional element (e.g. clock springs or music box combs), or visual (non-musical) aspects (e.g. using old cedar shingles from our roof and inlaying broken pieces of old mirrors). I also may design a new palette in ways to interfere with a particular technique, e.g. position wooden rods very close to one another so that it is impossible to bow a single rod. I value the notion of forced inspiration, i.e. what new approach to playing will I discover as a result of this construction. The spoke-like arrangement I mention above hasn’t really produced anything interesting to me as yet, but to play these I did make mallets from guitar strings of different gauges and lengths, creating, in effect, small scrappers or notched bows. These guitar string mallets have been crucial to the new ways of playing all the palettes as percussion instruments that I have really been enjoying over the past year. The CD Agog is the result. Playing the palettes exclusively as percussion led me to understand that the richest palettes are built from the widest array of wood and metal and widest array of pitches and that it is invaluable to preamp each palette’s signal independently to bring a table top array of palettes into equal voice. I’ve always done this anyway, but I never quite realized its overall value until I began to play more than one palette at the same time. Each palette may have an equal voice in this ‘ensemble’ but each palette has its own unpredictability, sounds truncate or sustain, may sound quietly with one strike and then be really be thunderous the next. Timbre, duration, and resonance are not consistent across the range of any given instrument. It is in that sense that each palette talks back to me, instructs me, and I do not build them so that they all sound alike or are necessarily cooperative to my intentions. SA: Do you consider your primary musical language with your instruments as being one based on improvisation? Would you consider composing structured work or having someone else compose for them with you as the performer? HR: Improvising was my point of entry into playing music. In addition, there is nothing like improvising with homebuilt instruments to stimulate refinements of these instruments and new ideas about other instruments. Something homemade may not have the versatility of more conventional tools, so I learned very quickly the limitations of what I had built and the ways in which I needed to have more options in hand. The strongest influence in my first years of playing improvised music was the work of Birmingham-based Davey Williams and LaDonna Smith. Their improvisations had the sense of a single instrument played in a duo that was in constant flux, disorienting, but so forcefully projected that you had the sense of roaming joyously in completely uncharted and not necessarily friendly terrain. Davey once said: “Do not let yourself get out of the sound in any way” and I still feel that way about how improvisation takes its course. Even when there are predetermined elements, it should be for me a completely immersive and unpredictable experience. When I’ve taught instrument design and construction, we begin improvising together as soon as there are instruments that make sounds. I’ve always utilized conducted improvisation so that, initially, the overall direction of the piece of music and the coherence of an individual’s role isn’t discouraging or a distraction. This works well at any age level and also offers the opportunity for anyone in the workshop or class to also conduct. It’s wonderful watching 2nd graders conduct their classmates. They don’t need to know that this is ‘conducted improvisation’ or ‘improvised music.’ They have watched me direct the class with a set of pretty intuitive signals (louder/softer, faster/slower, long sounds/short sounds, etc.) and those with the confidence to get up in front of the class just dig into it. The conductor listens to the totality and the players listen to themselves and all that they are able to take in around them and, thus, those two very different kinds of listening are experienced firsthand. Everyone experiences that sense of music’s immediacy and collective expression and we’ve shared its beautiful and ephemeral passage. Improvisation and composition are not opposite ends of any spectrum. We take a more painstaking and deliberate approach to improvising when we compose and, likewise, we project structure and shape into our improvising. Whenever I play solo I write music for the occasion. I prepare structures, sequences, playing techniques, or transitions that guide my improvisation. There may be some written details but mostly I prefer ‘memory compositions.’ If parts are forgotten I devise fresher strategies. These pieces have titles (for example, “Dust and Fog” written for the Outer Ear Festival in Chicago in 2008, “The Drunken Boat” for the Wisconsin Alliance for Composers in 1997, “Strike Through” for a solo set at Constellation in Chicago in May of this year), but for me the titles function as labels for the structural ideas within each piece and these can be combined in many different ways. I’ve only had one experience of playing music written for solo palette by someone else. Composer/cellist Jeff Klatt in Milwaukee wrote a piece for me in the mid 90s titled “Day into Night” that was quite detailed and complex, really challenging and fascinating to learn and perform. We didn’t have a chance to record it and, unfortunately, that palette didn’t survive a trip I took soon after to a festival in Canada. It had a string attached to a long neck (chair leg) coming out from behind the palette, sort of a one-string guitar with palette as resonator. I built it for a performance with the Nihilist Spasm Band at their No Music Festival in 1998. I had met the NSB at the Newfoundland Sound Symposium in 1996 and got to play an amplified kazoo duet with John Boyle. When they invited me to their own festival a couple years later I wanted to bring something special with me. My heart was in the right place and I really liked the way it looked, but it wasn’t very practical and didn’t function well in the context of loud electric guitars. I’ve learned a lot about instrument building the hard way and it has always been a memorable adventure.

Look At The Instruments

In so far as I might divide my work between acoustic and electroacoustic instruments and the associated improvising situations, then the single-string instruments (snath and gopychand), the triolin, and the devil’s fiddle might suffice for a catalog of my work as an improvising instrument inventor in that first ‘acoustic’ period. The single-string snath (1985) was the first instrument I made with the structural integrity and versatility for improvisation. I used a scythe handle as the neck. An Old English name for a scythe handle is snathe, so this instrument’s name became snath. These scythe handles have a long eccentric curve and I fashioned a triangular resonator at the lower end with a high bridge so the string could be played like a berimbau with small sticks. I used a slide or stopped the string with my fingers to create a wide variety of percussive string sounds. To explore a variable-tension single-string, I also built and played a large gopychand (ektar) and utilized similar playing techniques but also a violin bow, which can be quite expressive on a slack string. I used these strings quite a bit in the 1990s in the trio Van’s Peppy Syncopators (with John Corbett, prepared guitar, and Terri Kapsalis, violin). The triolin (1986) was what I termed “a nail violin gone awry.” Nail violins date from 1740 and have a discontinuous lineage leading up to Richard Waters’ waterphone in the 1960s. For my first attempt at a nail violin I used thin metal brazing rod (my mother, a metal sculptor, had an unlimited supply) and made a triangular, not circular, resonator that had a handle (chair leg) protruding vertically from the center of the underside. Rotating the triangular instrument in one hand against a bow in the other offered a visual effect I valued over the smooth contour of a circular resonator. The rods are fastened loosely in the soundboard. Some are quite clear and resonant, others lack in sustain or clear pitch and rattle against adjacent rods. I discovered quite quickly that I prefer the randomness and unpredictability of juxtaposed sounds and pitches. Writing about the triolin and these string instruments in the late 80s, I identified my challenge as “wrestling the musicality out of these intransigent objects” and quoted Luis Buñuel: “I believe in intransigence.” [Also] In the late 80s I made several percussion instruments as part of research on an old European form called the Devil’s Fiddle (bumbass, bladder, and string, Teufelsgeige, stump fiddle). I made two of these as part of an article I wrote for Experimental Music Instruments in 1992 and I presented as a paper to the American Musical Instrument Society at their convention in Nashville soon after. The Devil’s Fiddle has one tall vertical pole and a string set up over a resonator to be plucked with a notch bow to create a crude drumroll effect. The pole is also hit against the ground to sound a small pair of cymbals at the top and anything else attached. It’s associated with carnival and street corner music with a history going back hundreds of years. I played these a bit with Van’s Peppy Syncopators but once again it was quite impractical for travel and these now reside in the National Music Museum in Vermillion, South Dakota along with most of my acoustic instruments from this period. Over the years, I’ve constructed many other one-string instruments, several utilizing magnetic pickups. I mounted a flexible bar at the opposite end of the string so I could widely vary the string tension as I played (a string arrangement similar to the Vietnamese dan bau) and I often used an Ebow with these positioning the string halfway between the Ebow and the pickup and, in effect, driving a very slack string. I built 3 or 4 of these single-string electric guitars around this time as they also provided a means of manipulating metal objects over a pickup in the same fashion as various tabletop guitar players. These were my instruments of choice in the trio Raccoons with Jon Mueller, drums, and Chris Rosenau, guitar in the late 1990s in Milwaukee. I’ve built many more instruments than this and not kept very close track of them. When I was teaching actively, I built string, percussion, and wind instruments simply to acquire some hands-on feeling for the elements of their construction. I also built many smaller pieces for specific performances, objects as specific sound sources but not necessarily made to produce a wide range of sounds. There also have been several instruments from the mid 90s that consisted of a finite set of sounds fixed to an amplified frame (e.g. the sistrum and the interocyter), explorations of the idea of an instrument as a musical score in itself (i.e. here are the sounds, choose a duration and method, etc., as a graphic score might present). Instrument building was my way into improvising and improvising was my way to get better at building instruments. I was never interested in creating my own ensemble of unique instruments as the collaborative experience of improvisation with musicians playing more conventional instruments seemed much more likely to stimulate new paths and new music. - Hal Rammel

Listen to the Instruments

Hook of a Line, Which Grips (amplified palette - 2013)

Weights and Measures 4 (amplified palette - 2013)

Plink, Plank, and Plunk (snath with John Corbett, guitar - 1995)

Karate (triolin with Van's Peppy Syncopators - 1996)

Watch the Instruments

Visual artist and musician Hal Rammel has been involved in the creative arts for the past 45 years. His work as a visual artist encompasses drawing, sculpture and collage, cartooning, and, most actively over the past ten years, photography (pinhole and alternative cameraless processes). His photographs have been shown at the Wustum Museum of Fine Art (Racine, WI), Gallery 1926 (Chicago), Woodland Pattern Book Center (Milwaukee), Corbett vs Dempsey (Chicago), and the John Michael Kohler Arts Center (Sheyboygan, WI) and have been reproduced on the covers of compact discs released by Hat Art (Zurich), Penumbra Music (Grafton, WI), and Long Arms (Moscow). As a composer and improviser he utilizes musical instruments of his own design and construction, releasing recordings on his own label Penumbra Music. During the 1980s he was an active member of Chicago's experimental and improvised music scene performing frequently with Gene Coleman, Michael Zerang, John Corbett, Terri Kapsalis, Lou Mallozzi, Jim Baker, Don Meckley and others. In the 1990s he performed at numerous music festivals in the United States and Canada including the Newfoundland Sound Symposium (in 1996 in duo with Johannes Bergmark), the No Music Festival (in 1998 with the Nihilist Spasm Band), and several others. Presently residing in southeastern Wisconsin he performs and records in a variety of projects with Steve Nelson-Raney, Thomas Gaudynski, Jason Wietlispach, Chris Rosenau, and Jon Mueller in various ensembles that have included Audiotrope, Raccoons, I-Beam, and Prestige Atlantic Impulse releasing recordings with some of these ensembles on Crouton Records, Soutrane, Utech Records, and Necessary Arts. In 2007 he organized and led the quartet The LOST DATA Project (with Lou Mallozzi, Jim Schoenecker, and Jon Mueller) in performances at Woodland Pattern Book Center (Milwaukee), Elastic (Chicago), and the Sugar Maple (Milwaukee). As an author Hal Rammel has written on musical instrument invention for Experimental Musical Instruments, Rubberneck, and Musical Traditions. His full-length study of surrealism and American folklore Nowhere in America: The Big Rock Candy Mountain and Other Comic Utopias (including discussion of Blind Blake, Bo Diddley, Al Capp and the Shmoo, Jack Benny, and Spike Jones and Red Ingle) was published by University of Illinois Press in 1991. His liner note essays may be found on recordings released by Atavistic Records and CRI, most recently for the Unheard Music reissue of Sun Ra's Strange Strings. Hal Rammel is the host of Alternating Currents on WMSE (91.7FM) in Milwaukee every Sunday night from 6 until 9 p.m. and curates the Alternating Currents Live performance series at Woodland Pattern Book Center in Milwaukee.