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Rain Drum Programming Class

Sunday, May 15 and May 22; 12:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Watershed Education Center
19901 Cedar Falls Rd SE,
North Bend, WA 98045

p14drumcourtRain Drum Courtyard is an enchanting and engaging public art installation at the Cedar River Watershed Education Center near North Bend, created in 2001 by artist Dan Corson. Set around a forested stream, it is made up of 17 drums which are played by drops of water. The intricate rhythms they create are powered by a custom computerized system. For the first time the public is being given the opportunity to become part of the art. Artist Tom Mattausch, primary conservator for the installation since 2011, will be partnering with electronic musician Son Vardy to teach a class on how to program, or “conduct,” new songs for the drums.  This presents a unique experiential opportunity combining equal parts of music, art, and technology. ​

The first class session meets Sunday, May 15 at 12:30 – 4:30 p.m. onsite at the Watershed Education Center facility. We will begin with a tour and a complete overview of the installation including the control room and service vault, then head to a classroom to explore how to create MIDI files (electronic sheet music) that can be interpreted by the custom microcontroller. Finally, Vardy will debut a new rain drum song and lead a discussion on the finer technical and artistic points of electronic composing. The following Sunday, May 22 at 12:30 – 4:30 p.m. the class will meet to enjoy listening to their creations. Each student may opt to have one of their songs’ performances recorded on video. Recordings will be shared online and will be considered by Dan Corson for addition to the permanent playlist, thereby becoming a contributing part of the public art installation.

The class requires access to a computer at home or elsewhere, and a desire to learn basic composition in the MIDI format. Limited to only 12 students. Contact with any questions. You can register here.

Photo credit: Julie Stonefelt with SPU, Cedar River Watershed Education Center