Workshops/Talks: Dafna Naphtali

WORKSHOP OFFERINGS in 2020 (over Zoom):


Max/MSP workshops also available on a variety of topics and levels from beginning to advanced levels.
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“Live Sound Processing” alters and affects the sounds of acoustic instruments live in performance, with the goal of creating new sounds with their own unique identity in the musical tableau of the performance.    Although the difference between “Live Sound Processing” and other electronic music practices has often been misunderstood by audiences (or even many musicians), in recent years it is no longer simply the domain of a live sound engineer in the back of the room but is also accepted as a role for composer or performer on stage and both performers and audiences have become more savvy about and can recognize many of the techniques as they have become ubiquitous in many musical genres.

This workshop will explore various live sound processing techniques and strategies through performance, lecture and presentation, and gives participants a foundation to develop their own work.   The lecture/presentation will be given by Dafna Naphtali (who uses live sound processing in her work since 1995).       The lecture/workshop was first given at Harvestworks in NY May 12th with Satoshi Takeishi (percussion) and Robert Dick (flutes).  — students are invited to bring their (acoustic) instruments to the workshop and participate hands-on. The material was expanded to a five-day course Dafna taught 2014 at UniArts Sound Academy, Helskinki, and published in a series of posts for New Music Box in 2017 (with plans for a future book.)


By the beginning of the 21st century circuit bending, no-input mixers, laptops, analogue circuitry, network sniffers and many other creative ways to produce sounds electronically have become a normal way of expression for the artistic community. We can see electronics as instruments among other instruments, but larger ensembles are seldom built entirely from circuit-benders or laptop musicians. This workshop can be used as preparation for a performance of an orchestra of electronic musicians for between 10 and 15 people, and is based on exercises used in Naphtali’s Electronic Music Performance and Laptop orchestra course at New York University since 2013.



This workshop is for adventurous people ages 10 and up (singers and non-singers alike)
who want to use their voices and electronics to make fun and unconventional music.

We will learn basic vocal warm-ups and then explore how to use our voices for music/sound with microphones/electronics, delays, and other kinds of electronics processing to make fun and compelling music, using physical gestures with smartphones, Wii controllers, and other devices to control rhythm, tempo, melody and other aspects of a musical composition or improvisation, as well as the parameters of electronic and electro-acoustic sounds. Workshop was first given Nov. 2013 in Burgos Spain as part of Festival Audio Tangente in Burgos which focused on the human voice and live electronics/processing, and is part of a larger project of Naphtali’s to bring contemporary vocal music and electronics to new audiences. (past workshops include Festival Audio Tangente (Burgos, Spain) 2013, Meridian Gallery San Francisco January 2014 (with Shelley Hirsch), and 2020 at Women in Sound (Brooklyn, NY).


Dafna Naphtali discusses her wide-ranging compositions and projects for the past 20+ years when she first started using live sound processing on all the instruments in her ensembles as well has her voice, in projects as diverse as What is it Like to be a Bat ? (digital chamber punk with Kitty Brazelton), to chamber music, to avant-jazz improvisations and in open form compositions, and recent work for vocal sextet and electronics and LEMUR and BRICOLO music robots, as well as more recent work in audio augmented reality soundwalks (Walkie Talkie Dreams), and multi-channel sound (Audio Chandelier).

Dafna’s work has been commissioned by American Composers Forum (1999, 2009) and supported by New York Foundation for the Arts (2001, 2013), NY State Council on the Arts (1999, 2018), Brooklyn Arts Council (2018), Franklin Furnace (2008). She has done artist residencies at Montalvo, Signal Culture, STEIM, Harvestworks, and has received travel funding from American Music Center and Foundation for Contemporary Arts .


From 2001-2003, Dafna Naphtali was a programmer for Engine 27, a 16-channel sound gallery in New York where she gained experience and perspective on possible aesthetic approaches to working with multi-channel sound. She later developed and began presenting her own work in performances at Diapason Gallery, Issue Project Room (Floating Points Festival ’05 and ’10) and in Hamburg at the Hochschule for Musik und Theater in a hands-on workshop and performance using their 220 speaker Wavefield Synthesis system.   This workshop gives and overview and history of various techniques including point-source, ambisonic, 3-D audio and surround (as well as Wavefield Synthesis.   Requires a sound system with a minimum of 5.1 (6 speakers), but preferably with a minimum of 10 speakers.  In 2010 Dafna began developing her work for her Audio Chandelier projects culminating in a 2019 Harvestworks residency to develop an installation and sound sculpture to be presented at Governors Island (postponed to 2021 due to Covid).


The course would focus on various ways interactive is and has been used in performance, sound installations and other interactive public exhibitions and interventions. Discussion, examples of artist works and projects will be given that investigate live audio processing of sound, music and voice through triggering of audio cues, loop pieces, score following; multi-channel interactive sound works and live performance. Students will learn about the basics of psychoacoustics, and new stratetgies for listening, thinking about (and creating with) audio, and create their own works as a final project. Course includes hands on training in Max/MSP or PD.
Because of my background as a performer/composer in this field, i can give a unique focus and perspective on incorporating live sound processing, the human voice, and musical structure into interactive audio projects that the students will create. Student projects will be completed in Max/MSP or PD (my main teaching tool for many years), and the course will also provide practical information about sound equipment and hardware issues that must be addressed when putting together a sound work.

Below is a sample of topics, which may change depending on the background / interests of the attendees.

Sound installations (historical overview and look at current work)
1. Using multiple speakers–point source vs. replication of audio
environments: looking at work from sound galleries in NY and Europe.  As well as tools for Max/MSP tools such as IRCAM spat~, ambisonic sound.
2. Using physical structures and sculpture or speakers as part of a visual
element (Ligeti metronome piece, Steven Vitiello)
3. Other artists (i.e. Ariel Bustamente, Tristan Perich, others)

Interactive sound in performance
Tape pieces converted — triggered audio cues Loop pieces

Live audio processing as instrument
Contemporary classical approaches vs. electronica

(this course was offered at TransArt Institute in Berlin summer 2013)

WORKSHOP: Human Voice & Interaction
This workshop will look at the use of voice in interactive sound projects and interactive media both as an input / control source (i.e. voice activated experiences), and as content (as sound source). Through a combination of lecture and student activities, participants use the human voice (preferably their own) as a primary element in short live performance experiments, to incorporate pre-recorded sound or as a control source for live performance. Depending on length of workshop, topics include:

• Human voice & audio processing: how processing can create various physical and abstract effects, how it can change the sense of space. emotion, gender, and identity. A look at the human vocal ability to mimic and create non-human sound. There will be both discussion as well as hands-on learning about compression / pitch shifting / spectral modification / autotune etc.

• How the voice works: The mechanics of vocal production and the human vocal apparatus. Discussion/lecture and readings from the literature in vocal science and pedagogy and acoustic phonology. Moving away from the intellectual, I also plan to give the class some basic vocal and breath training as well.

• Building interaction using the human voice: A look at work using and choosing the best audio from the voice for triggers and control – text, pitch. volume, spectral information, amount of activity, etc, will all be investigated and used.
(examples will use Max/MSP but the students can program in whichever program is best suited for their projects).

• How the voice is used today: A survey and comparison of the use of the voice in experimental sound works and theater, western and non-western singing and vocalising, with a special focus on the unusual. (readings from 21st century voice by Michael Edward Edgerton).

 Dafna brings to this course, not only her experience as an electronic musician and vocalist, but also her work as a voice teacher and training/ Level III certification in Somatic Voicework with Jeanie Lovetri / Shenendoah University.

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