It’s that time of year again – the Together Boston music-tech festival is back for its fifth year with enough programming (literally and figuratively) to do nothing but eat, sleep, dance, and spin decks from this weekend until next. The ability to produce and conceive music anytime and anywhere has been on the rise with the advent of increasingly mobile technology and people. With that in mind, the theme of this year’s festival has been dubbed “The Power of Collaboration.”

The Together Boston festival is unique in that beyond attracting an array of high-profile acts and industry icons to town, it further encourages them to become teachers through enlightening their concert-going disciples with tricks of the trade and passing on their expertise in art and technology that makes modern music what it is. The number of talks, concerts, lounges, and workshops on the schedule can be overwhelming, so we went ahead and selected a few of note:

ToUch Performance Art Presents: Masterclass Workshop for Collaborative Artists

Monday, May 12 from 6:00 – 7:00 PM – All Ages – Free

Location: Mmmmaven Recharge Lounge (614 Massachusetts Ave #203, Cambridge, MA 02139)

ToUch Performance Art (AcousticaElectronica; American Repretory Theater) will be holding a workshop that explores “the process and technique of collaboration between DJs and live musicians.” The workshop will be run by The WIG and Panooc, two electronic musicians from New York City trained in classical music, as well as pianist/DJ/electronica artist Danny Satori.

Specifically, attendees will learn about building escalating rhythms and riffs as well as the application of call-and-response among collaborating musicians. Attendees are encouraged to not only come and learn, but also to to bring their own instruments, as there will be a live section of the workshop where the presenters will coach attendees in the process of “live collaborative musicianship.”


Generating Music with Plants with Data Garden [Ableton Spaces] 

Saturday, May 17 from 1:30 – 2:30 PM – All Ages – Free

Location: Together Center at District Hall (75 Northern Ave., Seaport District, Boston) 

We recently learned of Aaron Einbond’s ability to use CataRT to create sheet music from nature samples – this event has similar roots. Data Garden is a record label whose artists use a synthesis of biological and digital technologies to harness the biodata of living systems for music. If that isn’t fascinating enough, they also distribute download codes of their artists’ albums on printed ephemera that will eventually grow into a plant. The real question is: Will the plant grow faster if it listens to the music its biodata helped create?

Using Ableton Live in tandem with Max for Live, two artists from Data Garden – Sam Cusumano and Joe Patitucci – will lead the talk, demonstrating “how to translate the activities of living plants into MIDI note and control values.” They will also discuss the philosophies and real-world applications behind this practice. Early guess on the real-world applications: dancing plants. (Okay, that’s just a dream.)


Let’s Write Lyrics with Marcie Joy [Youth Workshop]

Sunday, May 18 from 12:30 – 1:30 PM – All Ages – Free

Location: Together Center at District Hall (75 Northern Ave., Seaport District, Boston)

This workshop isn’t blatantly tech-related, but the presenter, Marcie Joy, is an internationally renowned singer-songwriter for multiple electronic music labels and produces a podcast called Behind The Lyric, which explores EDM stories. In EDM, the ability to write lyrics that flow with the BPM and/or build to the climax (and sometimes the drop, if we are going to go that route) is paramount to “convey[ing] the essence of a moment, feeling, and experience.” This workshop, however, will go beyond that and peer into multiple genres, exploring the elements of strong lyricism throughout. Expect to write lyrics individually and collaboratively. Participants are even encouraged to bring hand-held instruments if that fits their fancy.

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