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Cutting-edge music at UMW

 The Electroacoustic Barn Dance features artists like UMW professor Johanna Beaver playing innovative music.
Matthew Wood
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Date published: 11/8/2012



Mark Snyder, a music professor at the University of Mary Washington, has been putting on music festivals since his days as a graduate student at the University of Memphis. But he started with funding from a technology grant, not an arts grant.

That's because Snyder's festivals showcase the world of electroacoustic music, a multimedia genre that blends analog and digital sounds, oftentimes with video, performed by musicians who use computers as control stations while playing traditional instruments like harp, clarinet or tuba.

Snyder describes the genre as "a catch-all for a bunch of stuff."

The festival, known as the Electroacoustic Barn Dance, is in its second year here in Fredericksburg. While he was in Mississippi getting his Ph.D, Snyder held a similar festival called the Electroacoustic Juke Joint, which featured one night of performances at a genuine rural Mississippi juke joint. He had hoped to be able to hold some of the barn dance performances in a genuine Fredericksburg-area barn, but things weren't as he remembered them when he returned to town.

"When I was a younger man here there were a lot more barns," said Snyder, a Stafford County native.

Instead, the main performances--all free and open to the public--will be held in Pollard Hall on the university's campus over the weekend of Nov. 8-10. The concerts will be similar in format to a classical music recital, just with pounding bass and swirling visual aids.

Snyder, a multidiscipline musician and composer, has most recently been seen around town with his indie rock band Nature Boy Explorer. He will participate in the festival with an original composition, one inspired by the kind of emotions and angst commonly associated with rock 'n' roll. But he used a harp (digitally processed almost beyond recognition) along with other sounds--mostly spoken dialogue from analog tape recordings--manipulated to become a musical accompaniment.

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What: Electroacoustic Barn Dance Where: University of Mary Washington When: Thursday, Nov. 8, through Saturday, Nov. 10. Cost: Free Info: facebook.com/ElectroacousticBarnDance