"I shape sound. In my electro-acoustic works, it is akin to working with a canvas, which is time, where I create a trajectory or stasis or environment."

When Paul Botelho was 11, his father bought him a Commodore 128. Although it was a fun, new toy, it was a bit of a blank slate. "He didn't buy me software, so I started programming my own," says Botelho, who created his own video games and programs, like an electronic periodic table, flash card style. Through that programming, he developed both a love and an aptitude for creating on the computer, which he describes as an "intuitive way of working with patterns." "And that's what music is," he says. "Patterns."

Botelho finds music in the lines between art and design, creating new musical sounds through computer manipulation using software he has developed. "My work is often collage-based or gestural, much in the same way as the visual arts," he says. "I shape sound. In my electro-acoustic works, it is akin to working with a canvas, which is time, where I create a trajectory or stasis or environment." In addition to electro-acoustic sound, Botelho incorporates his voice and opera into his work.

One of Botelho's most intriguing concepts has been an electro-acoustic ensemble -- a group of participants collaborating on sound using laptops. The original group, some 13 members strong, was an eclectic mix of students, from philosophy and psychology majors to music and performance majors. He hopes to recreate an ensemble at Bucknell.

"I designed all the software for the ensemble, trying to exploit all laptops in a musical way," he says. And though the group performed — sometimes guerilla-style at events and festivals, or scheduled pieces like the Futurists Manifesto using a sampler instrument that captures and manipulates sound — Botelho does not create music for commercial success. "I have no idea who the average music listener is," says Botelho, explaining that he has followed an early professor's advice of creating for the sake of art.

Whereas the general population might listen to music while jogging or driving in the car, Botelho says, he enlists his full attention when it comes to music. For the most part, he listens only to the music he is actively composing. "It's hard to be a casual listener," he says, because "music is a state of listening. It's strange, having your art become wallpaper, the background to whatever else you're doing."

Posted October 2012

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