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Rick Sacks
from: Rick Sacks
Category: Contemporary Art

One Step Back. Two Steps Ahead

As a freelance percussionist my life has been filled with travel and many types of wonderful performance opportunities. From chamber music to experiments to improvisation, theatre, dance and solo works, I have had the great privilege of working with communities of performers and composers in very inspired social settings. One would say that going ‘online’ is a step backwards in comparison with the experience of live music and they would be right. Many percussionists get into the electronic side of things.

Doing sound design for theatre also brought a lot of tech into my life. I finally decided, as I am getting older, to put a studio into my garage and outfit it with streaming capabilities. Little did I know that the Covidvirus was around the corner and my new, time consuming enterprise would so absorb me as to enable me to escape the frustrations of imposed isolation and loss of freelance work. Using an inexpensive VJ program called CoGe, I began making videos and using my electronic percussion (V-Drums and MalletKat) to manipulate the videos.

Using the freestreaming software called OBS I could also control the camera(s) on me with midi. So, hitting a key on the mallet kat could ‘place’ me in a corner of the full screen as you might see a gamer playing online or put me full screen or take me out of the picture leaving the video content.

Now I have added looping with my vibraphone and a set of instruments, some of which have come from Sound Travels!

Using Devil Chaser, blocks, bowls, gongs and found objects, I build layers of phasing loops using a program called P.O.L.A.R. in Motu’s Digital Performer. It stands for Performance Oriented Loop Audio Recording.

I have been performing live twice weekly on since December of 2019 and recently started multicasting to twitch, facebook, and youtube using .

Only now, in September, have I taken some freelance work again (also online). I find myself ahead of the curve in terms of the configurations and delivery methods of online performance. If anyone in the Sound Travels community has questions I am happy to answer them. Meanwhile be well and keep the music coming. – Rick Sacks, Toronto

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