Anthony T. Marasco is a music maker. He’s also a member of the Scranton Mini Maker Faire community committee. Listen to what Anthony loves to make in our latest “Meet The Maker” profile video, then read more in our EXTENDED interview with Anthony below. You can also buy his latest CD on his website http://www.atmarasco.bandcamp.com!
If you were to have a business card what would it say? Composer / Teacher / Maker?
My business card would say that I’m a composer, a sound artist, and an Adjunct Professor of Music History and Digital Music at the University of Scranton
What is it that you would say you “make”?
I make a variety of things, primarily works of art in the form of compositions written for electroacoustic ensembles (these include prerecorded audio playback or interactive electronics coupled with acoustic instruments like strings, voices, brass, etc.) and interactive sonic installation pieces. I also build new instruments for myself and others to perform with, like the Oxblood (a series of amplified springs) and my set of Prepared Board Games.
What would you say you do the most of, composing music or helping to make devices for people who make music?
I definitely do more composing, but the majority of my compositions require the use of homemade software programs (made inside of the Max/MSP/Jitter software environment) that I build myself, so I’m always building something digital once the actual musical score is completed. I’ve also written some new pieces over the past year that require the use of my handmade instruments, so I’ve been doing a lot of woodworking and soldering in my workshop to create physical devices that performers manipulate to create a variety of sonic landscapes.
What’s the biggest project/task you’ve taken on? Which has received the most attention?
I’m currently working with my friend and collaborator Michael Greinke to design and build a robotic, computer controlled toy instrument backing band for singer/songwriter Alexa Dexa. The device requires me to work with the Raspberry Pi for the very first time, as well as some electronics circuit designing for LCD screens and controls that are a bit more advanced then anything I’ve worked with in the past. We’ll be premiering the device later this year under the guise of our new collaboration collective, Project Blue Book.
As far as the most attention I’ve received for a project, I have been really fortunate to have my music performed and my used around the world. In December of 2013, I was the grand-prize winner of the UnCaged Toy Piano Festival and had my newest piece Mid-Century Marfa premiered in New York City by pianist/composer Phyllis Chen. Marfa utilizes my homemade Plastorgan (a collection of plastic bottles that hum and whistle when placed in front of a fan) and Aeolian harp instruments, and I was thrilled to get a great response from the new music journalism scene and other composers regarding these devices and the piece. I’ll also have a piece for female voices, postcards, and computer included on the debut album by Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, available to buy this fall.
What do you love most about making?
While I certainly enjoy stumbling upon a new instrument or device built I’ve never heard of before and finding a way to incorporate it into my musical compositions, there’s just no better feeling than being able to write a piece of music that calls for an unusual sound or outside-the-box performance/interactive technique and then sitting down and drafting out the plans for a homemade software or instrument that will be able to do exactly what I need it to. By making these digital and physical “tools” myself, I never have to worry about altering my music in anyway due to the limitations of a device or instrument that was made by someone else.
How do you feel about the Scranton Mini Maker faire?
I couldn’t be more excited for the first Scranton Mini Maker faire! As a Scranton native, I really feel strongly about supporting local creative minds and makers of all types. The Scranton Mini Maker faire is going to be a great event that will allow makers in the NEPA area to come together and share their ideas and wares in a fun and educational environment, and this can only lead to more creative events and works of art coming out of our area in the years to come.