Another song

I don’t remember exactly when I wrote this. I want to say 2009 or 2010.

In either 2015 or 2016, I recorded it (because I intend to do that with all of the music I write). I added some harmonies, but basically it’s the same as the original Guitar Pro file. It’s an alright piece of sound.

Website redesign!

I recently implemented a new website. It’s minimal, a single page, concise.

Heading for the mobile layout of my new page

I decided my previous website was too convoluted for what I needed, and it was a passion project anyway. I needed something more practical. This new one was built in little more than an hour. The previous one was still not finished after most of a year. Not that it was too complex, but there were enough little details that I felt compelled to finesse them constantly.

The website was sort of an experiment in what I liked to call “Neo-classical web design,” in that it took a lot of design cues from site from the early web, but incorporated some modern functionality and polish. I liked the look of it a lot, and I’m sad to see it go, but it’s for the best.

I acquired an old copy of Adobe Photoshop (maybe 5.0?), and imported a few photos of me for use on the website. I altered the color and played with compression and .gif formats, I love the look that it comes out with. I probably could have done it with a modern version, but it felt more authentic with the more primitive version.

Old website archived here. It’s slightly broken after being moved, but mostly intact.

Screenshot of the most recent update of the previous site

Scenic Painting

In Fall 2018, I was in the scenic art class. Everything we painted was on muslin, and used a variety of techniques to scale up our drawings or source images. We learned different techniques such as scumbling, obmré, and spattering, and learned to paint textures such as marble, woodgrain, and foliage. We used different brushes and paints, learned to mix colors, and we learned concepts about the behavior of light and the interaction it would have with the objects being painted. This was a new area to me, and I feel like I took to it quite well. Next semester I will be furthering my understanding in the advanced scenic art course.

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Balloonacy: A Look Back

Balloonacy

By Barry Kornhauser

Music by Conor Keelan

Directed by Kathryn Welsh

Lighting and Scenic design by Gene Oliver

Costume design by Kendra Babcock

Stage Managed by Dominique Hinde

Assistant designer/puppeteering by Jewel Brown

Starring Paul Manganello as the Old Man

[disclaimer: I’ve been writing this post over the course of seven distracting months, and at this point it has been nine months since the last performance so I feel like I’ve lost a lot of what I was going to say. Sorry!]

I was given the opportunity to be the musician for a one-actor children’s play called Balloonacy at the Flint Youth Theatre. The play follows the story of an old man, who befriends a questionably sentient balloon on his birthday. It’s in the style of a silent comedy, with no dialogue, and accompanied by music throughout, which consists of piano, drums, percussion, guitar, as well as some voice and balloon sound effects

I have been in pit orchestras before, almost exclusively playing woodwinds, so being able to branch out instrumentally was a very appealing idea to me. And to be the sole musician? That offered a level of creative expression and personality that I haven’t had before, especially with most of the percussion parts improvised in coordination with the action, and having to think on my feet when things didn’t go as planned.

The first few rehearsals were mostly learning to work with each other as performers. They had been working on blocking for a week or two before I came in, but when I arrived, everything seemed to click. Being without dialogue, the play relies on other methods for communication, and the music accounted for a lot of emphasis on the emotion expressed. Not being a pianist by trade, it took me a better part of the week to get the music under my fingers, but once I did, everything melded together really well. Paul and I were often locked in with each other, playing off of each other, learning together through performance. 

I would like to extend my admiration for the director, Kathryn Walsh, who kept a very comfortable and easy-going atmosphere, and who greatly encouraged collaboration, everyone’s input and ideas, and discovery. Kathryn and I also seemed to be on the same wavelength a lot of the time. She would try and describe how I should do something, and then I go “well how about something like this?” to which she responds with “perfect!” Collaborating with her was such a joy, and very validating of my own artistic voice.

There were six performances for schools, I believe, which were a very unique experience as compared to the normal shows. Being in a smaller, more intimate venue allowed for a greater encouragement of audience interaction, and it was an absolute delight to see how different groups of kids reacted to everything. Some groups were quiet and polite, some were loud and engaged and talked to us on stage, which gave opportunities for improvisation. It was even more interesting to see, after a handful of those shows, what the evening audiences found humorous compared to the morning children audiences. Jokes that the children loved would pass by the older audiences, and vice-versa.

In addition to music and sound effects, I also put together the house music. It consisted of jazz, with some big band and avant-garde kinds in the mix. You can check out the playlist here:

Playlist on Spotify

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Lend Me a Tenor – UM Flint

I had the opportunity to design sound for University of Michigan-Flint’s production of Lend Me a Tenor, an opportunity that I am very grateful for. I had been involved in theatre for only six months at that point, so to get to already be a designer as a student was really special.

The play wasn’t really demanding as far as sound goes. Half of the sounds were music clips that were provided. The rest were voices over a phone, a short radio segment, and ambient street sounds. The radio segment even included a voiceover from me! 

There were a few different speakers placed around the set: one small one wired underneath the table for the phone, one mounted inside an old radio, and another placed outside of the window. All of the sounds were arranged inside QLab, in a file that was quite complex but hopefully cleanly organized.

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Additionally, I had also helped building the set, and getting the radio together was my own special project, in which I had to fabricate buttons and knobs and make a face for the dial. I recreated the face as accurately as I could in Illustrator, using images of the radio’s model as a source. It was then printed on paper and placed behind the glass. A friend and I also crated a light box to mount behind it, and the light was controlled by a dimmer on the light board. The resulting product was very cool and I’m really proud of it.

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Directed by Bill Irwin
Scenic and Costume design by Lisa Borton
Lighting Design by Doug Mueller

Set Models

I thought I might like scenic design. Then I took the scenic design class, and, well, I don’t think I care too much for it. I don’t feel like I’m good at it and it didn’t really interest me. However, I really enjoyed everything else about it; that is, renderings, ground plans, and model building. Model building especially, I mostly made it up as I went along but I was usually happy with my results. I hope to, in the future, learn 3D modeling software and somehow utilize that. It should really only take me a day to learn though. I just haven’t needed to.

Anyway here’s a pile of images showing what I’ve done.

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Japan – Day 0

Hurry, Aaron! Write some blog posts before all of your memories fade!

Hi everyone. So, I went to Japan for a study abroad trip. I want to revisit the trip and write a blog post for each day I was there and recount my experiences.

The course itself was “The Business of Arts,” a combined course brought to you by the school of management and the department of theatre. We visited

We flew on Delta Airlines, something like a 13 hour flight there and an 11 hour flight back. It was actually much more comfortable than I anticipated. A lot of napping, a lot of listening to music. The meal service was not bad. There was awful wine and ice cream, it was pretty cool. The personal in-flight entertainment had a small collection of albums, like 50, and 10 of them were Frank Zappa. Not even his main albums, but like, Road Tapes and Yellow Shark. So weird, but I was down.

After landing, I immediately went to the bathroom, to discover the most wonderful toilets: heated seats, bidet, the works. It was also my introduction to super adorable signage, which there is a lot of. The group was ushered into a smol bus. We drove for about an hour to a hotel in Gifu.

Along the way, I developed an anxiety about driving on the left side of the road, noticed all the cars are tiny, there’s many rice fields, and MANY of those golf ranges with the huge netting.

We make it to the hotel. Ogaki Forum Hotel. It’s nice, but dated. I appreciated the 80s neon aesthetic of the room we were in. Here is where we meet our homestay families. One by one, single students or pairs were taken away to their new homes. I was paired with Luc, and we both went with Hisae, our homestay mom. Unfortunately, we spoke no Japanese, and she barely spoke English (but more than we could speak her language), but we managed. It was another hour drive to her home. We were absolutely exhausted from the flight, travel, and the crazy time change. We ended up sleeping in the car, because it turned night.

Hisae took us to Sukiya, a fast-food restaurant specializing in rice bowls. It was incredible. Already the food quality and taste was much better than what I’m used to, and it was just cheap fast food! Afterward, she stopped at a convenience store for Jumbo ice creams, which are a sort of waffle sandwich thing I dunno… But they were SO GOOD. We ate them, then went to our room and slept for ten hours. Day zero accomplished.

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