• Tag Archives dorin
  • Outsourced to Cole Wimpee – Angels In America

    Well I’ve done it again. I just finished my work on the sound design for a new production of “Angels In America Part 1: Millennium Approaches”. My dear friend Cole Wimpee, the brilliant director and most elevated thespian, was directing a production of the play, in partial fulfillment of his Master’s Degree, at the University of Arkansas.

    As most of you know, I’ve worked extensively with Cole Wimpee in the past, but always under the auspices of Aztec Economy. I am a member of Aztec Economy! (I went through an elaborate initiation ritual that I’m not allowed to talk about, but there was a coffin involved.) About eighty percent of my theatrical outsourcings have been with Aztec Economy. Some of my best friends are Aztec Economy. But this time it was just me and Cole, and we talked through the script on the phone over the course of about six weeks, I took detailed notes, and I only missed one thing! I didn’t know there was supposed to be rain in Act 2 Sc 3.

    What a dope! But I did remember the other 58 cues, so that’s not a bad batting average. And four of those cues are 10 minute soundscapes that I made for each of the two intermissions. There are four cues, because the first two I created were completely wrong! And I had to redo them!

    For my first attempt at the Intermission Cues I created two ten-minute soundscapes incorporating background elements from the scenes just before intermission. On top of those sounds, which the audience would have already heard and had been allowed to enjoy once again, I layered some music elements from the sound design for the show, notably, several distinctive drum cadences. I put these dozen or so drum cadences into a folder called “Gay Republicans”. That was my first instinct for the sound design for this play. Provocative, no? But there are gay republicans in the play, most notably the legendary political attorney Roy Cohn.

    Unfortunately, in my first attempts at intermissions, I didn’t make the gay republicans loud enough for Cole Wimpee. He yelled, “We’ve gotta keep these college kids in the theater for three hours! Your brilliantly executed and lovely soundscapes will put them all to sleep!” You gotta hand it to Cole. He’s a great director. Because what happened next I can only describe as a complete surprise. I had already had more than a couple all night sessions working on the other 40+ cues for the actual play, plus a thirteen minute pre-show sonic montage that I had completed the night before.

    I knew he wanted more drumming, so I re-recorded some of the earlier drum cues, and started layering a small number of elements, and then I was saved. I rediscovered the ‘space designer’ reverb plugin in Logic. Inside that are ‘warped’ spaces that contain resonant drones on top of the reverb, and the drums were totally activating the resonance of those silly drone spaces, and I said to myself, “Wow. That’s pretty cool. Military drums and electronica, together at last.” And I was right of course. They were together at last.

    People ask me, “Hey you, what’s it like to make crap like that all the time? Huh?” But that’s OK. You can’t please everybody half the time, but you can please somebody all of the time, as Abraham Lincoln didn’t say. And if that person is you – even better! But the nice thing about being outsourced, is that you don’t have to worry about these things. You just make your stuff and try to imagine what the director is looking for. Most of the time this is simple for ambient noises, though I did learn that you really have to muffle the equalization for ringing phones and traffic sirens. Even when the board is set on the lowest level, those sounds still cut through unless you turn down their their fundamental frequencies. Sound is so cool.

    So the intermission cues were for Cole. Cole said make it louder, so I made what I would consider to be my loudest twenty minutes. Keep in mind, its premiere was in a large University theater, with a sizable sound system. On opening night I wondered to myself what levels they set for that music. After all, there were hundreds of people for opening night – totally sold out of course. But it’s fun to make cool music for the young people, who really need cool music. And it is here that I need to share with you the greatest website for recorded natural sounds, all open-source community driven user-uploaded recorded sounds. I found some great wind, traffic, phones, distant airplanes, and all sorts of wonderful sounds that people record and share with the freesound.org community. I have not yet contributed anything of my own, but I hope to some day. Go to freesound.org and join for free and check out and download all the wildest sounds you’ll ever want to hear. From all around the world! The goto website for the low budget sound designer working in academia, and maybe for you too!

    Here is the pair of my ten-minute musical adventures (Intermission 1 and Intermission 2) used in Cole Wimpee’s legendary production of Tony Kushner’s “Angels In America:  Millennium Approaches” at the University of Arkansas.



  • Happyman is Back

    As most of you know Happyman has been on hiatus. (Sorry!). But now he is back. I have put together this little synopsis episode of the first act of the opera. (The first eleven episodes of Happyman comprise Act I of the opera. Episode 12 revealed Ratboy Genius as the creator and he invites Happyman and Green Monster out with him on their day off. Ep. 13 also took place outside of the Opera and depicted a typical sojourn to Washington D.C. for the trio.)

    When I began working on this project, I did not have a plan for the story or the music. At first I just took them one at a time and saw what happened. Then people started asking me what was going to happen to George. . . And I realized that I should probably think about things a little bit more. The fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pajamas approach took me safely up to the end of Act I (ep. 11).

    And then summer break came, and then school started again, and then I managed to get my house guest’s stuff out of my apartment, and then I started working on Happyman again.

    In the meantime, somebody sent HM 12 to somebody, and a small viral attack began on YouTube. It wasn’t just that so many people were viewing the video, but many were commenting and writing to me. Many of the comments were thoughtful and appreciative. Many were outlandishly abusive. I had to delete many comments with foul language and perverse sexual suggestions. The children!

    I was faced for the first time with the problem of having a community of critics and fans for my work on a broad scale.

    And for a while I fought with the pressure to respond favorably, and then with the pressure to ignore, and finally hit upon a new attitude with new techniques and hopefully recognizing the great challenges to get this story through season two. And I realized that even though e12 and e13 had many thousands of views, but actual Opera was averaging a very small percentage of that. So I realized very few people were paying attention to this after all, and I had nothing to worry about.

    Before the second season starts and to get you caught up with the events of Act I, I created this little teaser, a sort of “Previously: On Happyman” T.V. spot.

  • Dr. Strangelove

    so i recently watched again the most excellent stanley kubrick movie ‘dr strangelove’. i first watched it in college. the first thing i noticed, at the time, was the pornographic opening sequence. a bomber was refueling in midair with a tanker. sexy music was playing. the fuel tube from the tanker had to land into the bomber’s little slot. so the fuel could flow from one plane to the other.

    the movie is so weird, that nobody can believe it when they first see it. if you ask me.

    this last time i watched it, i became attached to this one little scene. i captured some video. and some audio. i remixed some of the audio from the scene into two little sound compositions. and put it back with the video.

    strangelove remixed!

    strangelove remixed too!

  • The Face in the Eagle Nebula 2

    If you missed the previous chapter, then you should know that there are mysterious faces in the Eagle Nebula. And I have just begun to uncover them.

    As we saw before, not only does the middle pillar have a face, but it seems to be an entire heavenly creature. I have called this heavenly body the “Uncle of the Pillars of Creation”. We saw him last time. But did you notice that Uncle of the Pillars has a little “dog”, that is standing on its hind legs, and shaking hands with Uncle?


    How could it be? The images are so clear. There is no mistaking the Uncle of the Pillars of Creation and his dog. Lucky for them they have Lookout looking after them. Creation is a perilous time, and one needs a lookout.

    There are more! Stay tuned. . .

  • The Face in the Eagle Nebula

    Most of us are aware of the mystery and hype surrounding the fabled “Face on Mars”. Originally photographed by the Viking 1 probe in 1976, this image captured the imagination of science fiction enthusiasts as showing possible evidence of monumental alien architecture on the surface of Mars.

    Wikipedia Article

    When NASA returned to Mars in 2000, they snapped some new photos of the Face.

    New Face Photo

    Scientists have explanations for these geological features, yet the face has been used many times in popular culture as the backdrop for speculative fiction.

    The speculative theory I most enjoy is that the face is an ancient alien artifact, left there by an advanced race millions of years ago. The movie Mission to Mars explores this theme in a worthwhile way.

    So naturally some people have suggested a conspiracy. Is NASA covering up evidence of alien artifacts and architecture on Mars? Their dossier of evidence goes very deep.

    It’s much easier to imagine that the Face is just a geological feature that happens to resemble an anthropomorphic “face” when photographed from orbit with the sun at an optimum angle.

    Anyway, who cares about that.

    More importantly, I have recently uncovered even more mysterious and profound evidence of faces in the depths of the heavens.

    This time in what is known as the Eagle Nebula. In 1995 scientists working with the then-still-fresh Hubble Telescope took a picture they titled, “The Pillars of Creation”.

    As you can see, there are several distinct yet mysterious faces in this nebula.

    The first one I will call your attention to I’ve named “Lookout”.

    This face just happens to have two protostars right where its eyeballs should be. Coincidence? It has a nose, and a slightly downturned mouth, but no lips. Coincidence?

    But that’s not all. There’s more.

    The middle Pillar is not just a face, it is an entire heavenly being:

    TO BE CONTINUED! . . .

  • i ching – the creative

    Several years ago I composed a multimedia piece that used categories from the i ching as inspiration for a musical suite. I performed on piano, harpsichord, and a casio keyboard, operated a slide projector with slides that I created for each i ching category with photos I took in Tahiti. I also precomposed a two-channel tape part and some MIDI music for the Casio to play by itself and in the ensemble.

    The whole piece is here: http://www.ryandorin.com/undersky.html

    Today I came across some of that old music and decided to create an electronic score and a new video. This is the “creative” category. In the piece, the rhythm of the words are used to generate the music, and in the video, the line from the musical score with the words scrolls by on a ribbon.

    The words are:

    the creative – great success benefits the upright and true.


  • Outsourced. . . Salo

    As you know, my video work has gotten very popular as of late. So much so, that sometimes I find myself spending more time deciding what to work to take on, than actually working on anything in particular! To be or not be for sure.

    But recently I was presented with a rare opportunity that required little consideration. My good friend Ben Gallina, a fantastic bass player, and, as it turns out, a fantastic composer, came to me and said, “Ryan, my band Salo has just completed recording a new album of my music, and I would love for you to make a video animation for one of the tracks.” So I said, “Sure, Ben. I think I can do that.”

    Once we arranged my modest but not insubstantial fee, Ben decided that he wanted a video for his track, “Metamorphistopheles”. To be honest, I only have a vague idea what this title means. I can assume that something is changing into something else. And maybe the devil is involved. But I’m not really sure. What I do know is that the music totally rocks, even though Salo is a “jazz” band. I like to think of it as Ben’s own brand of “acid jazz” – blending jazz instrumentality and sensibility with prog-rock-funk rhythms and harmonies.

    Now, normally when I embark on such an ambitious project as this, I like to have some parameters to work within. As Igor Stravinsky once said, “The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees one’s self. And the arbitrariness of the constraint serves only to obtain precision of execution.” In this case I was not as fortunate as Stravinsky. Ben said something like, “Hey man, do whatever you want. I don’t really care. I trust you.”

    So I went deep into my wellspring of creativity and pulled out one of my most natural resources – balls. Lots and lots of balls. Very colorful balls. Spinning and turning and flying and bouncing and dancing and just otherwise carrying on. But that’s not all. There’s a whole fantasy land of adventure waiting for you this at once captivating and spellbinding episode of music turned into motion. The musicians are incredible and the music is hot, and the video is here:

    Credits: Alex Hamlin, Ed RosenBerg, Josh Rutner, Red Wierenga, Andrew Smiley, Ben Gallina, Alex Wyatt. Written by Ben Gallina. Animation by Ryan Dorin. Solos Alex Wyatt – drums, Alex Hamlin – alto sax.

  • Outsourced. . . Aztec Economy

    How many times has somebody said to me, “Hey Ryan! I know you are so busy creating music, videos, animations, art, drawings, fictional worlds, operas, and other esoteric yet enrichening activities. But where can I find your extraordinary creative activities in the outside world?”

    Where do I begin?

    I guess I will begin by introducing to my readers a group of extremely talented and dedicated thespians who I have had the pleasure of working with on several projects over the past year.

    They call themselves “Aztec Economy“, and they are an “experimental” theater company, and I put the word in quotes to help put the word “theater” into a special relativity.

    I met the Aztec Economy on Craig’s List. I was just sitting at my computer one day, wondering what other amazing accomplishments I might achieve if I put my mind to it, when I came across a listing for a theater company looking for a sound designer. I said to myself, “Ryan, sound design for theater is one of the few things you haven’t yet tried, why don’t you contact them and see what happens. After all, few people know more about sound than you do.”

    So I sent them an email, they emailed me back, I emailed them back, they emailed me back, and then we had a face-to-face in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York. I could tell immediately that these guys knew what was going on. They were so cool, and at the same time, so out of touch, that I couldn’t resist their charm.

    To make a long story not quite so long, they needed sound for a theater piece they were developing, that had no script and no plot. All they knew was that it was based on a loose combination of Margaret Mitchell’s novel “Gone With the Wind” and Sophocles’ play “Antigone“. They wanted barking dogs for the Greek chorus, artillery fire for the Civil War, water dripping, footsteps overhead, toilets flushing, traffic and weather reports, and wind.

    I said yes immediately. How could I resist? I love traffic and weather together!

    We worked together for months. I did my small part. And then we put on a show –

    Starring the amazing and talented and nice and beautiful Darcie Champagne. Called, “Antigone With the Wind”. Directed by Cole Wimpee, and “written” by Casey Wimpee (his twin brother!).

    What a wonderful time.

    What slowly occurred to me was that this play was the second in a trilogy called “Battleplays”.

    I was in for more than I bargained for.

    Because now we are making the third play of this epic trilogy, titled “Night is a Tramp”. If you clicked on their link, you see what I mean. It’s not quite out of control, but it threatens to be.

    In any case, Cole Wimpee, Casey Wimpee, Michael Mason, and Darcie Champagne are the stars of this epic adventure and I just got a an alto saxophone on ebay and am learning to play it, in order to fully participate in the madness that promises to ensue.

    So that’s one thing I’ve been up to. Now you know.

  • The Ratboy Genius Theme Song Video

    So many people have asked me, “Ryan, can you please make a short of the Ratboy Genius Theme Song Video?” As you probably know, the Theme Song was originally featured in “The Adventures of Ratboy Genius Chapter 9”, as just one part of a much larger production. But the song has caught on and has since been used in, among other places, “Happyman 12 – The Intermission”. Though Happyman and Ratboy sing new words.

    But what you may not know is that nearly all of the music for Happyman 12 was based on the Ratboy Theme Song! Hard to believe, for sure. All sorts of music theorists and musicologists have been so pleased to point this out to me, (as if I wasn’t aware!), so I have prepared this little video short.

    Remember: Ratboy Genius is on vacation, just chillin’ in Venice Beach, California. He’s got his little red buggy, his roller skates, his surfboard, and his penny whistle, and he’s livin’ the life. Of all the music the Ratboy Genius has composed, he has told me that this is his favorite.