In the last couple of days, I’ve been listening to lots of music featuring polyphonic sounds produced from typically monophonic sources.

I don’t really understand the mechanisms that go into producing these sounds, but I love the effect. I encourage you to watch all of the videos below in their entirety, because the level of musicianship in each one is really amazing.

I’ll start with an example that I remember first noticing many years ago. It’s Taj Mahal, the blues singer, singing “You’re Gonna Need Somebody On Your Bond.” He starts singing polyphonically for a few bars beginning at 4:14 in the video below:

I get shivers at 4:26 when he’s singing at least two notes and also changing the interval between them as he goes.

Here’s another example. Listen for the multiphonic singing at 1:21, and again at 4:09:

Another one. Lalah Hathaway sings multiphonically at 6:12:

And of course, nobody should be surprised that Bobby McFerrin can do it, too. Listen for it at 2:11:

Here’s Kongar-ol Ondar, the Tuvan throat singer who performs regularly with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. Here, the higher pitches of the multiphonic singing are almost whistle-like. It’s a different technique from those used above:

Finally, check this out – multiphonics on a tuba. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s just a lovely and haunting Norwegian melody. The multiphonics and other hilarity begin at 0:48:

The final year of my Master of Museum Studies degree (which I just completed!) was consumed with work on my major exhibition project. This project takes the place of a second year thesis, and I worked with three of my very good friends (Keely Bland, Hilary Walker, and Kristie Nairn) on an exhibition in partnership with the Ontario Heritage Trust. Our exhibition is Huzza  for Freedom! Political Cartoons from the War of 1812, and it is on display at the Parliament Interpretive Centre (265 Front Street E) until September 1, 2014. Check it out if you are in town this summer!

british valour and yankee boasting
Our exhibition showcases reproductions of political cartoons from the 1812 period, as well as several contemporary cartoons by Canadian artists whose work reflects upon War of 1812 commemoration and its significance to Canadian identity. We had a lot of fun selecting and researching these cartoons, and unpacking the complex historical symbolism and references in order to make these images legible to a modern audience.

Here is one of my favourite cartoons from the exhibition: Johnny Bull and the Alexandrians (1814). It shows John Bull (Great Britain personified) demanding goods from the citizens of Alexandria, who cower timidly before their powerful enemy. John Bull exclaims “I must have all your Flour – all your Tobacco – All your Provisions, All your Ships – All your Merchandize – every thing except your Porter and Perry – keep them out of my sight, I’ve had enough of them already.” Porter and Perry refer to American naval officers Captain Perry and Captain Porter, who each led several American victories against British naval forces during the war.

A lot of hard work went into this project, and it was a very rewarding experience for all involved. I acted as the project manager of my group and learned a lot about how to effectively manage a team and keep on top of every aspect of the project, from small details to the big-picture vision.

We held a very well-attended opening reception on Wednesday, April 2, and we were so grateful to all of our classmates, OHT staff, family and friends who came out to support us! Here are a few photos of the event:
We had about 75 people come out to our opening reception - not too shabby!

We had about 75 people come out to our opening reception – not too shabby!

My good friend Claire Morley checks out our display of etching tools.

My good friend Claire Morley checks out our display of etching tools.

Graeme MacKay, editorial cartoonist for the Hamilton Spectator, shows fellow cartoonists his work in our contemporary Canadian section.

Graeme MacKay, editorial cartoonist for the Hamilton Spectator, shows fellow cartoonists his work in our contemporary Canadian section.

Student curators (left to right): Hilary Walker, Kristie Nairn, Keely Bland, Oriana Duinker

Student curators (left to right): Hilary Walker, Kristie Nairn, Keely Bland, Oriana Duinker

I’ll end this post with my favourite cartoon detail from the entire exhibition. If you visit the exhibition this summer, keep your eyes peeled for this hilarious little detail. (I wanted to include this cartoon in the exhibit for many reasons, but it was the French horn reference that won this brass player over!)

curse these french horns
Five years ago, I posted some recordings from my senior music minor recital at WPI. I’m now happy to be able to share some more recent recordings.

One of my bandmates in the Hart House Jazz Ensemble, Adam Xiao, asked me to play with him on a few tracks. It was a favour to a friend of his, who needed to record some musicians for a university music project.

We ended up recording six tracks, which you can listen to below. I hope you like them.

  • Someday My Prince Will Come
  • Sugar
  • Have You Met Miss Jones
  • Four
  • A Night In Tunisia
  • Easy Living

You can also hear the HHJE’s final performance of the year, at The Rex in Toronto, on our YouTube channel (although the quality’s not great).
The Toronto Star published Tim Alamenciak’s piece about the Urban Land Institute contest today: Think tank contest displays big ideas for Toronto’s waterfront. Here’s a quote that discusses my project:

Kyle Miller, a 27-year-old planning student at the University of Toronto, thought his idea was a little wild at the beginning. He proposes a gondola along the waterfront, stretching from Ontario Place to the Don River in the east.

“It started as a crazy blue-sky idea, and the more we thought about it the better sense it started to make and I’m almost a believer now,” said Miller.

He translated his contest entry into a paper for a school class and crunched some numbers. He found some inspiration in Medellin, Columbia, where two gondola lines integrate seamlessly with the local transit system.

Concocted with fellow planning student Matthew Kelling, the gondola would get commuters from one end to the other in 25 minutes, Miller said. “Right now…there’s basically no continuous transit that could do it in anywhere close to 25 minutes.”

One of my renderings was even featured on the front page of the GTA section today!

Front page of GTA section - edited (Large)
Now that judging is apparently finished, I can go public with my submission to the Urban Land Institute’s 2014 Urban Ideas Competition for Toronto. The purpose of the competition was to develop an idea that would reunite Toronto with its waterfront, somehow overcoming the barriers posed by the Gardiner Expressway, railroad corridor, and Lake Shore Boulevard.

My submission, which I developed with a colleague (Matt Kelling), was the ShoreLine Aerial Skyway, a gondola system that zig-zags back and forth across the Gardiner as it travels east and west. You can see the details of our submission in the two posters below.

I fleshed out the idea more fully in a paper that I submitted for one of my classes this semester. On the whole, I think it’s fairly compelling, although there’s no way it could actually be built as I’ve proposed it. Entering the contest was an extracurricular activity, but assembling our submission was nevertheless a great educational opportunity. It especially allowed me to acquire and practice some new 3D rendering and GIS skills.

While Ori and I were in Chicago last week, I even had a call from a reporter at the Toronto Star who wanted to interview me about the idea. I’ll post a link to his piece if it is ever published. Here are some of my better renderings in a larger size:

Faded BMO v2
Faded Canoe v4
Faded Gardiner v5
We’ll find out how we did on Wednesday, when ULI is holding an awards event at the TIFF Lightbox. I’m a bit nervous, but also quite excited!

There is also a “people’s choice” award in the contest, for the submission that gains the most “likes” on the ULI Facebook page. We’re tied for third place right now, so any help winning that competition will be welcome, too! Vote here.