The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

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Bradley Decker hosts annual Napoleon Electric Music Festival

Composer+Chin+Ting+Chan+performing+his+piece+titled+52+Blue
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Composer Chin Ting Chan performing his piece titled “52 Blue”

Driven by his passion for electronic music, eastern professor Bradley Decker orchestrated this year’s Napoleon Electronic Music Festival. 

On Tuesday, Jan. 30, 25 selected composers from the U.S. and Canada came to perform their work at the Black Box Theater in the Doudna Fine Arts Center. 

Electronic or electroacoustic is a genre filled with unique and abstract forms of sound. 

According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, “Electroacoustic music is composed, performed or reproduced with the aid of electronic technology, excluding instrumental and vocal music heard via loudspeakers. The term includes tape, electronic and computer music, each with its own techniques.” 

While in graduate school at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Decker began experimenting with electronic media, which started his passion for electronic music. 

“I really enjoy working with sound in a way that you can expand what normal instruments do,” Decker said. “This medium allows you to be creative in ways that go beyond just traditional instruments so that you can really use your imagination to make a new sound world.” 

After gaining experience with the medium, Decker began incorporating these synthesized experimental sounds into his compositions and his teachings. 

To share the unique world of electronic media with his students and the public, Decker started assembling the NEMF. 

“I wanted to bring this type of culture to our campus of experimental media, audio and video, and this is the best way to expose our students and our community to great music.” 

The process of constructing this show had been a long time coming, with preparation and planning spanning back to September of 2023. 

“We started in September with a call for works for composers from all over the country to submit pieces for this,” said Decker. “It’s a process of creating concerts and programming good pieces and getting people to commit to come to visit campus. So, it’s a long process.” 

The initial proposal called for works between 5 to 15 minutes and consisted of fixed electroacoustic music, multimedia or interactive electroacoustic music. 

Three months and 60 submissions later, Decker chose the top 25 composers to perform at the concert, himself included. 

The NEMF show was broken down into three individual concerts that were all held on the same day. 

The first show was at 11 a.m., the second show was at 5 p.m. and the closing show was at 8 p.m. 

With an original start time of 7:30 p.m., the closing concert got off to a late start. 

Once guests were seated and instruments, computers and synthesizers were hooked up properly, the show began. 

Decker opened the show by introducing himself, thanking the audience for their attendance, the composers for traveling from far and wide to be there and the Doudna crew for the amazing work they do. 

The lights began to dim as the first of nine composers came to perform their works. 

The use of videos, audio channels, computers and live and pre-recorded sound created an orchestra of eccentric music. 

Several of the themes presented in the show were humanity’s relationship to the outside world, depression, self-discovery, consciousness and, most importantly, being able to create worlds and mindsets with little to no words, just sounds. 

Tonally, many of the songs performed were able to create live intense moments that set the mood for the listener, who was thrown into that world until the song ended. 

The show was well received by the audience, especially the students. 

Freshman music education major Kyle Rennier said, “I’m just so interested about, like, technology and music stuff because I don’t know much about that in general, so I think that was really cool that they have this event.” 

Music composition major Sam Sennet enjoyed the show because of how inspirational it was for him. 

“As a composition student myself, it’s given me a lot of inspiration. Like, oh, I could use something like that in a future piece that I may or may not premiere,” said Sennet. 

Music composition major Jacob Ramage was surprised by the overall turnout for the event. 

“I mean, yeah, there’s a lot of traveling composers here, but also just people here to listen to music, which for this kind of music is kind of a big step forward, you know?” said Ramage. 

Decker loved all the pieces that were performed that night. 

“I really enjoyed the ones that were performed on instruments that combine acoustic instruments and other electronic media and video,” he said. “Having a piece for harp is really unusual, and that was really cool, but I really enjoyed them all.” 

  

Alexis Moore-Jones can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]. 

 

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About the Contributor
Alexis Moore-Jones, Feature Reporter
Alexis Moore-Jones is a senior broadcast journalism major. This is her first year at The News.

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