Jason Lim was one of several students selected to travel with Berklee’s Interdisciplinary Arts Institute Ensemble to Salvador da Bahia, Brazil in July 2014. The trip included an exchange at the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA), where BIAI members collaborated with UFBA students and share their research in interdisciplinary production, modular synthesizer design, and interactive music apps, and culminated in a concert at the 3rd Bahia Biennale at the Goethe-Institut theater. Read more with our student blog posts from Brazilview photos from the trip, or read the official press releases in English and Portuguese.


Monday 14th July.  Day one in Bahia after arriving the previous night.  We met Christiano Figueiró, the faculty member who leads the body of students we were collaborating with.  First step was to source power adapters so we could use our computers and instruments.  My biggest concern on arrival was whether or not I would even be able to power my modular synth.  I own a Doepfer A-100 case with a PSU suited for US 110 volts AC standard.  During my layover in Sao Paulo I noticed that many power sockets in and around the airport were 220 volts, which set alarm bells ringing!  Thankfully the region of Salvador uses 110V as standard so I just needed a socket adapter. 

After a stop at some small electronics stores to track down bits and bobs, we ate lunch near the University campus before joining some of the students for a jam.  This was most of the group’s first experience of Brazilian cuisine, and it did not disappoint!  The meat was delicious, partnered with fresh pineapple fruit juice.

There are three students who study with Christiano who we were working with closely: Bruno, Isa and Leandro.  Their study leans heavily towards digital media, art and sound.  They work a lot with open-source programming platforms and environments, namely Pd and Processing.  Christiano and Bruno work heavily on the android tablet and cell phone platform, and have developed a range of musical apps that are playable instruments, audio loopers and audio manglers.  Personally coming from more experience with Csound and Max/MSP, I am much newer to Pd as a language/environment.  I was blown away by their apps and the tools Bruno had developed in Pd for his performance system.  I am inspired to dig more into Processing and Pd for future developments.  The Nebulæ’s recent firmware update actually supports Pd Vanilla so anything Pd grabs my attention instantly at the moment.

The meeting on Monday was somewhat informal, everyone learning names and getting a sense of who does what.  We jammed and performed renditions of some of the preprepared pieces.  The outline for an ensemble improvisation piece was also laid out.  With such a short timescale there was very little time for experimentation that wasn’t focussed and planned.  I think we all felt it would have been nice to have at least one more day to experiment and refine the performance.  The group was extremely vibrant and everyone seemed to enjoy collaborating and creating music.