The Santa Clara Laptop Orchestra (SCLOrk) is an ensemble of up to sixteen players, dedicated to the creation and performance of live electronic music. Created in 2012 by Bruno Ruviaro (SCU faculty) and students, this interdisciplinary group explores the intersection of music composition, live performance, human/computer interaction, programming, and sound design, with emphasis on musical creativity based on cutting-edge technologies.
SCLOrk meets officially as a class and is open to all SCU students; no audition or previous music background is required. Rehearsals include hands-on fun with electronic sounds, in a creative environment that blurs the distinctions between performer, composer, and instrument maker. Each SCLOrk station includes a peculiar combination of equipment such as a laptop, a coffee table, Wii Remote and pad controllers, a loudspeaker, and a yoga mat. The class culminates with a concert at the end of the term.
You can find more information about SCLOrk here.
During my three years in SCLOrk, I have been blessed with opportunities to collaborate with others and push myself out of my comfort zone. SCLOrk enabled me to combine my passions for poetry, music, and storytelling to create signature pieces about cultural identity, the transition to adulthood, and the COVID-19 pandemic. SCLOrk is also where I have met some of my closest friends; each cohort combines humor, intelligence, kindness, and creativity in no other group I have ever seen. I wanted to apply my research skills with my love for SCLOrk to give back to the community.
I decided to find out more about who exactly SCLOrkers have been, and who they are now. I wanted to know where they come from and where they are headed. What brought them to SCLOrk, and what skills and objects did they bring with them?
I surveyed and interviewed SCLOrkers to create personas to aid in marketing efforts and designing the ensemble for future students. Because this research would lay the basis for future SCLOrkers' experiences and design of the ensemble, I spent a lot of time designing the study and consulting with Bruno Ruviaro, director of SCLOrk. I conducted the work over a two-month period.
In creating the personas, I had three main research questions:
To be continued...
What I've Learned So Far
It has been almost one year since I started this project. Since then, I have gained many insights into the SCLOrk experience, such as the participants' truly diverse range of backgrounds and specific things they all learned from their time in the ensemble.
I was also able to practice preparing for interviews by determining what questions I should ask each person. Conducting the interviews over Zoom has been my favorite part of the project so far, since I've had the opportunity to reconnect with old friends and to meet some SCLOrkers for the first time in years.
Moving forward, I will continue interviewing participants, editing transcripts, and preparing content for marketing materials to promote the next cohort of SCLOrk.
If you would like to learn more about my project, or if you are a SCLOrker and want to participate in my research, please don't hesitate to reach out!
I would like to thank Bruno Ruviaro and the Santa Clara Laptop Orchestra for their continued support on this project.
© 2022 Jia Seow