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SYCOM show sounds off

Two conspicuous crowds were seen on campus this past Thursday evening. One marched toward the Sun Dome for the football watch party while the other headed toward the Visual and Performing Arts building. The latter filled the Music Recital Hall for Absolute Music 3: Absolute Bobby!, an auditory delight of electro-acoustic music compositions by students from the USF School of Music.

The show was presented in coordination with SYCOM (Systems Complex For the Recording and Performing Arts), which is the School of Music’s suite of electronic music studios. Established in 1969, it has been a haven for electronic music composers to experiment without bounds.

Dr. Paul Reller, SYCOM director and associate professor for the School of Music, organized and oversaw the concert. He taught and closely interacted with each of the 16 students who put on the show.

“Electronic music allows you to use the sound in a different way. Techno music is a subcategory of it,” Reller said, explaining this particular genre of acoustics, analog and digital sound. “These students are mostly beginners, but they are quickly developing. This concert was really modern and futuristic.

“I challenge my students to paint with sound … on a canvas … where they can be daring and free.”

USF anthropology student Noelle Deltufo attended the event to support her friend, participant Adam Haskell, who created the melodious piece “Like This.”

“I thought it was amazing. I was very fascinated by the outcome of the show,” she said.

Haskell’s piece, like the other songs in the show, was a mixture of electro-acoustic music with non-contemporary themes.

“I created the piece by using the songs and sounds that I had collected over the years, chopped them up and played around with them,” said Haskell.

Andrew Schrader performed another interesting piece, “Primordial Soup.” The uniqueness of his piece was encompassed within the only

two sound sources he used. Resembling the sounds of base guitars and bagpipes, Schrader’s sounds emanated from a “soup pan with water and a creaky door.”

Adding to the intriguing origins of sounds collected by these student composers was Crystal Farina’s piece, “Scanning the Events Toward a Permanent Threshold Shift,” which was created using guitar distortion, samplings from another song and a restaurant crowd.

A series of audio compositions played with intermittent video introductions of the student artists. Electronic music beats enveloped the audience sitting in the dark auditorium. While introducing themselves before their respective pieces were played, the artists also incorporated Bobby Derie jokes,

which are SYCOM’s version of Chuck Norris jokes.

One-liners such as “Bobby Derie makes onions cry,” “If you spell Bobby Derie in Scrabble, you win – forever” and “Bobby Derie doesn’t read books, he stares them down until they give him the information he wants” garnered laughs from the audience.

Bobby Derie, a fellow electronic music student at USF, was honored to be a part of the show’s theme of Absolute Bobby.

“I just love SYCOM and the music program here at USF,” he said. “Students can choose from a major, minor and they even have a graduate certificate.”

Explaining the rationale behind the hilarious one-liners, Derie said: “It started out doing Chuck Norris jokes and they replaced his name with mine.” The comic relief was so well received that the audience eagerly awaited the next introduction and the next Bobby Derie joke.

“It has been a great pleasure to participate,” Derie said.

For further information on SYCOM, electronic music course offerings or the USF School of Music’s composition program, contact Dr. Paul Reller at 813-974-2387 or