Video recording of Otto Henry guest lecture for MUSC 3366

Video Recording of Guest Lecture for MUSC 3366
Location: East Carolina University
Lecture Date: 9/13/2021
Guest Speaker: Otto Henry

[This document was machine generated and may contain errors]

Instructor: (0:04)
Okay, great. So somebody wants to pop in. So, um, we have in, you know, I described this class to our students as a hands on historical buffet table. Yeah, great kind of go through different technologies and do projects. And right now, they are sort of actively learning the bulk, we've spent some, okay, the last few classes talking about it and getting are beginning to get our hands dirty. And they're getting used to the idea of patch cords and knobs as well. So and of course, we will learn Okay, and of course, we've done listening and so on. But what they don't really have a sense of it, nor do I and I'm looking forward to it is a sense of how this place got put together. And and how when you got here, you made the choices you made, what was going on around you, musically and otherwise, that got you to create this, but you can take this in any direction you'd like.

Otto Henry: (1:21)
Well, I started out as a composer, but that doesn't earn you a lot of money. So I got my first job and a little college in Pennsylvania. It was called Washington, Jefferson College, all male college. And I had totally isolated enough for HR player, Mike. And I got interested in competition early, early on, one to two years in UNC Chapel Hill, down the road there. And my dad became very ill and my family was, you know, drinking by that. So I decided to you know, he read the draft back then you had an obligation to serve two years in the military. You know, he didn't have to some time there. You know, there were cases, but I volunteered. Well, I got some good advice. From a person that was there first. This is where you got to make this. Your being in the military. That's your, you know, what you want to do you see, oh, why don't you volunteer for their draft, they had a draft there. So that's what I did is every lot of the time that was one of the best things ever happened to me. And I served two years in the United States Army, man, playing a French horn. And, you know, sweeping the floor and waiting on tables, that sort of thing. All recommend it made a big impression on me. But I was set up in basic training. We sent to various band played an Army band from Fort Dix, and God bless me, up in New York City. Man, that was fantastic. He's on Governors Island out beyond 20 minutes by ferry, another 10 minutes by subway to the New York Philharmonic Hall. And all kinds of interesting people here but I got well, personalities in our dealers, music business. First foreign player in the band were led to first Army band was was a was also the first sergeant so I had I did all the dirty work. And we were out drilling and I never could march. What would be very, very poor for soldiers. Do I screwed information up or like we weren't marching anywhere we've been practicing. So he got rid of me. But I got all the jobs at the Waldorf Astoria, come on in, so they shipped me out promoted from there to Fort in Panama. My time there the First Army band came home by like the came to Boston University, got married. A strange thing getting married. I love the experiences And thanks for pressing on you and their woman she was a flute player and I had the non bosses in and I got a job in Washington. Pennsylvania is a small college again. And then I went to you know, their Tulane University finish my doctorate in this job, what 68, 69, well 1969 and 1970 Well, on the one hand America just fell apart she Liberian now we have different friends everything happened, and we split up. And I tell you that because I never heard from except I think it was last fall sometime when Congress was convening and happened to be looking at the TV. And I look up there on the screen delivering the opening prayer to the United States Congress in Washington DC was my ex wife Barbara clerical gown everything orating to the Congress of the United States. for her, I think I was holding her back anyway, but then I came here a long time ago. I had started a studio in March yes and college up in my attic, I have a picture of it. Did you see the MDF [inaudible] ?

Instructor (6:50)
Got it. Okay,so this is this is in your home.

Otto Henry: (6:53)
That's it to two of them and upstairs my home. I built a lot of instruments. And I acquired those audio generators we have up there on the mode came here like like I don't even remember when, its been a long time ago. And it was good. really taught music history, which is my degree in musicology. But they were very encouraging to me. I started electronic music studio which I had forgotten in Washington and was upstairs and we went over we we had microphones and really five microphones that we recorded the two recital sonds we had large tape recorders. Now each store stored it onto had a lot of resources and finally put things together and [inaudible] well thank God that I taught here for a long time, independent witness. I retired. I'm at home. Having fun. I don't write much anymore. I still have a computer it keeps me busy. Mainly its a boyhood dream. I have a gun collection that I shoot. I shoot guns at the Pitt county wildlife club. So I keep out. And I keep busy loading bullets. I live right now. I'm pretty happy about it.

Instructor: (9:00)
Then, can I interrupt for one second? So I'm just curious. So when you You said you came in 68 or 69 but whichever year it was, and you were teaching Musicology, and then in the music history and then they allowed you or helped you well with the student

Otto Henry: (9:26)
Well its just like you guys running it running something, you know the studio, I want you to get training and I had had to tape record I knew a little bit about electronics. So the guy was running and I can't remember if it was Tom Carpenter. Well, thank God you're here. You can take it over. Okay. So, to do that, I just flip right up, up there.

Instructor: (9:56)
Okay. So it was a space they were using to record concerts and And you slipped in some other equipment and yeah, I see

Otto Henry: (10:04)
helpers and do that I had to train them I had to get there. Well there had a contract by the fact that I was there recording but

Instructor: (10:21)
and then when it came to create, you know, to get them over other instruments

Otto Henry: (10:25)
I don't understand. I don't remember. We were doing pretty well. We're getting attention. Somehow the the people in charge here, found somebody and they say, hey, we'd like to buy you a [inaudible]. Great. Of course, you could use it again, but they were very encouraging. very open minded. Finally, finally got mo before that we just had empty seats. You remember this is a little room off the recording studio and I built all that myself when you get started.

Instructor: (11:13)
Export. So you create that that's not a booklet that's not a booklet what year the the?

Otto Henry: (11:21)
Yeah, so we're looking Yes.

Instructor: (11:24)
Yeah, this isn't a booklet

Otto Henry: (11:28)
that's patch attachment. Bay amplifier. That is one of the [inaudible]. These are these are just

Instructor: (11:37)
oscillators? Okay, good. Good. Yeah.

Otto Henry: (11:41)
Thank you. enjoyed every minute of it

Instructor: (11:47)
the mode is one of those pictures with the student there's that this machine? Yeah, yeah. So why when when administrators or someone came to you? Did they say we want to get to a Moog, or we want to get you a synthesizer. And if they made you

Otto Henry: (12:09)
all nail them all, everybody knew about a Moog.

Instructor: (12:13)
So that was the choice that was when

Otto Henry: (12:15)
we invited him over here. He was here for a while. And I know him from going to a conference in Toronto, way up there. And even heard about me, he knew a lot. Yeah, really nice guy. He was a tall skinny guy with curly white hair. Before he was amazing, versus having it all together. You know, create an instrument that otherwise you'd have oscillators, you know, everything coming into here, and they stay more likely. Okay.

Instructor: (13:04)
So that was the way it worked and all the sounds went into the tape. And the Moog was your sound source. Yeah. And then you were cutting and splicing and we recording when you're driving and changing speed and things.

Otto Henry: (13:21)
Splice, maybe speed it up? splice it again, put it somewhere else, I mean, maybe you had control over all the dimensions based on time.

Instructor: (13:34)
Can you tell us a little bit about what did you feel kind of like an island? Like you're the only one doing this?

Otto Henry: (13:42)
that? But I had a faculty and I had a bunch of students that I just wanted to are three classes in tape manipulation. First one, you got got the Moog. And then you got individual? Oh, that I had to teach the music history on top of that. So they kept me busy.

Instructor: (14:25)
Yeah. That's great. And where are you finding that students or you or yourself? Were creating pieces that you would present in the recital hall?

Otto Henry: (14:39)
Oh yeah. electronic music concerts. Oh, yeah. You might find recordings of it in the library. Oh, god. Yeah. It would have been on real real tape or what they've done with

Instructor: (14:52)
Sure. Yeah, I think they're digitizing some things.

Otto Henry: (14:55)
Yeah, but yeah, me. We had student recitals twice a year. To figure out what to do on stage, you see, speaker should just turn the lights off that wasn't enough today I got gotten to mess around in electronics, you know, amplifiers and that sort of thing. And I know what a resistor and capacitor is. Transistor. I don't I don't have any theory. I just, you know, just practical sort of thing thank take trouble shoot. But I realized realized we didn't have to do something else. For the concert, nobody wants to, live performance. Oh, no, I could do live performance on the Moog. But it was really scary. One, one bad patch cord. You're gone. Everything changed. It was kind of silly. Just sit there and listen to a tape recorder all the time. So I always had something else going on. I found a lady over in the dance department and just just love to come over and dance. I had dancers over there. At least one more tape. You see, and they liked it. And they actually say by tape points of our house and dance there was a complete control over that. And it was the biggest challenge was you know, what do you do? How do you communicate nothing to somebody of this and tell them you're hopeless you know that and that's your thing, but you're missing something you're missing that totality of communication composure ended audience let's say you know who your audience is. Or the symphony you've got these visual eye films filled around subscription to popular tabloid magazines I found the ad for something that the somebody has called Color Organ. Well hot damn Here we go. In order to order the kit was nothing new I can put you know my amplifiers and kit quartering resistor here. And so I got the module and the instruction assembled everything I put together this robot if you will, the color organ. And what it did, it gave you electronic output for different lamps and had audio input and various controls on it. I built color organ. And my idea was I took a couple of two by fours and deployed the spotlight reinforced by like four or five spotlights left four or five different colors and I just placed them out on the stage behind the curtain and turn them turn the music on life light flashes to the music, rather colorful sort of thing. So So setting up in my head I'll give it to you if you want to come and get it out of my attic it was very easy to operate. And I had to of course you had the speakers, but you had to create different inputs and also had split that was my Fluke to the concert and your work very well.

Instructor: (19:51)
So you use this color organ. and also worked with dancers

Otto Henry: (19:56)
dancers. Yeah. Sometimes it was just a Dark stage. Yeah.But in dark, always turn the lights out. And people started imagining it makes an impression. Really big speaker. Yeah, big black. They were a big for them great. You know about big refrigerator about Yeah, exactly a role that you might have somewhere? Yeah, I don't think we have them any longer. Do you give concerts? We do? Well, we

Instructor: (20:35)
don't so much give concerts that are entirely electronic. But we do the student composers have three concerts a year. And we generally put electronic pieces on those concepts. How

Unknown Speaker: (20:48)
do you know you might have stage speakers?

Instructor: (20:53)
Yes, yes, we do have stage speakers and several. And but this question of, you know, what? Half of what is the visual element? You know, you have a whatever, we have a somebody playing a solo piano piece, and we have a percussion ensemble piece. And everybody leaves the stage and you just have two speakers there. Yeah. And it's odd. It's very odd. And yeah,

Otto Henry: (21:21)
we're used to listening music one on one in the living room, stuff like that. And, you know, people, yeah, yeah. Yeah, therefore a common experience.

Instructor: (21:38)
Yeah, certainly, there are many composers now working with video. Yeah. And we have some other means of creating, I guess I'll say a color organ using video screens. And so for instance, is basically a big movie screen in the recital hall and the mat, and a projector. And we have ways of creating interactivity much like you're talking about, so that the light projection, the selection of the color spectrum, reacts to the sound that you program. So there's, I love the idea of the dance. And I'm thinking back to an old teacher of mine, who expressed much of the same concern. Yeah. And his solution was to begin to pair with live instruments. Yeah, do that. Was that something that you try to

Otto Henry: (22:43)
do you know, fluid intake. requiring that they Yeah. That was because they're so busy with common repertoire that was probably did three or four times but it wasn't too common. Maybe edged in that somebody could understand occasionally, but it was it was a big deal.

Instructor: (23:21)
Do you remember in those times when perhaps is one of those that sticks out to your mind? Do you remember any particular technical challenges?

Otto Henry: (23:34)
You may recall broken speaker core Do you know are they Yeah, everyone finally this stuff goes out. And you didn't have to find it. Which is nice. That's creative in itself and it teaches you a lot makes you prepared for something you're not prepared for. You have to face challenge the challenge. If you could treat it like a challenge rather than a curse. But yeah. Fred was saying center 10. Things gonna be off a day. The printer that said we cannot deny not Oh, thanks go out to play today. And that certainly, you're probably aware of it.

Instructor: (24:46)
Well, these gentlemen are starting to experience this already when I go to demonstrate various things and then they see me wiggling the cord. And in their digital age, there are no cords. So I'm sure it seems quite odd

Otto Henry: (25:05)
well how can you do it all computer?

Instructor: (25:11)
Actually you can yeah yeah but but I don't I will tell you that in the years that I've been doing this and Dr. Alfred will remember this from his years as a student here Dr. Alfred, Dr. Henry when we do them all and learn about how things work and learning then we go over to a digital synthesizer and and then the students say about the digital synthesizer What a pain in the butt it is. Because you have to go through all these menus to get to the things you want can't we just go to the button we want to turn it.

Otto Henry: (25:59)
Oh yeah, well there's so much more tactile Yeah. Yeah, yeah that would be weird.

Instructor: (26:10)
Yeah, yeah. So lots of problem solving as a as a composer as an electronic musician as somebody building a studio lots of problem solving

Otto Henry: (26:21)
problems we have a lot of skill here Yeah, yeah. Well administration pretty good. They were very supportive and got us miny Moog as you see over there traveled with and you have a program I went to you just didn't have halfcourt but there is a big Moog we did take the deep relation until we got the mini Moog, tape manipulation This was back in the 70s I guess. And before a little while before we still didn't know what they meant yeah okay, I'm pleased to see you got the Moog and the old equipment. Oh yeah. Oh

Instructor: (27:20)
oh yeah, it still works yeah, definitely still works so what do you what do you think you know when when you think back on your time teaching electronic music and basic principles to generations of students really what are perhaps some things that you recall teaching some some fundamental principles or lessons if you'd like them to transcend you know 1970s You know some basic ideas about music or some basic ideas about technology and art any any fundamental things that

Otto Henry: (28:03)
you know why they don't work don't fix it

Instructor: (28:08)
don't fix it

Otto Henry: (28:09)
okay is too complicated, I can't answer that too well.

Instructor: (28:27)

Otto Henry: (28:30)
people came a little experienced but I got I got people barely open a refrigerator door rather than tune a radio to deal with, much like anything in education. Yes. Yes. So players that can already play the clothes they take labor so he had to be careful to start right at the essential and break everything down and then put it back together if you had to stand not many people knew anything about patch cords, anything about electronics sound you know some of them know how to speak and then gradually improve as time went on more and more and more prepared but always had to I had we we began what we call the little roll up their call. It was tape manp. Tape manipulation. First thing we have the two red boxes, audio generator. we didn't have we had we didn't get the Moog. But all we have about four of audio generators, microphone and coffee tape deck, built some kind of patch interface. You recorded sound on tape and you manipulators taping it. You could do two things. And three things, you could speed it up or you slowed it down. I mean, either merely by octive. Or you could cut it apart and put it back sound sources, the audio generator or a microphone back and forth, or recording on the radio or your or your, your brother playing the trumpet or whatever it sounds like you had to go out and get it. If you did want to use audio generator. Once you got it on tape, then you can manipulate it. In generations, boiled down record, find something that you like and then slow that down. Or go the other direction or turn it backwards. And that's it way it was way back in the 50s 60s.

Instructor: (31:37)
Well, I like it, you know, it really connects when you say, sorry, I'm just keeping an eye on our clock. When you say, you know breaking things down and starting from scratch to learn how to build them up. Yeah, it's an interesting thing in here. Of course, we're always trying to follow a signal path. Because there are many redundancies and many places where things can where a signal can get lost. So following the patch boards, and so on. But it's also interesting when you say there were students who came in well prepared or a little bit prepared and some not so prepared. Then they got better. We're actually at an interesting point where the years ago when I came in, we could talk about the way a stereo is connected. And

Otto Henry: (32:36)
you know, now, everybody knows that. Yeah, no,

Instructor: (32:39)
they don't take the data, will they? This is the scenario. Oh, I see. So we've sort of gone past the point where the concepts are familiar. And we actually have to kind of go back and more personal right? I mean, if we have a guitarist who understands plugging into an amp and they've seen a patch cord before that, nothing, but in many cases, students are not exposed.

Otto Henry: (33:05)
Yeah, what's more common I guess 20 years ago. Now its on your telephone.

Instructor: (33:25)
So this is very historical. Yeah, until we until we get over to the to the computer and deal with a few things over there. Wow, there. Well, I don't know. What is it like for you guys to see them move in patch in a sound and try to figure out how to build it doesn't feel like you're in a museum? Or is it? Are you just playing with an old toy thing? Or is it cool?

Student: (33:54)
As the second option is like I've never seen anything like it but it doesn't feel like a museum because it's not like behind a glass case. It's just out in the open.

Instructor: (34:07)
So it's what is the second option? Playing with an old toy, playing with an onld toy?

Otto Henry: (34:19)
What is now at all on the computer?

Instructor: (34:22)
Well, no, we start I mean, the pandemic has caused some issues usually start with cutting and splicing. All I see. All right, the pandemic has caused some issues. And I'm having problems finding anybody who's in business to repair those. Because we had some people and they've closed up shop because but typically we start with a patch bay and just learning to make connections and mixers and we cut and splice. Then we go over to the move. Then we do a digital synthesizer and then we come over to a digital Audio Workstation. We use Pro Tools, yeah makes it and a lot of those concepts that are there apply to what goes on. And the synthesizers are software synthesizers, and the same concepts from the Moog apply there and on the computer. And then in the second semester, we move on to a program called Max. Which was it was actually around. It was new, I think around 1995 or so it was created by a guy named Max Matthews. Yeah. And so now it's gone through many iterations, and it allows for a lot of interactivity.

Otto Henry: (35:51)
Okay, I've got that on my computer around you.

Instructor: (35:55)
It's a very interesting, it's a very interesting program that can do many things. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So I wonder when you were when you were teaching electronic music, were the composition students. With you know, your, your specialty was music history began years ago, and yet you have this interest in electronic music. The students studying electronic musical, do you want to wanted to get exposure to this with a composers or with a historians or with a performers or a little bit of everything?

Otto Henry: (36:43)
Well, they were Oh, They were composers. It worked mainly. But, you know, everybody was a popular course. You know, get me pretty busy. So a lot of people that are exposed to, you know, like, people couldn't and just get in touch. Because they're, they do somehow that they were going out on their own and going into school, they're going to have to deal with performances, and they needed audio equipment. They needed to have some kind of regularity with speakers and things like yeah, because everybody else knew anything. Called call it a cold immunity talk, you can get this darn thing working. Okay. So that was kind of what was going on. And so you might teach music, appreciation and blow the trumpet, but anything went wrong wrong with the the TV or the sound system you've got to call? is muted going? Yeah. Yeah, you can speak somehow got an associate. So it was five a course for that reason. So let's say that you deal with electronic. Because more and more, I think, obvious that there is a distinct bond between that those two areas that you have cooperated to deal with when you go out and teach. Yeah, it was, it was. I couldn't take a lot of as many students after the program got, yeah, sorry. I couldn't take more than maybe three or four people at the time in that little tiny rooom, quarter the size of this room, or a broom closet. I got to take up a lot of work and go in there and be a carpenter built and built the wooden benches, put the shelves up and learn how to do that. Pretty, pretty, pretty determined. And then the head gets muddied by the audio generation equipment and some teachers were mad and give me a new flute or something like that was not about me conflict. Yeah. But

Instructor: (39:42)
and then you put up the soundproofing on the walls

Otto Henry: (39:44)
No, they did that. They did that. And last year in the field of music which either you play music or you taught music years ago he taught music and played music, now it got into the training. One of my best students was Jill Fraser, a girl woman and she was from Chapel Hill and she was darn good but she's out in Hollywood working for the studio, the sound engineer for the studio. for gates, I remember plenty of girls you know he hadn't seen girls they took on I can give it gave them ran off with it and a lot of guys now that we've got the important. Music departments get stuck in mud and we're back and they resist resist in modern music. Because their whole ritual repertoire is larger every year. And it's from you know, grabby alley to [inaudible] or even beyond beyond that you feel the activities getting bigger as the year goes on. More and more people are contributing to it to get preserved because we have such fine. Recording. Larger and larger. That's okay. Yeah. Then facilities are available. If you feel like doing it, you can do it that way

Instructor: (42:25)
It really sounds like you know, you in in building the facility here, you really created an opportunity at a at a great moment. You know, technology was opening up in an interesting way. And you were a resource to teach a lot of people on a field that was just opening up. Yeah. And as you pointed out, it was opening up in ways that weren't just for composers, but the teachers needed to know

Otto Henry: (42:53)
That was essentially for music. Teachers or graduates, they're going out in the Hicks somewhere. And somebody out there has bought a new tape recorder. And they gotta figure it out. Who do you call, I'll call the music guy. Then he can fix the recorder that sort of thing. And some of them could do it. Yes, it was a big advantage. Or they came to be came to be and then people became aware of that, knowing a little bit about electronics, major means of communication through tape, loudspeakers amplifiers. It was it was very interesting time. When I was growing up with growing corn, we thought a little bit maybe I don't have plenty of ego anymore. Yeah.

Instructor: (44:07)
I suppose is a little off. Well, this is hugely off topic that I'm just curious. You said you were at Boston University. Yeah. And obviously you were a horn player. Is there any chance that you know, or knew a guy named Ed Madden?

Otto Henry: (44:22)
Yeah, really? Yeah.

Instructor: (44:24)
That was my high school band director. Yeah, he was a great jazz trombonist. And they're encouraging. But anyways, yeah. That's funny. Well, it's interesting. Dr. Alfred actually took this electronic music course up in that space. Yeah, yeah. So he can attest to how cramped it really was

Student: (44:51)
bit dreary. And the thing about it is that the good thing about is that you couldn't, you couldn't see outside. So if it was three in the morning, it didn't really matter. You're just pretending was

Instructor: (45:01)
just like it seemed kind of like this

Otto Henry: (45:07)
were the day that didn't match. Up there. Yeah, when the door came around went up the stairs.

Instructor: (45:17)
That's right. Yes, this was 2010 or 2005. And when

Student: (45:26)
did you come? To me this whole building was after me, you graduated is very recently, very soon after me. I graduated in 2005, December of 2005.

Instructor: (45:37)
So I think this came as an opportunity to build lab spaces the University to find it. So we have these rehearsal room additions, and you were in an opportunity that we couldn't mess up

Otto Henry: (45:52)
the enrollment increase before.

Instructor: (45:57)
At that time, there weren't the enrollment was was quite high. At the time of this expansion. The demographics have changed a lot. In the last I'm gonna say 10 years. But 20 years ago, 15 years ago, things were still quite hot.

Otto Henry: (46:17)
What do you think change? More students?

Instructor: (46:22)
Well, I think fewer and fewer students. But I, I this is based on nothing but my own sense. I think I think more and more students want to make sure that they come to school and they can get a job right afterwards. Yeah. And so the school music is rich with students who want to go into music education. Yeah. Because they can get a job right after. And perhaps music therapy, more and more.

Otto Henry: (46:53)
Music therapy.

Instructor: (46:54)
Yeah. Other areas performance and so on. It's it's hard. It's so competitive. Yeah. And I think parents and students, I know you guys can speak to this. But you know, you're here. But in my day, it wasn't about going to schools, make sure you get a job afterwards, just going to school to explore,

Otto Henry: (47:11)
yeah. Important to get a job, they're more traits. Will they treat it like trade schools, instead of liberal arts education?

Instructor: (47:19)
I think I could be wrong. No, that's

Student: (47:21)
absolutely right. Yeah. I think it's, we see that every time when you when things get cuts, it's the gen ed classes that are the first ago so that we can, because we have such a big curriculum. I mean, there's so many classes that we think that the students have to have to get a music degree. So if they cut our hours from the 128 to 120, we tried to lose eight hours of gen ed classes instead of theory or something like that, which is, for better or worse. I think that's what ends up happening.

Instructor: (47:55)
Well, yeah, times are changing, for sure. But it's really great to get your perspective on the time when this place was, this facility grew, you know, thank you so much for coming. And we'll hear more about your music on Friday. Yeah. Yeah, well, that's what you're going to talk to us about on Friday. Right? Aren't you coming on Friday to talk about your music

Otto Henry: (48:26)
You never told me about that.

Video recording of Otto Henry guest lecture for MUSC 3366
This is a video recording of a guest lecture by Otto Henry for a MUSC 3366 class. Henry was a pioneer in electronic music and joined the School of Music at East Carolina University in 1968. He started programs in electronic music composition and ethnomusicology and established the school's Recording and Electronic Music Studio, which contained the revolutionary MOOG synthesizer.
September 13, 2021
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