Alberta College of Art + Design Laptop Ensemble  

Laptop performance, though it is a new medium for creating and disseminating music, is often critiqued using traditional musical performances criteria. The location of sound is not physically tied to the sound maker, creating a problem differentiating the source of a sound. The gestural language of a laptop performer is similar to an office worker, how can that be stimulating or even exciting? How can one become of virtuoso of the computer? If one laptop can substitute for an orchestra, why put them together as an ensemble? ALE aims to create new music while addressing these issues through live improvised performance.

The core of an ALE performance is structured improvisation. Like jazz musicians, the members work together closely monitoring each others' sounds and responding in real time. One moment the overall sound is infused with abstract dance beats, and next with deep organic drones and robot bird songs. Rules are made on the fly and often broken once established. Depending on the audience, the architecture, and the collaborators, a 45-minute set might resemble space debris burning across the night sky, or a 90s rave party in ultra slow motion. Every performance is distinct and in many ways unrecognizable from the last.

The group consists of two faculty members, Rick Silva and Adam Tindale, and two students, Greg Debicki and Bryn Thorhaug. ALE is both an experimental music ensemble exploring digital sound creation and a rare opportunity for emerging sound artists at ACAD to perform alongside established artists in the field.

Upcoming Performances

Recent Performances

Happening Festival
January 27, 2010
University of Calgary, Calgary, AB

High Performance Rodeo Midway
January 8, 2010
Epcore Centre, Calgary, AB

Sled Island Festival
June 24, 2009
Alberta College of Art + Design, Calgary, AB

December 4, 2008
Alberta College of Art and Design, Calgary, AB

With the Kinkonauts
November 5, 2008
EMMEDIA, Calgary, AB

With runran
October 10, 2008
EMMEDIA, Calgary, AB


Example Jam Session (mp3)


Faculty Members

Adam Tindale is an electronic drummer and digital instrument designer. He is a permanent instructor of Interaction Design in the Media Arts and Digital Technologies area at the Alberta College of Art and Design. Adam performs on his EDrumset: a new electronic instrument that utilizes physical modeling and machine learning with an intuitive physical interface. He completed a Bachelor of Music at Queen's University, a Masters of Music Technology at McGill University and an Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Music, Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at the University of Victoria.

Rick Silva was born in Sao Paulo Brazil in 1977. He received a BFA in Film from University of Colorado in 2001, did post-bachallaureate work at the European Graduate School in Switzerland, and received his MFA in Digital Art in 2007 also from the University of Colorado in Boulder. In 2007-8 he was visiting professor of digital media at the University of Georgia (Athens), and is currently a permanent instructor of first year studies /digital media and technology at the Alberta College of Art and Design (Calgary, Canada). Silva's artwork has been exhibited in festivals and museums in five continents including Transmediale (Germany), Sonar (Spain), Futuresonic (England), VideoBrasil, DOTMOV (Japan) and The Whitney Museum of American Art's Artport. Silva has performed his work live in London, Tokyo, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, and Houston's Software Cinema Festival. His artwork has been written about in the New York Times, The Guardian UK, Liberation, El Pais, and featured on the CBS Evening News.

Student Members

Greg Debicki is a second year student at the Alberta College of Art and Design. He composes electronic music under a the names: No Trebles, eN.Ti and Woulg. Currently he is exploring different ways in which to conceptualize his music and also experimenting with programming generative music.

Bryn Thorhaug (STAEL) has experimented and produced electronic music for years, but is now looking to further his craft at the Alberta College of Art. His music has a wide spectrum of sound hailing inspiration from various genre. Having a background in traditional visual arts STAEL creates bodies of work and manifests ideas from a blank palettes.

Previous Student Members

  • Peter Thomas