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Ryan Janzen applies principles of electrical engineering and physics to diverse fields, from biomedical science to fluid dynamics and aerospace, to music and acoustics.
With eighteen international peer-reviewed publications, he does research and teaching as a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Toronto, with Steve Mann.
Janzen is a composer not only for orchestra but also for the hydraulophone.
During our 25 minute conversation with Ryan, we cover a wide variety of topics such as his early passion for both technology and music; his strong interest in nature and ethics; the problems of careerism, and pursuing technology for its own sake, both in the arts and the sciences; the importance of questioning what we assume to be the natural order of things; the hydraulophone and its unique way of making music by vibrating water as one of many ways of bringing nature and technology together.
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Ryan Janzen on the Hydraulophone
Ryan Janzen plays the Hydraulophone and explains its unique sound and technology.
Steve Mann and Ryan Janzen Hydraulophone Duet
Who is Ryan Janzen?
Ryan Janzen’s compositions have been performed internationally in New York, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Copenhagen, and Shanghai. Featured on CBC, Danish radio, and at the World Expo, Ryan Janzen’s compositions have been sought after for art music, film, and esoteric concerts. As experience-designer/music director of 19 live concerts and producer of 3 albums, he has collaborated extensively with musicians, orchestras, and interdisciplinary researchers.
Janzen’s work embodies a fusion between art and science that comes naturally: Janzen’s scientific research has led to advances in acoustics, aerospace engineering, and electric vehicle propulsion, and was awarded a federal grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. His music research is published in eight international music publications. After founding a technology consulting company in elementary school, Janzen worked on the award-winning film Commedia Fantasia (winner of the 2002 Houston International Film Festival Gold Medal Award in performing arts), and has since produced an array of art music, film music, orchestral and choral compositions, performance art, and high-tech performances that push the limits of art and science.
Janzen in 2006 was the world’s first composer to create music for hydraulophone, an exotic instrument that is played by touching jets of water. Janzen developed a new expressive performance style and (along with inventor Steve Mann) a new musical notation that gives the performer access to a never-before-seen ability: polyphonic embouchure, brought into existence by hydraulophones.
His film scores include “Ritual”, an eerie film+concert performance in which audience and performers are left in pitch dark. Janzen’s compositions have been commissioned recently for a grand opening of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind in Alberta, and for the Marshall Fels Elliott short film “After Hours”. His compositions have also been performed at the Music Gallery in Toronto, NIME in New York City, and the Vandkulturhuset in Denmark.
Janzen’s multimedia work “Stray” was featured in a Florence, Italy presentation. This piece of music was written in the C programming language, for pipe organ and andantephone (a musical instrument designed with Steve Mann which transforms seismic waves from footsteps).
Fusion between music and science is also Janzen’s specialty as an invited lecturer internationally at courses and conventions alike. He is featured in 22 newspaper, magazine, and TV news programs on art, science, and technology.
Samples of his work can be heard/seen at: ryanjanzen.ca