By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
What does Milwaukee sound like? If it’s not something you’ve ever given much thought to, don’t worry, you’ll soon know.
The Wisconsin Conservatory of Music is creating a song for Milwaukee by Milwaukeeans through its MusiCreation Station. The station first came into existence three years ago when Aurora Healthcare reached out to the conservatory, Mike Standal said.
Standal is a faculty member at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music for the guitar, jazz and contemporary music departments. Aurora Healthcare wanted to create something that would highlight Milwaukee’s diversity for its Better Together campaign, he explained.
The MusiCreation was such a success that when the conservatory expressed interest in doing something similar Standal suggested bringing it back.
The MusiCreation Station is a mobile music making sound lab. It has a keyboard, a drum kit, an electric guitar, microphones with autotune, a lyric writing station, a mallet synthesizer and more. It’s a mobile recording lab, Standal said.
“We invite people to come up and play with us,” Standal said. “So far, it’s been a joy to watch people engage with us.”
The station is currently set up at Summerfest, 200 N. Harbor Dr. Originally, it was only supposed to be there for one day, but last month, organizers from the festival invited the conservatory to set up shop for all nine days.
Earlier this summer, the MuisCreation Station stopped by Washington Park and later this month it’ll be at Paliafito Eco Arts Park for an Arts @ Large event.
When recording is complete, Standal will have recordings from 12 days to sort through. But the final song will be around three minutes long, he said.
“We wanted to celebrate our community and have as many people as possible on it,” Standal said.
The goal is to publish Milwaukee’s song on Jan. 1, 2022. It will be a New Year’s gift to Milwaukee, Standal said.
“I’m not sure how the song is going to end up,” Standal said. “What we start with and what we end up with as the final song is going to be different and I hope that’s the case.”
He added, “Milwaukee is a really diverse city and we’re hoping to bring that into the fray.”
Milwaukee as a city has a rich musical tradition, Standal said. The city has a strong work ethic that can be seen among its people, he said. While Standal noted that Milwaukee tends to favor classical music, he’s found it has an adventurous edge to it that he hopes is incorporated into the final song.
The purpose of the MusiCreation Station is multi-fold. The Wisconsin Conservatory of Music wanted to engage and connect with the community and offer an educational aspect.
People have this idea about the conservatory, Standal said, and the music lab allows them to change the public’s perception of the school and show that it is a place for everybody.
As well as educating people on the various instruments and the conservatory’s classes, including its new music production class, its also showing people how to make music. For example, sections of the song ask for a call and response so individuals visiting the tent may be asked to clap in response to the beat.
The music is designed to be interactive, Standal said, and the bed tracks allow musicians of all skill levels to engage with the song.
Milwaukee is extremely gifted in the music talent area, he said. There are so many people who do music for their own enjoyment and the MusiCreation Station is allowing people to showcase their talent.
“The opportunity to interface with the community is priceless,” he said. “It’s been amazing.”