Shawn Trail is a percussionist and computer scientist working at the intersection of tradition and innovation. A dedicated advocate for human rights, social justice, inclusion, access and cultural equity, Trail has worked to establish music technology educational programs/facilities for underrepresented communities (past affiliations include: University Settlement, Future Leaders Institute, iUrbanTean, Rosemary Anderson). Access to information and resources are the biggest hurdles to pursuing music technology vocationally. Also, the skills learned through music technology education can be a vehicle for self-empowerment leading to pathways in engineering and the sciences. Currently Trail is a Research Fellow and Affiliate Faculty member of Make+Think+Code at PNCA. He is most previously a co-founder/full-time faculty member at PCC Cascade Campus' Music and Sonic Arts Program. Prior to that he served as Director of Performance Arts Technologies at Oregon State University where he created the Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies track in Music and Technology while overseeing duties creating STEAM opportunities as special liaison between the School of Arts and Communications and the College of Engineering. Trail completed Doctoral studies from the University of Victoria, BC in Interdisciplinary Studies: Computer Science, Music. His dissertation is titled "Non-invasive Gesture Sensing, Physical Modeling, Machine Learning and Acoustic Accusation for Pitched Percussion". Trail holds a Master of Music degree in Studio Composition from SUNY Purchase College Conservatory of Music; and a dual Bachelor of Arts in Music Technology/Percussion Performance from Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky. He has performed and published his research on novel musical human-computer interfaces, sound synthesis and robotics at NIME, ICMC, SMC, and IEEE. As a Fulbright Fellow with Medialogy at Aalborg University within the School of Information and Communication Technology in Copenhagen, Denmark, Trail focused on Sonic Interaction Design/Sound and Music Computing. Trail has been a composer-in-residence with LEMUR (League of Electronic Musical Robots) in Brooklyn, NY; and twice artist-in-residence at STEIM (Studio for Electro-Instrumental Music) in Amsterdam, NL. Trail has worked with robotic music pioneers Eric Singer, Trimpin, Karmetik and EMMI (Expressive Machines Musical Instruments ). In 2010 Trail served as Interface and Robotics Technician for 20+ time Grammy recipient Pat Metheny’s Orchestrion Tour and HD/3D Documentary. As a performer/producer Trail has toured Europe and North America performing on many stages ranging from Lincoln Center to Webster Hall, Tivoli Koncertsal to Montreal Jazzfest, sharing bills with artists ranging from Meshell Ndegeocello, Budos Band, to Pharoah Sanders. In the studio Trail has collaborated with innovators ranging from Bernard Purdie to Phil Moffa, Watter to Jaga Jazzist and conducted research in traditional percussion and Afropop music in Ghana, West Africa as a visiting researcher at the International Center for African Music and Dance at the University of Ghana. His work has been featured in the NY Times, Songlines Magazine, Academy Award nominated film Favela Rising and he has collaborated with multi-platinum record producers Peter Dennenberg and Andrew Schepps on recording and synthesis design projects. Trail runs Lost Audio, an active digital R&D lab and analog recording studio in Portland, Oregon.
MUSIC TECHNOLOGY RESEARCH: HYPERINSTRUMENTS, MUSICAL ROBOTICS, HCI, DSP/SYNTHESIS AND MUSIC INFORMATION RETRIEVAL.
Trail is currently an Interdisciplinary PhD Candidate (ABD) and research assistant with the Music Intelligence and Sound Technology Interdisciplinary Collective (MISTIC) from the University of Victoria, British Columbia in the areas of Computer Science and Music. He has published his research internationally at computer music conferences and continues to develop novel work in the area of electro-acoustic pitched percussion hyperinstruments. His doctoral work has been funded by NSRCC, SHRCC, Canada Council of the Arts and the Ord and Linda Anderson Interdisciplinary Graduate Fellowship.
El-Lamellophone - A Low-cost, DIY, Open Framework for Acoustic Lemellophone Based Hyperinstruments. Intl.Conf. On New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME), 2014
DSRmarimba: low-cost, open source actuated acoustic marimba framework. proceedings of the International Computer Music Conference (ICMC), 2014
STARI: A self tuning auto-monochord robotic instrument. IEEE Intl. Conf. on Pacific Communications, Computers and Signal Processing (PacRim), 2013
The Wiikembe—performer designed lamellophone hyperinstrument for idiomatic musical-DSP interaction. PacRim, 2013
An easily removable, wireless optical sensing system (EROSS) for the trumpet. proceedings of the Int. Conf. On New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME), 2013
Reconfigurable autonomous novel guitar effects (range). proceedings of the Int. Conf. On Sound and Music Computing (SMC), 2013
Physical modeling and hybrid synthesis for the gyil african xylophone. proceedings of the Int. Conf. On Sound and Music Computing (SMC), 2012
Direct and surrogate sensing for the Gyil African xylophone. proceedings of the Int. Conf. On New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME), 2012
Non-invasive sensing and gesture control for pitched percussion hyper-instruments using the Kinect. proc. of the Int. Conf. On New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME), 2012
Sensor fusion: Towards a fully expressive 3d music control interface. IEEE International Conference on Pacific Communications, Computers and Signal Processing (PacRim), 2011
Music Information Robotics: Coping Strategies for Musically Challenged Robots. proceedings of the Int. Conf. for the Intl. Society for Music Information Retrieval (ISMIR), 2011