James Bigbee Garver
is a New York-based sound designer working with composed sound and the human voice.
He’s been making interactive audio games; composing music; and designing sound for podcasts, theatre, films, dance, and sound art installations for over 15 years. He records, edits, mixes, performs, programs, and produces. Get in touch with him at jamesgarver at gmail dot com These are some examples of his work:
Crafting the sound of a compelling A.I. requires careful attention to timbre and cadences of the human voice. Understanding how these qualities align with meaning and emotion and how they can serve a bot's personality is an essential part of the human-computer interaction.
As Voice Editor on the Microsoft Research team developing a social A.I., Garver collaborated with software engineers to develop and implement a Natural Language Design. He contributed to the AI's personality by shaping its prosody, writing interactive scripts, designing voice-based experiences for her thousands of daily users, and serving as voice coach. He was, essentially, the Ears Of The Group, ensuring that the bot had some soul in her voice.
Listen to a small example of Garver’s work on this project at zo.ai/writewithzo
INTERACTIVE VOICE, SOUND DESIGN, VOICE COACH, SCRIPT WRITING
INTERACTIVE AUDIO GAMES
When two Smithsonian museums needed innovative interactive exhibits that truly compelled visitors to think differently, they turned to Mr. Garver. Using sound as the primary medium, Garver led teams that conceived, developed, and built two interactive mobile Sound Labs for the Smithsonian's premiere museums on the National Mall in Washington, DC.
The first, You’re the DJ at the National Museum of American History, interwove the story of the birth of hip hop with the legalities of sampling. This Sound Lab allowed museum visitors to play with a custom-built sampler and real DJ control surfaces, and then judge hallmark intellectual property cases.
The second Sound Lab, Bird Brain at the National Museum of Natural History, invited users to play a sonic game using bird calls. Players avoid predators and find mates by listening closely, and learned how birds are impacted by urban noise.
NTERACTIVE SOUND, SOUND DESIGN, GAME DESIGN, VOICE TALENT COACHING, SCRIPT EDITING AND WRITING, PROJECT MANAGEMENT, AUDIO SYSTEM DESIGN, HARDWARE & SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT
An interactive sound art experience with Linn Meyers' site-specific drawings, Listening Glass encourages audiences to participate by using their phones as wands, or conductor batons, to create improvised sound and dance compositions.
Garver was the sound artist on the piece, collaborating with a software developer, an experience designer, and a traditional visual artist. His sounds and music were integrated with the newest augmented reality software to create an amazingly responsive musical instrument.
An interactive audio performance that explores the personal and social perception of experience. Framing Device invites participants to wear viewing masks and choose their own aural pathways on wireless headphones to navigate the psychic and physical space of the art museum. All of the audience participants choose between two different audio programs and were given choreographic suggestions through their headphones, creating a group dance performance throughout the museum galleries.
Garver created two distinct programs of music and narration in collaboration with installation artists that asked audience/users to question everything about the museum experience.
SOUND FOR THEATRE
Garver has been a sound designer for theater and dance since 2000, creating original music and sound for over 70 live performances. His designs have been heard Off-Broadway and at numerous New York City venues including The Atlantic Theatre Company, Performance Space 122, Japan Society, The World Financial Center, and on Long Island at Robert Wilson's Watermill Center. In Seattle at ACT Theater, and in Washington, DC at Signature, Woolly Mammoth, Studio, Folger Theatres, and many more. He is a professional member of the Theatrical Sound Designers And Composers Association. Here’s an excerpt from a recent interview:
"The raw material for a lot of my compositions for theater comes from recordings I make. I’ll take these recordings into my studio and alter them to suit the imaginative world of the play. I rarely start from a purely synthetic source and I always hope that everything I make has an element of recognizable, real-worldness to it mixed with some un-nameable, emotional qualities. My approach to sound design is uniquely interactive & rooted in dynamic, actor-based sensibilities, as that’s where my formal training lies. I prefer to work with directors during their process in the rehearsal room. I really enjoy playing with performers – giving them impulses and listening to their responses [to find] integrated textures & rhythms."
Word Dance Theatre's presentation of Once Wild: Isadora In Russia premiered in Washington, DC in the Spring of 2013. It was directed by Derek Goldman and choreographed by Cynthia Word. Read the Washington Post review.
MUSIC COMPOSITION, SOUND DESIGN, AUDIO ENGINEERING, SOUND SYSTEM INSTALLATION
SOUND FOR FILM
Garver created the Tiny Dance Film Series with choreographer Peter Kyle in 2006. Garver operated the camera and scored each film; Kyle choreographed and handled production and costume design. The films have only been screened on 2”x3” screens for a single audience member at a time, inside a darkened kiosk. No film is longer than 3 minutes. No post-production edits. No artificial lighting. Strictly guerrilla filmmaking, encouraging the filmmakers to concentrate on what they feel is useful in dance and on film: corporeal and mechanical magic.
The series of 11 films has been screened throughout the U.S. (including Lincoln Center’s Dance on Camera festival), Europe, in the Pearl River Delta of South China.
In addition to the Tiny Dance Film Series, Garver has sound designed, mixed, and composed for other (more traditional) films. See List Of Works for more.
MUSIC COMPOSITION, SOUND DESIGN, FILM DIRECTOR, PROJECT MANAGEMENT
PODCASTS & AUDIO STORIES
Garver recorded and edited an episode of the Center For Artistic Activism's Pop Culture Salvage Expeditions. In this episode, an academic, an activist, and an artist mine the joys of cruising in a brand new Chevy Suburban, only to salvage them and put them to other, better, creative uses.
Garver also transformed Johanna Stoberock's essay Will Help Be Given? into a compelling piece of audio fiction. It was featured in issue #3 of Better magazine, and chosen by Sundress Publications in their 2014 Best Of The Net anthology.
PODCAST PRODUCTION, SOUND DESIGN, AUDIO EDITING, FIELD RECORDING, MUSIC COMPOSITION
In addition to composing for performance, Garver has written, recorded. arranged, produced, and mixed his music and the songs of other people
LIST OF WORKS
From sound art to theatrical sound design to workshops led by Mr. Garver.
Sound Design for Theatre, Dance, & Film* indicates original music
* Masterpieces...Signature Theatre, DCdirector: Nadia TassMarch 2019 I hunger for youBAM, NYCchoreographer: Kimberly BartosikNov. 2018 Heather Has Four MomsCrone Heights Productionsdirector: Jeanette BuckMarch 2018 The ArsonistsWoolly Mammoth Theater, DCdirector: Michael GarcesSept. 2017 * HirWoolly Mammoth Theater, DCdirector: Shana CooperMay 2017 Brighton Beach MemoirsTheater J, DCdirector: Matthew TorneyApril 2017 * King LearWhitman College, WAdirector: Christopher PetitFeb. 2017 * The Hard ProblemStudio Theater, DCdirector: Matthew TorneyJan. 2017 * Chambers of the HeartWord Dance Theaterchoreographer: Cynthia WordNov. 2016 * KissWoolly Mammoth Theater, DCdirector: Yury UrnovOct. 2016 Forget-me-knotHopefully Dope Filmsdirector: Jennifer FarrugiaOct. 2016 * Sense and SensibilityFolger Theatre, DCdirector: Eric TuckerSept. 2016 * District MerchantsFolger Theatre, DCdirector: Michael GarcesJune 2016 * Mystery of Love and SexSignature Theatre, DCdirector: Stella Powell-JonesApril 2016 Midsummer Night’s DreamWSC Avant Bard, DCdirector: Randy BakerJan. 2016 * Stage KissRound House Theatre, DCdirector: Aaron PosnerDec. 2015 * Mary Kate Olsen Is In LoveStudio Theatre, DCdirector: Holly TwyfordJune 2015 * Lights Rise On GraceWoolly Mammoth Theatre, DCdirector: Michael GarcesApril 2015 Veni Vidi ViciSignature Theatre, DCdirector: David ZobellMarch 2015 R & G Are DeadWhitman College, WAdirector: Christopher PetitMarch 2015 * Fail BetterACT Theatre, Seattledirector: Elizabeth KlobNov. 2014 * Sex With StrangersSignature Theatre, DCdirector: Aaron PosnerOct. 2014 Seven GuitarsNo Rules Theater Company, DCdirector: Michelle ShaySept. 2014 CockStudio Theatre, DCdirector: David MuseMay 2014 * MothStudio Theatre, DCdirector: Tom StoryApril 2014 * HamletWhitman College, WAdirector: Christopher PetitMarch 2014 * SubmergedCityDance, DCchoreographer: Robert PrioreFeb. 2014 * HamletGeorgetown Universitydirector: Derek GoldmanNov. 2013 * Once WildWord Dance Theaterdirector: Derek GoldmanMay 2013 2-2 TangoStudio Theatre, DCdirector: Eric RuffinApril 2013 * Skin TightStudio Theatre, DCdirector: Johanna GruenhutApril 2013 * D:GETIntersections Festival, DCchoreographer: Sarah J. EwingMarch 2013 * The TempestWhitman College, WAdirector: Christopher PetitFeb. 2013 ContractionsStudio Theatre, DCdirector: Duncan MacmillanJan. 2013 * The MinotaurRorschach Theatredirector: Randy BakerJan. 2013 Our ClassTheater J, DCdirector: Derek GoldmanOct. 2012 * After we drownedCityDance, DCchoreographer: Sarah J. EwingSept. 2012 Mein KampfScena Theatredirector: Robert McNamaraAug. 2012 * FILTERSource Theater Fest, DCdirector: dir James GarverJun. 2012 Three SistersAtlantic Theatre Company, NYCdirector: Matthew TorneyDec. 2011 * GreekScena Theatre, DCdirector: Robert McNamaraOc.2011 LungsStudio Theatre, DCdirector: Aaron PosnerOct. 2011 * Strange SnowEast 3rd Productions, NYCdirector: Ricardo RiethmullerJun. 2011 The Walworth Farce (assistant)Studio Theatre, DCdesigner: Martin Dejardins Apr. 2011 New Electric Ballroom (assistant)Studio Theatre, DCdesigner: Martin DejardinsApril 2011 * Mai BildTriskelion Artschoreographer: Peter KyleApril 2011 * Kid SimpleWhitman College, WAdirector: Christopher PetitNov. 2010 * Improbable FrequencySolas Nua Theatre, DCdirector: Matthew TorneyOct. 2010 * Blood WeddingGeorgetown University, DCdirector: Nadia MahdiOct. 2010 * Sink The BelgranoScena Theatre, DCdirector: Robert McNamaraAug. 2010 * Auto Graphic NovelTheater For The New Citydirector: Johnny KleinMay 2010 * Mary EstherEast 3rd Productions, NYCdirector: Christopher PetitMay 2010 * Kafka’s MetamorphosisSynetic Theatre, DCdirector: Derek GoldmanApril 2010 * Terrible ThingsPerformance Space 122, NYCdirector: Lisa D’AmourDec. 2009 * A Bicycle CountryTheatre Row Studios (Off Broadway)director: Gil RonAug. 2009 * Medea’s ChildrenWhitman College, WAdirector: Christopher PetitApril 2009 * The Weird SistersEast 3rd Productions, NYCdirector: Ricardo ReitmullerJuly 2008 * AlkestisEast 3rd Productions, NYCdirector: Ricardo ReitmullerMay 2008 * Chamber Suite No. 1Dance New Amsterdamchoreographer: Peter KyleMarch 2008 * Four Solos On The Divide92nd Street Y, NYCchoreographer: Peter KyleFeb. 2008 The Lady AoiThe South Wing/Japan Society, NYCdirector: Kameron SteeleMay 2007 * Self EvidentJoyce SoHo, NYCchoreographer: Peter KyleApril 2007 Death in Vacant Lot!The South Wing/LMCC, NYCdirector: Kameron SteeleOct. 2006 lbs. & oz.St. Ann’s Warehouse, NYCdirector: Paul WillisAug. 2006 MortHere Arts Centerdirector: Kip FagenAug. 2006 In The Boom Boom RoomMarymount Manhattan College, NYCdirector: Ellen OrensteinApr. 2006 * Russian DollConsolidated Works, Seattledirector: Andy MiaraNov. 2004
Sound ArtListening GlassBowdoin College Museum of Art, 2018Sound Design, Music Composition Framing DeviceSmithsonian Hirshhorn Museum, 2016Lead Creator, Sound Design, Music Composition Sound Lab: You're the DJSmithsonian Museum of American History, 2014Lead Creator, Sound Design Sound Lab: Bird BrainSmithsonian Museum of Natural History, 2014Lead Creator, Sound Design SilosphereMegapolis Audio Festival, 2010Lead Creator, Sound Design Intrepid AdventureIntrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, 2008Sound Design Fishy BusinessFood And Water Watch, 2008Sound Design BotanicallsConflux Festival, 2008Sound Design Water: H2O = LifeAmerican Museum of Natural History, 2007Sound Design, Music Composition Bird Eye Blue PrintWorld Financial Center, 2007Sound Design, Music Composition
Residencies & TeachingLumberyard, Catskill, NYResident Sound Supervisor2018 Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, MELed a Sound Art Workshop2018 City Contemporary Dance Company, Hong KongLed a Dance+Film workshop2010 Guangdong Modern Dance Company, Guangzhou, China Led a Dance+Film workshop 2010 Macao Conservatory, Macao Led a Dance+Film workshop2010 Georgetown University, Washington, DC Teaching Artist2010 East Third Productions, New York CityResident Composer2008-2011 Whitman College, Washington state Teaching Artist2009, 10, 13, 14 Abrons Arts Center, New York City Artist-In-Residence2009 The Watermill Center, Long Island, NYArtist-In-Residence2006, 08 HERE Arts Center, New York City Artist-In-Residence2007 Marymount Manhattan College, New York City Guest Artist2006 Consolidated Works, Seattle Artist-In-Residence2004 Begat Theatre Compagnie, Manosque, FranceArtist-In-Residence2003
ActingThe BaronSaltimbancodirector: Pierre ParisianCirque du Soleil, European Tour SlenderMerry Wives of Windsordirector: Melissa Stern-LaurieHudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, New York State JimmyAn American Daughterdirector: David SaintSeattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Peachy WeilThe Last Night of Ballyhoodirector: Warner ShookIntiman Theatre, Seattle Male ChorusHow I Learned to Drivedirector: Mark RuckerIntiman Theatre, Seattle BobbyA Wrinkle in Timedirector: Linda HartzellSeattle Children’s Theatre, Seattle EnsembleRussian Dolldirector: Andy MiaraConsolidated Works/Theatre RUN, Seattle The SunSweedish Tales of Woedirector: Bruce DuBoseUndermain Theatre, New York City VanyaSarajevo: Behind God’s Backdirector: Tim BondSeattle Group Theatre, Seattle GordonThe Contractdirector: Tom WiselyNew City Theatre, Seattle The HitcherHitchhikerdirector: Crispin SpaethNew City Theatre, Seattle EnsemblePlays by Poetsdirector: Kevin ShannonEmpty Space Theatre, Seattle JeffSuburbiadirector: Barry KyleSwine Palace, Baton Rouge LA LarryBoston Bopsdirector: Robert WalshBoston Repertory Theatre, Boston ZarkO Canadadirector: Kip FagenPrinter’s Devil Theatre, Seattle Man in the HeapThe Water Station (Mizu No Eki)director: Steve PearsonPacific Performance Project, New York City RingmasterAn Authentic Work of Fictiondirector: Marie GrilloManhattan Theatre Club, New York City EnsembleSelf-Obliteration Companiondirector: Heather KravasDance Theatre Workshop, New York City Tan ScramptonCold Poledirector: Ryan BrownOntological-Hysteric Theatre, New York City The DevilThe Hoffman Circusdirector: R.K. WiklerCirque Boom IvanThree Miracles and A Giantdirector: Mike ShapiroNew Georges Theatre RosencrantzRosencrantz & Guildenstern are Deaddirector: Christpher PetitHorace Mann Theatre EnsembleMoliere’s Monsterdirector: Dion DoulisWaxfactory LyngstandThe Lady From the Seadirector: Ivan TalinjicWaxfactory SlopeTwo Girls From Vermontdirector: Liesel TommyNew York Int’l Fringe Festival FatherAt Breakfastdirector: Judy ElkanLittle Theatre at Tonic HeHe Who Gets Slappeddirector: Jonas JurasasThe Glenn Hughes Playhouse DaedalusMinotaurdirector: Shawn BelyeaOn The Boards GeronteA Doctor in Spite of Himselfdirector: Shawn BelyeaOne World Theatre PlatoQuixotedirector: Christpher PetitOne World Theatre Bill JohnsonFeast of Foolsdirector: Michael UdeskyBumbershoot Arts Festival Uncle PattyRabbit Earsdirector: John KaufmannSpeakeasy Presents JeremyAre You Still There?director: Andrew MellonSeattle Fringe Festival
Brian (Principal)Slaves to the Undergrounddirector: Kristine Peterson (1997 Sundance Film Fest. entry) Rider (Principal)Afterdirector: Edward Rey (1997 Sundance Film Fest. entry) PrincipalCoca-Coladirector: Ron Gross
EducationMFA, University of Washington, 1995BA, University of Northern Iowa, 1992