Sasha Leitman is a musician, artist, teacher and inventor. She currently runs the “Max Lab - an Interface Prototyping Lab” at Stanford University’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) where she has collaborated and co-taught with Jonathan Abel, Trimpin, and the late Max Matthews. She has been making musical instruments, new interfaces for musical expression and sound art installations for ten years.
Raised on the Central Coast of California, she began studying music and guitar at aged 11. She learned building and fabrication skills as a light commercial diver – performing extensive underwater maintenance, and fiberglass repair - and eventually learned to weld. Her devotion to music and construction did not converge until she attended Stanford University where she received a BA in music and an MA in Music, Science and Technology.
Beyond composition and computer programming, Leitman has worked extensively with computer music controllers and Human Computer Interface Design. Large works include PlaySoundGround, an adult sized interactive musical playground, Electric Barrels and BuskBox; two amplified musical instruments designed specifically for street performance. She also regularly records whale song on homemade hydrophones, near Monterrey.
My work is built out of four main influences: Computer Music, New Musical Instrument Design, DIY Maker culture, and the Industrial Sculpture of the San Francisco Bay Area.
When I’m composing, story telling is imperative to me. But when I’m making sculptures I focus on creating evocative spaces and environments that invite the viewer to create their own stories.
It is important to me that my work is robust and interactive, I like for people to explore it without fear of destroying it.
Computers have revolutionized the way we experience, share and create music allowing us to control sound in a way that could not have been dreamed before. Within and without the context of computers, instrument builders such as Harry Partch, Lou Harrison, Bart Hopkins and Trimpin have been designing uncanny musical instruments that allow audiences to perceive the music available in everyday objects.
Increasingly, this work has been influenced by a DIY Maker culture where people are becoming empowered to create their own tools of expression. This hands on culture has fed and been fed by artists who are blending the materials of our industrial world into works of art that evoke and utilize the grit and scale of our industry and manufacturing. In the San Francisco Bay Area, there is a substantial community of artists working in this field.
My work is also thematically rooted in the environment, and nature; particularly in the desert where I grew up, and the ocean, where I now live with my partner on our sailboat.
2011 Outsounds New Music Summit
Chicken John’s Book Launch
SJ Biennial 2010, The Tomato Quintet
Maker Faire Blue Ribbon
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Click here for a list of speaking engagements, and writing examples.