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Student Spotlight: Bethanie Liu

29/03/2024

Student Spotlight: Bethanie Liu The electronic musician shares how Berklee helped shape her desire to be a songwriter and arranger into something that incorporates digital instruments and computer programming.

By

Andrea Recalde

March 29, 2024

Bethanie Liu

Image by Kelly Davidson

What's it like to study at Berklee? Our Student Spotlight series asks current students all about their Berklee experience-what they're learning in class, what kinds of projects they're involved in onstage or behind the scenes, how they recharge, and of course, what they're listening to. In this edition, get to know Bethanie Liu, an eighth-semester electronic production and design (EPD) major with minors in electronic production and creative coding who is originally from the United Kingdom, but grew up in Hong Kong.

Follow Bethanie on Instagram.

Tell us about your path to Berklee. What made you decide to come here?I performed internationally as a recorder player during my teenage years. When I performed at Conservatorium van Amsterdam in 2019, I saw a performance by Berklee alum Tali Rubinstein and was fascinated by the creative possibilities. She performed her originals on the recorder with extended techniques that created a palette of exciting sounds.

Listen to Tali Rubinstein B.M. 14 talk about her approach to the recorder in this Sounds of Berklee episode:

This inspired me to think about where I want to be musically. I want to become a well-rounded musician who can compose, arrange, produce, and perform. After looking up the wide range of courses and curriculum Berklee offers, I realized this is where I want to be. Reflecting on my journey at Berklee so far, it has proven true that Berklee is a place where I can learn many different things-many things that I didnt even know existed before. From modular synthesizers to live coding to programming for VR/XR projects. Most importantly, I met some of my most inspiring mentors at Berklee and found my passion for live electronic performance!

Whats been your favorite class, and what has it taught you?Digital Signal Processing: Composition and Sound Design (EP-413), taught by Dr. Richard Boulanger, has been the most transformative class. It helped me move beyond the tonal composition methods I had been used to for years and gave me a paradigm shift in sound design. In class, we delve into concepts like Fast Fourier Transform algorithms and learn to apply these concepts when sound-designing in Csound, MaxMSP, and more. This class inspired me to think a lot deeper about sound.

Live Playback Engineering and Performance Design (MTEC-390), taught by Professor Claire Marie Lim, was also important for me. The class showed me how I could use my expertise in music technology to contribute to building shows and helping artists in their performances. I hope to explore this field further, and I am very grateful to have had the exposure through the class.

I also enjoyed a class, Making VR Experiences (MP-216), between Harvard, MIT, and Berklee, where students from the three schools collaborated to create VR/XR projects. It was an eye-opening experience as I was exposed to various topics such as programming haptic devices, biosensors, and 3D visualization, and advanced my coding and immersive audio skills.

Can you talk about how you got into electronic performance?I came to Berklee wanting to become a songwriter and arranger (which I still am, but more on the electronic music side now), and I barely had any idea what electronic performance is. It all started when I stumbled upon performance videos of Professor Lim's artist project, dolltr!ck, on YouTube during my first year. I was very amazed, and I told myself right away that I wanted to be able to do what she was doing.

Watch dolltr!ck (Claire Marie Lim) perform her original Rewind

I began studying with Claire, and her Live Looping Lab (ILEL-112) is the class that truly got me started with electronic performance. She kindly puts on a show for each class at the end of the semester, and the one for Live Looping Lab was the first-ever show I played at Berklee! I have taken many courses with Claire now, and I am always grateful for her guidance. I found joy and confidence through electronic performance and owe it all to her.

EPD Chair Michele Darling has also given me many opportunities to learn and perform as an electronic performer. It is a blessing to have women role models in the music technology industry like Michele and Claire, who both showed me what is possible. I now aspire to reach a level of excellence where I could, hopefully, inspire others and show others what's possible in the same way.

What project have you worked on since coming to Berklee that youve been incredibly excited about?I have been working on a project that develops technology tools for people with disabilities to make music. This project holds a special place in my heart as I have always aspired to empower others to express themselves through music. Dr. Boulanger has helped me immensely throughout the process, guiding me from researching to debugging codes and programming for various hardware. I am very grateful for his support and help.

I am also involved in Nona Hendryx's Dream Machine project, in which my multi-channel composition will be showcased this June at Lincoln Center in New York. My piece discusses topics related to embracing cultural diversity, and I am excited because my biggest goal in composing is to convey meaning and hopefully inspire people to think. It is truly an honor to work with Nona Hendryx, as she is an incredible artist and an advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion in arts, science, and technology, which are values I hold dear.

How do you typically recharge or find new ideas outside of class?To recharge, I usually cook food I like or hang out with friends. When the weather is
LINK: https://www.berklee.edu/berklee-now/news/student-spotlight-bethanie-li...
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