For information on the
food opera project,
check out audiogustatory.com!
Hello, I'm Ben Houge, composer, game developer, digital artist, and professor. I have been working in the video game industry since 1996, starting out at Sierra On-Line (eventually part of Vivendi Universal), followed by a stint at Microsoft, then moving to Shanghai to work for Ubisoft. I currently work as a Senior Audio Lead at Bungie. I've also been teaching music technology at Berklee College of Music since 2011. I'm currently a full professor in the Electronic Production and Design department, and from 2013-2015, I relocated Spain to help launch the Music Production, Technology, and Innovation master's program at Berklee's new campus in Valencia. In addition to my game development and teaching, I've also developed a practice as a digital artist that has included performances, sound installations, generative video work, and multisensory dining experiences.
Here are some highlights from the last decade or so:
- Night Rain 光口夜雨, a new composition for voice, 16 channels of real-time audio, and audience mobile devices, based on a text by Song dynasty poet Yang Wanli 杨万里, was premiered at the LongYou Grottoes International Music Festival 龙游石窟国际音乐盛典 in a recently rediscovered network of human-carved caverns in rural Zhejiang Province, China, on October 24, 2019.
- On the Sensations of Beer, a "beer opera" that featured live singers, real-time algorithmic sound, and participitory, sonic experiences delivered to diners' mobile phones using the Web Audio API, was premiered at BRLO Brwhouse in Berlin as the official banquet of the Fourth Web Audio Conference. This multisensory dining experience put the writings of pioneering 19th century German scientist Hermann von Helmholtz in dialog with contemporary researchers and poets to explore the links between the senses of hearing and taste.
- Mugaritz XX, a special collaboration with acclaimed chef Andoni Luis Aduriz and his team at Mugaritz in San Sebastián, Spain, for whom we designed a system of intelligent plates with embedded sensors and music playback devices to serve a special dish commemorating their 20th annivesary, which remained on as part of the part of the 20+-course tasting menu from mid-June through the end of the year.
- Le Dîner des Amazones, a four-course meal with custom music pairings our second collaboration with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and chef David Verdo, based on Étienne Méhul's overture to his opera Les Amazones. Presented at Symphony Hall, January 6 and 9, 2018.
- Ploughman's Lunch: An Aural Reconsideration, developed in collaboration with David Matchett of Borough Market in London, presented at the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery on July 9, 2017.
- Cena concertante alla maniera di Vivaldi, a four-course meal with custom music pairings developed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and chef David Verdo, and based on archival recordings of the BSO performing Vivaldi's Piccolo Concerto in C, RV 443. Presented at Symphony Hall, January 5 and 7, 2017.
- I developed music for a new cocktail in collaboration with James Beard-nominated bartender Todd Maul, presented as part of my presentation "Food Opera: Exploring Audiogustatory Correspondences" at Le Laboratoire, November 30, 2016.
- The Saint Paul Food Opera, an eight-course food opera collaboration with new music ensemble Zeitgeist and five St. Paul area chefs, supported by a Knight Foundation grant. Presented at Studio Z in St. Paul, MN, October 6-8, 2016.
- I presented "Ornithological Blogpoem," as setting of a poem by Elisa Gabbert for choir and audience mobile devices, at the Second Web Audio Conference at Georgia Tech in April 2016.
- I organized a concert and performed with computer music pioneer Carl Stone in March 2016.
- I gave a presentation entitled “Beyond Middleware: Thinking like a Programmer,” at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco in March 2016.
- I unveiled a new, seven-channel, real-time sound installation entitled Night Signals at the ILLUMINUS Festival in Boston in October 2015, which was attended by over 30,000 people.
- I've presented my composition The Tomb of the Grammarian Lysias, a setting of a poem by Constantine P. Cavafy for voice and audience members' mobile devices, at the joint International Computer Music Conference/Sound and Music Computing Conference (Athens 2014), Music Acoustica (Beijing 2014), the First Web Audio Conference (Paris 2015), and the 21st International Symposium on Electronic Art (Vancouver 2015).
- In June 2015, I organized the Vox Festival, in collaboration with colleagues at the Universitat Politècnica de València, bringing computer music pioneer John Chowning back to Valencia for a series of presentations and concerts, his first visit since 1953. Read about it in Sound on Sound!
- I composed an algorithmic soundtrack for the dance performance Please Be Seated by UK-based New Movement Collective, performed at Southbank Centre in London, Royal Theatre Winchester, La Rambleta in Valencia, and the Centro Cultural de Picanya in 2014.
- I gave a talk on "Optimizing Audio for Mobile Development" at the Game Developers Conference in Shanghai in October 2014.
- I presented a talk on my food opera project entitled "Food Opera: An Approach to Scoring Everyday Life" at TEDx Berklee Valencia on June 21, 2014.
- My choral work "Was ist heilig" was commissioned and premiered by Emmanuel Church in Boston on July 28, 2013.
- I've presented two papers on my work at the MUME 2012 and MUME 2013 conferences on musical metacreation.
My sound installation Landscape with Water and Woodblocks was exhibited at OV Gallery in Shanghai in September 2012.
I organized a pretty packed game music concert
at Berklee in September 2012.
- During summer 2012, my real-time data visualization piece Cycles, Tides, and Seasons ran at the Boston Harbor Islands Pavilion in downtown Boston.
- My seven-channel video piece, Model Lightbox, was in rotation at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in 2012.
My real-time video piece Shanghai Traces ran at
The Glamour Bar in Shanghai from 2010 to 2015.
My choral work "Lao Zhang" was premiered by Dale Warland at the Chorus America conference in June 2012.
I was an artist in residence at MIT in winter 2012.
I lived in Shanghai, China, from 2004 to 2010, where I was very active in the underground sound community;
I've returned every year or two for performances, installations and events.
I headed up audio for Tom Clancy's EndWar
and other projects
at Ubisoft Shanghai
- I composed the soundtrack for the RPG Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura, one of my many projects during the seven years I developed audio for games at Sierra from 1996-2003.
This site and all text, sounds, and images contained herein
© 2001-2022 Ben Houge unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved.