Making waves at the Brower Center with Marielle Jakobsons

Marielle Jakobsons explores sound and water Sunday at the Brower Center. Photo: Marielle Jakobsons

It’s one thing to know that all sounds are vibrations, and it’s another thing entirely to see the physical manifestation of those frequencies. For Marielle V. Jakobsons, transforming waves from sound into water has come to shape her music as both a composer and performer.

The David Brower Center and Other Minds present the Oakland multi-instrumentalist at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Brower Center for the second installment of the Nature of Music series. Inspired by cymatics, the art of creating patterns appear on fluids with sound vibrations, she creates multimedia works with her macro-cymatic visual music instrument using lapidary drones, lulling polyrhythms and slowly unfurling melodies.

“Visually vibrations can move though water or sand, and I prefer water,”  Jakobsons says. “It’s beautiful in its ability to draw us in to the experience of the vibrations happening all around us. It’s very powerful kind of conduit for our perception of place and space.”

When she’s not working as audio director at Electronic Arts, engineering sounds for the Sims video game series, Jakobsons can be found creating soundscapes for an array film, dance, and interactive media projects. She produces videos and photographs that have been exhibited nationally, and has performed and recorded widely with the quartet Date Palms and the electroacoustic duo Myrmyr, a project with multi-instrumentalist Agnes Szelag.


Like so many of her creative partnerships, she traces the relationship with Szelag to her years at Mills College, which introduced her to an ever-expanding constellation of sonic explorers. “Not just my class,” says Jakobsons, an Ohio native who moved to Oakland in 2004 to study at Mills graduate program in music and composition. “The classes after me and before, we all become part of the same community. The band Date Palms with Gregg Kowalsky was born out of an interest in bringing together ragas and electronics, guitars” and Jakobsons on violin, flute, Fender-Rhodes, and synthesizers.

For Sunday’s talk and demonstration, Jakobsons plans to perform one of her immersive pieces for a video she’s already created as “creating visuals and music live at the same time is too much for one person,” she says.  “This will be me solo, flute and voice, mixing synth sounds to the space.”

Marielle Jakobsons’ macro-cymatic visual music instrument. Photo: Courtesy of the artist

Recommended gig: Amethyst Starr at Jupiter

Rising Oakland vocalist Amethyst Starr opened her Tuesday residency at Jupiter this week, and will be performing every Tuesday in June with Berkeley keyboardist Eli Goldlink, bassist Bill Hager, Fantastic Negrito drummer James Small and harmony vocalists Lily Sawaya and Allison Kreuser. Growing up singing in her church as well as in the San Francisco Girls Chorus, Starr draws on the post-World War II R&B continuum for material, infusing old-school soul with a deep feel for contemporary R&B.