Sound Synthesis Research Center
The Sound Synthesis Research Center is an experimental lab that encourages Stevens students to play and explore. An extensive array of equipment, instruments, and computer systems make up the SSRC, empowering students to integrate sound synthesis into musical performance.
Led by lecturer and Distinguished Artist in Residence (2010-18) Carlos Alomar, the SSRC has the support and direction of one of the music industry’s stars. In his illustrious 30-year career, Alomar has worked as David Bowie’s guitarist, co-writer and musical director, and produced or performed with legends like Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Mariah Carey, Tina Turner and Cindy Lauper. He is the recipient of 32 Gold or Platinum records.
By appointment, the SSRC serves as a resource to students within the College of Arts and Letters’ Music & Technology program. Independent of classrooms or curriculums, this lab attracts driven students who'd like to follow their own paths and create their own sounds.
Below, Stevens alumni and industry professionals profess how the SSRC and Alomar's mentorship has helped them grow as artists.
“The Sound Synthesis Research Center is the hidden gem for artistic creativity and knowledge inside of Stevens, and Carlos is the wizard behind it all. As a growing artist, I want to be consistently immersed in different settings where opportunity is limitless. I was able to experience one of those environments while attending Stevens. You can define yourself, further your creativity, and step foot fearlessly into the Distinguished Artist in Residence’s world that is the SSRC. Thank you to Carlos 'The Los' Alomar for being the mentor, collaborator, and friend a young artist can only dream of having.”
"Upon arriving at Stevens, I was excited to discover that Professor Alomar was the Distinguished Artist in Residence. I was originally able to play some fingerstyle music, but with a limited understanding of what I was playing and how to go about arranging or composing my own music.
Professor Alomar developed all of the fundamental concepts from the ground up in a very simple and organized manner, with my learning style in mind. From the 4/5/6 string variants of chords, to the modes, to building arbitrary chords using the “power line” approach, a background was developed that made understanding and playing any kind of music possible.
Beyond the classroom, we worked on performance skills, and there were multiple opportunities to play at department and campus events. Furthermore, the time we spent in the SSRC allowed me to explore many possibilities beyond solo performance using state-of-the-art technology.
Every aspect of the learning process was enhanced by Professor Alomar’s professional background in the music industry and greatly separates this experience from other standard lessons or online learning tools. Overall, Professor Alomar was a great teacher and the acquired skills have prepared me to play, arrange, and compose various styles of music on the guitar. I greatly appreciated this unique experience."
"Learning under Distinguished Artist in Residence, Carlos Alomar, was a phenomenal experience. His unique approach to teaching, simplified mystified musical concepts as a performer, and taught me how to improvise, write, and perform at a new level.
Working in the SSRC, with cutting-edge musical technology taught me how to move outside of the box with my instrument, but also gave me the valuable and practical lesson of dealing with one of the most important parts of performance and production: gear!
I've used what I learned with Carlos and the faculty at Stevens to write music for television shows appearing on networks such as MTV, VH1, and VICE, and can't thank Carlos enough for all of the lifelong lessons I gained!"
"I think by now the world knows of Carlos' talent. That's evident to anyone who takes the time to just listen to his voluminous body of work. What people may not know is the enormity of his heart.
I first worked with Carlos in February, 1983, during rehearsals for [Bowie's] Serious Moonlight tour. I couldn't have asked for a better mentor. He is patient, kind, hard-working, eager to teach, incredibly generous to others, hysterically funny, and just full of love for music and life in general.
I also found that the older I get, the more I realize that what truly matters, in the end, is how much love you've shown for your fellow man and how someone feels about you when your name is spoken. I can tell you that when Carlos' name is spoken, I feel nothing but love and gratitude for having been fortunate enough to have him in my life."
"As an aspiring musician, working with Carlos Alomar opened my mind to a whole new world of musical ideas and perspectives. His approach to creating music is vast and unique and is only matched by the plethora of legendary musicians he has played with.
Carlos took those experiences and put forth that energy into creating the Sound Synthesis Research Center. It is in the SSRC where the eclectic nature of Carlos comes to life. Students looking for a creative space to fully explore their musical creativity, sonically or otherwise, should look no further than the SSRC. They will quickly discover that the lessons learned while working in the SSRC with Carlos not only apply to music but also to many other walks of life."
"When I arrived at Stevens in 2009, I was a budding bass player and musician, eager to learn and grow as much as possible. Over the next 4 years, Carlos Alomar expanded, challenged, and molded my musical vocabulary and imagination.
Learning with Carlos in the Sound Synthesis Research Center (SSRC) was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, and I cherish the time we spent discussing new ideas for sounds and song writing. Drawing from his incomparable resume and experiences, Carlos pushed me to embrace new techniques while allowing my own sound to develop and flourish. The SSRC enabled a wealth of creativity and experimentation, and I soon adopted Carlos’ lessons into my own music and playing.
One of my proudest moments at Stevens was the creation of an original composition with Carlos, humorously titled 'Escape From Los'. This piece contained various looping and tonal effects learned in the SSRC, and was eventually performed before an audience.
In addition to teachings about music composition and performance, Carlos also shared many valuable life lessons from his remarkable life and career. It is impossible for me to quantify the positive influence Carlos Alomar and the SSRC have had on me in so few words. I am honored to call him one of my mentors."
"[Carlos's] classes really pushed what I knew about playing guitar and made me excited to try and reach beyond my comfort level. [He] could push and energize while being laid back and accommodating; never letting [himself] get outwardly frustrated with us. It was always inspiring stopping by the little studio room [he'd] setup and geek out over some new toy [he'd] setup "