Wednesday 7th December

December 7th, 2016

reh_stereo I hadn’t expected this in Berlin. A flimsy plywood pre-fab, albeit a beautiful one, to play in. Berlin gigs mean stone, concrete, brick, dark, sometimes damp. An industrial space, squat, church, gallery  – some kind of grounded history.  No this was a surprise and was a blast back to US tours in the late 90’s where I’ve found myself playing in upstairs book stores or cafes with a mono PA.  However, it all made super sense as I emptied bike panniers of cables and connected the tiny PA (inc sub, good) to my kit. I had come to make a new performance with the shark synthesizer in stereo and adapting to this unusual space was of course part of the bag. Fortunately it all worked out, even with no sound check, a varied and enthusiastic audience were keen to tell me afterwards. This was good. Since my research for Varèse professorship, I’ve been reinspired to revisit the stage and work live and stereo again. Last night showed this was really worth it.

Many thanks to Audrey Chen, Phil Minton and Ute Wasserman (performing here) for the invitation + fabulous concert and to Lixia for hosting.

Location, REH Geyersbach Kopenhagener Str. 17 Berlin.  6.12.15. Sells great recycled furniture in the day time.

Saturday 12th November

November 12th, 2016

solodartsfest16_k-buusBack on stage playing new 4 channel work, The 4th Floor, live. Interesting to be back in this place where new music making with an audience in a darkened space is once again vital and relevant. I haven’t been here for 10 years and now its leaner and more direct. Noisy and rhythmic. OSC controller under my fingers, Max in the box organising the sound. Me driving and mixing the direction through size and texture and dynamic and audio detail. Audience breathing and listening and feeding it all, thrilled somehow at the end. Interesting again. This direction is worth pursuing. Not just my idea as ever. Photo Kristian Buus.

Sunday 23rd October

October 23rd, 2016

heimathafen

mash one for four,  new work made for Peärls before Swïne Experience premiers tonight at Heimathafen, Neuköln, Berlin, 20.00h.

Produced by KontraKlang, with S.A.F.T. also performing, it’s a full program and looks set to be a fascinating night. DETAILS

Friday 7th October

October 7th, 2016

pearlsrehearse So the rehearsal with the Swine was good.  a – they made musical sense of the piece and b- they didn’t throw up their hands in horror at the seeming stasis I am asking them to deal with.  To the contrary.  Also being back in Studio 1 at EMS with everyone as kind and supportive as ever and oh yes the microphones, of course makes most things sound fabulous. But.  The interesting thing was that as hoped, the addition of the breath, gut and hair of the violin, cello and flute do add a life to the tape part that makes the combination I think an experience worth sinking into.  Yes its a 22′ 40″ deep listener that is always changing.

Title : mash one for four.

Premier 8pm. 23.10.2016  Heimathafen, Neukölln, Karl-Marx Strasse 141

(Background to composition)

Monday 3rd October

October 3rd, 2016

studiogottsched So this is my temporary studio visiting Berlin. One of the most inspiring places I’ve worked in a while. This could be to do with the light and occasional cobbled street passing van, sea-like outside. I’ve been working on a new composition for a contemporary music ensemble The Peärls before Swïne Experience. They’ve commissioned several of us to work from Hummels’ arrangements of Beethoven’s symphonies for ensembles, and I’ve been given the monumental 1st.  BANG.

This symphony contains everything I can’t stand about classical music. Pompous, majestic, conquering, dramatic and harmonically predictable.  However,  get inside what the young Beethoven was up to and it is brilliant and surprisingly complex. He began writing this when he was 24 and it was premiered when he was 29 in Vienna, April 1st 1800, and he was already going deaf.  A bold stride into the new romantic movement overtaking the classical period,  it was also his 1st big public statement.

This will be my 1st work with a quartet and its intriguing discovering what it is I want and could do with it.  After a few weeks explorations – interesting to get out the violin again –  I’ve discovered that the first chords of the first three bars contain all the elements I want to reveal.  And I’ve done this by stretching these chords played by John Elliot Gardiner’s orchestra one hundred and twenty eight times. The jewels I found come from the ancient instruments this orchestra uses, tuned at proper pitch, where concert A is in fact around 430Hz.

So I’ve made a tape part from this and have been making scores for the ensemble to play. Of course, I don’t know how they work and play, or their range of extended techniques, so am off to rehearse with them at the superb  EMS Stockholm on Wednesday. Looking forward.

Sonic Kayak completion & launch Swansea Bay

September 12th, 2016

kayakmap1swansea
The Sonic Kayaks were successfully completed and launched at the British Science Festival, Swansea, Wales on September 5th 2016.  The practical experiences are documented HERE, and the tech details on how to build your own Sonic Kayak(SK) are HERE.  What follows below are reflections on the SK as a musical instrument after their launch into the Swansea Bay and two days play with the public.

So,  we arrive with all our kit plus backups at the 360º Watersports Centre, Swansea where we are given space and 2 kayaks to transform into the sonic kind.  [Check the horns attached for each speaker below. Yes we had agreed to make them – audio questions pt1- on all 4].   Meanwhile it’s also time to make the map score to cover the area the kayaks will be paddled through. This means making strips of zones with enough space between them to give paddlers sample free moments, zones large enough to ensure sounds are triggered  but running not too far down the beach as how far can anyone paddle on the sea with winds and tides and lack of experience anyway?

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It’s not the sonic bike approach here therefore, where zones can be mapped to street corners and size and content and distances are endlessly reworked before handing over to the public.  The reality anyway, of getting out of the coding lab and into the field with a new interactive project is always an effort, but having to dress for the Welsh sea with kayaks and a long beach to cross and ah public health and safety requirements adds to the lack of practical experimentation time.  Instead, day 1, we walk up and down the beach at low tide carrying the kit with our new map to check. It works, so strap box and speakers onto the kayaks and we’re off.

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There’s also been collective decision making on the audio content which has concluded in the mapped yellow strip for poems/texts, blue for pulses and red for information on effects of climate change in the oceans read by machine voices.(see map above)  The second audio source is rising and falling tones which only play when the temperature changes.  Dave’s work to fine tune them, to sonify these micro-changes in surface temperature, seems just right as the tones’ play is delightful and only occasional,  plus the temperature data (more importantly from other considerations) is being successfully gathered during each trip. (Yes, the paddler also becomes citizen scientist). And the third audio source is a hydrophone (underwater microphone) which is especially interesting in fairly still estuaries/rivers with varied underwater topography and marine life.

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Day two and the public arrive. Its grey but mild and calm, the rain has stopped and there’s not a breath of wind. I lengthen the strips of zones – the tide goes out further than we thought on our map – and record Kirsty reading an AGF poem she had by chance sent me the previous day which was somehow beautifully relevant and added further variety to the content. Even though one of our July SK experiments was broadcast on Radio 6 with Cerys Matthews and Dave a few days ago, it’s all still very early days. 32 paddlers go out and return wet but enthusiastic, delighting at how it worked, what they heard and thought.

Day three and oh the reality of electronics on the sea. It’s hot and sunny but the wind is quietly whipping up.  We launch our first set of paddlers and in come a couple of waves that simply roll the kayaks and the kit and speakers are totally submerged. Shock. Nothing is lost but this puts an immediate stop to any further kayak outings. We cant risk any rolls with the public. Unperturbed, we regather and spend the rest of the day introducing and discussing the project with our participants, instead doing Sonic Kayak Beach Walking.
mapbeachedcomprehension
This is not an altogether bad thing. It means that visitors can fully comprehend and explore with the system whilst most importantly being able to just listen.  At sea, there are many other distractions like not falling in and just being overcome by the magic of it all.  A boat that suddenly plays you a poem out at sea?

playkayak1

Demystifying something is not always a good idea but many of our participants are marine biologists so as well as fascinating discussions, we also gather local knowledge such as where the city’s and aquaculture centre’s effluents enter the Bay so where there are significant alterations to the thermocline.

playkayak2

 

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Friday 30th July – Sonic Kayak making pt.2

August 1st, 2016

sonickayakresearchjuly Finally.  A back dated write up on the curious adventure that has been the Sonic Kayaks. 

The Sonic Kayak collaboration with foAm_Kernow has been an interesting development of the sonic bike system but on water so has required a completely different approach. Also we’re making musical instruments to explore the underwater world and it’s a collaboration with artists and marine biologists. So the kayaks are not just to become makers and players of sounds for paddlers.  Their function is also to gather temperature data from the rivers & estuaries they explore which will be uploaded to a growing database of estuarine info. Citizen science action at its best.

With this dual purpose in mind combined with the reality of kayaks and paddling, electronics on water, mounting and housing the system (which must function 100%), it could become complicated. But the admirable and direct approach of working with scientists I’m sure enables us to keep things simple.  Note that we’ll be launching the finished kayaks onto the sea into a flat, sandy-bottomed Swansea Bay with ~20m distance across beach between high and low tides. The audio life to hear via hydrophone will also be virtually negligible, plus our 2 sonic kayaks will be paddled by delegates of the British Science Festival accompanied by six others in regular ones. Launch date – September 6th.

testmap_july
With no streets to shape journeys, mapped zones to trigger sound samples via GPS also have to follow a different approach to the sonic cycling variety. After our 2nd day tests out by Flushing, (see above), we agree that for Swansea, our audio map will run the zones in strips 90 degrees away from the beach. We’ll also mark the end of each with a flag so that paddlers should be able to easily locate these areas. Shame to have to abandon zones marked with buoy sculptures/various flags idea.
testkayakjuly1horn
Another aspect to consider is audio projection. Sound travels fast over water and 5 times that speed under. As mentioned previously, kayaking is already a rich and tranquil audio experience. Marine life is also bombarded with noise, (that increases as human activities increase on water) so we don’t want to add more. However, sound samples vibrating through the hull of the kayak are super pleasurable to the paddler and the hydrophone amplifying the underwater world reveals more to learn from. Note then the speaker horn in the image above. Dave had the great idea to create a directional aspect to the sound playing that also adds a sculptural and visual message. However, it further cramps any hi-fi content from the already coloured RPi produced sounds. More compromise.  Fabricated from a 3D print out in unfinished vinyl looking plastic, they’re still not cheap so it’s another ingredient to consider before the Swansea launch.  Should we make 3 more?

signseaw
Overall, we come away with much to do. As well as completing new interactive digital work for use on the sea from a group of mixed approaches, the overriding aim to raise climate change consciousness for paddlers is agreed. Check above local source for texts vocalized by computer in on water live recordings made on the final day and in this post. The rising & falling tones are the temperature changing.   Onwards to Swansea, and HERE to where it all began.

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Wednesday 28th July

July 29th, 2016

Dave and I are out on the Penryn estuary testing the mix of sounds we have mapped to different zones with the tones that play when the temperature changes and the live hydrophone feed. The hydrophone has been tricky. Buying a decent ready made one is expensive, and with a good pre-amp, can produce clear and inspiring audio images of the underwater world. However, using a USB sound card with audio in as Raspberry Pi2 doesn’t have one, combined with a pre-amp we can afford, pushes up levels adding noise as well as feedback issues.

Optimum sound projection for the paddler as well as least disturbance for other water users has also needed to be considered. Together we come up with solutions of course, and the system we have now will be pretty much the hardware set up for us to work from. You can find out about that HERE in Dave’s blog.

Monday 25th July

July 25th, 2016

DaveGsonicKSwanBack on water for the next stage in bicrophonic research with Sonic Kayaks and foAM Kernow. With Kirsty Kemp, Amber Griffiths, and Dave Griffiths, for us later to be joined by Chris Yesson, it’s a stunning team to be working within. We have four days and we’re preparing to launch at the British Science Festival, Swansea in September. News to follow when we’re back on dry land.

KirstykempSonic

Monday 18th July

July 19th, 2016

Speed sensor on dynamo changing pitch, and break sensor stepping through sound of Ubahn train transformed through Pd on RPi2 made by Marcus Zepp. Yes, the new Berlin sonic bikes are inspiring the Audio Communications end of term post conference barbecue masses.