Issue 1. September 2009
What you’re into if you’re into sound and music
LEAFCUTTER J HN On the waterfront, frogs and forests LE GRAND MACABRE
Richard Steinitz on Ligeti’s über-opera
THE ART OF SOUND
Expo Leeds and the rise of sonic art
My sound and music
Music and sound iPhone apps
The magazine of
Welcome to the first issue of Sound and Music’s brand new monthly online magazine, INTO Exclusive to Members of Sound and Music, INTO is our new monthly online magazine that puts you at the heart of the UK’s new music and sound scene. Like Sound and Music, INTO is about discovering contemporary approaches to music and sound across a wide range of styles. We aim to write about them in a lively and engaging way that helps you get into stuff you’ve never been into before, whether that’s contemporary notated composition, sound art or innovative approaches to folk, jazz or any number of other genres. Which brings me onto the name. INTO is basically about everything we at Sound and Music are in to – what we find most exciting happening across the UK and sometimes beyond. I hope you enjoy INTO – please let us know what you think...Shoël Stadlen Managing Edit Shoël Stadlen Managing Editor
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Conte ts NEWS. PAGES 6—9
HOW TO... BUILD A HYDROPHONE. PAGES 22—25
LIGETI’S FRIGHTENINGLY FUNNY FLEA MARKET: LE GRAND MACABRE. PAGES 10—15
THE ART OF SOUND: EXPO LEEDS PAGES 26—31 ON THE WATERFRONT: INTERVIEW WITH LEAFCUTTER JOHN PAGES 16—21
MY SOUND AND MUSIC: PHILIP PULLMAN PAGES 32—35
SOUND INTO VISION: LUMISONIC PAGES 40—42
CREATIVE IPHONE APPS PAGES 43—44
FROM THE BLOGS: THE EARWIG PAGES 36—39
OPPORTUNITIES. PAGES 46—48
NEW MANCHESTER COMMUTERS’ BRIEF ENCOUNTER WITH CONTEMPORARY OPERA
On 4 July the Royal Northern College of Music took eight singers, two string orchestras, two brass bands, plus massed clarinets, saxes, harps, piccolos and euphoniums into the hustle and bustle of Manchester Piccadilly station for a performance of a new piece of music theatre. The End of the Line (A Brief Encounter), composed by Peter Wiegold, freeze frames the parting moment of two people at a station. Click here to view a film about the performance.
MUSIC THEATRE WALES PREMIERE NEW OPERA BY ELEANOR ALBERGA
In October Music Theatre Wales will tour Letters of a Love Betrayed, a new opera by Jamaican-born composer Eleanor Alberga and librettist Donald Sturrock based on a short story by Isabel Allende about a young woman in South America who unravels the truth behind the deception of her marriage. The opera is scored for an ensemble of fourteen players, including the tiplé – the Columbian guitar. The piece will be premiered at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Theatre
Studio in London on 5 & 6 October, followed by tour dates in Oxford, Cardiff, Manchester, Huddersfield, Mold (North Wales), Edinburgh and Aberystwyth. www.musictheatrewales.org.uk
NEW RELEASES ROUND-UP
released this month. The last of the Sinfonietta’s series funded by the Jerwood Foundation features some stunning pieces by five of the UK’s best young composers: James Olsen, Christian Mason, Larry Goves Claudia Molitor and Kenneth Hesketh. Finally, Sound and Music shortlisted composer Simon Cummings has released his first CD, Triptych, featuring expressionistic electronic music concerned with the nature (and fallibility) of remembrance.
YOUTUBE AGREE DEAL WITH PRS To celebrate its 20th anniversary, Warp Records is releasing the box set, Warp 20, at the end of this month. A mixture of ‘best of’ compilation and newly-commissioned pieces, it features music by Autechre, Harmonic 313, Jamie Lidell, Plaid, Clark, Maximo Park, Seefeel, Luke Vibert, Boards of Canada, Broadcast, Elektroids and more. Meanwhile the London Sinfonietta Label Jerwood Series 6 is also
After a six-month hiatus, music videos are back on YouTube after the video-streaming website reached an agreement with the music rights organisation PRS for Music. In March, YouTube blocked thousands of music videos to UK users, after failing to reach agreement over fees. It is now paying an undisclosed lump sum to PRS, backdated until January and lasting until 2012. Neither side is releasing details of the deal.
NEW ANDY SHEPPARD’S SAXOPHONE MASSIVE IN BRISTOL
On Friday 18 September at 6pm, one of the UK’s leading saxophonists, Andy Sheppard, will lead over 200 saxophonists from beginners to professional players in his Saxophone Massive, celebrating the opening of the new foyer at Colston Hall, Bristol. If you’re interested in being one of the performers, email Janine McCretton: colstonhallsaxmassive@google mail.com
LIVE DEBUT OF THE LONGEST PIECE EVER WRITTEN
On 12 September at London’s Roundhouse, a piece of music which is claimed to be the longest ever written, and which started at the turn of the millennium, will receive its first ever live performance. Lasting 1,000 years, Jem Finer’s Longplayer is famously the longest, non-repeating piece of music ever composed. Originally commissioned by Artangel, it’s been playing continually at listening posts around the world since midnight on 31 December 1999. On Saturday 12 September, Finer directs Longplayer’s first-ever live performance: a 1,000 minute section from its 1,000 year duration. A tiny fragment from its great expanse, Longplayer Live will be played by a 25-strong
all-star orchestra on a unique 20-metre wide instrument – effectively a giant ‘bronze age’ synthesizer, with highly resonant singing bowls for tone generators and humans for power. In parallel with the live performance in the Roundhouse’s Main Space, the Artangel Longplayer 2009 Conversation – a relay of one-to-one conversations inspired by the philosophical implications of long time – will be in the Studio Theatre. Writer Jeanette Winterson will begin the 12-hour talking marathon of 24 leading writers, filmmakers, scientists, academics and technology activists. www.longplayer.org
BATTISTELLI PIECE AT EDINBURGH FESTIVAL An ‘is it music?’ debate was started by the performance of Giorgio Battistelli’s piece Experimentum Mundi at the Edinburgh Festival over the last week (2–5 September). The one hour-long piece features a cast of 16 artisans – cobblers, cooks, brickies, blacksmiths,
carpenters and coopers – all of whom originate from the Italian village where Battistelli was born. They produce a polyphony of sound as they work, sharpening knives, welding, grinding and hammering. Battistelli says about the piece: ‘The first inspiration was composition style. When artisans are working they create an asymmetric rhythm, which I write into the score using the sounds and actions of their work. This accentuates the avant-garde style I have created. The second inspiration was the human dimension – by putting a community of artisans on stage, I hope to present the concept of saving them from modern negligence. […] I think that [audiences] will experience not a simulation of reality but a piece of the reality of the human culture that they themselves can relate to. The realities of life can sometimes touch us most deeply.’
LE GRAND MACABRE
LIGETI’S FR FLEA-MARK
LE GRAND MACABRE
RIGHTENINGLY FUNNY KET If you think opera is overblown and unrealistic to the point of hilarity, you’re right, but you never knew it was this extreme. Ahead of the ENO’s new production this month, Richard Steinitz marvels at Gyorgy Ligeti’s brilliant and side-splitting Le Grand Macabre. This month an event takes place for which we have long been waiting: the first opportunity in Britain since 1982 to see Ligeti’s dazzling opera Le Grand Macabre. Such has been interest in the work that, in the thirty years since its premiere, it has had twenty-five different productions and been staged by thirty-three opera companies. Success on this scale is rare. But Le Grand Macabre is special, both amongst new operas and within Ligeti’s oeuvre. Multi-faceted, iconoclastic, risqué and satirical, it is intriguingly inventive, hilariously funny, at times affectingly beautiful. For Ligeti the opera proved to be a transitional piece, drawing selectively on techniques for which he had become famous – the fluid clusters of Atmosphères, the gestural extremes of Aventures – whilst anticipating the harmonic rehabilitation that underpins his later work. Its premiere in Stockholm included copious spoken dialogue which Ligeti subsequently curtailed and eventually removed almost entirely, setting some to music, lightening the orchestration and extending the end. This revision was scheduled for the re-opening of Covent Garden in 1999, only to be cancelled because the theatre’s technical equipment was incomplete. That was
no great loss, since Ligeti hated its treatment by the director Peter Sellars who had imperiously ditched the composer’s scenario. Indeed he disliked most productions, resenting the imposition of theatrical concepts frequently at odds with his own. Now we have one by the trendy Catalan theatre group La Fura dels Baus that is spectacular and ingenious, bubbling with joie de vivre and delightfully lewd. It has already been seen in Brussels and Rome and widely praised. I think Ligeti might have enjoyed it. Drawing on an exceptionally broad interest in the visual arts, literature, comedy and film, and direct experience of two dictatorships, Le Grand Macabre
LE GRAND MACABRE
unites absurdist theatre, political satire, the grotesquery of Pieter Breughel (c.1525-69), the nonsense of humorists like Carroll and Lear, and a cartoonist’s eye for caricature. As a tongue-in-cheek satire about the end of the world, the opera complements the profound seriousness of his Requiem for soloists, chorus and orchestra, completed twelve years earlier. Both, however, were influenced by a visit to Madrid in 1961 where Ligeti had been invited as an exponent of (surprisingly) electronic music. In the Prado he was mesmerised by two extraordinary canvases: Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights and Brueghel’s The Triumph of Death, whose nightmarish detail and organised, herded masses
LE GRAND MACABRE
experience of the war was mercifully short-lived, although hazardous and surreal, but for his family it was disastrous. His brother, parents and an aunt and uncle were sent to Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, from which only his mother survived. Ligeti himself narrowly escaped deportation to Russia.
have a terrible prescience. As far as I am aware, this new production is (amazingly) the first to utilise their iconography. More deeply, both compositions grew out of the disorientating experiences of Ligeti’s early life. He was born in 1923 in one of several Hungarian enclaves in Romanian Transylvania and grew up immersed in two cultures. Only in his teens was he allowed to learn the piano, and also started to compose; his goal was to be a scientist. University entrance was denied him, however, by anti-Jewish legislation, so Ligeti went instead to the music conservatoire in Kolozsvár (now Romanian Cluj) where he made rapid progress. Drafted into a Jewish labour battalion in 1944, his
After the war Ligeti entered the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest – a fellow student with Kurtág – and shared in the prevailing left-wing idealism and ‘euphoric hope for a better future’. It did not last. By the time he had graduated and become a teacher at the Academy, the communists had the country in their grip. There were terrifying purges, stultifying restrictions, and rigorous censorship. To maintain integrity without jeopardising one’s livelihood was a nightmare. When a wave of liberalism swept through Budapest in 1956, Russia sent in tanks, and whilst the border with Austria was temporarily open, Ligeti escaped with 200,000 other refugees. Arriving in the West, virtually unknown at the age of 33, he made for Cologne where he was welcomed by Stockhausen and introduced to the avant-garde, soon becoming one of its most charismatic protagonists. But justifiably suspicious of any ideology, Ligeti steered his own path. In 1960 and ’61 he sprang to fame with the orchestral pieces Apparitions and Atmospherès, exploring in these and subsequent works a portfolio of distinctive techniques,
LE GRAND MACABRE
AN OBESE CARNIVAL BEER BARREL WITH A PIG ON A SPIT AS HIS LANCE notably the ebb and flow of multi-coloured clusters – the ‘Ligeti sound’, which so fascinated Stanley Kubrick that he used extended passages in 2001 – A Space Odyssey, famously without the composer’s knowledge. It was after the success of the Requiem that Ligeti was commissioned to compose a work for the Royal Swedish Opera.
explain his concept of something ‘cruel and frightening, based on the pictures of Breughel and Bosch and writers like Jarry, Kafka and Boris Vian’, the designer Aliute Meczies suggested La Balade du Grand Macabre by the Flemish dramatist Michel de Ghelderode. Conveniently, it happened to be set in an imaginary Breughelland.
At first he planned something with a nonsensical phonetic text in the manner of his two music-theatre extravaganzas, Aventures and Nouvelles Aventures. After two years he decided that storytelling was necessary, and toyed with a send-up of the Oedipus myth staged like a strip-cartoon with actors, acrobats and midgets. Preoccupied with other compositions, it made no progress. Then came the watershed of Mauricio Kagel’s Staatstheater, given its only production in 1970 – an extraordinary ‘scenic composition’ that eschewed plot, principals and pit. As subversive ‘antiopera’ it had cornered the market. Ligeti and his production team met to reconsider. Listening to the composer
In the mid ‘60s the boundaries of almost every musical genre were being pushed aside. Opera houses were viewed as anachronistic, and a burgeoning interest in music theatre had invaded concert halls. But by the time Ligeti began in earnest the climate had changed. The avant-garde were splintering and neo-romanticism was abroad. Whilst teaching in Hamburg, Ligeti began to play classical chamber music with students and piano repertoire to himself. Despite his avowed opposition to any ‘retro’ tendencies, at a deeper level this immersion in the past influenced his style, most obviously in the Horn Trio (his first major work after the opera) but already in Le Grand
Macabre. Part of its fun (and charm) are its many allusions to past repertoire which, although always stamped with Ligeti’s personality, recall the pleasure of regularly being taken as a youngster to the opera in Cluj. Rarely does he use straight quotation. More often these memories provide a template for allusive vignettes, like the lovely ‘Bourrée perpetuelle’ for the strings as Nekrotzar, the Grim Reaper, makes love and later when he drinks himself silly. Elsewhere there is brilliant parody, like the pantomime toccata for motor horns that serves as an overture, or the panting ‘Monteverdi’ cadences given to the lovers, or the Verdian flavour of Nekrotzar’s portentous announcement of the end of the world, happily unfulfilled. Breughel’s horrific vision hovers over the opera but is never realised, and the opera ends with a carefree ‘moral’ sung directly to the audience by the rest of the cast in the manner of Don Giovanni and Falstaff: Fear not to die, good people all! No one knows when his hour will fall; And when it comes then let it be. Farewell, till then live merrily. Although funny and salacious, the music is nevertheless tinged with melancholy. To encompass such variety, its structure is necessarily episodic: an interplay between exaggerated parlando (more rant than speech), brief musical cameos, and more extended vocal and
LE GRAND MACABRE
instrumental partnerships of delightful invention. Musical substance and continuity increase as the work proceeds (with a greater role for the off-stage chorus), leading to some wonderful set pieces: like the transformational music for the ‘end (or not) of the world’, the final Passacaglia with its radiant juxtaposition of pure concords, and the entry of the anti-hero Nekrotzar and his infernal entourage in Scene 3 to a parody of the passacaglia from Beethoven’s Eroica and an anarchic musical collage unlike anything else in Ligeti. One thinks of Breughel’s allegories exposing licentiousness and excess, such as The Fight between Carnival and Death in which an obese Carnival sits astride a beer barrel with a pig on a spit as his lance. If Le Grand Macabre is a stylistic ‘flea market’ as Ligeti disarmingly suggested, it is also a cornucopia of goodies served at sizzling pace. And it has proved remarkably durable, partly for the enduring relevance of its satire, partly for its passages of undeniable genius, not least because its twin faces of comedy and sadness are Ligeti’s own. Le Grand Macabre is at the ENO 17, 22, 25 September and 1 & 3 October. www.eno.org Richard Steinitz is the founder of Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and the author of György Ligeti: Music of the Imagination (Faber & Faber 2003)
ON THE WATERFRONT
On the waterf
ON THE WATERFRONT
front Ahead of his Canal Music tour that will take music by him and folk singer Lisa Knapp to audiences along the Grand Union Canal, Leafcutter John talks about underwater recording, frogs and forests...
ON THE WATERFRONT
On the waterfront Why canal music? The idea was brought to me and Lisa by Sound UK, and the brief was a fairly open-ended one. They wanted to create a tour going up the Grand Union Canal, but the musical content was really left up to us.
And what ideas did you come up with? Well I have a pretty similar approach to work, regardless of what I’m doing. And that is to try to find all the sounds that exist in the particular environment I’m working in, whether that’s a band, a building or an outside location. The interesting thing about canals is that they run quietly through different areas, each of which has its own sound world. The canal also offers the prospect of two different worlds – the world above the surface and the world below the surface – and this interests me a lot.
How will that above/below division be heard by the audience? People will probably hear some live sound from underwater during the performance. We’re not sure how it’s going to work, but we’ll be dipping the hydrophone into the canal and you’ll
probably hear the engine of the boat amplified.
What is a hydrophone? It’s like a microphone, but whereas a microphone records sounds vibrating in the air, a hydrophone records sound in liquid. It allows you to hear any sound and vibration in the water.
What can you hear with it? I’ve been using hydrophones for years. If you go to the Thames, say somewhere near the London Eye, where it’s really busy, you get an amazing cacophony of engines and propellers, and even when trains are going over the bridges overhead, you can hear that in the water as well. And you can go somewhere
ON THE WATERFRONT
really quiet as well, like a pond where the main sound you hear is frogs mating.
I have to ask you what that sounds like... It’s pretty intense because they use their throats as a signalling device. They vibrate their throats and as their throats are in the water, it travels through the water to the hydrophone and creates a really strong recording, with a lot of croaking.
There’s been quite an underwater theme to your recent work – this summer you’ve been playing sounds under water to an audience of swimmers. That’s right. Wet Sounds – we did a gig in a swimming pool. It was amazing. The audience were mostly in the pool, and it was really interesting to work out how to connect with people when we were on dry land and they were in the pool. The great thing about buoyancy in water is that you don’t have all the stresses and strains of sitting on a seat. And to go for a swim straight after your concert and then listen to some more music was a really nice experience as well.
ON THE WATERFRONT
On the waterfront As well as water, forests seem important to you – you’ve created an album called The Forest and the Sea, and in another area of your work as the creator of software using Max/MSP, you’ve created a programme called Forester. Tell me about these and your interest in forests...
how it works. It tends to produce interesting sonic results, and I hear that people have used the results in films, to create background ambience, as a re-mix tool, and as an effect on tracks. When I first released it, I started getting emails from record labels saying that it was turning up on a lot of demos that they were receiving. It’s got a fairly specific sound, so it’s pretty recognisable!
Forests have fascinated people for as long as people have been able to write things down and draw on cave walls, so there’s not much new I can say about forests except that the way I got into creating music about forests was that I was once in Epping Forest in East London. It started getting dark and I got lost and I began to realise that I was actually quite scared, so in the music I tried to investigate where this fear was coming from. Forests are beautiful and they also have this darker side to them, which fascinated me. The programme Forester is a piece of software I’ve created and which you can download free from my website. It allows you to drop sounds into it, and then it will pick parts of those sounds and combine them in various random ways to create this kind of forest of sound. And by using a pointer on the screen, you can move through this forest and affect the balances and how one sound modulates to another. The idea is that it’s quite mysterious and you don’t really know
Your music has been described as ‘post-electronica’ and ‘folktronica’. What do you think of these labels, and how would you describe what you do? I think the key thing is that I hear things as sound rather than as music. I hear the sound that my band Polar Bear plays in the same way that I hear the engine of a canal boat, for example. I understand sound in terms of what frequencies are happening and what the amplitudes are – I guess it’s quite a technical perspective. But the other side of my music is the emotional side and that’s really important to me – the sounds should definitely trigger an emotional response. And it’s important to me that I get the right balance of technical and emotional. Essentially I love making things, and seeing how things interact. So being in a band like Polar Bear is interesting from that point of view. Polar Bear is a kind of jazz band, with two tenor saxophones, a
ON THE WATERFRONT
double bass, drums played by Seb Roch- blew me away. Then I got into reading ford, the band leader and main composer. Stockhausen and Cage, the standard One thing I do is to treat some of the live things. But at the same time I was really sounds, manipulating them electronically, interested in singer songwriters like and I also inject some of my own sounds Will Oldham and Bill Callahan, and I into the mix. I also like interacting with could hear some of the emotions and the players as an instrumentalist myself, the lyricism of their music in Bernard so I’ve designed some instruments that Parmegiani. And I was interested in that can be played in real time so that I seeing if you could have both these can improvise with them properly. And on elements – the electroacoustic and the our most recent album (which we’ve lyrical, folk-like music, in an album and recently recorded and which isn’t out yet) what would happen if you did. I’m playing electric guitar, so I’ve added the first chordal instrument to the band. That leads us onto the ‘folktronica’ label, and I think a lot of the things I’ve I first started creating music – I didn’t seen that are called ‘folktronica’ seem call it music at the time; I was making to me quite watered down. They’re sounds – using an old computer. I’d cute and sound nice and pretty and never really heard much electronic music, they have some little electronic sounds neither by the originators of the genre, bubbling away in the background, nor by modern electronica artists. I first with some guitar or mandolin accompagot into it because I just liked these nying someone singing nicely. Whereas computer sounds. And I discovered you when I use electronic music and folk-like could record sounds into the computer music, they’ve both got their own space and then change them, which really got and they don’t often happen at the same me excited. And then later on I found time, which probably makes things a bit out about musique concrète and elecmore challenging for the listener. So it’s troacoustic music, and that seemed not a fusion of the two styles – it leaves to be exactly what I had been doing, the fusion to the mind of the listener. so I got interested in that. I think my favourite piece of electroacoustic music http://leafcutterjohn.com is Bernard Parmegiani’s De Natura The Canal Music tour runs Sonorum, which is a wonderful, beauti9—30 September in London, ful, human album, even though it’s using Berkhamsted, Milton Keynes, wine glasses and sine wave generators Stoke Bruerne, Hatton Locks as its raw materials. The treatment of and Birmingham. these simple sources just completely See www.sounduk.net
BUILD A HYDROPHONE by Leafcutter John
How To is our section dedicated to sharing specific knowledge and skills. From how to write for clarinet to how to hack electronic devices to how to find funding, we try to help you go further.
Hydrophones enable us to record underwater, which is reason enough to worship and adore them. Better still you can make your own very easily and cheaply. For the Canal Music tour I wanted to make myself a new hydrophone which includes the pre-amp I made. I have made hydrophones using piezo elements before but I never tried using a pre-amp which tends to make piezo’s sound a lot better.
01 I decided to house the pre-amp in the same enclosure as piezo elements (to avoid noise entering the circuit). The challenge here is to find a decent enclosure. After having some delicious spicy chickpea and tomato soup I thought it would probably be possible to solder up some kind of tin-can casing which would be fairly strong and water-tight. After a few experiments, I found you can quite easily solder steel (NB not
aluminium!!) food cans together using a regular soldering iron and electrical solder. It works for water pipes so it should be water-tight in this case. I used a small rotary cutting wheel on a dremel tool to cut nice neat slices of can. I then lightly sanded the ends totally flat. As you can see from the photo (left), I used two different cans – one with a clear coating and one with a white coating. These coatings need to be removed in the places you want to solder – it’s probably easier to do this now than later when you have installed the guts.
02 I used a wire brush to rough up the surface of the can before super-gluing two piezo elements to the inside of the lid. This design has a ground wire (yellow) soldered to the can lid. The super-glue insulates the brass parts of the piezo’s from the lid. You can’t see very well from the photo but the two piezo’s have had a straight edge cut off them so they fit onto the lid. They also have a small gap between them - they are NOT touching!
I went out and bought a hot-glue-gun for this bit, and it was worth it. The glue eliminates any possibility of the pre-amp circuit shorting out on the piezo elements. It also protects the piezos if water should get into the capsule.
To hold the chimney into position while soldering I temporarily bolted it to the can. A few moments later and it looks like some kind of improvised smoking device.
04 I drilled a hole in the larger of the two cans just big enough for my microphone cable to go through. Then made this little chimney out of a scrap piece of can. I used a wire brush to clean the coating off the can before soldering.
06 I coated the mic cable with hot glue and pulled it through the chimney, then splurged lotâ€™s more glue where the wires emerge into the can. This is the most likely place water will try to enter the capsule so make sure you seal it completely using ridiculous amounts of hot glue!
This shows the pre-amp connected to (and sitting atop) the piezo / hot-glue sandwich.
08 All leads soldered-up! It was really fiddly to do and I made a wrong connection initially which was easily fixed. It’s a very good idea to connect your hydrophone to a mixer and check it actually works before you close the case. Before closing the unit I covered the pre-amp circuit with a lot of hot-glue to seal it off from any stray water.
My girlfriend bravely held the two halves of the case closed as I carefully soldered around the seam. Again I used a steel brush to clean the surfaces before soldering. It was actually quite easy to do and I like the quasi-welded appearance. All that is left to do now is pop it in the sink and test it out. It took half a day to make the case and the same to make the pre-amp. The whole thing cost less than £10 in parts and compares very well against hydrophones costing 10 times the price. I’m going to paint and varnish the casing – this is important if you don’t want your hydrophone to rust away. Go forth and hydrophone! To read Leafcutter’s full guide to building a hydrophone, and to hear audio samples, click here.
THE ART OF SOUND
The art of sound
ANGIE ATAMADJAJA’S INSTALLATION INTRINSIC
Sound labelled ‘sonic art’ has been around for a while now. But what is it – installation art, music, a mixture, or neither? Robert Worby examines these questions by exploring the work being presented at this month’s Expo festival of sonic art in Leeds.
he term ‘Sonic Art’ is now fairly commonplace. We even hear it on BBC Radio 4. Bill Fontana’s installation Speeds Of Time was featured on the Sunday morning slot ‘Broadcasting House’ and the words ‘sound art’ and ‘sound artist’ were uttered. One BBC News web page even reports that Fontana ‘.. used to be a composer’, implying that composition and sound art are not the same, and that he ‘…has been recording and relaying unusual sounds as art since the late 1960s’, giving us some idea of how long the idea of sound art has been around. Of course, BBC News sites are not always the most accurate sources of information about these kinds of issues but the fact that the terms are being used gives some idea of how everyday they have become. However, this wasn’t always the case. ‘Sound art’ and ‘sound artist’ were not expressions often heard before the late 90s although the practice has been around for nearly a century. The Futurist Luigi Russolo wrote his manifesto The Art Of Noises in 1913 and gave concerts using his invented Intonarumori or ‘noise intoners’. The Dadaists’ cabarets were riotous evenings of performance, poetry and theatre that celebrated sound as much as narrative, plot or story line. And, at around the same time, composers like Webern had abandoned the idea that melodies were tunes that could be whistled as the audi-
THE ART OF SOUND
In a recent television programme David Hockney complained people ‘are not looking anymore’. For him, we were moving away from a visual culture and towards an aural culture. ence left the concert hall. Although his music was tightly structured using pitch and rhythm, what the audience actually heard, in works like Five Pieces for Orchestra, was sound – instrumental colour gracefully moving around the orchestra. In the late 1950s John Cage gave classes in experimental music and composition at the New School for Social Research in New York. These classes were attended by artists like Dick Higgins, George Brecht and Al Hansen. The composer La Monte Young was also there. Cage had already presented what is often considered to be the first Happening, at Black Mountain College, in 1952 and the influence of this and the work done in the composition classes gave rise to the Fluxus movement. George Brecht developed the idea of ‘Intermedia’ – undefined, imaginative spaces between creative disciplines. Artists became interested in the gaps between theatre and painting, poetry and dance, film and sculpture and, of course, between everything and music. Cage had already decreed ‘ … all sounds,
THE ART OF SOUND
CHRISTINA KUBISCH’S ELECTRICAL WALKS, LEEDS
including the dominant seventh chord if it happens to be there.’ So music wasn’t just about notes, tunes, melody and harmony anymore. It was about all sounds and this opened up possibilities for those who couldn’t play instruments and who knew nothing about harmony and counterpoint. Artists began composing, writing pieces for motor vehicles, piano stools and butterflies let loose in the concert hall. Music was anything and everything whether sound was there or not. In their book Sound By Artists, published in 1990, Dan Lander and Micah Lexier list sound works recorded by artists –
ostensibly practitioners from the fine art tradition, a tradition rooted in painting and sculpture. These include Joseph Beuys, Terry Fox and Yves Klein as well as John Cage, Alvin Lucier and Philip Glass. In 1990 the boundaries were quite blurred because nobody really knew what sound art was. The composer/musicians mentioned in the list would often perform in art galleries and the visual artists often worked with sound. And, as Howard Skempton wrote, ‘Experimental musicians consort with painters.’ Today this blurring continues but it isn’t really a problem, indeed it is often celebrated. Some composers compose primarily with sound, not just
THE ART OF SOUND
PAUL ROONEY’S THIN AIR
musical notes, and some artists working with sound are happy to include musical notes in their work. All of these issues will be explored at Expo Leeds, a four-day event organised by Sound And Music and MAAP that runs between 25—28 September. One of the organisations that merged to form SAM was Sonic Arts Network, which used to be the Electroacoustic Music Association of Great Britain. This august organisation ran an annual conference for composers of electroacoustic music but its focus was very narrow and usually attended only by academics. That conference has mutated into an
Unconference which is only one part of Expo, now this country’s main gathering for those interested in and engaged with sound art and the outer edges of experimental music – the very space where music and sound art blur. Lee Patterson is a sound artist. He works with sound. He’s also an improvising musician working with other musicians in concert situations. He also presents his work as installations in galleries and other public spaces. He makes recordings of the environment in which he finds himself and he works with sounds made with objects. He works with very small sounds like the sounds of heated
THE ART OF SOUND
LEE PATTERSON’S TOWER WORKS
seeds cracking and popping in a pan or the bubbles on the surface of water. He combines the sounds of musical instruments with non-instrumental sound. His work typifies the blurring between sound art and music and is rooted in more than one tradition. It’s possible to trace his approach back to John Cage and Iannis Xenakis, and sometimes the sounds he produces may well have resulted from a performance of a score by Cage or Xenakis. But his work also has elements of performance art, sculpture and fine art practice developed in the 1970s – the work of Richard Long for example. At Expo Leeds Patterson will present the results of what he calls ‘sonic rescue archaeology’ – ‘a study of resident sound forms’. Since the winter of 2008 he has been investigating the Tower Works,
a derelict site on the edge of Leeds, identified by its Italianate bell towers, that was once a pin mill serving the textile industry. Before the developers move in, Patterson has had the opportunity to explore the site, gathering materials and making recordings. He will present his findings in the Howard Assembly Rooms in the Grand Theatre, home of Opera North, on Friday 25 September in a piece commissioned by MAAP. Throughout the festival, in the Leeds Arena at the Leeds City museum, the public can engage with Peal: A Virtual Campanile an interactive sound installation by Nick Rothwell and Lewis Sykes. It reproduces the distinctive sounds of bells from five churches throughout the Leeds area. Bell ringing is deeply engrained in British culture and our method
of ‘change ringing’ is unique. The sound of bells and the mathematics of the permutations and combinations of the pitches of the bells have been used by Jonathan Harvey, Peter Maxwell-Davies and several experimental composers. Peal integrates a very British tradition with the aesthetics of the 21st century. The Expo Youth strand running throughout the festival features works made by the next generation of sound artists. The composer and sound artist Mira Calix has been developing an installation entitled Velocity made with students from South Leeds High School. Mira is no stranger to Leeds, having had three commissions from Opera North. This new work, made by students, comprises sub-woofer speakers mounted on baffles with frames onto which are poured granular materials like rice or sand. Especially composed music is fed into the system, in this case, Base Line, an extreme low frequency sub-genre that grew out of the Leeds dance music scene. This is sharply filtered to remove all high and middle frequencies, leaving only the extreme low frequencies as if the music was heard through a wall. The vibrations, from the speakers, causes precisely patterned ripples in the granular material so the sound can be seen as well as heard. It’s a sculptural manifestation of sound – physical, kinetic, graphic and audible. The loudspeakers present in many of the Expo installations are electromagnetic
THE ART OF SOUND
systems producing sound that can be clearly heard. But hidden in the substructures of our cities there are many electromagnetic systems producing a sound world that cannot be perceived with the ear alone. This concealed audio world is revealed and explored in the work of Christina Kubisch. She trained at art schools and music academies; she’s an artist and a composer; she works in galleries and concert halls. At Expo she will be creating an environment to be explored with especially designed headphones that interact with electromagnetic fields to expose otherwise indiscernible sonic shadows. In a recent television programme David Hockney complained that people ‘are not looking anymore’. For him, we were moving away from a visual culture and towards an aural culture. He probably isn’t aware that this has been happening for some considerable time but, from 25 to 28 September, he only needs to travel the short distance from his home city of Bradford to Leeds to discover where we are now with sonic art. Expo Leeds runs 25—28 September and is produced by Sound and Music and MAAP. www.expofestival.org Robert Worby is a sonic artist, writer and broadcaster. He is one of the presenters of BBC Radio 3’s ‘Hear and Now’ programme.
MY SOUND AND MUSIC
MY SOUND AND MUSIC: PHILIP PULLMAN Best-selling author Philip Pullman struggles to explain why little-known twentieth-century Russian composer Nicolai Medtner is his musical hero...
Not long ago I tried to explain to a friend the effect that Nicolai Medtner’s music has on me. I spoke with eloquence, passion and wit; analogies of the most ingenious kind sprang to my lips; I found myself stirred to a frenzy of admiration for the profundity of my insights. ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ said my friend.
PHILIP PULLMAN PHOTO: WOLF MARLOH
Discussing music when you have no technical knowledge of it is to be reduced to finding more or less fancy ways of saying, ‘I like that bit when it goes da-da-da-DUM.’ However, we have to try, or be silent; so I shall try to say why I love Nicolai Medtner, and why his piano music satisfies me so deeply. He was born in 1880, and educated at the Moscow Conservatoire. He had some success as a concert pianist, but his calling was always towards composition. After the Revolution he left Russia, and for the rest of his life he lived in exile – for the last fifteen years of it in London – struggling against poverty and the indifference
MY SOUND AND MUSIC
of the public and the critics. He wasn’t without his champions (‘Why nobody plays Medtner?’ asked Vladimir Horowitz. ‘He is wonderful composer’), but he was never fashionable: he loathed the modernism of Schoenberg, Stravinsky and Prokofiev. The only contemporary he truly esteemed was Rachmaninov, who returned the compliment, and gave him generous and unstinting help throughout his life. The first piece of his I heard was the Sonata Reminiscenza in A minor, from the Forgotten Melodies, Op.38. It was on a second-hand LP of a Carnegie Hall recital by Emil Gilels. The first notes held me quiet: a slow rocking melody that climbs and returns and climbs again and then just as steadily goes back to its beginning and falls still. Then after a moment’s silence comes a different melody which flowers into a third, and... this is where description fails, of course, so I have to resort to assertion instead, and say that the melodies you can hear in the Sonata Reminiscenza are some of the loveliest in any music. There’s one that consists of a series of falling phrases of six notes with a little hesitation after the first note of each (a dotted note?), which has the sort of tentative quality of a blossom coming out just a little early, beautiful, unsure, not quite safe... The mood is tender and lyrical and suffused with a graceful melancholy, without the slightest bitterness. Anyway, I fell in love with it. And I began to search out Medtner whenever I could: scouring the BBC
MY SOUND AND MUSIC
Radio 3 listings was the best place to start, since there were heardly any records available at that time. Gradually I accumulated tapes of broadcast recitals, and became more and more absorbed in Medtner’s world. I can’t have been the only person this was happening to, because after a while it became easier to find him in the record shops: there are now at least two very good boxed sets of the piano music available, by Geoffrey Tozer (clear, unfussy, strong) and Marc-André Hamelin (pyrotechnic, delicate, brilliant). It’s not hard these days to find out what he sounds like. So here we are again: I shall have to try and describe the impression he makes on me. I think it boils down to three things. Firstly, those melodies. Melody, of course, is the one thing even musical dimwits can come away humming. The sonatas are full of melody, brimming with it, and they’re subtle, complex, unexpected melodies, each strongly characterised with a vivid emotional flavour. Furthermore, they’re not like anyone else’s, and I haven’t the faintest idea why. Occasionally you’ll hear a passage or two that might sound (from a distance) a bit Rachmaninovian, or perhaps Scriabinistic, and once or twice a sequence of harmonies that’s faintly Chopinesque, or even Alkan-like; but his tunes are entirely his own, and unique. Listen to the the broad, serious,
passionate yearning of the tune in the third movement of the Sonata in F minor, Op.5. Or the lovely fresh poised grace of the second movement of the Sonata Skazka, Op.25, No.1. Or the simple, lyrical, delicate first movement of his last piano sonata, the Sonata Idyll in G, Op.56. Wherever you listen, something entrancing is happening. Secondly, the notes behind the melodies. These untutored ears couldn’t distinguish a canon from a fugue in an identity parade, but they can hear that something polyphonic is taking place, and Medtner is rich with it. It’s interesting. Phrases are passed from hand to hand; little pieces of tune break off to spin up the keyboard two, three octaves higher, and then return again; out of the thunder of a fast and complex passage in the left hand (for instance, in the Night Wind Sonata in E minor, Op.25, No.2, over thirty minutes of stupendous surging energy) will emerge the tune you heard a minute ago higher up, but something’s happened to it, it’s transformed – and then it’s gone again. It feels like being a child in a room where adults are having a deep and passionate conversation about important things: you have the impression of profound intellectual engagement without being able to follow it fully, but you trust the adults, and it’s clear that they know what they’re saying even if you don’t. So somebody does, and that’s important.
MY SOUND AND MUSIC
And finally, the stuff that isn’t music at all. I love Medtner because of his photograph, because of his appearance in old age; almost invariably wearing an oldfashioned wing collar right up to his death in 1951, bald, craggy, noble, his expression serene and resolute. I love him because his friends loved him, as Rachmaninov did. I love him because of the fact that in a semi-detached house in Golders Green, troubled by financial problems, weakened by ill-health, this ‘firm defender of the sacred laws of eternal art’ (in the words of Glazunov) went on calmly writing music in an idiom as out-of-date as his clothes, completely untouched not just by fashion but by common sense as well, and listened only to his conscience and to the themes that came, as he believed, from God. But does that non-musical, biographical stuff really make a difference? Should it, even? Yes, I think it should. We should respond to art as we should respond to life, with every particle of knowledge and feeling we have, leaving nothing out. When I listen to Medtner, I’m glad I have his photograph to look at; I’m glad I know what I do about his life; and over and over again, I marvel at the chance that led me to this lovely, passionate, endlessly refreshing music.
This article first appeared in Granta.
THE EARWIG emerges blinking into the light
FROM THE BLOGS
27/07/2009 Introductions Why ‘earwig’? What’s in a name? My dictionary gives three senses of the word – and they all apply. Small elongated insect with a pair of pincers. That is all the physical description of myself I will offer. Eavesdrop. I listen to music all the time. I will tell you what I think about some of it.
I have never blogged before, but here goes. The Earwig* is up and running...
Try to influence somebody. My enthusiasm for the music I like extends to an evangelical urge to tell other people about it, in the hope they might come to share my enjoyment. But I promise I will use my powers of persuasion only for good. No demagoguery – I offer only the subtlest rhetoric here. That is my entire manifesto. *Not my real name. My real name is far more embarrassing. It is Bernard.
05/08/2009 In with the new When does new music stop being new? The question occurred to me at the late night (and shamefully underattended) all-Birtwistle Prom on 4 August. The London Sinfonietta played three signature works now between 40 and 30 years old. This struck me as a netherworld between old and new, an ambiguity embodied by the 75-year-old composer and (slightly younger) conductor David Atherton, taking applause on behalf of their younger and angrier selves. Is it important to listeners to new music that the music is literally new? After all, every piece is new the first time you hear it. And yet some pieces remain new however many times you hear them: The Rite of Spring, say, or Pierrot Lunaire. But could any of these pieces pass for brand new? In the case of Carmen arcadiae mechanicae perpetuum (1977) the
FROM THE BLOGS
answer is a simple yes. There is a jittery energy about the piece, coming from competing pulses, which make for a gloriously misfiring mechanism. These kinds of concerns are being explored by composers today – perhaps more so than in 1977? Likewise with Silbury Air (1977) where there is more focus on melody; the ‘air’ of the title emerges in the woodwind, often submerged or tantalisingly out of reach. Again, this type of ‘strived-for’ melody feels like a contemporary preoccupation. The most striking piece, Verses for Ensembles (1969), was also most ‘of its time’. Undeniably a very brilliant creation, blunt, assertive, unwavering, the music speaks in a dour northern accent. Birtwistle said of it: ‘I had to make a statement’ – and he did. But although powerful, the piece’s rhetoric
Is it important to listeners of new music that the music is literally new?
FROM THE BLOGS
is confrontational in a way that now feels a bit over-done, unnecessarily strident in its asperity.
tioning, and that a successful ending follows from a convincing structural argument.
And here is the difficulty. The rhetoric may have been necessary at the time, but its battle has been won. The more of its time a piece is, the more easily it dates: its preoccupations begin to seem quaint, as irrelevant today as the causes of the Hundred Years War. But Verses for Ensembles never sounds irrelevant; although it may not sound contemporary, it is exciting, powerful and forever young.
In research starting in the 1980s, Nicholas Cook discovered through a series of experiments that the way music is actually listened to is very different. He describes some of these experiments, carried out on undergraduate musicians, in his 1990 book Music, Imagination & Culture.
27/08/2009 Are you listening properly? How do we listen to music? How should we listen to music? Analysts have, for as long as there has been analysis, privileged form as the aspect most deserving of attention. In tonal music this means that the return to the home key carries a psychological satisfaction essential to its func-
In one, a Beethoven sonata movement is stopped just before its final perfect cadence and subjects were asked how much music remained. Their predictions were anything up to a minute more, even though conventional wisdom would say their sense of the tonal closure made the imminent ending inevitable. When they heard the final chords they realised the movement had ended, suggesting the cadence is more important as a final gesture than as a tonal closure. Another experiment took a short piece of Liszt and transposed the second half in an unobtrusive way so that the music ends in the wrong key, and
played both versions to a number of listeners. If tonal closure were essential to the experience of tonal music, the transposed version should feel unsatisfying and the correct version preferred, but this turned out not to be the case. Even those preferring the original version did not give the sense of closure as their reason. And these findings are not restricted to tonal music. An experiment using Webern’s Symphony showed the listeners oblivious to sections of repetition and palindrome which would seem to be essential to grasping the symmetrical structure of the music. Cook concludes there is a ‘glaring disparity between the way in which the arbiters of musical taste approach musical structure and the way in which listeners generally respond to it’. In fact, people usually follow the surface narrative of a piece of music much as they follow the story of a novel, moving from event to event without perceiving, or seeking, an underlying structural Gestalt. And why should anyone deem this ‘listening style’ flawed, or suggest such listening provides an incomplete experience of the music?
FROM THE BLOGS FROM THE BLOGS
So why has form always been so exalted? My theory is that it is because form is more readily quantifiable, more easily subjected to scientific-style analysis, than other features of music. Form is easily reduced to diagrams, setting out sections and their inter-relationship, just as harmony can be ‘explained’ by numbering notes, drawing balloons around them, extracting important chords. But what about the surface of the music - the bit most listeners are really following? Surely the nature of the musical gesture, the narrative drama of the music’s ‘plot’, or the quality of the instrumental sound at any point are worthy of analytical attention? Yes, but how? The problem is that an accepted vocabulary or methodology does not really exist for making comparisons and judgments along these lines. But I know that I enjoy the music I like above all for the sound it makes in the air, not the patterns it makes on paper. To read more of The Earwig, visit the Sound and Music blog
Taking inspiration from experimental film tradition and neuroscientific research, Lumisonic aims to help those with hearing difficulties a better understanding of sound, writes David Rogerson.
In 2008, Richard Whitelaw, the Programme Director at Sonic Arts Network (now part of Sound and Music) set up an experimental workshop to explore how sound could be better explored by children with Profound Deafness and Autism at Whitefields School and Centre, London. In collaboration with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Dr Mick Grierson of Goldsmiths and experienced workshop leader, Duncan Chapman, led a series of sessions which resulted in not only a series of performances, at the school and the Southbank Centre, but also a software application, Lumisonic. Lumisonic is an interactive audiovisual performance system. Sound is transformed in real-time through the implementation of a Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) and translated into amoving image. This image is adapted so that relevant information can be understood and manipulated visually in real-time. Finally, the image is turned back into sound with only minimal delay. The aesthetic and conceptual approach of concentric rings pulsating was heavily informed by Audio Visualisation in Experimental Film and Neuroscientific evidence for the effectiveness of Audiovisual congruence. (If that hasnâ€™t
CLICK TO SEE A VIDEO OF LUMISONIC IN ACTION V
confused you, a fuller exploration of this research can be found in Mick Grierson’s paper: Making Music With Images: The LumiSonic Audiovisualisation System for the Deaf). Following the project, we put the software on our website because we thought that it could have been of interest to a few people. It was not finished (and still remains so) due to a lack of funding at the time, but thought it was better to share than let it gather dust on our hard drives. Once out there, however, we were overwhelmed with interest in the application. Mick Grierson was featured on the BBC technology site several times, the Deaf community’s flagship TV programme See:Hear and many websites. In response to this success, we identified three separate routes to develop the software – a musical interaction tool, a speech therapy aid, and a software application for consumer devices including the iPhone.
It is the iPhone app which is the first to be developed, as part of the SAM Labs and SAM Digital programmes at Sound and Music. The app is a stripped-down version of the original application, concentrating on visually representing sound in a fast, accurate and convenient way. It will be free through Apple’s App Store and will hopefully demonstrate our commitment and ability to successfully transfer academic research and knowledge into real-world projects. It will also be Sound and Music’s first iPhone app. Lumisonic for the iPhone is due for release early October 2009. Mick Grierson will be speaking about his experiences of the project plus future plans for Knowledge Transfer at LCACE’s Knowledge Futures conference at Goldsmith’s Friday October 16th 2009.
10 OTHER MUSIC AND SOUND IPHONE APPS TO CHECK OUT:
CREATIVE IPHONE APPS
WFMU Simple – listen to New York independent radio station WFMU on your iPhone. The app is complete with song title, artist and show info as well as two streaming options 32k and 128k MP3.
A portable Music Production Centre for your iPhone, with drum machine, sampler and sequencer. Pricey though at £11.99.
Ocarina was the first true musical instrument created for the iPhone and developed by Ge Wang, an Academic at Stanford University Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics. He made millions from it!
Oscillator Let Shazam listen to a piece of recorded music for 10 seconds, and it’ll give you artists, title and even a link to purchase. I tested it with Stockhausen - it worked!
Pretend you work in the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Oscillator is a simple and rough audio generator application.
CREATIVE IPHONE APPS
Audio Blogging on the iPhone.
A simple, cheap and well designed ‘Robot Voice Synthesizer.’ Cute and fun.
Bloom is a generative music app created by Brian Eno & Peter Chilvers. The application acts like a keyboard. You can use your fingers to generate a melody that will play back in a loop. A soft background pad accompanies the melody.
PaklSound1 simulates a musical button pad for making up tunes on the go. It is loosely inspired by the Tenori-on and Monome, but simpler.
RJDJ allows you to create music from your surroundings. It takes the input from your microphone and processes it. You can choose how to process it by selecting a scene (each one created by a different artist). Essentially these scenes are, I think, Pure Data patches covered in beautiful bright graphics – all the geekiness hidden away inside. Once you’ve made your recording you can upload it and share with the world.
Jeremy Dale Roberts Glyn Perrin
Thomas Simaku DavidLaurence Lumsdaine Matthew Roddie Robert Saxton Roman Sadie Harrison
John Stringer Anne Boyd
Anthony Gilbert Trevor Wishart George Nicholson Jo Kondo LuĂs Tinoco Hilda Paredes
Opportunitie Red Note Ensemble Autumn Calls for Scores Deadline 28/09/2009
New platform for sound art, experimental music and performance at Milton Keynes Gallery Deadline: Wed, 30/09/2009
1. Performance Monday 12th October, Traverse Theatre Edinburgh: Call for an ensemble of Tpt / Va / Hn (tape parts accepted). 2. Performance Friday 30th October (part of ArtMusFair 2009) in Glasgow. Call for anensemble of Fl (AFl, Picc) / Hn / Vc / Marimba (tape parts accepted). Programme repeated Edinburgh 2nd November. 3. Performance Monday 7th December, Traverse Theatre Edinburgh. Call for an ensemble of: Musical Saw (db square ‘cello) / Chamber Organ (db toy piano) / Glockenspiel (db sleigh bells). Submissions by 23rd November 3009. http://www.musictheatrewales.org.uk Please submit all scores and parts via email in pdf format to john@seventhings. co.uk or by post to John Harris, Red Note Ensemble, 1A Dalrymple Crescent, Edinburgh EH9 2NU by 5pm on the submission date. All scores must be a maximum of 5 mins long. Late submissions will not be accepted. Scores for a subset of the instruments specified in the call will be accepted, although please note that preferencewill be shown to scores written in direct response to the call. www.soundandmusic.org/network/ opportunities/128532
Milton Keynes Gallery is looking for submissions for a new weekly event dedicated to presenting emerging practices in sound art, experimental music and performance. Interested parties should contact Simon Wright on: email@example.com (please include links to your work if possible). Alternatively, please send examples (CDs/DVDs)and a covering letter to this address: Milton Keynes Gallery, 900 Midsummer Boulevard, Milton Keynes, MK9 3QA. This project is currently unfunded (equipment can potentially be provided) but in the first instance we are seeking to create a environment where emerging artists can present their work on a regular basis. We would also welcome proposals that engage with our exhibition programme. www.soundandmusic.org/network/ opportunities/128531
Funding deadline for Michael Tippett Foundation Deadline: 30/09/2009
Applications for grants between £500 £4,000 for creative group music making projects in schools or community settings will be considered by the Michael Tippett Musical Foundation in the autumn.
The deadline is 30 SEPTEMBER 2009 Full guidelines from: www.tippettfoundation.org.uk
Call for contributions for edited collection on ‘Noise, Audition and Aurality: Histories of the Sonic World(s) of Europe’ Deadline: 30/11/2009
to Ian Biddle firstname.lastname@example.org by no later than November 30, 2009. If your contribution is chosen, we will require your finished chapter by April 19, 2010. www.soundandmusic.org/network/ opportunities/127660
ReedPlay Composition Competition Deadline: 30/10/2009
Contributions are invited for a proposed collection of essays exploring the soundscapes of Europe from c.1500 to 1945. We will favour contributions that deal with historically-informed topics in the following areas (although this is by no means an exclusive list): The noise-sound-music nexus Urban/rural soundscapes Public/private soundscapes The acoustic ecology of communities Legal histories of noise Noise, music and the body Listening and the erotic Political economies of noise Noise, music and landscape Theories of hearing and listening Historical acousmetre Historiographies of noise, audition and aurality Technologies of sound reproduction and their histories Prospective contributors should send a 250-word abstract and a short biography
Competition for a new trio to be performed at the Purcell Room in February 2010. ReedPlay are: Victoria Soames Samek – clarinets (E-flat, B-flat and A) & bass clarinet, Jeffery Wilson – saxophones (soprano, alto, tenor & baritone) and Tim Watts – piano. To celebrate their launch at the Purcell Room on 8th February 2010 ReedPlay are holding a competition for a new trio composition. Three works will be chosen for public workshop at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama on 14th November 2009 and the winning piece will be premiered in the launch concert. Compositions should be for trio and may use any combination of the above instruments (including doublings), should be between 4 and 8 minutes in duration and should not have been performed in public. Prize: £150 plus potential publication. Download an application form from: www.soundandmusic.org/network/ opportunities/127643
Spitalfields Music Animateur Apprentice Scheme 2009/2010
who would be able attend the workshops in London. Fee of ÂŁ25.
Spitalfields Music is offering musicians and composers the opportunity to work with its team of experienced animateurs and workshop leaders on a range of music and cross-arts learning and participation projects in Tower Hamlets. The Music Animateur Apprentice Scheme aims to equip those at the beginning of their careers with the skills necessary to lead effective and successful workshops. Apprentices will assist on at least two projects from planning through to performance, develop skills in workshop leading and facilitating and meet regularly with other trainees on the scheme for seminar sessions. We hope to appoint up to six apprentices for the 2009-2010 academic year. Each apprentice will receive a training bursary for their involvement. For an application pack visit www.soundandmusic.org/network/ opportunities/127425 or call 020 7377 0287.
London Contemporary Chamber Orchestra Call for Scores Deadline: 30/01/2010
Hear your piece played at a workshop, and receive feedback from the orchestra and conductor - some pieces will be performed later. Open to all composers
The LCCO is a good amateur orchestra, of single wind and brass, strings, percussion, and piano. Full details from the conductor, Alan Taylor: email@example.com â€“ essential to read these before starting to write. http://at.orpheusweb.co.uk/lcco
Call for Young Ensembles: ENSEMBLE 2010 Deadline: 16/10/2009
For the upcoming International Summer Courses for New Music, which are to take place from July 17 to 31 in Darmstadt, we would like to invite young new music ensembles to participate in a project called ENSEMBLE 2010. In a two-week work phase, under the guidance of instructors from the Summer Courses and led by the conductor Lucas Vis, the selected ensembles will each rehearse a program which they will present in concert at the end of the course sessions. Young ensembles of 3 to 12 musicians have until October 16, 2009, to apply. ENSEMBLE 2010 is not a competition. Ensembles of 3-12 musicians may apply. Each participant may only apply with one ensemble. Age limit: 35 years. http://www.soundandmusic.org/ network/opportunities/127355
Sound and Music and Media and Arts Partnership present:
Expo is the UK’s largest annual FREE festival of sound art and experimental music
25—28 September 2009 www.expofestival.org Lead Partners:
This year’s festival lands in Leeds to take over venues and public spaces across the city, showcasing leading artists and fresh newcomers in sound based art and performance. Expo Leeds is an extended weekend of people enjoying, creating, playing, sharing, experiencing, discovering and listening to sonic art. Come and join in!
Hear & Now
Saturday nights at 10.30pm on BBC Radio 3
5 September: Music from Total Immersion Composer Days 2009
19 September: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
12 September: Birmingham Contemporary Music Group
26 September:Vale of Glamorgan Festival
Xenakis: Persephassa. (GSMD Percussion Ensemble); New octets inspired by Tristan Murail, by: Jane Hebberd, Aaron Holloway-Nahum and Ed Nesbit (BBCSO players and Guildhall post-graduates conducted by Pierre-Andre Valade). Plus a work by a more senior admirer of Murail: Julian Anderson: Poetry nearing silence (BCMG conducted by Martyn Brabbins).
Denys Bouliane: Du fouet et du plaisir for piano and ensemble; Philippe LeRoux: Voi(rex) for voice, six instruments & electronics; Gyorgy Ligeti: Concerto for piano and orchestra; Donatienne Michel-Dansac (Soprano), Rolf Hind (piano), Martyn Brabbins (conductor).
Oliver Knussen: Music for a Puppet Court, Luke Bedford: Outblaze the Sky, Mark-Anthony Turnage: From all Sides, Samuel Beckett: Not I, Mark Anthony Turnage: 5 Views of a Mouth (BBC Commission, world premiere) played by BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Ilan Volkov (conductor), Fiona Shaw (voice). Plus a report on John Wynne’s installation Soundtrap IV. Brett Dean: Dispersal; Ceremonial; Komarov’s Fall; Paul Stanhope: Fantasia on a theme of Vaughan Williams; Ross Edwards: Symphony No. 5 played by BBC National Orchestra of Wales, André de Ridder (conductor).
The magazine of