MATERIALITY: Sound Sculpture to interface the physical and digital in music making

MATERIALITY explored sound sculpture as a medium to interface physical materials with Ableton music software via Arduino and DIY electronics. Bringing together my love of field recordings, electronics and electronic music production, I researched the sonic and conductive properties of glass and metal materials at London Sculpture Studio and the National Glass Centre resulting in new resonant sculptural instruments and new physical/digital performance system. I collaborated with researchers at the National Graphene Institute to develop a capacitive controller for Ableton and created an industrial musique concrete sample library from the processes of working with the materials. I performed with the graphene interface at Music Tech Fest Stockholm, Access Space and DINA in Sheffield and was featured on the Composer-Curator Sound and Music Podcast. Full project research blog here.

Greater Manchester Sound Archive commission

75710_Archives+ Logo_CMYK editedThe Greater Manchester Sound Archive is the new collection of sounds at Archives+ , Central Library in Manchester. It is a rich sonic treasure trove charting the socio-political history of the city with oral histories, music and nature recordings to name but a few. I was asked to create a soundscape and work with the LGBT archive for the LGBT Voices live event at Manchester Central Library. The aim was to raise awareness of the archives by undertaking some outreach workshops, I ran a soundart project with young people at the Proud Trust where we used contact mics to unearth and record the hidden sounds of the youth centre. We also put out an open call for spoken word artists to respond to the LGBT oral history archives, these responses were performed live at the event. We also had a submission from Reform Radio who had created a podcast with their young trainees.

Over the past couple of months I have had the priviledge to listen to over 60 of the oral history archives. As well as learning so much about the history of gay rights in the city and lots of different LGBT narratives and topics including Polari, Section 28, how Manchester City Council was the first to invest in a gay centre for it citizens and political perspectives on spaces for subcultures to exist.

I was interested in the ‘sounds of recording’, the pops, clicks and false starts that happen when conducting oral history interviews. These small incidental moments were of interest sonically as I constructed loops and rhythmic patterns out of these. As well as referencing the oral history archives I wanted to showcase some of the wider sounds in the archives that I was particularly drawn to.

stThe Jodrell Bank space tapes were really exciting, I was able to digitise these from tape cassette so I could work with the material. These included sounds from the sputnik satellite, moon echoes and an interesting lecture called ‘The centre of immensities’. Other textures I worked with were the industrial mill sounds, orchestrating the sounds of an Arkwright machine, spinning jenny, mill hooter on a drum pad, creating beats from the machinery of Manchester’s past. The Paul Graney archive was also fascinating and I sampled some of his world music recordings from his catalogue of radio show archives.

I look forward to using more archive sounds as a source of musical inspiration, the act of sampling, manipulating and creating something new out of the historical material and combining this with new field recordings was truely special. It;s got me thinking of a new musique concrete performance I might like to try with old formats at the library.

Thanks to Dave Govier at Archives+ for all his support, knowledge and enthusiasm whilst working on the project.




Noise Orchestra National Media Museum Residency

Facebook PicNoise Orchestra is a collective led by myself, Vicky Clarke and David Birchall. We use electronics, lights and turntables to turn images and objects into sounds. We are artists in residence at the National Media Museum with our project ‘Play The Collections’. I’ll be updating the blog with our findings and experiments, here is our Gallery interpretation video Continue reading “Noise Orchestra National Media Museum Residency”

Echo Trace

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 22.18.47Playing synthesizers and providing visuals in Central Library at the final performance of the ECHOTRACE project. Really proud to have been a part of this project, working with the Owl Project at Withington library animating the spaces with noises. You can see my visuals ‘fragments rewind’ and a show reel of other arty imagery behind the performers.

Noise Orchestra Paper Sound

We have been working at Webster primary school for part two of Noise Orchestra. This time we are concentrating on electronics and making circuits to produce sound using light theremins and paper cylindrical stencils. Using turntables and bike lights we are able to spin hand cut stencils and shapes and shine a light directly through the paper shapes onto the photocell. Continue reading “Noise Orchestra Paper Sound”

Transmission Forms

shapes60Using my sketchbook to document forms and shapes on my recent research trips to the National Media Museum and the Communications Gallery at MOSI has become a means to generate sculpural ideas in metal. The forms on this piece are all taken from objects to do with transmission and broadcasting which I made into paper stencils so I could rearrange and test out the interplay of the shapes and how they might balance. I’m also thinking of these in sheet metal and how these would sound on impact.

Prototype Sound Sculpture

Metal work forays this week, i’m getting to grips with the equipment and processes of bending, cutting, welding and working towards developing a series of sound sculptures.  Steel on this scale is quite resonant, the 3mm metal rods descending through the sound whole activate the sphere. Next stage is to start to mic these up with contact microphones and begin recording and think about methods of suspension.


Death of a Piano

1 The piano parts were salvaged from a local arts centre who were throwing away this old piano. With instructions to break it up and put it into the skip, the piano was thrown down the stairs. I recorded the sound of this act and thought of all the hundreds of people who would have played this instrument and the different tunes and memories embeddded within its components. Continue reading “Death of a Piano”