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Publication Details

Presented by Ergodos, in The Back Loft, Dublin 8. May 17, 2012



This was my first solo performance using spatial music technologies. The system I am using is the sixth generation realisation of a hemispherical speaker system, first designed by Perry Cook and Dan Trueman at Princeton University in 1997.


This piece is three and a half minutes in duration and uses a very pared-back aesthetic, the simplicity of approach in this piece is influenced by the Gagaku tradition, which is directly referred to timbrally.[1] Dutch composer Ton De Leeuw, who carried out ethnomusicological work in Japan during the 1960s was one of many western musicians who were inspired by the shō in Gagaku music:[2]

In order to represent some of the soundworld and atmosphere of Gagaku (continuous drones, chord clusters, slow tempo, repetition) I used three processes: looping, harmonizer and reverb. Unusually, in this current research practice, once these loop, harmonizer and reverb settings are selected, I did not change, nor use any additional, DSP settings.

Underpinning the piece is a continuous loop. This was created in the performance by sampling a short section of a clarinet drone which also contained a note simultaneously sung a perfect fifth above the clarinet. This sample was then pitched an octave lower. This loop is also sent through a band-pass filter which serves to accentuate mid-frequency details. The loop has a drone quality (in the sense that it establishes a tonal centre) as well as much timbral detail. It also contains complex rhythmic qualities: on a macro level it can be heard as a one bar loop in 7/4 at approximately 110 bpm, however other poly-rhythms disguise this structure, yielding a satisfyingly ambiguous rhythmic feel suitable for a figure, which is maintained for over three minutes.

[1] Gagaku is “The traditional court music of medieval Japan, originally derived from China… The style is smooth and precise; the tempo is initially slow but later fast.” See Oxford Grove Music Encyclopedia.

[2] The shō is a mouth organ from the same family as the khaen (Thailand) and the sheng (China). The sheng was the precursor to the development of reed organs, the harmonium and the accordion. See Jeremy Montagu, Origins and Development of Musical Instruments (Lanham: Scarecrow Press, 2007), 95-97. The shō has been featured in the work of contemporary composers such as Toshi Ichiyanagi, Toru Takemitsu and John Cage.

[3] de Leeuw, Ton, Ton de Leeuw (Netherlands Music Archive) (London: Routledge, 1997), 24-34.