"Cloches de Pentecôte" (Bells of Pentecost) is a sound art piece
created for the "Courant
d'art" festival 2009 to which I was invited as one of two guest
composers. It is now available to buy as a download at seventhings.co.uk.
The Cathedral bells were rung and the sound was recorded from opposite
the 'tour de beurre' on the first floor of the tourist office, the
same vantage point from where Monet painted his famous paintings of
the Cathedral facade. The sound was then digitally analysed in order
to find the most important sinusoidal components. Using these data,
the sound was recreated from simple sine waves and slowed down by a
factor of six, such that the piece lasts just over an hour. The
recording no longer sounds like bells but retains the essential
frequency characteristics of a bell sound. The result is a creation in
harmony with the building which lets the listener pass a moment of
prayerful reflection and meditation in the beautiful surroundings of
the cathedral and to hear the bells in a different way.
The bell is an ancient instrument, existing in various forms in many
different cultures. Unlike other types of instrument such as strings
and wind - whose harmonics are all at simple multiples of a common
fundamental frequency - bells are rich in harmonics with no simple
frequency relation. Occidental bells are carefully shaped such that
three of its prominent modes of vibration produce a minor chord from
which its perceived pitch is derived. The following link contains some
information about the seven bells as well as the large though sadly
not fully-functional fifty-six bell carillon
de la Cathédrale de Rouen.
"Cloches de Pentecôte" est une création sonore, faite pour le
d'Art" pour lequel j'ai été un des deux Compositeurs
invités. Elle est maintenant disponible à télécharger chez le
Things I Daren't Express. J'ai enregistré les cloches à partir
du premier étage de l'Office de Tourisme en face de la Tour de
Beurre, le même endroit où Monet a peint ses toiles célèbres de la
façade de la Cathédrale. Ensuite, le son a été analysé afin de
trouver les composants sinusoïdaux les plus importants. Utilisant
ces données, le son a été recréé à partir des ondes sinus simples et
ralenti six fois, pour que la pièce dure une heure. Les attaques
sont adoucies et il ne reste que les résonances. Le son n'est plus
le son des cloches mais possède les fréquences essentielles à un son
de cloche. Le résultat est une production en harmonie avec l'édifice
qui laisse l'auditeur passer un moment de contemplation et
méditation paisible, et qui offre une nouvelle écoute des cloches.
La cloche est un instrument de musique ancien, existant sous
diverses formes dans beaucoup de cultures différentes. Au contraire
d'autres types d'instruments tels que les cordes et les vents, dont
les harmoniques sont toutes des multiples simples d'une fondamentale
commune, la cloche est riche en harmoniques qui n'ont pas forcément
de rapport simple avec les autres. Cela contribue à sa sonorité
mystérieuse. La forme des cloches occidentales est raffinée pour
qu'il y ait trois modes de vibration importants qui produisent un
accord mineur dont la note perçue est dérivée. Le lien suivant donne
accès à des informations sur les sept cloches ainsi que le grand carillon
de la Cathédrale de Rouen, qui comporte cinquante-six cloches
mais qui malheureusement ne fonctionne que partiellement.
Genre : Interactive Audiovisual
Installation Collaborator : Damien Lefebvre Requirements : computer, large screen or projector, video
camera. Exhibitions :
10 and 12 December at the Ecole
Régionale des Beaux Arts (ERBA) in Rouen.
Correspondances is an interactive installation created as part of a
collaboration between the Conservatoire and the Ecole des Beaux Arts
de Rouen for the 'Semaine
Messiaen', a week of events celebrating the centenary of the
birth of the composer Olivier
Messiaen. Messiaen was a syneasthete
and he would perceive colours when he heard certain chords, and so the
aim of the installation was to explore this link between colour and
In Messiaen's piece 'Couleurs
de la Cité Céleste' (Coulours of the Celestial City), he
annotates a number of sustained chords with the coulours he would
perceive on hearing them. Four of these chords were chosen to serve as
the basis for the installation. Their sound has been sampled, treated
and looped while the corresponding colours worked into four corners of
a looping video. A visitor to the installation activates the sound and
colour using their onscreen reflection as captured by a video camera.
When they move in the top left quadrant, they activate the sound and
the video of 'blue violet'; in the top right, 'emerald green,
amethyst, violet'; in the bottom left corner 'pink, mauve and grey';
and in the bottom right, 'red, orange and gold'.
Genre : Interactive Tactile Sound
Installation Requirements : Computer, 8-channel sound system, microphone,
tactile interface with 8 buttons. Exhibitions :
8-13 December at the Conservatoire de Rouen
Messiaen was fascinated by birds, and particularly loved their
songs which he would transcribe and integrate into his musical
compositions. The 'Volière numérique intéractive' is an interactive
sound installation project which turned the hall of Rouen
conservatoire into a homage to Messiaen's winged friends for the 'Semaine
All day long, recordings of bird song are diffused over eight
loudspeakers spread out around the entrance hall. Tucked away under
the stairs, with a view out into the little glass-encircled garden, is
the 'Studio d'Oiseaux' (Bird Studio) where participants can listen to
a selection of slowed down bird songs and try to imitate what they
Each song is accompanied by a photo of the bird, Messiaen's
transcription in musical notation, and its spectrogram.
As Messiaen did to the bird songs he incorporated into his works, the
recordings have been slowed down to render them comprehensible to the
The participant can then imitate the slowed down birdsong or invent
their own by singing or whistling into a microphone. This sound is
automatically recorded and then played back three times faster - at
"bird speed" - then randomly diffused around the hall at the same time
as the real recorded birdsong.
Messiaen s'intéressait beaucoup aux chants des oiseaux comme en
témoigne son "Catalogue d'oiseaux". La "Volière numérique
interactive" consiste à transformer le hall d'entrée du
en hommage aux sujets ailés préférés du compositeur, et permet au
public de découvrir sa passion pour les oiseaux et d'imiter leurs
Toute la journée, des chants d'oiseaux sont diffusés dans le hall
grâce à huit enceintes réparties dans l'espace. Sur une borne
interactive, appelée "studio d'oiseaux", abritée sous l'escalier,
une vue sur le jardin vitré, les participants peuvent écouter une
sélection de chants d'oiseau rallentis et essayer de les imiter.
Chaque chant est accompagné par une image de l'oiseau, de sa
transcription en notation musicale, et de son sonogram (image de
Pour les rendre comprehensibles, les chants sont ralentis 10 fois.
Le participant peut ensuite essayer d'enregistrer son propre chant
d'oiseau avec sa voix, un sifflet, ou un instrument de musique qui
ensuite acceléré dix fois et diffusé dans le hall. A coté de la
borne, il y a une fiche de renseignements sur les chants et sur
Etudes in Human Computer Musical Interface
Genre : Suite of Compositions Performances: August 28 and 29, in the MSc Atrium space,
Alison House, 12 Nicolson Square, at the 2006
MSc final degree show.
September 13, at St Cecilia's Hall, Edinburgh at M1Sc. Mus1c, an
evening of electroacoustic performance.
These studies were written as part of my final MSc project, and
comprise three separate pieces investigating different possibilities
for musical control of the computer.
Prelude and Palindrome for Piano and Reversing Pedal
Composition Requirements : Piano or other keyboard instrument,
microphone, MIDI pedal, computer to run reversing algorithm, PA
This piece employs an augmented piano instrument. The abilities of
the piano are augmented by the addition of what I would like to call
a reversing pedal. The pedal allows reverse playback of the live
sound of the piano and uses internal feedback to build up layers of
harmony. The palindrome as it's name suggests, sounds the same
forwards as backwards. This effect is achieved thanks to the
reversing pedal which is held down throughout the second half of the
piece in order to replay the first half in reverse.
For more information, please take a look at the Documentation
and the scores.
Composition Requirements : singer and bubble popper, microphone, DV
camera, video projector, computer with Bubble and Squeak software.
This piece uses the Bubble and Squeak interface (from the
installation as described below) as a musical instrument. The
singer's voice is caught in on-screen soap bubbles which they then
pop using their movement.
Composition Requirements : At least three sensors, a dual-axis
accelerometer, a dance mat, a game-pad with two analogue joysticks,
This piece utilises four kinds of control method: sensors,
triggers, dual axis accelerometer and game pad. It is divided in two
parts: in the first part the triggers are used to play back
preprepared sounds and the sensors control how the sound is
processed and the whole section is recorded; the second part uses
the dual axis accellerometer to control the movement through the
recorded sound of the first part and the game pad is used to control
how the sound is processed. This étude sets out to demonstrate
suitable ways to map the parameters of these controllers onto
musical parameters. The sounds used as a basis come from resonant
metallic objects but other sounds could be used.
Bubble n Squeak is an interface wherein people use movement and sound
to manipulate digitally animated 'bubbles'. A live set, whereby people
are no longer passive receptors of information, but are engaged,
connected and immersed in the performance that is driven by their own
actions. It is located where members of the public could come across
it unintentionally. People will be stimulated to explore their voice
and physicality, providing recreation and entertainment for themselves
Members of the public blow virtual soap bubbles on a video screen by
singing,shouting, clapping, stamping their feet or making whatever
sound they like. When a bubble is blown, their sound is captured
inside. The participants can then pop the bubble using their onscreen
reflection to free the sound.
Genre : Electroacoustic Composition
Eight channels Performed : Friday 12 May 2006, at the Reid concert hall,
Bristo Place, Edinburgh.
Fantom of the Ventilation Shaft is a seven-and-a-half minute
electroacoustic piece for eight speakers arranged in a double diamond
configuration. The main sounds in this piece come from a ventilation
fan, a circuit-bent guitar toy, a baby's bottle, and a handful of
coins. The sounds were spatialised using a dual joystick controlled
eight channel spatialisation environment created for the project.
Please consult the Fantom documentation
for more information about the piece.
Secretly circumnavigating the pipes and air conduits that burrow
through suburban structures, the restless Fantom of the ventilation
shaft darts from one pipe to the next, humming and buzzing, hissing
and spitting, blowing and sucking. Flowing all around us, the presence
of the Fantom is heard by all, felt by many, known by some and seen by
none. The Fantom is mischievous, creeping up and making people uneasy,
sneaking inside machines, traversing pipes, riding currents, lurking
in eddys, manifesting briefly then vanishing.
Featured below is a two-channel version of the piece constructed from
channels two and seven of the original piece.
What it Feels Like to be a Lamppost
Genre : Electroacoustic Composition
Two channels Help with location recording : Gareth Annable Performed : Saturday 10 December 2005 at the Reid Concert
Hall, Bristo Place, Edinburgh, as part of the Soundings festival.
What it feels like to be a Lamppost is composed using sounds made by
interacting with different parts of Edinburgh. The composer finds that
the rings of Edinburgh's sign and lamposts are very bright and
resonant compared with those in other cities and obsesses about
striking all such things with fingertips whenever passing. The sounds
were recorded late at night when the city falls quiet. They were then
edited, cleaned, and loaded into a sampler to be triggered from a MIDI
keyboard. Various clapping sounds were recorded during the course of
the sound walk to capture the echo in different spaces. These claps
were used throughout the piece as impulse resposes in a convolution
reverb plugin to place the sounds in a stairwell or in a subway or
between two parallel walls.
The piece grabs the listener's attention with a loud and dramatic
opening section with a mess of cluttered unpitched sounds, followed by
a rhythmic section to hypnotise with its repetitive pattern
interrupted by a sudden clap to send them into a trance. A texture
made up of the beautiful ringing sounds of streetsigns, lamppost and
magic drain pipe then emerges from a brief period of silence. The
piece builds in intensity creating a more sinister atmosphere. Mains
hum from an electricity box is overdriven to extremes with sweeping
high decibel q-factor cuts and sharp hi and low pass filtering. The
piece reaches the midpoint with a deep metallic ringing sound and
begins the journey back, waking the listener up from their trance and
returning them to where they started.
Attention! Please listen to the piece before reading the following
notes on the pieces construction!
'What it Feels Like to be a Lampost' was constructed in a palindromic
form starting from the middle of the piece and working outwards. The
long deep ring of a red panel outside the museum of Scotland was
placed just before the middle of the piece so that the tail of its
decay just overlapped the midpoint. The sound was duplicated and
reversed about the midpoint. Dramatic noisy scraping sounds follow it.
These were again duplicated and reversed about the midpoint of the
piece. By adding sounds to lead into that part, duplicating and
reversing them about the midpoint, placing sounds to lead out of the
resulting reversed material and repeating the process in reverse the
piece was built up so that it was half forwards and half backwards
with the forward and reverse parts reacting to each other. At the end
of this process I had a ten minute palindromic piece. At this point I
discarded the second half and worked on further processing the first
half, reversing little sections and adding eq and volume curves. To
then produce a practically perfect sample for sample palindrome, the
half was bounced, duplicated and reversed and placed end to end and
slightly overlapping with the original.