So I’ve been planning a piece for Richard Craig and myself after discovering that he, too, has been working on feedback-based instrument playing. The idea is to follow up my snare/feedback piece, iminlovewithanothergirl.com (score), with a piece for flute/feedback + snare/feedback. This will be the second of a planned trilogy of .com pieces. I’ve been developing a dynamic score display system which I will debut with this piece, but more on that later.
Here are some videos:
Since Sam Andreae moved back to the country late last year we’ve been working on a duo together. At first it was just straight acoustic improv, but lately we’ve started exploring “Battle Pieces”.
Here is a video of the first one we wrote, called “Yo Momma”.
The idea for Battle Pieces came about when we were thinking of ways to expand what we were doing together, but still retaining improvisation freedom. Essentially each battle piece is a game, but beyond being an improv game, it is also competitive, and generally dealing with an aspect of improvisation that we want to explore further and/or get better at.
Yo Momma is primarily about ‘endings’. During the main section of the piece we are trying to catch/bait/trap each other into an ending. That is to recontextualize what the other performer was doing such that it can be the ‘end’ of a piece. It’s been interesting/challenging exploring this idea as we’ve gotten much better and the ‘game’ part of it, so it’s becoming more chess-like, trying to do moves ahead, setting up false premises, muscling through the other players attempted ending etc… The punctuated endings give the piece an interesting cadence/microstructure, which gives it a depth beyond the less-than-apparent ‘game’ being played. When collaboratively composing these pieces this has been the hardest part. It’s easy enough to come up with a fun game to play, harder to come up with an interesting game to play/listen to, and even harder to have the game/interest extend into the structure of the piece.
We play 2 out of 3, so the first player to get two endings wins that part of the game. A tie (when we both claim an ending) doesn’t count, and we carry on. We can also claim a point when we think the other player has egregiously played through an attempted ending.
After one player wins 2 points, the ‘loser’ has to play a solo, and the winner ‘plays them out’ whenever they want. The loser has to go along with the winner’s ending.
Yo Momma is our first finished piece, we have several more which are works in progress. Here is a video of some of the interaction types/language in one of the works in progress. The game of this one is more complex, and is not present in this video. It basically deals with fast pre-composition, memory, and memory to structure all of which inform what methods of interaction.
Before I talk, here is some sights and sounds:
During my summer tour last year I improv-ed my way into using a condenser mic as a friction implement. The sounds were harsh, but very controllable and with a great continuity between vastly different types of sounds/playing. I instantly knew I was on to something, and wanted to explore this further.
Fast forward to one month ago.
I was starting to plan/conceive my next composition, having recently started a PhD at the University of Huddersfield, and wanted to explore this microphone/snare thing further. At the same time, I had decided that I was going to move away from the “middle man” of writing a composition, for myself, to perform. (More on this, and the implications of it in a future post). I decided to use this very limited mode of playing as the backbone of this exploration. No other implements, no electronics (other than amplification/distortion), no “easy” solutions to the problem I was trying to solve.
This video is not that solution. It is just a document of some of the sounds and playing techniques I’ve been exploring.
So I went on a UK tour recently doing solo drums + electronics.
Here is a ‘showreel’ of sorts, documenting some choice bits from the different performances.
This was the first tour I’ve done since moving onto a laptop as my performance setup. The center piece of that is The Party Van, my all-in-one laptop performance solution. It was nice doing a bunch of (relatively) back to back gigs to really get ‘inside’ the mechanics of my patch/setup.
The footage was shot and edited by my wife, Angela Guyton, who shoots most(all) of my videos nowadays. There’s a longer (10minutes) sort of documentary on me in the works covering my live stuff, instrument building, bands, composition etc… Very much looking forward to that.
Weak Without You is my latest composition commissioned by Distractfold Ensemble.
It looks and sounds like this:
It’s written for three female performers who sing and clap (with a bit of a pitched instrument at end). The performers (Linda Jankowska, Emma Richards, and Alice Purton) did a great job with the piece, particularly considering the nakedness of just singing/clapping.
This is the first piece I’ve composed since starting my PhD at the University of Huddersfield and it’s probably one of my simplest/cleanest pieces. The materials are super stark, and I think it really works.
‘Underneath the hood’ there are some further explorations into some of my ideas about ‘fake’ time. Sections B/C/D in the score make use of these ideas, and during the rehearsals the term “real time” and “fake time” were thrown around a lot (to the initial confusion of the performers).
Here is the full score:
Oh yeah, and it’s a ‘cover’ of Survivor by Destiny’s Child….
Here are a couple videos I made for the Art of Teaching project of my favorite drills for working your time and ears.
It sounds like this:
And looks like this:
So here it finally is. The post-jazz trio that I’ve been working on with Mauricio Pauly and Alex Tod (A Greater Horror) has finished our debut EP. As always the artwork is by Angela Guyton though this time we’ve gone with a commercially duplicated full-color sleeve type thing.
I’ve very happy with the integration of my software The Party Van into the recording, as all of these tracks were getting gigged before I had even started programming again. You can see/hear more of it in action with the live video we made a bit ago by clicking here.
You can listen to, or buy a download of physical copy of the EP on the bandcamp page here:
You can see The Party Van in action on my side, with some more Max/MSP goodness coming from PA. Sam? He kicks it oldschool with some ciat-lonbarde digs, some general DIY grunginess, and with a new school twist, an Arduino.
I am what I am today because a series of teachers who inspired, challenged, and believed in me. Today I received the Positive Impact Award in the Student Led Teaching Awards at the Royal Northern College of Music, where I teach Musicianship.
It is a massive honor to be nominated for, and receive this award. I have been very fortunate to encounter some amazing teachers in my life and I hope I can do for my students but a fraction of what they have done for me.
Many thanks to Thomas Trenkler, Joseph Bragg, Jo Foster, David Weissbrot, Jane Pyle, and all teachers who inspire students everywhere.
Spent the last three days in the studio with Pierre Alexandre Tremblay for our second album together. Some crazy amazing stuff. I’m very much looking forward to this one coming out. If all goes well it should be later this year.
So been doing this group with Mauricio Pauly and Alex Tod (A Greater Horror) since last year, but more recently it’s started picking up steam. We’ve got a gig at the Manchester Jazz Festival coming up in July and I’m quite excited about it as I finally incorporated my monome/arc/software setup (The Party Van) into the setup.
Here’s a video we made a few weeks ago filmed by Angela Guyton.
It’s pretty brutal.
I recently put out the v05 version of my Party Van software, and it is looking/sounding great if I don’t say so myself.
Here’s a performance video using solo snare + electronics:
So I’m doing a solo (drums+electronics) tour across the UK hitting up a bunch of classy cities (details below).
Speaking of in the mix (erm, kind of stretching it eh?), my string quartet + computer hard drive piece (It’s Made From Pieces Of From Pieces Of My Skin) should hopefully be premiered by the Distractfold ensemble in a couple of months too, with Angela Guyton making a documentary about the piece/performance.
In addition to the AGH EP release, I’m back in the studio with PA Tremblay to record a follow up to our last CD. Also have some studio time booked with Phil Marks, for a smoking drum duo we’ve been working on, and some more studio time with Richard Knight for a peculiar guitar+no-input mixer thing we’ve been kicking around.
All in all, some rather busy next couple of months. Do stop by some of the gigs and see the new setup/instruments in action.
5 May 2012 – Birmingham – Solo Drums+Electronics
9 May 2012 – Sheffield – Solo Drums+Electronics
10 May 2012 – Manchester – Solo Drums+Electronics
22 May 2012 – Manchester – The Noise Upstairs Ensemble
23 May 2012 – Chorlton – Solo Electronics
25 May 2012 – Manchester – Takahashi’s Shellfish Concern
30 May 2012 – Kent – Solo Drums+Electronics
6 June 2012 – Leeds – Takahashi’s Shellfish Concern
19 June 2012 – Manchester – A Greater Horror
22 June 2012 – Manchester – Drums with PA Tremblay
23 June 2012 – Manchester – Takahashi’s Shellfish Concern
24 June 2012 – London – Solo Drums+Electronics
29 June 2012 – Manchester – The Noise Upstairs Ensemble
5 July 2012 – Manchester – Takahashi’s Shellfish Concern
7 July 2012 – Sheffield – Drums with Federico Reuben
12 July 2012 – Manchester – Drums with Federico Reuben
14 July 2012 – Manchester – A Greater Horror
19 July 2012 – Manchester – Takahashi’s Shellfish Concern
26 July 2012 – Huddersfield – Solo Drums+Electronics