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Music for the Augmented Pipe Organ

Music for the Augmented Pipe Organ is a series of experimental compositions which merge the vibrant material and ethereal space of the pipe organ and the techniques of electronic and post-digital music forms. The project follows a year of collaborative development with interface designer Johnty Wang to augment Vancouver’s largest pipe organ with custom digital controls, allowing for real-time manipulation of all pipes and stops. With a reflexive attention to the organ’s spatial context and unique embodiment of the harmonic series, the project incorporates site-specific elements such as the church’s architecture and interior acoustics, using controlled feedback systems, algorithmic listening, and projection mapping to consider the resonant relationships between the instrument and its surrounding space as generative elements interwoven into the works. Through this process of hybridizing acoustic and digital sonic imaginations, the project explores new sonic terrains that emerge through a digital approach to the world’s oldest mechanical synthesizer.

Supported by the School for Contemporary Arts (SFU) and the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Music, Media, and Technology (CIRMMT)

Performances: Pacific Spirit United Church (Vancouver 2018) + Kunst-Station Sankt Peter (Köln 2020)


frequencies

‘frequencies’ is a sound installation that contemplates utopian soundscape design strategies and methods of ‘re-tuning’ the world. In reference to the historical role that bells and other sounds played as an organizing principle and spatial-political tool within urban environments, the installation re-imagines the role of the bells in public spaces as a means towards conjuring new relationships between emplaced sounds and a listening public. Comprised of 15 individually suspended bell-like metallophones which autonomously ring via electro-magnetic mallets, the installation integrates an artistic practice in kinetic sound sculpture, new media, and acoustic instrument making. As a site-specific intervention, the distributed nature of the instrument is designed to map onto an existing environment, folding along its contours and exploring its spatial qualities as sculptural elements which frame the relationship between listeners and sound sources. Through this strategy of ambient diffusion, listening is provoked both outwards and inwards as one moves throughout a space, finding subtle relationships held and revealed within the sonic geography of each site.

Supported by Glenfraser Endowment Research Award in Acoustic Communication

Upcoming Installations: September 2019 at IN VITRØ: Artificial Sonification, Matera, Italy


Jeita 

Jeita is a composition for a 32-channel speaker installation at the 2019 Fusebox Festival. Spread throughout a five storey parking garage in downtown Austin, this large-scale installation uses the physical partitions of the surrounding architecture, along with mobile speaker arrays, to create a series of temporary environments that interlock with one another, experienced on a spiral walking path.


pulses // patterns

a sound installation exhibited at the Western Front, Vancouver Canada 

Exhibit | Dec 7-13    Performance | Dec 14

Formed from technology from the pipe organ and electronic organ building traditions, pulses // patterns uses a custom array of rotary speakers and a single pipe-organ rank interfaced with MIDI and micro-controllers to create a system of interlinked sonic objects. The installation conceives of the room’s space as an unfolding sculpture, as the air is compressed, accelerated, and spun into sound by the mechanics of the instrument, which breathe with layers of pulses that phase and synchronize over the duration of the composition.

Press – BeatRoute Magazine Feature 2017

 


Ascend

3D sound systems strive to artificially re-produce a surround-sound environment; an acoustic dynamic which can be traced back to the pipe organ’s immense spatialization across large reverberant cathedrals. In this resonant and highly reflective architecture, sound was felt to come from all directions, and was frequently perceived as a force affecting not just the ears but the entire body. Using a 3D Audio system installed in a medieval church, multi-channel recordings of a pipe organ are re-spatialized within the sound-field, nesting the two spaces within one another and converging the two practices in historical and modern spatial audio. Presented with the Soundscape & Environmental Media Lab in Dieburg, Germany (2018).


studies for robotic marimba and disklavier

Inspired by the works of Nancarrow, this series of studies explores the compositional affordances of electro-mechanical instruments, using their extended precision as a mean of pushing perceptual boundaries of time and density. The works map an electronic and computational approach onto acoustic instruments, conjoining the seemingly historically divergent, yet intertwined relationships between electronic music production and the physical realms of acoustic instruments.


‘Aisatsana’ for Player Piano

Composed by Richard D. James (Aphex Twin), ‘aisatsana’ is a Satie-esque piece for piano which invites stillness and careful listening to one’s surroundings. This mechanical and acoustic reproduction of ‘aisatsana’ uses a 100-year-old player piano to play a custom-made roll of the piece. Set in Hadden Park, the piano is recorded alongside visiting starlings and crows in the canopy above, creating a “live” version of the bird song heard in Aphex Twin’s original version on the 2014 ‘Syro’ album. An homage to Richard’s signature blurring of the acoustic, electronic, and automatic, the meeting of the programmed player piano and the park’s incidental soundscape invites one to reflect on notions of soundscape composition and the tensions between liveness and automation.


a thousand pounds of vibrating metal

a thousand pounds of vibrating metal is an electro-acoustic work for 4 subwoofers commissioned by the Canadian Music Centre in Toronto. The work focuses in on the varying and asymmetrical vibration patterns found in large gongs created for gamelan ensembles in Bali Indonesia. Using recordings made at a gamelan workshop of 25 contrasting gongs, the piece explores the particles of sounds in these subwoofer-like instruments.

 


Formation

Formation is a kinetic sound installation that explores the sculptural dimensions of rotary speakers, using the emergent qualities of their movements to invite listening across the visual and tactile dimensions of sound. The work re-configures technologies associated with early 20th century era organ building, when electronics were attempting to synthesize and recreate the acoustics of pipe organs. During this time, a radio engineer invented the ‘Leslie’ rotary speaker to mimic the sonic quality of large, spatially dispersed pipe organs. In this piece a 4 channel rotary speaker array sounds a 25-minute chorus of pulses that create a choreography of morphing space.

Formation was featured at Vancouver New Music’s 2016 Mechanical Music Festival.

 

 


Gamelan Bike Bike

Gamelan Bike Bike found its musical inspiration from Bali, Indonesia and its raw materials from the scrap metal bins of Vancouver. Between 2012 and 2013 I collected over 100 discarded bicycle frames to build the instruments. The colorful metal scraps, configured into a series of metallophones instruments, created a platform for new experimentation with gamelan music on the West Coast. The ensemble has presented performances at the Western Front, the Surrey Art Gallery, the Vancouver Folk Music Festival and released Hi-Ten, a collection of original music with the Indonesia-based art collective and label Insitu Recordings on November 11, 2017, available at http://insiturec.com/hi-ten/

Press – Discorder Magazine Feature 2017


Intonarumori

In 2016, a series of replicas of Luigi Russolo’s Intonarumori instruments were created for the Vancouver Art Gallery exhibit MashUp: The Birth of Modern Culture. I participated in an ensemble which formed to explore the sonic and performative potentials of replicas. The ensemble’s performance explored Russolo’s mechanical sound machines through a re-interpretation of his early written score, using a shared language of improvisational gestures. The ensemble featured Giorgio Magnanensi, Kedrick James, Jules Lavern, Mariah Mennie, and George Rahi.

Intonarumori


Bass Piano

The Bass Piano is an experimental piano created by Andrew Wedman in 2016 as part of the Western Front’s series 88 Tuned Bongos. Wedman, a musician and piano technician, tuned the piano down a full octave to A220, creating a unique tonal quality comparable to carillon bells and steel drums. Interested in the inharmonic overtones of this experimental piano, pianist and composer Robyn Jacob and I prepared a suite of Colin McPhee’s piano transcriptions for Balinese Gamelan. A performance was held on 3/31/2016 at the Western Front, and was later video documented at the Hadden Park Field house where the piano now resides.

Below is a video of a piece “Gambangan”
Colin Mcphee’s Balinese Ceremonial Music – Piano Transcriptions (1940)
Played by Robyn Jacob and George Rahi on the ‘Bass Piano’.

Recorded at the Hadden Park Fieldhouse, Vancouver on January 5th, 2017.