Questioning The Elements

Questioning The Elements was commissioned by SPIKE Alternative Cello Festival 2019.

The piece uses music concréte, an animated score and two cellists, to produce the sound world. A soundscape is created from recordings of the sound making elements of a cello. The peg-box, the spike, the finger-board, the scroll, the bridge, all sort of parts were used to make noise. An element I consider to be very important is the voice of the cellist and the voices of anyone listening, so I asked for contributors to talk about their thoughts on the sound-making elements of a cello. Thanks to Mary Barnecutt, Anthony Fox, Martina Murray, Raven, Nicole Rourke and Yue Tang for providing such wonderful recordings.

The Cellists who performed in The Workman's Club, Dublin 2019 are Lana Kostic and Awen Blandford.

The animated sound score acts as an immersive backdrop to assist the player to perform alongside what they see. The performance reveals the form of the virtual text, the form is deciphered by the performers at the time of the performance and like any reading of a musical score, can be different each time it is performed.

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Murdering The Time

The pre-composition process is inspired by Gilles Deleuze. The Fold: Leibniz and The Baroque. (1993). Inflection of an idea becoming inclusion: no longer hearing, we’re listening. We move from the virtual to the real, inflection defining the fold, but the inclusion defines our envelopment in the act of listening.

Sound units and vocal utterances are neither atom or Cartesian points, but an elastic fold stretching the potential of the sound world. A multiplicity of sounds fold into the unity, which is in this instance inspired by Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention: “Return of the son of Monster Magnet” (1966), Mauricio Kagel: “Anagramma” (1957/58) and Lewis Carroll: “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” (1865).

A temporal modulation is created from a short constrained beginning. Haikus created from the text of Lewis Carroll: “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”, chapter 7, form the initial fold. Their continuous variation is used as a development of form where Haiku verses and syllables are folded again and again using electroacoustic editing techniques to process and develop the timbre of the sound. The project management possibilities presented within the digital audio workstation Reaper are also included in the inspiration for the development and evolution of the compositional process, using the technique of projects within projects to layer the utterances, to create texture and help with the production of the overall form.

The listening space is diffused via stereo headphones. The essential idea is that all sound is drawn from within the created space, nothing comes in from the outside and nothing goes out. The headphone diffusion an enclosed space resembling a room with no doors or windows, where all activity is taking place on the inside. An infinite fold between the two worlds of sound unit and sound space connect and develop an aural landscape. Moving from the virtual to the real, the inclusion, development and envelopment of the sound unit folds into our listening experience.

Voice: Raven

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And The Birds Sang

The first rehearsal/performance of this piece was in May 2016 with the fabulous Drogheda Brass Band.

The piece uses music concréte, an animated score and the audience, to produce the sound world . A soundscape is created from foley recordings of a Trombone month piece where some audio sources are fairly raw and recognisable (to highlight the production) and others are edited so that the source is unrecognisable.. they are both used to create a new acoustic time frame, set in a stereo space which once set in motion, does not stop. It is an inevitable movement forward of time.… It will act as an immersive backdrop to assist the player to perform alongside what they see.  The performer is to become more aware of what is going on around them… creating a relationship with the audio, the visual, and the person beside them.  It uses time, expectation and memory all within the context of the piece, highlighting time, process and reception. The performance reveals the form of the virtual text, the form is deciphered by the performers at the time of the performance and like any reading of a musical score, can be different each time it is performed. 

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This is one of my early PhD works from 2012

It's made the from cut-up parts of a voice recording of Marie McStay, the breaths, sips and lip smacks that we sound designers usually disgard. The intention is to investigate the noise signal between words. The title Serration evokes a connotation of a leaf, where the shape of the edges protect it when it is blown around by the elements. Even after many processing techniques the original voice is still audible.

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Another one of my early PhD works from 2012

This was created from a live improvisation with effects, using a voice recording of Gertrude Stein reading A Valentine to Sherwood Anderson (1922) as the inspiration. I used Ableton Live as a host to lots of outboard effects while I performed the improvisation.

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Written in His Voice


It was played on RTE Nova and performed live in the Sonic Lab in Belfast in 2015.

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Shortlisted at the HearSay Festival Audio Prize in 2014, Look(FFEBCD) uses the hexadecimal javascript colour value of blanchedalmond as inspiration for a sonnet. I used a crowdsourced group of people willing to record themselves speaking, rapping, singing, or vocalizing the text. Using electroacoustic editing techniques, I produced many short audio clips which can be performed via the web browser. Inspired by Christopher Small and musicking, this work encourages anyone to take part in the creation of sound space.

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We Called It Dirt

A non-linear conversation made up of interview snippets with digital poet, John Patrick McNamara.

You can alter the conversation by typing in the letters W-E C-A-L-L-E-D I-T D-I-R-T.

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Three Days In May

Sound Montages from May.. the beach in Laytown, the art gallery where I witnessed an attack by a mad axe man, the funfair madness in Drogheda.

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You can alter the sound if you move your mouse across the screen.

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Unity Beeps


Inspired by Twin Bleebs (Mika Vainio, 1984).

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After That


In 1943 my Grandfather was being transported to Stalag IVb, this is my first response.

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