News from the Sonic Arts Network

14 April 04

There are still tickets available for our Cut & Splice evening in Belfast on Saturday 1 May. Tickets are free but need to be booked in advance via the BBC Music Live Ticket Line on 08700 10012. An edited broadcast of the concert will air within about an hour of the concert finishing on the BBC Radio 3 'Hear and Now' programme which starts at 11pm.

The programme is
Curtis Roads (visuals by Brian O'Reilly) - Point Line Cloud

Iannis Xenakis - Concret PH - Orient-Occident

Russell Haswell - Live Stochastic Synthesis

Also as part of the Sonorities Festival, SAN will be celebrating its 25 anniversary with very special retrospective concert. To book call the Sonorities04 booking line on: 028 9027 4829 or email Tickets cost £10 (£6 concessions).

The programme is
Barry Anderson - Fanfare (tape 2 channel)

Hugh Davies - Strata (Concert Aeolian Harp and 4 channel electroacoustic sounds)

Kaffe Matthews - Improvisation

Matthew Adkins & Miles Chalcraft - Symbiont (2 channel and Video)

Steve Montague - Haiku (piano, tape, electronics)

Javier Alvarez & Ian Dearden - Edge Dance (2 channel)

Simon Emmerson - Spirit of '76 (flute, accelerating tape delay, 2 channel)

Jonty Harrison - Pair/Impair (2 channel)

Trevor Wishart - Vox 5 (4 channel)

Both events take place at the new Sonic Arts Research Centre at Queens University, Belfast.


Booking is now open for our weeklong residential Max summer school 17-23 July at Bretton Hall, Yorkshire. The course will be led by Martin Robinson (Middlesex University) with drop-in guest tutors. Over 6 days, 12 participants will receive structured tuition in Max that will provide a thorough grounding in the programme and enable them to explore new territories for future work.

The following week we will be collaborating with COMA on their Contemporary Music Summer School by delivering 2 courses. Acclaimed sound recordist Chris Watson will lead 'Soundscape - Recording and Composition', and international artist Justin Bennett will lead a course exploring site-specific sound installation, all in the beautiful surroundings of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. A basic knowledge of sound recording and experience of composing in digital audio on the computer are required for this course.

All booking and information about accommodation is through COMA. Please visit


Friday 16 April
Adaadat Presents…
Haywood Gallery, London

Free performance as part of the Roy Lichenstein exhibition, Adaadat have been invited to bring their gameboy bleeps to Dan Graham’s glass pavilion. Come along and you can sample two different kinds of pop art in one place. Live sets from Atom Truck, Romvelope, Ommm and Human Soup, plus a rare London appearance from Tokyo's DJ 100,000,000.

Friday 16 April (Wednesdays to Saturdays until 22 May)

G39 Wyndham Arcade, Cardiff

Sound is not a new medium to be used by artists, yet the critical discourse surrounding it is limited, chiefly because an audio vernacular requires an entirely new set of referents and reasonings from those used to critique visual art.

Or does it? Could we apply the same approach to creating and talking about ‘audio’ as we do ‘image’? Following this line of inquiry, the medium of radio has the propensity to a very particular aesthetic, from the woolly quality of medium- and long-wave frequencies to the hyperreal production values of current pop. Specific stations have a particular aesthetic, too: from BBC Radio 1’s throwaway immediacy to the steady dulcet lullaby of Radio 4’s information relay. This aural aesthetic is the basis of Radio Graphic.

It is by no means a purely aural exhibition; rather it aims to explore the cross-overs, parallels and happy coincidences between the aural and the visual. Work from Matt Cook, Jem Finer, Dave Handford, Calum Stirling.

Saturday 17 April
Seed Records Prison Party
(Club Night)
Pentonville Prison Officers Social Club

Ardisson, Cursorminer, [snyzch], Kansascityprophets and Seed DJ’s live.

26-30 April
Music Research Centre Launch Festival
The University of York

Four day Festival featuring snd, Yasunao Tone and Mark Fell, Tina Frank and Ramon Bauer, Richard Chartier

1-2 May
Reid Concert Hall, Edinburgh

The final weekend in the highly popular 'Soundings ...' series of Sonic Art events. Sit back, shut your eyes and let them exercise your imagination!


Some Positive Thoughts about Delivering Sound Technology Workshops

This article by SAN Programme Director Richard Whitelaw recently appeared in Link Magazine - the trade publication for music technology educators.

There is a lot more to music than sound. Sound is a physical phenomenon and it is always produced by a sounding body. The sounding bodies used in music include tuned logs, violins, electric guitars and loudspeakers. These are all examples of scientific innovation and the understanding and exploitation of the physical nature of materials. Technology heralded the single most significant development in the history of music and aural culture, the capturing of sound through recording. This development was not, however, initially considered in musical terms, let alone in terms of creative engagement with sound. It was understood as a means of preserving the words of the great during their lifetimes and as a means to capture threatened tongues on the brink of extinction. No sound was repeatable before this moment; the sound of the voice was no more than an echoless shot into the void. The aural landscape would never be the same again.

There is a lot more to sound than music. Sound is inseparably linked to identity, location, culture and environment. Music works within this sphere as a wilful enactment of sound and listening. It gives a tangible sense of control over the psychological structures of time itself. It is an empowering force bound up in our very freedom in morality and hence it is a powerful tool to further any valid theory of developmental education.

Sound technology and education have followed similar paths at certain stages of their evolution. The purely documentary understanding of sound recording during the early stages of its existence is comparable to the view of the learner as a passive repository for knowledge. Paulo Freire, in his classic text "Pedagogy of the Oppressed", memorably describes this as the "banking" concept of education. This is the production line of rote learning, the voice dictates and the machine repeats in parrot fashion. One of the world's leading educationalists, Freire worked tirelessly to promote literacy and political engagement in the developing world and he argued that for any system of education to truly empower it must be an interactive process that encourages it’s subjects to be aware of their collective and individual control over situations and promote a strong sense of an acting, individual self. Recording technology was not initially considered to have any potential as an interactive creative medium and for some time musicians themselves were hostile to its promise. Ultimately it took visionary figures from the world of cinematography (Vertov) and radio engineering (Schaeffer) to begin creative work with fixed medium sound. These early experiments lead to the diversity of use of creative sound technology that we take for granted today.

Interaction with sound technology can be a truly empowering experience, especially for those whose feelings of control over their own situation may be reduced due to disability. Systems such as Soundbeam allow even those with the most restricted movement to sculpt and control sound whilst interfaces and sensors of all sorts can be employed, through the use of powerful software like Max, to control midi data to operate sound processing, spatialisation or any other musical parameter. When working with sound in these contexts it is plain to see the sense of ownership generated in the participants. The technology allows anybody to capture and control sounds of their own making and organise them compositionally. It is this democratic aspect of sound technology that gives it such relevance in educational settings. Through selection of the right interfaces powerful tools can be accessed straight away and explored at the touch of a mouse or even the movement of an eyelid. Music therapists and workshop leaders should act as facilitators and a shared and non-hierarchical approach to composition and music making should emerge if artistic creation is to be truly empowering. Sound technology is ideally suited to this approach as it is, potentially, less tethered by didactic ideas of canon. There has been a tendency in the past for the educational approach of much creative music work to be too reliant on canonical and didactic agendas. I think this can betray a restricted view of the potentials of new art works to be catalysts for true creativity. With so much higher education provision still based on simple "chalk and talk" methods it is perhaps unsurprising that graduates, untrained in best educational practise, can fall back on such lazy and regressive thinking when they become workshop leaders themselves.

Much sound technology education work that occurs outside of mainstream education takes place with those who may feel socially excluded but may relate well to musical culture. Countless workshops with turntables, sequencers and microphones take place every week across the UK with the aim of encouraging a positive attitude to learning amongst some of the most socially marginalized groups in the country. Sound technology is used in this way brings the educational benefits of the artistic process itself to individuals. The organisations that have been most successful in this field are those whose ethos and work are, in essence, developmental in nature and based on the importance of process. The aims of the workshops are to create a sense of inclusion and to engage and stimulate learners who, for whatever reason, have become alienated from mainstream education.

Sound technology is increasingly being used as an invaluable tool to develop awareness of sound and identities within diverse communities. Sonic Arts Network’s "Sonic Postcards" project is working with up to 12 schools a term over the next 3 years to creatively document the sound environment as perceived through the ears of hundreds of 9-14 year olds. Participants will be from primary, secondary, special schools and community groups all over the UK and the world. The sound pieces composed by the participants will be swapped over the Internet thus encouraging comparison of environments and individual responses to sound. Strong partnerships have been established between organisations involved in community and international development such as Re:generate and Action Aid and experienced sound technology education providers such as Gain UK UNESCO. Developing socio-political awareness amongst the worlds poorest and most exploited communities can be assisted through projects and partnerships based on models of best practise and a desire to facilitate education and awareness.

There is much to be positive about. Britain has the leading community education arts scene in the world, with high standards of project conception, an extraordinary skills base and major funding to support it. With the active lead taken by education providers such as the Music, Technology and Innovation Department at Leicester De Montfort University no credible higher education sound technology course in the UK can exist without offering it’s students introductions to community arts provision and outreach work from experienced tutors who have worked in a variety of settings. The very nature of the artist's role in society is brought into relief through these developments and projects. A truly progressive position emerges at the forefront of international development with the boundaries between the arts and education increasing eroded. Here art can and improve quality of life at both individual and global levels and truly change the world for the better.


Composer in Residence
Sonic Arts Research Centre - Belfast
Ref: 04/K363B
£16,000 per annum

This position will commence a soon as possible for twelve months, to undertake compositional work in electroacoustic music, using the resources and facilities available at the Sonic Arts Research Centre, to contribute to teaching work at SARC and to develop and implement a series of education and outreach projects in the wider community.

Applicants must hold at least an upper second class honours degree or equivalent, in Music, Music Technology or a related discipline. Possession of one year's teaching experience at tertiary level in acousmatic composition, electroacoustic composition, live electronic performance or sound design for multimedia applications is essential, as is a composition profile commensurate with age and experience. Experience of designing and delivering outreach work in composition in the community is also essential. Applicants must not be currently enrolled for a postgraduate course.

Further Information: Chris Corrigan T: 02890 974830

Deadline: Friday 30 April 2021

Organised Sound: An International Journal of Music and Technology - Call for articles and works

Volume 10, Number 1
Issue thematic title: New Technology, Non-Western Instruments and Composition Approaches
Date of Publication: April 2005 Publishers: Cambridge University Press

Issue Guest Editor: Ian Whalley

The use of real, sampled or synthetic non-Western instruments as well as composition approaches in combination with other new music technology has increased as practitioners seek to integrate new and traditional idioms in creating new works. In the process, concerns often arise regarding international and regional aesthetics, the technical integration of differing approaches to music, cultural appropriateness/appropriation, and accepted practices in music making.

Although the production, reception, distribution and consumption of popular music ‘crossover’ work is widely discussed in the field of cultural studies, the theme of ‘New Technology, Non-Western Instruments and Composition Approaches’ is here focused on a composition and process perspective in combining digital technology and traditional instruments and means of music-making, regardless of style.

A main concern is with the instruments and methods practitioners have used in creating new works. What instruments do composers around the global use? What methods are being used compositionally and technologically in incorporating these instruments? Are there shared, distinct or emerging trends?

We invite submissions from composers, performers, artists and researchers who have worked with new music technology and non-western instruments. Submissions related to the theme are encouraged; however, those that fall outside the scope of this theme are always welcome.

Notes for Contributors and further details can be obtained from the inside back cover of published issues of Organised Sound or from:

Deadline: 10 September 2020

Underkurrent - A Kruise and Kabaret in London on July 16th 2004 - Call For Works

The event begins with a boat trip along the Thames with new electronic music and DJs. The journey's destination is Trinity Buoy Wharf - an amazing location in Docklands, with a lighthouse and workshop where Michael Faraday did his experiments in electro-magnetism. After the show has finished the audience will once again embark on the boat and be taken back to central London.

Underkurrent offers an opportunity for specially written works to be presented on a custom made sound diffusion system set-up on a boat that will cruise down the Thames from central London to Trinity Buoy Wharf lighthouse, duration roughly an hour and a half. Works will be selected that relate to themes of the event; for example, electricity, water, Faraday, and the Thames; and, that explore the unique site-specific nature of the cruise. Works should be submitted on CD and not longer than 10 minutes.

For further information contact John Richards

Deadline: 14 June 2020

Snap Crackle and Pop - An installation by Tony Kemplen, Bloc Space, Sheffield

Sound art is currently central to the agenda in Sheffield. Normally conservative gallery spaces as well as the more inventive are currently displaying works involving sound.

As part of an increasingly innovative program, Bloc Space in Sheffield are showing Snap Crackle and Pop, an audiovisual installation by Tony Kemplen.

Tony Kemplen is no stranger to multiple ways of working. His past work has included various installations, remodelled objects, manipulated toys, text and video to mention but a few. This time he has utilised the most irresistible of materials: bubble wrap.

Upon entering the space the viewer is instantly made aware of the delicate and subtle nature of the material itself. The bubble wrap is suspended from a metal grid in the ceiling and draped in veils down to the ground from each side of the above grid. The mesh curtained grid shimmers in the light and changes subtly during the changing daylight or under the evening strip lights.

Passing one curtain of bubble wrap and then another viewers slowly begin to fade into the bubble wrap ether and enter another undefined space. As you lose sense of your surroundings the soundscapes switch you from visual to audio mode and then to audiovisual. The visual device of the bubble wrap successfully aids the viewes change of perception. When immersed in the space you can begin to engage with your own minds visual environment stimulated by the sounds.

At regular intervals you can find the source of the menagerie of sound. Speakers housed in metallic dishes reflect an unfamiliar and distorted image of the viewer. This echoes perfectly the transformation of the original source material for the sound recordings into unusual remodelled soundscapes.

The sounds themselves emanate from eight speakers from four separate stereo sources. Each channel is set on shuffle for random playback. The phases of each track are significantly different creating a wide variety of sounds. One of the most arresting phases sounds like an artificial jungle. The manipulated bubble wrap has become the sound of birds, rain and insects in a metallic amazon. Reminiscent of David Tudor's Rainforest, this is not the first time Kemplen has entered the jungle with his work. 2003's Dawn Chorus‚ was a sound installation transforming concrete sounds into birdsong installed in the glasshouse of the winter gardens in the centre of Sheffield.

Another section slowly creaks along like the floorboards of an empty dishevelled house or the ghostly deck of the Marie Celeste. This creakiness brings to mind elements of some of the finest surrealist soundscapes by Steven Stapleton's Nurse With Wound.

While submerged in the environment a further phase sinks into an aquatic abyss. This phase joyfully oscillates between the sound of blowing bubbles and an active lava swamp. The passage could be straight out of the Radiophonic Workshop. Indeed as you are listening you can begin to wonder and marvel at all the activities carried out to coax and tease each sound from the source material.

The press release states the use of bubble wrap as a low tech aid to stress relief, but any compulsive poppers will be disappointed as viewers are not allowed to burst the bubbles. This may cause anxiety to those who find the lure of bubble wrap irresistible. Be warned!

However there is much to savour in this exhibition. A seemingly simple material has been woven and manipulated in such an intriguing and playful way that you can't help but leave and head for the nearest stationers to buy some bubble wrap. Do try this at home.

Review by Neil Webb
Neil is a sound artist based in Sheffield

Sonic Circuits 10 – Selections from the 10th Annual Festival of Electroacoustic Music

Electroacoustic CD packaging gains a long overdue sense of humour facelift through snorting amphetamines and going punk-rock fanzine, thanks to this timely little design gem from the long running series of Sonic Circuits compilations. The CD comes in a glue-sniffer style plastic bag with an hilariously iconoclastic set of stickers to vandalise your laptop with and a booklet full of photocopier art and typewriter font text. At last some product design that recognises that today’s electroacousticians are more likely to have had their formative musical experiences in three chord garage rock bands than in the back row of the string section of the local county youth orchestra. All this, of course, brings back memories of the days when Chumbawumba were still a credible band and Napalm Death and Oi-Polloi were blasting raucous alternatives to Thatcherism at me through the tinny medium of my mum’s crappy old mono record player. I half expected to find an interview with a balaclava-clad member of the ALF inside or even details of local hunt sab action. Great stuff! But I digress…

Sadly, no such great news on the music front I’m afraid, with many of the contenders firmly in the ‘also rans’ category, some falling at the first fence and a select few being shot dead in the paddock and mashed up for dog food well before the start of the race. Clocking in at just over 16 minutes, the longest and most satisfying piece is from the prolific septuagenarian Hans Joachim Roedelius. A founder member of the influential German group Cluster, his piece Frag’s Pferd is an interesting listen that evolves gently and at points compares favourably to the vision and effortlessness of the best work of Parmegiani or Francis Dhomont.

William Price’s tasty little Three Short Pieces for Tape #3 mixes sources lifted from folk, popular and art music. This piece is a good example of variety, unity and economy that some of the other composers on this compilation would do well to pay attention to, more about them later.

Unsurprisingly perhaps, the Japanese pieces included on the CD are highly derivative of native forms of Far East electronica. Sawako Kato’s piece Crab owes much to Toshimaru Nakamura’s no-input mixing desk work and Atsushi Yamaji’s piece Petsound draws from the noise furry of Merzbow and the bleeping repetitive field recording manipulation of Saturo Wono. Petsound breaks down into 12 short sections over its 5 minute duration and is one of the small group of pieces on this CD that stands up to repeated listening.

Jon Christopher Nelson’s Dhoormages consists of a series of short electro-clips that pays homage to three seminal electroacoustic works through the manipulation of the recording of a rather noisy door. The result of this valuable conceptual thinking is a piece in which sound processing is actually related to the concept of the work, a rare achievement and one to be applauded when so many contemporary electroacoustic programme notes appear to have been rushed off as after thoughts.

And then there are the real stinkers. Peter Blasser’s The Moon Camera could have been lifted directly from a late Daevid Allen era Gong session and, in trying to hijack and appropriate Allen’s charm, this shameless little rip off is completely shallow, pointless and actually rather offensive. Oh, sorry, my mistake, he mentions Supercollider in the programme notes so it must be ok, right?

Malte Steiner’s Signale is created from the sound of digital artefacts only and, well, sounds pretty much as you would imagine really, just like someone randomly skipping through a load of plug-ins. The piece represents the worst excesses of the current c-sound/ Max/MSP cult as it display a complete lack any conceptual context, any intellectual appeal beyond techno-onanism or any meaningful compositional structure. I am amazed that Stiener claims to have endured "20 years of electronic sound research" and yet still manages to produce a creatively bankrupt, undergraduate level piece.

Christopher Coleman's My Grandfather’s Kalimba features some chiming Reichian ear candy. Moments of this piece are to Ligeti’s Continuum as the Blasser piece is to Daevid Allen and it also features some percussion work highly reminiscent of some of Benoit Moerlen’s playing in the various incarnations of Gong, from the charming to the Oldfieldesque prog sterility of the post Allen period.

Other pieces included on the CD are by Michelle Kinney, Rod Stasick, Barry Schrader and Garry Verdake and are inconsequential though the Verdake piece has the additional burden of lasting for 12 full minutes. Voices bubble away in an unchanging texture and a drone enters half way through for no apparent reason and carries on, unchanged, till the end of the piece. I actually did fall asleep whilst listening to it and that’s a first! Like so much of the work on this compilation there is only rudimentary exploitation of the stereo field as a creative parameter and this results in the piece sounding flat, amateur and boring.

All mouth and very little in the trouser department then it would seem from Sonic Circuits, who claim to showcase the latest and best artistic uses of technology but deliver a bulldog with rubber teeth. Steal a copy for the stickers if you can!

Review by Richard Whitelaw
Richard Whitelaw is a member of BEAST in Birmingham and is the Programme Director of Sonic Arts Network.