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Rae, a PhD student in Composition, travels to Abu Dhabi


Tacit Group held workshops and performances on 11 and 12 November in The Arts Centre at New York University Abu Dhabi. I have been a Tacit Group member from 2011 and this time, I participated as a main computer operator and a sound technician. Tacit was invited by NYU Abu Dhabi and we were treated extremely hospitably by the NYU.

Picture2Abu Dhabi is the capital of UAE but it has a quite short history. It started to be developed just decades ago and since that time, fabulous buildings and enormous educational facilities have been built to invest in the UAE’s future. NYU Abu Dhabi is one of them. The university is considered one of the world’s most competitive universities for admission accepts only about 0.9 percent of total applicants. Harvard accepts 7 percent.

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NYU Abu Dhabi students can take advantage of lots of benefits; first, the school is equipped with excellent modern facilities to promote students’ well-being, and the quality of life. All students can win a full scholarship, accommodation as well as an round-trip air ticket which enables students to visit their hometown twice a year. As a electroacoustic music major, when I looked around the facilities of studio and classrooms, I envied their privilege that they can freely use the most cutting-edge equipment and devices.

To return, we ran workshops and performances three times. At the workshops, we presented our philosophies, methods of composition and approaches to sound. Especially, Game Over and Six Pacmen, Tacit’s repertoires that used rules of classic games such as Tetris and Pacman, were well received by the students. in C and Drumming by Terry Riley and Steave Reich, Tacit has recreated in its own style, were the highlights of the performance.

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Tacit Group consists of 6 players and a main computer operator. The players control values through their laptops and then the values were sent to a server, the main computer through network calls OSC (Open Sound Control). Finally, the server makes sounds and visual output using data from the players. For example, the original piece of Drumming is for percussion and voice, but Tacit Group has changed it into electronic sounds and visualised the scores in a geometrical way. Players perform their own parts by controlling values such as amplitude, tone and speed like a percussionist. As a computer can control the values in full detail, the audience could listen to music different from that performed by humans. When it comes to Game Over, it involves the classic game Tetris. The computer generates melody according to the shape of laid blocks as six players compete against one another. As we perform, the game board becomes the music score in real time.

The tour schedule was very intensive but I experienced a special right as an artist which enables me to become part of the audience who had different nationalities and backgrounds. If I were not an artist, I could never experience it ever.

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Rediscoveries 4 by SERG – Simon Hellewell

Peacock Visual Arts in Aberdeen was filled to capacity on Thursday evening as SERG continued its Rediscoveries series with Rediscoveries IV, an event so strongly grounded in audiovisual work that I would hesitate to simply brand it a “concert”. The evening had a theme of student work, featuring not only work from current postgraduate students at the University of Aberdeen, but also pieces by Pete Stollery and Suk-Jun Kim from their own student days.

The show got off to a great start with Yann Chapotel’s An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris which, to me, ticked many boxes. The entire work viewed one location in Paris from one camera angle over the course of many days, observing the subtle changes over time and the people passing by. The use of a virtual cube on the screen, overlaying sections of the shot with the same section on different days was extremely effective, revealing many people and vehicles moving in the same physical space, separated only by time. The work used this to create a sense of connection, linking these passers by to each other through their presence in a space. Sonically, the work was soundscape based, and wedded the sound to the image extremely well, building towards a chaotic climax before winding down.

Following this, I was reminded that Pete Stollery’s Altered Images is always worth hearing in concert. I have listened to it through headphones a number of times before, which simply don’t do the work justice compared to hearing the piece diffused through speakers.

Torino, a collaborative work by composer Stuart Docherty from the Sonic Arts MMus with choreographer Jennifer Drotz Ruhn, and photographer Brian Vass, is an engaging short film, using many interesting shots to view a dancer on a beach interacting with the sea. The film is intentionally ambiguous in emotion, providing a blank slate for the viewer to interpret. The sound mirrors this well through its sparse sound worlds

Suk-Jun Kim’s Midong was accompanied by live visuals from Maja Zeco, a PhD student based at Gray’s School of Art and the University of Aberdeen. The sound and visual were both interesting and worked together quite effectively. My one uncertainty with this was in the program note. Midong is a piece concerned with small, almost imperceptible movements and I was unsure whether this was truly captured. In spite of this the visuals, which were produced live, were captivating and brought a fresh look at the music.

The Space was a technically sound piece by Bea Dawkins making imaginative use of a very limited sound source. The use of a narrator as the sole sound source was very reminiscent of past works using voice, putting an emphasis on the creation of sonic environments. I was uncertain of the overall structure, however the Bea’s manipulation of sound was very assured and I look forward to hearing her style develop.

The concert closed with another highlight in the form of Sound Drawing, a live audiovisual work by Aberdeen University’s new PhD student, Kwangrae Kim. Again using fairly minimal sound sources, the rhythmic sound was translated into visuals, with each beat represented by a splat of black ink which would then fade, over the course of a motif building up into intricate visual patterns which would then be drawn over by the next pattern in a shifting monochromatic world. I look forward to seeing more of Kwangrae’s work as he moves on with his PhD.

In summation then, it was a greatly enjoyable evening for both sight and sound, and a great look at some current work coming out of Aberdeen. Especially exciting, I think, is the leaning towards inter-disciplinary work and collaboration, both between individuals and between institutions in the form of Aberdeen University and Gray’s School of Art. With this in mind and the fact that there were more people than seats at a show of experimental music and images, it seems clear to me that the future is bright for such projects in Aberdeen. Bring on the Sound festival!

(Written by Simon Hellewell)

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Shift-Return, our new live coding group, at the Suttie Art Centre, ARI.

On Sunday 25th October, four students of Aberdeen University’s MMus: Sonic Arts, together with one Phd student of Composition, Simon Hellewell, undertook a Live Coding performance at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary’s Suttie Art Space. The event was well attended by the interested and well-wishers, many of whom were from an Arts background.
The performance was preceded by a piece by the eminent Acousmatic Composer, Kim Cascone, who earlier that day had presented a workshop on Silence to the group. Thereafter there was a further rendering of two pieces by local artist Howard Hodgkinson, and finally, the group of Live coders who chose to call themselves “Shift-Return” for this activity.

They distributed themselves and their laptops, spaced roughly equidistantly around the room, each beside the speaker which was issuing their sounds in mono. Most had a second monitor facing towards the audience who, in turn, were seated at random in the centre of the room. During the introduction, however, the audience were invited to get up move around, in order to watch the coders work, or take a closer look at the monitors. A further large projection of one of the artist’s screens formed a decorative backdrop on the wall.

Following the brief introduction during which the audience were informed that every sound in the work originated from breaking glass which one of the members of the group Mark Dunsmore, had recorded earlier. Shift-Return used a real-time coding software called Tidal, introduced to them by their Sonic Arts tutor, Dr. Suk-Jun Kim.

The performance lasted twenty minutes and constituted five sections which flowed slowly into one another: Intro; Sharp Drone; Build-up from Bass; Hush-Cacophany; Drone Outro, with each performer’s synchronised phone-timer serving as score/conductor.

The work was enthusiastically received, with much pleasant feedback and exchanging of information on how others could get started Live Coding for themselves. Altogether this item – an adjunct to the SonADA ‘Slow Cooker’ series, was a successful and enjoyable evening which left Shift-Return happy to perform a return gig at some future date.

Shift-Return are, Bea Dawkins; Mark Dunsmore; Stuart Docherty; John Montgomery; Simon Hellewell; and tutor Dr. Suk-Jun Kim.

(written by John Montgomery)

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Performative and compositional ecologies – by Clive Grace

As a composer/field recordist, Winter is a low time for gathering sound in the heart of the borders where I currently live. Aside from the practicalities of gathering sounds in the cold midwinter, the minimal light and inclement weather make it a less productive time for me than staying in a warm house with a few “winter projects”. My traditional sources of inspiration have all gone away, those that remain are silent, hibernating or rarely expending any energy unless they need to. Animals venture out in December only if they need to. Owls are silent, the usually rasping corvids are quiet, even the sheep and horses in the paddocks opposite my studio are mute: the biophony of my locale cycles down, and in the all-too-brief powder that passes for snowfall in this changing climate, the snow muffles the soundscape so sound does not travel as well as it could or in a way I am familiar with.

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Fast and Slow – Music Research Seminar Talk

MRSS talk given by Dr Suk-Jun Kim

MRSS talk given by Dr Suk-Jun Kim

(By Suk-Jun Kim)

Last Thursday, I gave a presentation at the Music Research Seminar Series (MRSS) 2014-15. At the presentation, which was titled, Fast and Slow: Changes in One Composer’s Artistic Questions, I discussed the gradual, and sometimes, drastic changes in my artistic questions with my early, mainly electroacoustic compositions to more recent works, which involve sound installation and live coding performance, as some examples. Continue reading

Luca Nasciuti
Marie Brenneis

SERG Workshop Series

SERG Aberdeen is launching its workshop series where members will meet, discuss and share ideas and methods about their practices.

Monday 29th September 2014 sees the first colloquium – an introduction of the group and its new members.

An informal discussion will follow on a variety of themes and issues related to sonic arts and performance.

The meeting will also be an opportunity to update the group on coming events, collaborations and future projects.

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Pile Driver – by Pete Stollery

I am in Prague for a performance of my piece Three Cities which was a finalist at the Music Nova 2013 competition. I had some free time today so this morning, as I often do when visiting a new place, I went for a walk around the city with my recording device (Zoom H6). I’ve never been to Prague before and people have variously told me that I must see the Castle, Kafka’s grave, the Christmas Market, and other tourist locations so this is how I found myself at the eastern end of the Charles Bridge, which was not far from my hotel.

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