Category Archives: Concert


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.


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.


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.



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)


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)


Lifting up the stones to see/hear what’s underneath


Last night saw the first sonADA (Sonic Arts Days in Aberdeen) with performances by Luca Nasciuti , Imogene Newland, Fiona Soe Paing and sonADA co-creator (along with Suk-Jun Kim) Francesco Sani.

Nasciuti’s solo set, his first performance in Aberdeen since arriving last month to commence his doctoral studies, consisting of undulating layers of sound with much more gestural material than I would have expected in a live set (for me, this is a good thing…), followed by the frenetic, breathless, consctructive-destructive-reconstructive performance for two dancers from Newland, Soe Paing’s yearning audiovisualvocal upbeat to her presentation next week at CineWorld, Union Square and Sani’s haunting multi-layered violin tones accompanying desolate images were all superb…and there’s more this evening from Suk-Jun Kim, Dæmons, Ross Whyte and Colin Austin.

Something else happened last night, I think. Recently, here’s been a huge amount of interest in creativity and culture in the North East of Scotland. This week’s RGU/City Council Conference Towards a Creative Future, for instance, started the discussion on many issues, from spaces for artists to helping to define the cultural narrative of the region. During the bidding process for Aberdeen’s City of Culture bid you would often hear denials that there was anything interesting going on in the city – the 50+ people present at last night’s event are clear evidence that there is. What we do need to do, however, is to make sure that more people know about it. That reluctance for NEasterners to shout from the rooftops about what they do needs to change and we need to help lift up the stones all over the city to see and hear what is going on underneath, because it’s as experimental, interesting and good as anywhere else in the UK.




Rediscoveries 1

REDISCOVERIES 1 – Electroacoustic Concert Series by SERG

Rediscoveries is a new series of performances of electroacoustic music and sound art events, presented by SERG (Sound Emporium Research Group) from the Department of Music. A new iteration of the Discoveries series which dates back to the early 1990s, the series will allow audiences to (re)discover works from all over the world. This first concert features work by SERG members Pete Stollery and Suk-Jun Kim, alongside pieces by their teachers which had a significant impact on their own work. Continue reading

live at St Andrews

The Witching Hour with Fiona Soe Paing

Scottish/Burmese Aberdeenshire based electronic producer and vocalist, and an associate member of SERG, Fiona Soe Paing will be headlining with a solo audio-visual performance at Woodend Barn Arts Centre, Banchory, on Thurs 27th Feb, as part of The Witching Hour series of events, curated by Ross Whyte.

Featuring visuals  by New Zealand based collaborator Zennor Alexander, the show combines off-world electronica, surreal 3D animation and live vocals, in an unsettling and hypnotic “live cinema” style show, which wastes no time in submerging audiences in its mutant world.    The show showcases material from the recent “Tower of Babel ” EP, released on Black Lantern Music label, which received a Four Stars review in The Skinny magazine, and which was created with production funding by  Creative Scotland. Continue reading

Voicing the Voiceless in the Sea of Trees – by Ross Whyte

Aokigahara is a dense 14 square mile forest which lies at the foot of Japan’s Mount Fuji.  It is also known as Jukai, the “sea of trees” and is famous for being Japan’s most popular suicide destination.

I had first became aware of Aokigahara and its morbid phenomenon in early 2013.  My initial investigations led me to numerous sensationalist reports and discussions.  Further reading, however, revealed an ancient mythology connected to Aokigahara: tales of yūrei (tormented spirits) said to haunt the forest and rumours of the custom of ubasute (the abandoning of elderly or infirm relatives) also taking  place there. Continue reading

Hearing the sounds of the fantastic animalia


The Wolf - The Owl - The Swan - The Caladrius

The Wolf – The Owl – The Swan – The Caladrius

The Aberdeen Bestiary: Sound-Image-Narrative is an artistic research project led by Dr Suk-Jun Kim and Prof Pete Stollery from SERG, and was one of the inaugural beneficiaries of a bursary from the Aberdeen Humanities Fund at the University of Aberdeen. The project is supported by the Special Collections Centre at the University of Aberdeen. Continue reading