Category Archives: sonADA


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.