Sonic Art Research Unit at the Cutting Edge
New project from the Sonic Art Research Unit to be featured in the Sound and Music Cutting Edge Series on November 19th 2009.
This project brings together two opposing sound-worlds; the hard-edged amplified sound of [rout]; and Okeanos’ distinctive and subtle interleaving of Japanese and Western timbres. The Sonic Art Research Unit at Oxford Brookes University instigated the project and invited eight composers with Japanese or British roots to develop new works through a series of laboratories and work-in-progress sessions. Importantly composers have had the opportunity to spend time exploring the unique timbral possibilities presented by the Sho, Koto, Shakuhachi and Shamisen as they combine with Live Electronics, Signal Processing, Computer Applications including MaxMSP and PureData, the amplified instruments of [rout], and the Western Classical instruments of Okeanos. So if you ever wondered how a sho sounded when played through a Phase Shifter and combined with amplified double-bass played through a PureData patch; or how a bass-clarinet and sho sound when played together in unison – you’re going to find out. The first performance of the project outputs is part of the Sound and Music Cutting Edge Series and will take place at The Warehouse, London, on November 19th 2009.
At the heart of this project is a desire to explore the unique cultural resonance of the instruments and examine what happens when they are brought together - how their disparate timbres combine with - or oppose - each other. The cultural histories of the instruments are held both within their physical materials and forms, and the timbres shaped by them. The single-coil pick-ups of the Fender Stratocaster; the thirteen strings of the koto; the reeds of the Sho and the Saxophone; the bamboo of the shakuhachi and the kevlar of the electric violin are brought together in works by Yumi Hara Cawkwell, Paul Dibley, Nick Fells, Ryusuke Koarashi, Fumiko Miyachi, Paul Newland, Makiko Nishikaze, and Paul Whitty.
Each composer has taken a particular approach to the forces and the modes of improvisation, composition and devising enabled by the project. Ryusuke Koarashi has concentrated on the acoustic sound of the Japanese instruments exploring minute timbral fluctuations and harmonic detail; during laboratory sessions Nick Fells has explored devising strategies and the subtle transformation of the distinctive timbres of the Japanese instruments using MaxMSP; Paul Newland’s work for the full combined line-up has two titles; one English – husk; and one Japanese fusoku furi – the definition of which is: two entities neither connected nor separate – not the same and not separate - no contact no separation; Makiko Nishikaze’s Ricercare takes one instrument from distinct grouping: sho, bass-clarinet and electric guitar and explores details of timbral variance and voicing; Paul Whitty has been working with contact microphones to amplify the hidden sounds of contact between players and their instruments; Yumi Hara cawkwell explores the combination of sho and electric violin with signal processors; Paul Dibley is developing a series of computer-based transformations of the sound of the Japanese Instruments; whilst Fumiko Miyachi’s rip·ple uses the combined forces of the two groups in her search for an aesthetic, semantic and funky hybrid between Japanese and European Cultures.
Since 2001 Okeanos has been championing the work of young composers, presenting pioneering performance events and collaborating with other art forms. Recently, the group participated in a highly acclaimed Spnm tour in conjunction with the Asian Music Circuit, featuring soloists Etsuko Takezawa & Clive Bell. [rout] produces and associates itself with work that often tends to the periphery, be it maximal, minimal, subliminal, deafening, barely audible. Recent projects include Wormusic at the Dana Centre London in collaboration with composer Keith Johnson and neurobiologist Stephen Nurrish. The Sonic Art Research Unit is a research centre at Oxford Brookes University. The unit instigates projects in the fields of acousmatic, electroacoustic, live electronic, amplified and computer music, sound art and soundscape studies. Recent projects include WIRED with harpsichordist Jane Chapman the results of which can be heard on NMC CD145; and Sound Diaries – an exploration of everyday life in sound.
This project has received support from the Holst Foundation, Japan Society, Japan Foundation, RVW Trust and research funding from Oxford Brookes University.