Events and Exhibitions >

Echo Location, Oct 08

An evening of Audio Visual performance, on 8th October 2008 at OFS studio theatre, Oxford as part of the m8show. The Player Piano Migrations were performed at this event and the bird Step Sequencer was screened. Works for player piano by Conlon Nancarrow and James Tenney were also performed, alongside new collaborations with Matthew Olden and Oxford-based electro-acoustic improvising ensemble TRACT.

Echo Location - Concert Programme, 20:00, 8th October 2008, OFS Studio Theatre, Oxford.

An evening of audio-visual performance including live improvisation to creatively re-edited silent movies and a micro-opera based on 3 card games by Oxford based  ensemble, T R A C T. Witness a rare performance on an original player piano of new works by Kathy Hinde, plus a piano roll by the eccentric composer
Conlon Nancarrow. Be absorbed by Bristol-based i am the mighty jungulator’s surround-sound, re-sampling of a live performance.

Echolocation, also called biosonar, is the biological sonar used by several animals such as dolphins, shrews, most bats, and most whales. The term was coined by Donald Griffin, who was the first to conclusively demonstrate its existence in bats.

Echolocating animals emit sounds into the environment, and listen to the echoes of those sounds as they return from various objects in the environment. They use these echoes to locate, range, and identify the objects. Echolocation is used for navigation and for foraging (or hunting) in various environments.

Much of this programme of music relates sound and location in some way…
be it as tenuous as using a 50s’s B-movie called ‘The Bat’ as a creative starting point…Another through-line is re-appropriation of found material (sheet music, samples and film footage) and the combination of mathematical procedures, machines and music.

Bird Step Sequencer  by  Kathy Hinde and Ivan Franco
An audio-visual piece that translates a video of birds landing on telegraph lines into music. The video is treated like a score and is visually akin to a piano roll. Created in collaboration with Portuguese artist Ivan Franco who programmed a computer based tracking system that recognises the birds to trigger Kathy’s samples of a prepared piano and a music box.

Echolocation pt 1  by  Matthew Olden (i am the mighty jungulator)
A surround sound composition using samples of re-pitched bat calls using Matthew’s own software ‘i am the mighty jungulator’

Echolocation pt 2  by  Matthew Olden and TRACT
Joined by the improvising ensemble TRACT, Matthew’s re-shuffled bat-calls instigate a starting point for an improvisation on many instruments and live electronics.

Fugue, VL 345 (Op. 34)  by Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis  1909
Transcribed onto piano roll and performed on Player Piano by Kathy Hinde
Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis  was a Lithuanian composer and painter wrote a significant amount of piano works at the turn of the 20th century. This fugue has been transcribed onto a piano roll by Kathy Hinde as a starting point for the Piano Migration series.

Player Piano Migrations by Kathy Hinde
Kathy researched the travels of her family, focussing on the female line, starting by tracing her great-grandmother’s migration from Lithuania to the UK in 1895. She then created a series of works based on these migration routes and the migration patterns of birds. These first three works are compositions on paper piano rolls for player piano created using algorithms that respond to the data gathered from the migration routes of her family. This process involved using custom-made software designed by Professor Chris Hinde  (Kathy's father) at Loughborough University. The source material for these re-mappings is the subject of Ciurlionis’ fugue, written the year after Kathy's grandmother was born. This fugue subject has been ‘displaced’ from Klaipedia, Lithuania to Wigan, UK then layered and restructured in a new way.

Sonar Piano Migration by Matthew Olden and Kathy Hinde
This composition adapts Matthew's 'i am the mighty jungulator’ software - making use of its 'sluder' function. Sluder is the process where the sound is simultaneously looped and shortened or lengthened, by moving the sampled sounds loop points forwards and backwards. Similar to echolocation; the sound shortens as it reaches the point it is reflected from.

Before the performance, the audience are invited to plot on a map the starting position of the journey they made that evening. These points are then used to reshape a piece of music, by being plotted on a radar display and then used as triggering points for sound to be introduced and re-shaped. The audio starting point for this composition is a piano improvisation based on Ciurlionis’ fugue (heard earlier on player piano) performed by Kathy Hinde.


Opera in Three Card Games by Shirley Pegna
Performed by TRACT and the Audience (!)
This Micro Opera with three acts is played out in 12 minutes. The breadth of feelings that inspired the three acts came from a group of expressive women Shirley met in Bristol, who had been through some drastic and dramatic times. These feelings ranged from expectation, unadulterated exuberance, to quiet reflection, and correspond to the three acts. The sounds in the piece are instigated randomly, although the impetus of the action depends on the involvement of all the players in the game!

Player Piano Study 3c (From Boogie Woogie Suite) by Conlon Nancarrow
Performed by Kathy Hinde
Nancarrow’s  music is almost all written for player piano with extremely complex rhythms and intricate contrapuntal systems that use up to twelve different tempi simultaneously. Yet, despite its complexity, Nancarrow's music drew its early influence from the jazz pianism of Art Tatum and Earl Hines and from the rhythms of Indian music. Study 3c is from the first 5 rolls Nancarrow produced, and is one of the most jazzy of his works. Later works tend to be more abstract including canons at ratios as complicated as e:pi. His music has a mathematical beauty and elegance that happily coexists with musical expressiveness and a puckish sense of humour. Nancarrow did not see a clear delineation between the two approaches and he never worried about it. This natural, organic "double-aesthetic" is one of his most relevant contributions to 20th century music.

Miniature #1: Weep no more Rachel by Austin Sherlaw-Johnson
Performed by TRACT
The first page of a score of Christopher Tye’s In Nomine Weep no more Rachel was found in the room where our ensemble first rehearsed. This page is cut vertically into six and each player plays from a single resulting strip. The In Nomine was a popular instrumental composition from English music of the 16th and early 17th centuries that used the antiphon Gloria tibi Trinitas as its cantus firmus (the name refers to the origin of the composition in the “In nomine Domini” section of the Benedictus from John Taverner’s mass setting based on Gloria tibi Trinitas). The cantus firmus runs throughout the composition in long notes in one of the parts: a technical exercise here completely subverted.

Spectral Canon for Conlon Nancarrow by James Tenney
Performed by Kathy Hinde
James Tenney was among the first, and arguably the most authoritative, champions of the player piano studies composed by Conlon Nancarrow, and Tenney's own Spectral Canon for Conlon Nancarrow reflects both his admiration for Nancarrow's work as well as the fascination with audible numeric processes that both composers share. Having more or less abandoned electronically produced sounds a few years before, Tenney continued to utilise computer algorithms as compositional devices for creating works for acoustical instruments. The Spectral Canon seems to navigate the space between these two realms, drawing on computer-based methods for its compositional materials but being realised through a unique amalgam of human and mechanical forces: meant for "performance" by a mechanical instrument, the piece was punched painstakingly onto the roll (by Nancarrow, in fact, as a favour to Tenney) according to a pattern that Tenney developed with the aid of a computer. Spectral Canon counts among a number of Tenney's works that are based on the harmonic series.

Miniature #2: Page 21 by Austin Sherlaw-Johnson
Performed by TRACT
Each ensemble member plays excerpts freely chosen from eighteen page 21s. The pages are taken from a variety of sources for different instrumental (or vocal) combinations: The Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, Boulez, Vaughan Williams, Marin Marais, Antico, Debussy, Francois Couperin, Lerner & Loewe, Bartok, Beethoven, Ives, Allegri, Bach, Haydn, Schubert, Ravel, Sheila Nelson and Shostakovich.

The Bat (Dir. Crane Wilbur) 1959 – re-edited by Kathy Hinde
Improvised to by TRACT and Matthew Olden
Inspired by Matthais Muller’s treatment of Hitchcock films, Kathy has taken the 60 minute 1950’s thriller ‘The Bat’ and spliced it into a 4 minute observation of film-genre clichés. After the 4 minute edit, the ensemble build an improvisation based on a slowed down silent version of the edit

T R A C T  are:-
Tim Croston – Cornet, piano, electronics and objects
Shirley Pegna – Cello, Accordion, electronics and objects
Efthymios Chatzugiamnis – Laptop, electronics, circuit bent devices and objects
Austin Sherlaw-Johnson – Violin, Guitar, keyboards, electronics and objects
Charlotte Heffernan – Flute, laptop, electronics and objects
Kathy Hinde – Player piano, toy piano, laptop, electronics and objects


Special thanks to:
Siobhan Nolan for lending her Player Piano
Roger Waring for repair of Player piano
The Piano Removal Company for transporting Player Piano
Julian Dyer for punching piano rolls from midi files
Wolfgang Heisig for punching James Tenney Piano Roll
Michael Boyd for punching and freely donating Nancarrow Piano Roll
Professor Chris Hinde for designing software used for piano roll compositions
N.I.P. and Teresa Dillon for organising N.I.P. Portuguese residency.
Shelley Sacks, Paul Whitty, Ray Lee and Richard Layzell for their support, advice and inspiration on the Oxford Brookes Interdisciplinary MA course.
Oxford Brookes University Music Department for lending equipment.

image used on Echo Location Flyer