Thursday, 3 July 2014

Anima Mechanicae: Soul of the Machine - Programme Notes

To buy your tickets for our Machine Music concert 

on Sunday 6th July at the Exeter Phoenix click 


Anima Mechanicae: Soul of the Machine

“Dedicated to the Computers and Robots of the Future, Who Long to Dream as the Humans

Written for string quartet and completed in 2007, this work intentionally utilizes a re-imagining
of minimalistic gestures, capitalizing on Wallin Huff's obsession with Glass-ian style
minimalism. Yet, being more prone to programmatic style over "absolute music," the
overarching flow and connecting material between elements are largely encompassed within
the tale of a science-fiction character of Wallin Huff's imagination: specifically, that of an
advanced computer program who has been given a chance to experience emotions like the
humans do.

Therefore, the work opens with moments of mechanical coldness, gradually giving way to
moments of tender and emotional beauty. Wallin Huff intentionally derived and fashioned her
various rhythmic and tonal patterns throughout the work from strict mathematical relationships
-- to showcase that a mechanically constructed framework can give way to striking beauty on
its surface, much in the way a computer program of the future might evolve into its abstract

The sections of this single-movement work include: Mechanically, Quixotically, Pensively, With
impish behaviour, Tenderly, and Surreal.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Rehearsal Pictures 2/7/14

Some pictures from today's rehearsal at Exeter Phoenix

Music Machines 4 & 26 by Simon Belshaw

To buy your ticket for Machine Music at the Exeter Phoenix click here.

Music Machines 4 & 26
Simon Belshaw

I've been using a computer for a while now to create music machines, small programmes that run by themselves and generate music within certain parameters. You can read about them (and download some) here.

More recently I have started to combine the computer generated aspect of creating music with live performance. The first machine that I adapted in this way was Music Machine 1 which you can read about here and even try it out with a group of friends.

I have also recorded some machines for live performance in specific locations or for particular events, this year Music Machine 29 has been played at the Sonorities festival and Music Machine 31 formed part of VoxNovus 60x60. To create these I have been using a Raspberry Pi computer running a version of linux and I have written the code in python.

I have always been interested in process and systems and particularly in the idea of systems that breakdown. In Michael Nyman's book Experimental Music: Cage and Beyond he writes of John White's music '... being English they are ambling, friendly, self-effacing systems, which may break down.' (Coincidentally John White's Humming and Aah-ing Machine forms part of Sunday's concert).

Music Machine 4 consists of 14 cells of music ranging from 4 to 16 cells. For this performance each member of the string quartet has an ipad which displays the cell to play and how it should be played. The performance options are style (pizz, arco etc), dynamics and transposition (an octave up or down). The piece begins slowly with comparatively long pauses between cells, those pauses grow shorter and towards the end the computer joins in playing pre recorded clips of the cells.

Music Machine 26 consists of a slow, sustained chord progression played by the quartet. The progression is played three times. During the first play the computer records a number of clips of varying length. In the following two repeats of the progression the computer plays back those clips over the live quartet at random times.

These machines are designed to be different every time they are played although they will always sound the same (you wouldn't mistake Music Machine 4 for Music Machine 26)

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

About Sarah Wallin Huff

To buy your tickets for our Machine Music concert 

on Sunday 6th July at the Exeter Phoenix click 


Here's a little bit about Sarah Wallin Huff whose piece Anima Mechanicae: Soul of the Machine we'll be performing on Sunday night

Violinist/Violist and Composer Sarah Wallin Huff has been playing the violin since 1989. She has also performed on Baroque violin and viola with the ensemble “Collegium Musicum,” and has been a regular performer on six-string electric violin since 2003. She toured from 1999 to 2002 as a singer, dancer, and violinist/fiddler across the continental U.S. and eleven European countries, as well as holding the position of Assistant Director during her final tour. She has performed as a regular member of the Orange County Symphony, performed as Concertmaster of the Southern California Philharmonic, and performed with other numerous orchestras and diverse ensembles. She regularly performs as a soloist for a variety of events and concerts, as well as participating on electric and acoustic violin and viola on various recording projects. Some past performance highlights include: Performing on camera as the featured violinist for a 2013 art film with James Franco on the set of the Bates Motel, Universal Studios, Hollywood; accompanying Michael Card and Twila Paris each in concert; collaborating with classical/hip-hop/rock artist Jake “ONO” Bhattacharya on his latest album; and laying down violin tracks for Thomas Graff’s debut album.

Sarah has had her compositions performed in numerous concerts throughout Southern California, including the Zipper Hall in Los Angeles. PARMA Recordings in New Hampshire chose her work “Anima Mechanicae: Soul of the Machine” to be recorded by the New England String Quartet in Boston and featured on the modern chamber works album, “ALLUSIONS.” PARMA is currently embarking on the next recording project with Sarah, a selected works album featuring her original compositions exclusively. Her compositions range from solo works to chamber ensembles, to orchestral concert pieces and film and theater works. Her general style draws from such diverse sound-worlds as early and modern Classical, new age and electronica, world, and folk.

Having received her MA in Music Composition at Claremont Graduate University in 2008, as of 2012 Sarah is currently the Professor of Composition and conductor of the Chamber Ensemble at The Master's College in Santa Clarita.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

About the Machine Music Programme Part I

To buy your tickets for our Machine Music concert on Sunday 6th July at the Exeter Phoenix click here.

Long Waves and Random Pulses 


Annie Gosfield

(2012, 13 minutes, for violin and tape) World premiere by Monica Germino at the Night of the Unexpected Festival, Utrecht, Holland, September 6, 2012.

Long Waves and Random Pulses is a duet for violin and jammed radio signals. I composed and researched the piece at the American Academy in Berlin, using original recordings of jamming sounds that were used to block radio transmissions in Italy, Germany, and the Soviet Union in World War II. The violin merges and emerges, shifting from music, to noise, to pure signal while fading in and out of the sounds of intentional radio interference. The electronic backing track includes a repeated six-note figure that was drawn from original recordings of an Italian radio jamming device, a buzzing pitched pulse from a German jamming device, a quote from J. S. Bach’s Chaconne in D Minor as it could have been heard in a jammed broadcast, and many extended techniques that evoke the sounds of these otherworldly radio signals. The violin part alternates between virtuosic and textural playing, shifting between notes and noise, custom made for Monica’s great technique and dramatic performance skills. The all acoustic version features Elfa Run Kristindottir’s unique blend of beautiful tone and fine control of extended techniques, with the radio-inspired noise incorporated into the notated part. I considered how a listener might perceive these unpredictable shifting sounds when he or she turned on the radio and was confronted with the odd results of two very different signals competing for the same wavelength, as well as the constant transformation and the dynamic tension between music, noise, and the interference of pure signal. As for the title, Long Waves refers to the long wave radio frequencies that many of these interrupted signals were broadcast on. Random Pulses represents a method of radio jamming that uses a random pulse noise to override the program broadcast on the target radio frequency.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Machine Music at Exeter Phoenix

Tickets are now available for our Machine Music concert on Sunday 6th July at the Exeter Phoenix. To buy your tickets click here.

The concert will feature works by John White, Annie Gosfield, Kraftwerk, Bach, Sarah Wallin Huff, George Antheil, Conlon Nancarrow and two new pieces by Exeter based composer Simon Belshaw.

The music will be played by a string quartet and will also feature music for/played by/created with player piano, music boxes, film, radio signals, ipad and raspberry pi.

Further information and details of the pieces to follow.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Earworms May 4th 2014

We've been busy rehearsing - both for our Flavel performance on May 9th and for our very first appearance at Earworms this coming Sunday.  We founded Earworms in September 2013 and whilst we've been busy running and administrating it, this is the first performance we've given ourselves.

The programme for Sunday features some of our Back there on Earth programme - the first movement of Reich's Diffferent Trains and an extract from Simon Belshaw's Between the moon and the earth, but will also be the first time we perform some of the music for the forthcoming Machine Music programme.  We are playing one of the arrangements of Kraftwerk songs (The Model), one of Simon's Music Machines and an arrangement of a Bach Fugue.

It being May 4th on Sunday, we couldn't resist a mini Star Wars theme - due to a competition we are currently running I can say no more about who may appear - you'll need to come along to see for yourselves!

Tickets are £4.50 and £3 from the Northcott box office (01392 493493) or from Exeter Tourist Information and tickets, Dix's Field.

Exeter Contemporary Sounds present Back there on Earth at The Flavel, Dartmouth.
May 9th, 2014 7.30pm

Buy tickets here

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Machine Music / Music Machines

We have confirmed that our Machine Music concert will go ahead at the Exeter Phoenix on 6th July this year. More information will follow. There will be pieces by Simon Belshaw and if you want to know more about his Music Machines then you can read about them here. In the meantime there will be a performance of Music Machine 1 by Get Rich Quick as part of the Vibraphonic Festival at Exeter Phoenix on 19th March. Music Machine 29 will feature in the surround studio at the Sonoroties festival in Belfast 27th April - 4th May 2014 and four Music Machines currently form part of the playlist on Sound Introversion Radio.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

So, Exeter Contemporary Sounds drew breath, started a Family Concert Series (Earworms), was overwhelmed by the response.... and in the meantime has been having a succession of great ideas for concerts and other kinds of musical events.

We'll bring 'Back There On Earth' to The Flavel, Dartmouth on Friday 9th May. When we conceived this programme, The Flavel was recommended as a great venue for this programme. If you missed our previous performances, do come along on 9th May. Book tickets from The Flavel Box Office:

We're also working on a new programme of 'Machine Music' for our audience at Exeter Phoenix in June or July this year. Watch this space for an intriguing event, featuring our versions of 'Kraftwerk' tracks and music inspired, and even generated by, machines.

At last, we'll perform our first 'Earworms' concert on Sunday 4th May. We've had a lot of fun putting this programme together, featuring, as it will, the Star Wars theme music ('May the 4th be with you'), as well as a chunk of Steve Reich's Different Trains and Simon Belshaw's Between the Moon and the Earth. We'll put up more of the programme for your anticipation, soon. For tickets contact Northcott Theatre's box office: 01392 493493