Forum Posts

Alan Chamberlain
Aug 03, 2020
In OFF GRID
Last week was the initial kick-off meeting of the CoDI Off-Grid project and it was great to see so many people from the Experimental, Underground Off-Grid Scene in the same place. Although there were some gremlins in the system for Sarah Algliss's talk, Deborah skilfully navigated us to through this and we went into our own 'rooms' to discuss experimental music in Wales and the issues that the community face and what they'd like to see happen. I think that overall I came away with a few things that I'm thinking about: How do we promote what we do in Wales to others and ourselves? Can we share practice, tools, skills and software? Can we share and make use of our knowledge and experiences? How do we engage with people 'outside' of Wales, but who are part of the scene, or want to support? How do we make ourselves inclusive, and receptive to new ideas? One thing was really clear. We should be proud as a community about the great things that are happening in Wales! The experimental music scene has connections that reach beyond Wales, people are interested in what's happening and want to be involved all over the world. Recently I'd released an album on the fantastic Recordiau Prin label based in North Wales, so it's been an interesting time, as some of the issues that were raised really resonated with me. Promotion, being part of a small community, trying to share knowledge and build the community. I was also commissioned by the National Library of Wales to work with some of their archival content as part of the Unlocking Our Sound Heritage project. I really enjoy this sort of work and I think that open free access to archival content is something that is great for creatives and the economy, so I was very pleased to receive on of the awards. Promoting this sort of work is key to getting people to understand the importance and value of the experimental Welsh music scene. You can see the piece below (it's been played at Ocilloscope (with interview), and I was also recently interviewed on the radio about the piece. I think that the music starts at 3.40, it's me talking up until that point. There's a really good feeling about the the CoDI Off-Grid Network, I can't wait to see what happens next. For please follow me on Spotify Alan Chamberlain and keep up with my latest releases.
The Experimental, Underground Music Scene in Wales content media
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Alan Chamberlain
Jul 07, 2020
In BLOGS
News A new collection of recordings have been released, these mainly use experimental composition techniques which bring together technology, archive content and music. A big thanks to everyone who has already supported this release. The physical (CD) release can be ordered here from one of Wales' leading experimental music labels Recordiau Prin, run by Ash Cooke. Currently the CD release also includes the digital files which are also available to download. https://recordiauprin.bandcamp.com/album/the-loss-of-one Streaming For those people who prefer to use streaming services, such as Spotify, iTunes or Google Play You can use this link: https://distrokid.com/hyperfollow/alanchamberlain/the-loss-of-one One of the tracks 'Heligoland' https://open.spotify.com/track/5fHie1WWqnzzOi84KOxl7h can already be found on a Spotify Playlist on Landscape curated by Duncan Chapman for Sound Scotland https://open.spotify.com/playlist/0zpw0rNwUXIMjpznfLDkgI The playlist features Xenakis, Oram, Wright, Britten and Chamberlain amongst others.
New Music Release - The Loss of One  content media
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Alan Chamberlain
Apr 01, 2020
In BLOGS
The last few weeks have been difficult for everyone, but it's interesting to see how some of the Welsh music scene is starting to adapt to not being able to perform live-in the same space as the audience (co-located). Yesterday I took part in Oscilloscope, normally it's an event hosted in Penmaenmawr, with people performing their 'experimental' work 'live' to an audience, it's also usually streamed - with Ed Wright doing a great job of comparing. Last night was slightly different, the event was run through Zoom (a video conferencing service), anyone with the link could join the Zoom group, it was also streamed onto Facebook so that people could watch if they didn't want to use Zoom. The line up was: David Hopewell, Alan Chamberlain, Rob Spaull, Phil Morton, Mark Albrow, Benjamin Buck (some people had dropped out as they wanted to perform live, or had a slow Internet connection - a genuine issue in rural Wales). The event ranged from contemporary experimental classical, to explorations of the 'Crackle Box', a talk/reflection on listening, audio augmented 3D printing with granular synthesis and much more. Below is my piece that was played and discussed. The event went really well (thanks to Charles Spendlove's wrangling of the technology) and felt as though it offered something a little more intimate and democratic than the usual 'performer and audience' set up that we're so used to. On the positive side of things people were able to get involved globally, people could use pre-recorded work/videos and it was really easy to ask questions and discuss the work that was performed and presented. A few weeks before I'd been invited to perform at SCRATCH an event regularly held at Storiel in Bangor and curated by Ash Cooke (Chow Mwng). Storiel is a great venue for this sort of experimental event, a gallery space with great acoustics. You literally perform amongst the art. The venue was full and I'd invited Ash to improvise over my set, which was a new experience for me, but building collaborations, developing friendships and exploring techniques is what these events and this scene is all about. I was also able to use some work that I'd been working on with Maria Kallionpää for an opera, along with found sounds and AI-based compositions (in the set), which I'm currently working on. Below is a video that was taken of the performance. You might need to turn up the volume if you're using a laptop. It's really encouraging to see events being run by people who are enthusiastic and want to hear, share and promote the music of Wales, even if it is 'Off Grid' or online. Running events online offers different opportunities and challenges, but it looks like people are rising to the challenge and keeping the experimental Welsh music scene alive! Alan Chamberlain was supported by the following EPSRC projects - EP/T51729X/1 & EP/R511730/1.
Online & Off-Grid: New Ways of Performing Music in Wales content media
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Alan Chamberlain
Aug 01, 2019
In BLOGS
These are exciting times for the National Eisteddfod of Wales who are embracing the diverse culture of Wales, "The Eisteddfod is the natural showcase for music, dance, visual arts, literature, original perfomances and much more.  Encompassing all aspects of the arts and culture in Wales, it is an inclusive and welcoming festival." The festival is usually attended by around 150,000 people, and this year I'll be performing/playing three experimental electronic compositions. One of which, "Pen Dinas in Voice" emerged from the Ty Cerdd CODI Composer (Electronic) programme, of which I was part. This year Marc Rees, the internationally renowned art installation, performance creator and curator is curating AGORA . His vision is to develop a space where people openly perform, discuss and explore contemporary issues. A people's pavilion, which will give voice to the vibrant, diverse culture of Wales. Creating this sort of space is conceptually innovative, Marc has enabled 'leaders' in their field to come together to create, discuss and perform, and for people such as myself who are involved in the Arts, Research and Technology it's a chance to show the way in which new or developing technology can play a part in the creation and performance of music. On Saturday Ed Wright and I will be performing work that we've composed and recorded (with live electronics, and field recordings captured in Wales) especially for this amazing performance (see below): LLinell | LLinyn For one night only, Mist will be inhabited and animated by dancers who will create a movement score responding to the dynamics of the sculpture and music from a live harpist where the taught strings of the instrument and the installation become intertwined via a mesmerising duet. The artwork Mist by Sébastien Preschoux is a large scale thread sculpture commissioned by Migrations, stretching majestically from tree to tree within the grounds of Ffin-y-Parc Gallery near Llanrwst Choreographer: Matteo Marfoglia Dancers: Angharad Harrop, Angharad Jones Harp: Helen Wyn Pari Sound Artists: Alan Chamberlain, Ed Wright Concept: Marc Rees Creative Producer: Iwan Williams - Ffiwsar Mist Artist: Sébastien Preschoux Curator: Karine Décorne, Migrations 21:00, Saturday 3 August, Ffin-y-Parc, Llanrwst (doors open at 20:45) On Thursday I'll be presenting two more pieces 'Pen Dinas in Voice' and a piece which is a work developed especially for Agora, called 'Étretat & Nanteos', which relates to specific events in the life of George Powell of Nanteos (his collection is held at the Aberystwyth School of Art - and they were kind enough to spend some time with me looking through his archive, which contains curios, sculpture and writings). The piece is a work in progress and incorporates 'The Minstrel's Adieu to his Native Land' (John Thomas, Pencerdd Gwalia - 1880), and uses some novel compositional techniques using Artificial Intelligence. Acknowledgements All of the works have used software in their creation developed by Dave De Roure (Oxford University). We acknowledge Fusing Semantic and Audio Technologies for Intelligent Music Production and Consumption EPSRC EP/L019981/1. Étretat & Nanteos also uses the Magenta AI software. Alan Chamberlain is a Senior Researcher at the Mixed Reality Lab, a Visiting Composer at the Computational Foundry (Swansea University) and a Researcher in Residence at the Digital Catapult.
National Eisteddfod of Wales - AGORA content media
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Alan Chamberlain
Jun 10, 2019
In BLOGS
Cardiff to Ceredigion - Here are a few words about the visit of our 'Buddy' from our perspective. I don’t think that anyone would say that Penparcau is the kind of place that you’d expect there to be an interest in experimental electronic music. It’s a small village in rural Ceredigion on the outskirts of Aberystwyth nestling up against the ‘Celtic’ Hillfort Pen Dinas, an area which was classed as a Communities First area. However, there is a growing interest in the Arts and what might be seen as a small underground movement with an interest in taking a more avant-garde approach to composition and performance, thanks to the support of Ty Cerdd! While taking part in the CoDI Electronic Composers programme I’d met @Richard McReynolds and become aware of his work. I’d also been able to discuss different approaches to composing, notation and ways of performing with him, a shared interest that we have. We were aware of some of the performance systems and software that Richard had built and were keen to get him to come and work with us. ‘Electronic’ performances can sometimes be more enjoyable for the performer than the audience, and can consist of a person sitting on stage looking at a laptop pushing buttons and twisting knobs, which isn’t particularly interesting for the audience, and it’s something that we wanted to get away from, and we knew that this is something that Richard had tried to avoid in his practice. We saw the call for “Buddies” and were lucky enough to be able to get funding from Ty Cerdd (via the CoDI Buddy scheme) for Richard to work with our group (now called) The Ensemble Electronic (Cymru) as part of the Penparcau Community Forum Arts and Music Group. We’d had various email exchanges with Richard, I’d met with him in Cardiff and I was slightly worried about using up too much of his time, all of this adds up! So we decided to do a focused workshop and we’d have a drop-in style approach so that people come and take part throughout the day – this works much better than a couple of hours here and there for us, and travelling between Cardiff and Ceredigion several times is time consuming. “You find the sound with your body” (talking about using Richard's software) During the first part of the day we were introduced to different sorts of ‘digital instruments’, such as the Microsoft Kinect controller and the GameTrak, we were familiar with this from our work with Jenn and Simon of the Swansea Laptop Orchestra. Richard also introduced us to Max/MSP a visual programming language. We were able to spend some time using the programs that he had developed and getting used to the feel and flexibility of using these sorts of set-ups to compose. This exploration was a great way to introduce people to this sort of technology. After a short while we were able to suggest ways in which we’d like to develop this set up and the sorts of sounds, compositions and themes that we’d like to address. Later in the day, equipped with recording gear, hydrophones, shotgun mics and stereo mics we went out and explored the local harbour and beach, listening to, making and collecting all manner of interesting sounds from the site, which we could take back and use to start bringing together our ideas. We sat down and quickly went through our sonic collections, listening, editing and mixing. We then imported them into the system. This allowed us to manipulate the sound and develop a sense and feel for what we could accomplish – and to think about the shape of a future work. At one point the MP for Ceredigion (Ben Lake) came in and was fascinated by what we had been doing, he was really supportive of the collaboration and interested in the ways that we were performing our developing work. As the day went on time flew by and we’d been able to draft something together that we’d like to develop further. Before the end of the day we’d made some plans and it was time to head off, with our heads full of ideas and a whole day’s worth of sonic explorations, but what next? Site Specific Sound - A Future Focus There’s no doubt that we’d definitely like to work with Richard again, and have been developing a small project that we’d like to co-compose, score and record in an innovative way. We’d like to develop some of Richard’s software and work with him to perform and record a set of short pieces. Our concept is based around the notion of a Sonic Triptych - Three pieces that can be listened to individually, or together as a single piece. We will develop the piece/s with Richard using his software to explore a range of approaches, from field recording to developing synthesized sounds and vocal experimentation (in Welsh & English). We will perform and record the pieces, and we will then create a site-specific way of allowing people to engage with the compositions in different locations via their phone. Anyone will be able to go to 4 specific locations, open a piece of software using their phone and hear a performance that is related to that specific place – 3 individual pieces and 1 combined mix of the pieces. Each location will add to the experience of the listener. Our theme is “The Wild & the Sea”. Having a downloadable experience means that more people will be able to engage with the work and experience it – we’d like to think that we can break down barriers to taking part in musical experiences. Reflecting and Thanks Everyone enjoyed the time that we spent working with Richard and the opportunities, ideas and imaginings that this has enabled us to have. It has also given us the confidence and enthusiasm to really think about how we can develop as a group and musically. The way that Ty Cerdd have been able to ‘seed-fund’ different projects is leading to new and exciting musical collaborations and ways of understanding, performing and sharing music in Wales, and that’s important for our small community and Wales as a whole.
Sounds & Software by the Sea: Being Buddied content media
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Alan Chamberlain
Jun 06, 2019
In BLOGS
I was fortunate enough to get accepted for the CODI Hack sessions that are being run by Ty Cerdd, with a group of other composers. The sessions are about starting to understand the fundamentals of digital instrument design (and electronics), and although I've written about this in the past and have used a whole range of midi controllers and digital instruments, I've never really had the impetus or support to build something in a day, although I have tinkered in the past. This first session was great for a number of reasons, being able to catch-up with friends that were also CoDI composers, meet other composers and find out what they're up to and to learn new skills that are useful to anyone who used digital tools/electronics in their work. The day flew by, the morning session focused on Max/MSP and granular synthesis, building and running some small programs. The next session looked at the Arduino platform and again there was some programming in a different language - the final session brought the the two things together and by this time we were able to build something that allowed us to control different elements of a granular synthesis 'patch' (written in Max) with a hardware controller that we were able to put together and experiment with. The future session will see us present our design and maybe do a mini performance...of sorts. I was really pleased to be able to attend this sort of event in Wales, normally things are run in London, Amsterdam or Berlin etc., so to run something like this in Cardiff was great. Would really like to see other people extend upon this and maybe even run something up in Aberystwyth in the future. For more info on Max/MSP look here - https://cycling74.com For more info on the Arduino platform look here - https://www.arduino.cc
Designing Digital Instruments  content media
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Alan Chamberlain
Mar 29, 2019
In BLOGS
It's often the case that if you want to do something that involves music and technology you have to head out of the 'country' towards the 'city'. If you live in Wales this often means a trip to the south. As a resident of North Ceredigion I've often felt as though there is an unfortunate lack of support in the area for anyone interested in Electronic and Electro-Acoustic music. As you can imagine time, cost and lack of public transport mean that it's difficult for many people to engage in activities that are hosted miles away. With this in mind I'd spoken to a friend at Queen Mary University, who'd developed a an ultra-low latency system called Bela to run a day's workshop in Aberystwyth. "Bela is a maker platform for creating beautiful interactions. Designed for artists, musicians, researchers and makers, Bela brings the power of ultra-low latency interactive audio to your projects." I'd been involved in some related projects at STEIM in Amsterdam, London and FACT in Liverpool with him and seen some amazing things being developed, so I was pleased when he said that he could support the workshop. Luckily I'd also spoken to Deborah at Ty Cerdd, and together we'd met Aberystwyth Arts Centre, who kindly offered us a space for the day. The workshop was a real success, with people saying that they really enjoyed the experience. One thing that I didn't expect to happen was that people wanted to come to the 'country' from the 'city', to have a time to think, reflect and be creative...and hang out by the sea. I suppose when you live near the sea, surrounded by mountains, forests and in the shadow of a Celtic hillfort you forget how relaxing and yet energising the place can be. This time we'd capped numbers, but I think that next time we'll do something a little bigger - maybe even have a performance or two. I was surprised that people didn't mind travelling and felt that "getting away from it all" was part of the experience. One person even said they, "really missed the green", of the countryside. We've already started to plan some more events and have been offered support by the Penparcau Community Forum, who are growing the Arts in the area. In early April we've got people coming together from Swansea, Cardiff, Penparcau, Aberystwyth, Wrexham & Nottingham to plan and think about interesting and innovative ways to work in the area. There's also support for a monthly Maker Meeting at the Hub (Penparcau, Aberystwyth). So watch this space! For more insights into how Bela can be used check out their blog https://blog.bela.io Many thanks to all that were involved in helping us make this happen, and once again to Deborah at Ty Cerdd. I'd like to acknowledge the following projects: Fusing Semantic and Audio Technologies for Intelligent Music Production and Consumption - EP/L019981/1 The CHERISH-DE Centre - Challenging Human Environments and Research Impact for a Sustainable and Healthy Digital Economy - EP/M022722/1 Impact Acceleration Account - University of Nottingham 2017 - EP/R511730/1
Music Tech on the Edge content media
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