Electronics / Real-time Scores

Through his research work at Brunel University, Andrew has become more interested in electronic music and the processes behind its creation.  Through experiments in this direction a series of electronic pieces has been developed, investigating the interaction of noise with pitched materials, and drones with rhythms.  Randomness is a key part of the creative process behind these works, and in this regard the software Max MSP has become an essential tool.

Use the player below to hear some recent examples of this work:


The M-Word Engine

As part of his PhD research Andrew developed a real-time score system in Max MSP.  Dubbed ‘The M-Word Engine’, this is a semi-random generator of instructions for improvisers, using pre-composed parametric boundaries in order to create underlying musical structures which shape a performer’s improvisation.  A significant element in the system, and that which gave it it’s name, is the additional presence of an inbuilt thesaurus, which generates a series of synonyms from a chosen starting word to be displayed to performers with their instructions.  The completed instructions are then displayed on smart phones, from which performers can request new instructions and new ‘m-words’.  For more information see the Research pages of this website.

See an example of the engine in action below, in which there are 5 human performers and 2 synthesised voices interacting.  Each square represents one of the performers, and shows what instructions they are receiving.  This was interpreted by the vLookup ensemble:


Kafka’s Wound

‘On his right side, in the region of the hip, a wound the size of the palm of one’s hand has opened up. Rose coloured, in many different shadings, dark in the depths, brighter on the edges, delicately grained, with uneven patches of blood, open to the light like a mine. That’s what it looks like from a distance. Close up a complication is apparent.  Who can look at that without whistling softly? Worms, as thick and long as my little finger, themselves rose coloured and also spattered with blood, are wriggling their white bodies with many limbs from their stronghold in the inner of the wound towards the light. Poor young man, there’s no helping you. I have found out your great wound. You are dying from this flower on your side.’

from A Country Doctor, Franza Kafka (1919)

This piece was part of Kafka’s Wound, a digital literary essay commissioned from Will Self by the London Review of Books.  The essay examined his personal relationship to Kafka’s work through the lens of the story ‘A Country Doctor’ (1919), and in particular through the aperture of the wound described in that story.

The piece was a continuous online sound stream, created from looped recordings of music composed by Peter Wiegold and performed by members of Notes Inégales.  Running constantly between September and December 2011, the sounds  gradually decayed in a parallel to the progression of an untreated and infected wound.  The degradation of the sound was modelled on the physiological changes that a patient with such a wound would encounter, including decreasing blood pressure and conscious level, increasing heart and respiratory rates, and falling pH levels.  On November 11th the virtual patient experienced septic shock, and began a fatal degradation culminating in the death of the soundstream 19 days later.

This stream was built using Max MSP software (www.cycling74.com) and includes the Max-to-Twitter external (http://www.soundplusdesign.com/?p=4213).  It was being broadcast through the Shoutcast framework (www.shoutcast.com) using the BUTT broadcasting tool (http://butt.sourceforge.net/).

Use the player below to hear some moments from the sound stream’s progression.