Monday, 5 October 2009

Things in the pipeline: gigs, Sounding the Site 2

It's been a while since I last updated the blog and now the summer has gone and we're back to our British grey skies and drizzle, things are starting happen again. First of all I have a couple of gigs with Frankylou (below) and Dave Woozley in Hove at the Sanctuary Cafe Cella (sic) on the 9th and 23rd of October. On the 9th we're supporting the The Lantanas and on the 23rd we're sharing the stage with Thom Gilbert and Tandy Hard. Come along if you can it starts at 8pm and I think it's £4 on the door.

Sanctuary Events
frankylou myspace

I've also just found out that Sounding the Site 2 is going to happen (see my previous posts). I've been invited to participate again although at the moment i know very little about the theme and so on. I will write another post when I know more. I've also been invited to go to the première (that may be too strong a word) of the film of the last Sounding the Site in April. If the film is posted on the net I will point you to it or i'll see if I can grab a copy from somewhere.

pattern.time.memory has been reviewed in the Shoreham Herald

My new multimedia piece pattern.time.memory has been reviewed by Martin Ward in the Shoreham Herald. I'm quite surprised at this as we tend to put on small scale events and I wasn't expecting a review.

New Music Brighton
Multi-media Concert Brighton

July 23 2009

New Music Brighton (NMB) are to be congratulated on their outstanding July concert at the Friends' Meeting House. The concert reflected an unfailing creative energy in a wide variety of styles and influences, but no mere imitations. The sixty-strong audience showed their appreciation with enthusiasm.

Praise is due to the brilliant performances by Anne Hodgson (flute) and Adam Swayne (piano), for their unfailing commitment, skill and musicality in interpreting often difficult pieces.

Terence Albright's substantial Partita for flute and piano was characterised by a pensive lyricism and energy, while Peter Owen'sChaconne was based on a simple, powerful bell-like figure, which gradually acquired internal flesh and complexity, as it mounted to a climax and then, like a palindrome, slowly moved back into silence.

Joanna Flackfield's Seaside Revels will be required on many future occasions where a transparent and wholly happy conspiracy between flute and piano is called for, giving summery enjoyment equally to players and audience. It would be good if the drive and inventiveness of Jessica Curry's one-minute Unstoppable force meets immovable object for solo piano could be further developed in a more substantial piece. Gregers Brinch's Anforta's Dream for solo flute, provided a splendid opportunity for monologue and dialogue-within-monologue, as the flute moved through a whole range of lyrical or passionate tropes ideally reflecting its spirit.

Phil Baker's Study for piano - Roulette Boogie began amusingly at either end of the piano's range, then gradually filled in the middle bits with energy and bravado. As well as being musically challenging, this was a tremendously fun piece.

Jonathan Clarke's Prelude and fugue for flute and piano was another very substantial offering, shot through with the energy which characterised this whole concert, and providing the flute some very rich, dark pianistic harmonies to play against, with a result that was most exciting.

After the interval, Peter Copely's Secret sonata for flute and piano was the very last thing to keep secret about, as the strong mid-European influence of Copley's time in Poland was reflected in a concatenation of urgent rhythmic and melodic figures, whose fragmentation nevertheless added up to an overall and satisfying unity.

This fascinating and ambitious concert ended with two bold audio-visual pieces. Resurge, with music by Ric Graebner and poetry by Argyros Ioannis, skilfully read by Andrew Branch, combined richly chromatic projected images and pre-recorded music. The theme of literature and its habit of haunting our lives was matched on the screen by Roger Pinnington's vivid semi-abstract explorations of Italian church interiors. Roger Harmar's no less ambitious +/-.pattern.time.memory used a wider range of imagery but no text apart from screened phases. Unlike Resurge, the visuals here were possibly a little too diverse and, although brilliant and insistent, their point, and relation to the music, were not always obvious.

© Martin Ward (full review in Shoreham Herald)

Monday, 27 July 2009

pattern.time.memory as shown in performance

Here's the finished version of pattern.time.memory, it seemed to go down well at the first performance and I had lots of nice comments from the audience. It is, of course, best viewed projected 4 metres by 3 metres or larger.


pattern.time.memory from Roger Harmar on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

pattern.time.memory



On Thursday this week (23th July) I shall be debuting my new piece pattern.time.memory at the Friends Meeting house in Ship Street Brighton. The concert is for New Music Brighton and starts at 8pm.It costs £8 or £5 for members and consessions. None of the money goes to the composers alas :-), all of it goes to the hire of the venue and payment of the musicians. This time it's a flute and piano and some electro-acoustic music (classical music's term for electronics). The programme is as follows:

Terence Allbright | Partita opus 19 flute & piano
Phil Baker | Study for Piano – Roulette Boogie
Gregers Brinch | Anforta’s Dream
Jessica Curry | Unstoppable Force Meets Immovable Object
Joanna Flackfield | Seaside Revels
Peter Owen | Chaconne
Peter Copley | Secret Sonata for Flute & Piano (1986)
Jonathan Clark | Prelude and Fugue for Flute & Piano
Ric Graebner | Resurge (Roger Pinnington images, Argyros Ioannis – text)
Roger Harmar | ±.pattern.time.memory.

Anne Hodgson (flute)
Adam Swayne (piano)
electro-acoustic works with images
Andrew Branch (speaker)

My piece lasts for about ten minutes and here's the brief programme note

±.pattern.time.memory continues my fascination with long rhythmic cycles. This piece develops in cycles of 60 beats which gives a simple mathematical and musical foundation for its polyrhythms. Its polyrhythmic nature is most obvious in the final part, memory. Melodically the piece uses an artificial 7 note scale and has been unconsciously influenced by half-remembered music of the early 20th century. The video images contain archive footage, vj loops and patterns inspired by the music and has special guest appearances by Erik Satie and Francis Picabia.

Here are some stills from the video. Come along if you can.










Monday, 4 May 2009

Berlin: Symphony of a Great City

Every so often I have a look through the internet archive and find a treasure I either haven't known about nor seen before. The Internet archive is a fantastic resourse for public domain and out of copyright material, from books, feature films, cartoons, movie trailers and so on.

Last night I found a documentary, Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (1927) directed by Walter Ruttmann and co-written and partly shot (although uncredited) by the great lighting cameraman Karl Freund. What's fascinating about this film is that it shows a lost world, the height of the Weimar Republic, after the hyperinflation of 1923 and before the Nazis gained power in 1933. This is the era of George Grosz, the Bauhaus, expressionism and cabaret.




Karl Freund was the cinematographer for the German Expressionist films the Golem (1920), Murnau's The Last Laugh (1924) and Metropolis (1927). He then emigrated to the United States in 1929 where he was director of photography for Dracula (1931) The Good Earth (1937) and Key Largo (1948). He photographed over a 100 films and switched to directing for a short time.

But what films! - directing the Mummy (1931), a subtle film of the occult with Boris Karloff, Mad Love (1935) with Peter Lorre - an extraordinary film. He was an important link beween German Expressionism, the Universal Horror film and film noir.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Sounding the site - a modern odyssey iv



Welcome to Sounding the Site, an event devised by the Centre for Continuing Education, and created by members of the university in partnership with local artists and performers, including children from Carlton Hill Primary School in Brighton.

The unusual sights and sounds on campus today are based on the Odyssey, the epic tale recounting the adventures of Odysseus as he island-hops his way home to Ithaca after the Trojan War. This takes him years to accomplish. On the way, he loses his men and his ships, and more than once comes close to losing his life.

Sounding the Site can be experienced in full on the ‘Island Tours’ or in part by visiting individual ‘Islands’, some of which will be accessible throughout the day.We hope many of you will also enjoy novel experiences today as you pass the Islands or the Tours pass you on your way about campus.

The initial impulse for the project was to use parts of the University that are not normally used for arts events, or not used in this way. Corridors, bridges and walkways are reinvented both as resonating spaces and as backdrops to movement and image: site and sight participate in sound.


Each Island is the creation of a different group, and each presents the audience with an experience (lasting around five minutes) in which word, image and music/sound are creatively combined. The whole journey will take just over one hour to complete, and is accompanied by the chorus of children, providing a narrative thread to link the Islands together.

The narrative theme allows the audience to experience the programme as more than a string of installations, and as a kind of journey in itself. The hope is that the event will not only make sense as an artistic whole, but will also link together some of the ‘islands’ within our local communities, and make a stronger connection between the University and its neighbours in Brighton and beyond.

Julian Broughton March 2009



Welcome!

Begin your Island Tour outside the Gardner Centre at 10.30am 1pm , or 2.30pm (tours last a little over one hour) or see the Tour Guide overleaf for information about each of the Islands and when they can be visited.

Island Tour Guide


Labyrinth, devised by River Jones and Luska Mengham, designed with help from Adam Verden, and created by Alex Hart (estates design contractor) and his team, the grass labyrinth can be found on the meadow area at the front of campus, to the right when heading out of the subway towards campus. Children form Carlton Hill Primary School will sing a sea shanty (their own lyrics) as they lead visitors to the next island.
Labyrinth can be viewed and walked throughout the day.

Beach-Cave-Raft can be found in the moat and under the arches outside the Union Shop in Falmer House. This Island reflects Odysseus' sojourn in the cave of the goddess Calypso, and combines a sound piece by Roger Harmar with a sculpture of a raft/still life by Terry Howe.
Beach-Cave-Raft can be seen throughout the day, and heard at the following times: 10.45-11am, 12 -12.15pm, 1.15-1.30pm, 2.45-3pm, 3.45 - 4pm.

Sirens can be found in InQbate’s ‘Creativity Zone’ (Pevensey 3C7, entry via front of Pevensey 2). This multi-layered installation conceived by Anna Dumitriu and Tom Hamilton will feature live song by Kassia Zermon, video projections and performance by Petrusco, to give voice to a contemporary ‘siren’ – technology . With creative involvement of the faculty of the Department of Informatics.
Sirens can be experienced throughout the day with occasional live vocal performances.

Heading Down can be found in Essex House, in the corridor next to the ‘SI Café’. Three poems by Abi Curtis reflect magic and mishap on Circe’s island, and evoke the gateway to the Underworld. Julian Broughton’s music for solo viola frames and punctuates the poems, with a visual element specially created by artist Christopher McHugh.
Though the visual element will be in place throughout the day, performances can be experienced only as part of the Tours.

Bag of Winds A soundscape composed by Ric Graebner represents the story of Aeolus and the bag of winds, rashly opened by Odysseus’s men. All will be revealed in the tunnel under Arts Road, on the footpath heading for Bramber House.
Bag of Winds can be seen throughout the day, and heard at the following times: 10.25-10.40am, 11.25 -11.40am, 12.25 -12.40pm, 1.55 -2.10pm, 3.25- 3.40pm

Destination Point is concerned with journeys, and can be found in the grass area in front of Fulton Court, next to Arts A. Once you enter this structure, you will be offered a number of ‘channels’ to follow. But there is no direct route to anywhere, and no actual point of destination… Adam Verden is responsible for concept and design, Micheal McLinn, Alex Hart and others have helped to realize it, with additional work on the soundscape by Roger Harmar.
Destination Point can be seen and entered throughout the day, and heard at the following times: 10.40-10.55am, 11.40-11.55am, 12.40 -12.55pm, 2.20- 2.45pm, and 3.50- 4.05pm

Free entry (some of the events of the day will be filmed and put somewhere on the net tba)

Monday, 6 April 2009

Sounding the site iii



The poster for Sounding the site event on April 24 at the University of Sussex has just been released (above).

The event is free and you can go on a guided tour or visit some of the artwork during the day. Julian Broughton, one of the contributors and organisers, has written a programme for the event.

Sounding the Site

Friday 24th April 2009

Programme

Welcome! You are invited to visit six campus ‘islands’ in this modern odyssey. Follow the chorus of children, and start your tour outside the Gardner Centre at 10.30, 13.00, or 14.30.

If each tour runs to time, then approximate end-times are 11.50, 14.20, and 15.50. On average, it should take roughly 5 minutes to get from one island to the next, and roughly 8 minutes to experience each Island.

Island Travel Guide


Tours begin outside the Gardner Centre.

Labyrinth is the first of the Islands. Devised by River Jones and Luska Mengham, this will be found on the lawn at the front of campus, to the right when heading out of the subway towards campus. A large labyrinth has been mown in an area of long grass. The school group will sing a sea shanty before leading visitors to the next island.

Beach-Cave can be found in the moat and under the arches outside the Union Shop in Falmer House. This Island reflects Odysseus' sojourn in the cave of the goddess Calypso, and combines a sound piece by Roger Harmar with a sculpture of a raft/still life by Terry Howe.

Sirens can be found in InQbate’s ‘Creativity Zone’, in Pevensey 3, C7.

Heading Down can be found in Essex House, in the corridor next to the ‘SI Café’. Three poems by Abi Curtis reflect magic and mishap on Circe’s island, and evoke the gateway to the Underworld. Julian Broughton’s music for solo viola frames and punctuates the poems, with a visual element specially created by painter Christopher McHugh.

Bag of Winds A soundscape composed by Ric Graebner represents the story of Aeolus and the bag of winds, rashly opened by Odysseus’s men. All will be revealed in the tunnel under Arts Road, on the footpath heading for Bramber House.

Destination Point is concerned with journeys, and can be found in the grass area in front of Fulton Court, next to Arts A. Once you enter this structure, you will be offered a number of ‘channels’ to follow. But there is no direct route to anywhere, and no actual point of destination. . . For as long as you continue to seek, music by Michael Mclinn will continue to sound. Adam Verden is responsible for concept and design, and Alex Hart and Kevin Costello have helped to realize it.

Julian Broughton



Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

New review in Songlines magazine



We've just had a a new review published in Songlines Magazine. Thanks to Jill Turner for writing such a nice review of our CD Ninalik Ndawi

Lani Singers Ninalik Ndawi
Dancing Turtle Records DTR 013
Full Price

**** four stars

Stone-age songs of defiant resistance

Ninalik Ndawi is a collection of 15 original compositions, mainly in a string band style, but punctuated by three outstanding and haunting plain vocal harmonies, 'Waiyaowa', 'Umaiyek Dearowod' and 'Yieowi': These are sacred songs of nature, steeped in highland traditions and referred to affectionately by the band as their 'stone age' songs. They're evocative of a time before European colonialism and the current Indonesian occupation, when little had changed for the people of West Papua.

Benny and Maria Wenda - the Lani Singers - have been granted political asylum in England and are part of the West Papuan government in exile and run the Free West Papua campaign. Bonny, orphaned in an Indonesian bombing raid, became an influential leader of his people. Resisting the occupation, he survived two assassination attempts and escaped imprisonment on treason charges, for carrying the Bintang Kajora. The flag, a symbol of hope for a free West Papua is used as a striking backdrop on their album cover. Freedom fighters helped reunite Benny and Maria in 2003, in the refugee camps of Papua New Guinea, where Maria, also facing death threats, had fled with their new born baby. Maria composed all the songs here and 'Elenginro; written during Benny's imprisonment, is characteristic of the passionate raw roots music that ignites the spirits of resistance, hope and determination. Maria's gentle guitar strumming creates a rhythm over which she delivers her vocals, sometimes gently, sometimes with a sense of urgency as in 'Wologwe; singing her heart out whilst Bonny contributes vocal harmonies and picks out a melody on the ukulele.

In a climate of fear, uncertainty and repression, it is a testament to human resilience that their music is not only full of catchy melodies that beg us to sing along but also retains such an air of reassurance. Featuring fascinating documentary liner notes, this album is helping to build a cultural legacy and encourage the struggle for freedom in West Papua.

Jill Turner


the Lani Singers
Songlines Magazine

Friday, 13 March 2009

bought a fridge, got a monolith

video

Normally I wouldn't blog about domestic events like buying a fridge but our new fridge looks so much like the monolith in 2001: a space odyessy I couldn't resist making a short film about it.

One of the most vivid memories from my childhood is seeing 2001 and having one of those 'what was that' moments. I now think that the best explanation for its meaning is that it's all about having lunch. There are so many scenes in the film of people having lunch that the only character who doesn't is HAL who subsequently goes nuts. The moral of this story is, of course, to always eat your greens and it's also appropriate that my fridge is all about having lunch too.


Having lunch at the Dawn of Man


Dave Bowman having lunch


No lunch for HAL


2001: a space odyssey IMDB

Amazon.co.uk

with apologies to Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C Clarke and Gyorgy Ligeti

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

This Island Earth



One of my favourite science fiction films is a b-movie called This Island Earth made in 1955. What’s not to like? It’s filmed in 3-strip Technicolor, has a mail order catalogue made out of metallic paper from which you can order an IKEA, oops, Electronics Service, Unit no.16 home-assembly interociter, a large video phone device that shoots neutrino rays, a robotic Douglas DC3, aliens from the planet Metaluna with high foreheads and white hair (no-one seems to spot that, hey! they could be aliens), flying saucers, insectoid mut-ants, an interplanetary war that ends in nuclear armageddon and for film buffs, a lead actor called Rex Reason and love interest Faith Domergue who was Howard Hughes’ girlfriend.

I tried showing this to my kids over the last half-term break, they replied “God Dad! The effects are a bit rubbish”









This Island Earth IMDB
Amazon.co.uk

Friday, 6 March 2009

Sounding the site ii

Well we are only a few weeks away from the Sounding the site event at the University of Sussex and things are moving apace. The project is based upon incidents in Homer's Poem, the Odyssey, and I am collaborating on an island with sculptor Terry Howe as part of the project. (See previous post for a summary)

Terry's island will consist of a raft on a beach with Odysseus asleep under a pile of leaves with my island cave about 5 metres away. Terry has taken a photo of the spot on a typical winter's day here in darkest Sussex (below). I will be providing music/sound for the cave and for Terry's beach and raft. I will post a more general overview of the project, once more becomes clear and the site and music are developed.


Photo: Terry Howe
The View from the cave, the beach is on the left and the moat will be full of water, we hope :-)

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Poême électronique, Edgard Varêse and Le Corbusier 1958 ii

I've just discovered a very interesting documentary about the Philips Pavilion and Poême électronique by Vitual Reality and Multimedia Park.


Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Procrastination



The real composer thinks about his work the whole time; he is not always conscious of this, but he is aware of it later when he suddenly knows what he will do.
Igor Stravinsky

One of the odd things about composing music or any creative endeavour is the amount of time one spends just thinking about what you are going to do. I am involved in a project for the University of Sussex called Sounding the Site and although I've written a couple of sketches I'm still thinking about the shape or form of the piece. I've written a piece that has a working title of 'cave music' because it's a soundscape the evokes the interior of a cave, but I'm undecided about how to proceed. Do I keep it as a soundscape or add more structure to it? Do I add themes or think about counterpoint...?

One the other things that also tends to happen is procrastination, it's a feeling that somehow, you're not ready to get down and finish the work - it's not the right moment to do it. It's during one of those moments of prevarication I found a couple of photographs that have intrigued me. The first small is a small photo of Claude Debussy and Igor Stravinsky taken by Erik Satie. I would have loved to have been there. Were they competitive with each other, what kind of small talk was going on that room?





The second is a mugshot of Igor Stravinsky after he was arrested by the Boston Police in 1940 for adding a major 7th in his arrangement of the Star Spangled Banner. There was a federal law that prohibited the reharmonization of the National Anthem.

Friday, 30 January 2009

Poême électronique, Edgard Varêse and Le Corbusier 1958



In my last post I discussed evoluon, a science museum built by Philips in Eindhoven and whilst looking through the liner notes of a Varêse CD, I saw his Poême électronique was also written for another Philips Pavilion at the 1958 Brussels World Fair.



The pavilion was designed by the studio of Le Corbusier and the lead architect of the pavilion was Iannis Xenakis. Visitors would enter through curved corridor, stand in a central chamber for the eight-minute presentation, and exit out the other side.

The presentation had images conceived by Le Corbusier and music by Varêse. The music was constructed by splicing together (on tape) pre-existing sounds and played through 425 speakers placed throughout the pavilion. The speakers were triggered to sound at specific intervals so the piece never sounded exactly the same at any location.

Varêse worked at the Philips laboratories in Eindhoven to produce the montage of sounds and it must have been quite spectacular to hear the 360 degree sound space.

The multimedia presentation, complete with images and music, can be played below:




Here's an mpeg version to download here (85mb).

Unfortunately the pavilion was soon demolished but the more familiar Atomium remains.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

evoluon



Evoluon was a museum of science and technology in Eindhoven, that closed in 1989. Although I never visited it, it was an unique hands-on museum much like parts of the Science museum is today, in London.

One of the reasons I know about evoluon was because of a film shown repeatedly in the early 1970s as part of BBC test transmissions. Colour television was being introduced at that time in England, and the BBC would show short colour films that TV engineers used to set up TVs during the day (there was no 24 hour TV then :-)) - it was always one of my favourites.

What is interesting about this film, apart from the waves of nostalgia it induces, is the sound track with many electronic sounds and early voice synthesis interspersed with groovy late sixties music. I wonder if Kraftwerk saw this?

part 1



part 2


evoluon

Friday, 16 January 2009

Metro/Underground maps #1 Moscow

I love metro maps, here's the first in an occassional series, Moscow.
Click the image for a larger view.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Getting it right

Last November I was asked to design a book about health issues for refugees called Getting it right. I received a printed copy the other day and I've posted some pages below.

One of the challenges in designing this kind of book is that you don't have much to work with other than type, and perhaps one or two colours. You can usually use images on the cover but you can't get away with using photos as decoration or fillers (there's a limited budget for buying or shooting photos or for printing in 4 colour for example). It is often a matter of understanding what the book is about, how people will navigate through it and then getting the grid and the type right – the rest follows on.




The Wire review of the Lani Singers CD Ninalik Ndwadi


I've just received a copy of The Wire review of the Lani Singers CD Ninalik Ndwadi. I'm playing bass on 8 tracks.






When the Dutch quit West Papua in 1961, that mineral-rich land was soon occupied by Indonesian forces. Since then 400,000 West Papuans have been killed by the invading militia. Once you encounter that sickening statistic in the liner notes to Ninaluk Ndawi (Freedom song), it's impossible to hear the artless charm of this music without a profound sense of human vulnerability and a sense too of human resilience and dignity. Benny and Maria Wenda, the Lani Singers, grew up in the remote central highland region, where the Lani people still lead uncomplicated lives. Most of Wenda's family were killed during an air bombardment. Subsequently, he attended university, was imprisoned for voicing resistance to the regime, and eventually escaped with his wife to the U K, where they run the Free West Papua Campaign. They harmonise over basic guitar and ukulele accompaniment; Roger Harmar adds occasional bass. The song structures bears the singalong imprint of European missionary music, although at times - notably on "Umameke Dearowakod" - an indigenous vocal tradition surfaces. These are modest, understated songs but they bear the weight of the worst and the best in human behaviour and are deeply affecting.

Sounding the site

This week I became involved in a new project that will result in a performance on the campus of Sussex University (above) called Sounding the site. Here's a description of the project that myself and others are working towards.
Sounding the Site is an arts event, planned to take place on the University of Sussex campus on Friday 24 April 2009. Loosely based on the theme of Homer’s Odyssey (the epic tale recounting the adventures of Ulysses as he island-hops his way home to Ithaca after the Trojan War) Sounding the Site will lead the audience in a journey around the campus, pausing at six different ‘Islands’. Each ‘Island’ will be created by a different group, and will present the audience with an experience (lasting around five minutes) in which word, image and music/sound are creatively combined. The whole journey, which will take around 1.5 hours to complete, will be accompanied by a chorus, providing a narrative thread to link the Islands together.
I'm writing a piece for one island and maybe doing some graphics or artwork depending on how the project develops. I'll post more when the project gets further along.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

one cat, eight fish

Welcome to one cat, eight fish, this my first post here at blogspot and I hope to share with you and discuss my work in graphic & information design and what can only be described as other stuff. As you may know, I'm also a musician and composer so the blog will cover some of the music projects I'm involved with in a little more detail than I've done previously at other places.

I have many interests that feed into my work and I was originally trained as scientist, so I hope to blog about science, politics and anything else that confronts me in my life.

I discovered that the main problem in setting up this blog was finding a name that hadn't been used by someone else. So to set the record straight, I have one cat and eight fish and they can see me typing this....