Using Science in the Artists Practice.

Due to my professional involvement in the music industry I began a journey of research into the physics of sound. I became obsessed with frequency and the influence of frequency in matter. I often use this subject within my art process.

Artists and Scientists use a similar approach in their research and processes. They are creating new undiscovered theories. Scientists and artists are creators and they often work around and outside of the known concepts. The artists approach can assist the scientist in their new found discoveries by making their research a physical object or a sound. When an artist and scientist work together they create a physical thing that can communicate the scientists theory to the outside world.  Continue reading

The Architecture of Sound.

In 2010 I developed a condition that took away my ability to speak, not being able to make sound and communicate with the outside world was the most isolating and devastating experience, which lead my obsession of researching other forms of communication, other than spoken word.

I have been a professional singer/ songwriter for 20 years, I have also developed and delivered music programs within the community with a focus on using music and creative arts as therapy. Through my research into sound, I have discovered papers and research programs showing scientific evidence of the effects that sound has on our brains, emotions, body and even our cellular structure.

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Proposal 1.

I would describe myself as part of the maker movement. My passion is researching, designing and creating usable items, instruments, systems that can be used within the art sector but will also cross over as a usable design for clinical innovation.

I am starting to look at the effects of frequency on the inside of the body I have come across some fascinating research in how our cells communicate through frequency. Take a look at this paper written by Matthias Shneider, Boston University, Can Cells Signal each other via Sound Waves? This new information has lead me to research EEG systems and brainwave technology. I have a Mind wave by Neurosky and plan to extract the brain sensor and attach to Arduino board to create an interactive headpiece. I first came across this technology at The Gadget Show 2013 they were demonstrating brain-reactive clothing.

Mickey Hart and Dr. Adam Gazzaley have been working with Emotiv please have a look at this lecture

Because my work crosses numerous disciplines like ceramics, casting, sculpting, photography, painting, printing, 3d printing, sound design, 3d CAD design, laser cutting and graphic design, I am undecided as to the best way to present this work, should it be an ephemeral piece which will resonate the ephemeral properties of music itself.

PROPOSAL:

To create an Interactive Neuro Design, BCI (Brain-computer Interface) this is software and hardware that will react and interact in relation to the brain waves. The garment will transmit brainwaves and frequency patterns, transpose data into visuals or audible sound (voice, or musical instrument, notation) This work will be clinical innovation, art installation,  sonic art, performance art, and film.

Presentation: yet to be decided.

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Sound! Sphere or Wave?

I have always been interested in what is happening in the empty space around us, the truth is there is no empty space.

I have always enjoyed the sound of silence but the truth is there is no such thing as silence.

When you gaze into the sky, or past the lush green grass into the landscapes that engulfs your vision have you ever thought of what is happening between two chosen spaces? I have and through my curiosity, I discovered the natural phenomena of Cymatics. Cymatics is the formation of atoms in resonance to frequencies. Each frequency holds a beautiful geometric pattern that you will see replicated in everyday nature such as flower shapes, cell structures, tortoise shells, trees and the list goes on.

My purpose of this collection of work is to make this visible to be able to touch it and understand it.

Sound waves are spheres so it was important for the work to replicate the sound sphere but sound can sometimes be broken, manipulated and warped , this is transposed into some of the 3d pieces.

The processes used to create this work had to relate to the nature of sound so I used tension to create sound, friction and a flux approach, of melting and gravity to manipulate the designed forms that were created form the actual frequency data.

693.96 hz sphere
Plastic, metal, wood, wire sculpture with projection of a 3d graphic design of a frequency sphere projected.
Felt wave
Sound wave from felt, wire and projection
644.42hz warped wave
644.42hz warped wave made from lazer cut plastic sheet. With projection

A set of photographs have been created to mix projection and imagery to create the action of sound existing within its atmosphere.

3d designed Frequency Spheres 644.42hz, 656.37hz, 693.96hz.

656.37HZ Sound sphere created and design in CS4
656.37HZ Sound sphere

 

656.37hz 3d cymatic papaer 1 a2

 

644.42hz cymatic print 4

 

A collection of Silk Screen Prints created from resourced data from sound frequencies.

frequency 15

 frequency 11 frequency 6 frequency 8  frequency 5 frequency 3      frequency 1frequency 9

 

Contemporary Music and the Journey of EDM

 

 

In late 1800s to early 1900s there was a significant shift in aural culture and awareness, there was a social reform taking place. People were beginning to question the world around them and no longer accepting conformities set upon them, such as the twelve notes to an octave system that was the notation that underpinned classical music. Musicians appeared to be frustrated with the structured musical code of communication that would be the language spoken between an orchestra and composers.

In 1907 the pianist-composer Ferruccio Busoni would publicly express his frustration of the structured codes of music theory and released an essay called Sketch of a New Aesthetic of Music. Busoni was aware that society was conditioned to only accept what they were taught in musical notation as correct and anything other was classed as incorrect. He was frustrated with the limitations of the twelve notes to an octave tuning system and could see that there was an opportunity that new technology could expand on the notation and improve this system, bringing new possibilities to the music world.
Composer Arnold Schoenburg wrote a piece which consisted of a single chord only changing in timbre and colouration. He was challenging this musical structure, that so many had followed for hundreds of years.
In 1913 Luigi Russolo created a composition consisting of sounds that were excluded from musical tradition and called it The Art of Noise. Russolo was challenging the sonic awareness of his listeners and opening up new possibilities of what would later become called Music Concrete, Sonic Art, Art Design, Electro Music, and Sound Design.

 

It is recorded that as early as 1916 Edgard Varsese the french Composer would express his desire for new musical mediums. He was looking for new sound textures that could not be replicated through the acoustic instruments of his time. It wasn’t until late 1950s that Varsese obtained exactly what he was looking for which would create a path for Brian Eno, Jean Michel Jarre, Tangerine Dream, Apex Twin, Auchetre and the more popular Orbital, KLF, Daft Punk, Zero 7, Air and many other contemporary musicians to expand on his techniques.

In the late 1893 Tesla acquired a patent for his alternating currents and Eddison created direct current, this era was known as the battle of the currents. Without the creation and accessibility that we have to electricity today, many of Daphne Orams, echnologies and new inventions would have failed to take place.

In 1895 Guglielmo Marconi first used his system The Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company which later became what we now call the radio. In 1962 Daphne Oram received a grant to build her oscillator machine which she called the Oramics machine, this was one of the building blocks in what today we call synthesisers and digital pianos.

DSC_0171

The development and progress of these technologies has given todays musicians the tools and freedom to create any sound their ears can image. There are so many new sounds, electronic instruments, sound production programs and apps to choose from. Sounds and music can now be disseminated, processed and manipulated. This new technological approach to music is still so new and unguided, the rules are being written as the situations presents itself to the environment.

 

It is an exciting time to be a musician, programmer or sound artists but at the same time very daunting. They are the ones doing this for the first time, so should they be responsible for creating documentation and guidelines for future contemporary musicians to follow.

 

There was a time in history when music was ephemeral, a moment in time that could not be repeated. Almost all of the instruments used were acoustic, there were however, a few instrumental designers creating very original and unique instruments.
In the 16th Century in Italy a man called Don Nicola Vicentino built the Archicembalo, this was a Harpsichord with thirty one tones to an octave and six banks of keys.
In 1759 Jean Baptiste De La Borde developed the Clavencin Electrique in Paris. This instrument was similar to a keyboard, it consisted of suspended bells which were struck by clappers charged with static electricity.
In 1918 the Russian Composer Nikolay Obukhov created an instrument called Ether, in theory this instrument was capable of producing five octaves above and five octaves below the audible frequency range.
As far back as the twenty seventh century B.C there were technological advancements being made when China devised the tuning of the pentatonic and chromatic scales.

One of the biggest advancements to contemporary music has been developing the ability to transmit and record music. The earliest recordable device was invented in 1877 by Elisha Gray and Graham Bell this was to be called the Telephone Transmitter. A frenchman called Charles Cros invented a

 

similar device to the Phonograph slightly earlier than the recorded 1877, although Eddison would later become the known inventor for this device.
In 1887 Emile Berliner patented the Phonograph system and renamed it The Gramophone. In the earlier years records were made with Shellac but in 1943 they began to produce them in Polyvinyl Chloride which is what we now call PVC, and still today they are being manufactured in PVC.

There is trend that is growing in popularity at the moment where DJs are requesting music in record form. Most of the record pressing companies have closed down but recently there was an article written for PRS publication where there is a back log of records waiting for press because the request for records has increased dramatically.

Thadeus Cahill invented an electrical instrument in 1899 that had the ability to transmit the music it played, this was called Telharmonium. By 1901 the Telharmonium was transmitting its music via telephone lines throughout Washington D.C. In 1907 The Telharmonium Hall was set up on 39th Street, Broadway, New York and it began to transmit concerts through external loud speakers and also transmitted through the telephone wire to hotels, homes, and other live establishments. This was to become the beginning of telephone and also radio transmission.

It wasn’t until 1933 that FM radio transmission became possible.

In Denmark 1898 Valdemar Poulsen invented something very similar to the Telephone Transmitter this was a device which recorded sound magnetically onto a steel wire. In 1903 Poulsen began marketing his device, it gained interest from magazines such as Scientific America, The Electrician, and Annalen der Physik. but failed to become popular due its ugly exterior, its difficulty in use and the expense. In 1900 at The Worlds Fair in Paris Poulsen recorded Emperor Franz Josef of Austria

 

on his device, this is believed to be the oldest surviving magnetic recording in existence. In 1935 AEG had developed an improved design on the tape which they presented to the market called Magnetophone. It was the first example of plastic tape which was lighter and cheaper than steel tape but unfortunately it was floored in its design and created dust clouds as it was recording. A company called 3M had developed and improved the design and they were coating the tape with red oxide. In 1948 the company 3M began distribution of the new Ampex 200 tape machine. This machine became very popular and was easy to use and affordable. In 1949 two major advancements in relation to recordable music took place, Magnecord presented the first stereo tape machine, and the first commercial splicing block became available to market.

In the late 1950s Daphne Oram took a job as a junior programmer engineer for the BBC. At night she would create an Electronic Music Studio where she would compose, she created a composition called Amphitryon 38 which was described as distinguished Music Concrete. At the BBC she worked on what she called Oramics. Oram was composing electronic music by drawing graphs, the same as musicians do with computer sequencers today. In her compositions she was using basil electronic oscillators.

In the early 1950s to 80s electronic music audiences consisted of academics and people who were practicing this new style of musical sounds. It was thought that it was only for the elite, academics and intellectual communities. One of the first popular bands to bring new technology and electronic music into the world of contemporary music was The Beach Boys on their album pet Sounds in 1966 by using Synthesisers and Oscillators similar to the one created by Daphne Oram.

By the mid 1960s you could multi track compositions, cut and splice recordable tape, pitch shift, and manipulate sounds, create sounds and draw sounds with Oscillators. Keyboards and Organs

 

had been developed and a few effect machines for vocals and guitars, these were basic effects such as reverb and echo.
In 1974 a group called Tangerine Dream released an album Phaedra, they were using Sequencers and Synthesisers. It was one of the most important electronic compilations of its time, gaining the attention of the non academic circles. electronic music was beginning to become popular.

In the early 1980s Keyboards and Synths were being designed smaller and lighter making them more portable, this helped in the popularity of electronic dance music EDM and underground dance clubs and raves began emerging. Sequencers and Samplers were becoming more main stream and you could hear the influence of these machines in popular music from 1980s onwards. The repetition of the same sound, sometimes played as part of the rhythm. Samplers gave the tools to producers that enabled them to use parts of other songs and create new compositions from them, with a Sampler you could time stretch and pitch shift anything that you sampled. A classic song of its time to demonstrate this technique would be 19 Paul Hardcastle 1985.
With this new technology came some legal issues, producers were using vocal samples, other songs, other artists material to create their own and the registered songwriters were not receiving payment for the use. PRS and other music licensing companies finally became involved and the guidelines of reproduction royalties were put into place.

Since the invention of the records there have been many recordable sound devices and forms invented. In 1948 we were presented with the improved plastic tape, tape recorder with a frequency response 50-10,000khz and 10db. In 1982 came the compact Disk with 20Hz-20khz freq. response 0.5db it was crystal clear sound quality compared to analog tape and record but proved a test to keep them from scratching. The introduction to CD created a decline in sales for tape in 1989 and

 

production on taped music slowly stopped. In 1989 the digital revolution took place and we were presented with the Digital Audio Tape DAT player with 48khz frequency response, it was high sound quality and had a robust casing, this made the DAT the perfect tool to use for gigging artists and producers. not long after the DAT came the Magneto Optical Disk MD with 20-20,000 hz and +3db the sound quality was amazing, although the casing on the MD was not as robust as DAT and MD was soon taken over by the MP3. MP3 is still one of the most popular forms of reproducing and copying music today. Even though MP3 is of high sound quality when music is played via MP3 it is mainly played through an iPad, Ipod, Computer, Phone or blue tooth speaker, through these devices sound quality is lost and you do not experience the full stereo and production of the composition. It is a great invention that you can store 20,000 songs onto one device but here is a fear that sound systems are becoming smaller and sound quality is lost. In the era of Record Sleeves and Cd cases contemporary musicians would create exciting creative artwork for their sleeves and covers. Many people would buy the album for this reason alone.

 

It is without doubt that the advancement of music reproduction throughout the years moving from records through to MP3 has had significant effects on contemporary music. It has helped many musicians become popular, but it has also helped with the collapse of record sales and many record companies closing down. In early 1900s there was a boom in popular music production and a law was set up so that the publishers and musicians would receive royalties for their compositions reproduction and transmission.

 

It is very easy in todays social networking culture to be able to share an MP3 or a youtube video via the numerous social networking sites available to us, but the musician and composition will not receive royalties when its played. Recently Youtube and the governing music societies such as MCPS and PRS has organised a payment scheme to the musicians for plays via youtube. Before the Internet, iTunes, Napster and Youtube musicians would receive a large quantity from the sale of their album price, but now they will sell a 10th of the record sales expected before the invention of the Internet and receive .020% instead of 20%. The main income for a musician in todays climate will be from concerts and merchandise.

The invention and development of the computer has had an influence on how contemporary music is produced today. In early 1960s musicians and songwriters would rely on a producer, band members and a studio to enable them to create their compositions but in the late 80s early 90s this was about to change. Steinburg created music production software called Cubase that was compatible with Atari even though the software was expensive the Atari was affordable and most teenagers owned one. The Cubase software enable you to record analog sounds, connect midi, samplers, and sequencers, you could cut, paste, edit, effect any sound on this software. Music production software has continued to progress, we can now use computers, laptops, smart phones and ipads with apps and many other editing software packages to edit music on the move. This new technology opened up the possibility of making music to the non musician. There were young and old people everywhere creating music in their homes and bedrooms. The accessibility of this technology allowed many groups of young people come together to create music within their communities, and gave them a positive focus . Community Music Groups and Government Music Programs were being set up such as New Deal for Musicians which was a program created by Labour party to help young people develop their music skills.

 

The word wide web has opened up possibilities of collaboration, learning tools, open source projects, forums, and groups to share and exchange knowledge and interests, some of these groups and forums are creating movements within themselves.

The influence of technology in contemporary music can be heard in every genre of music you hear. Every sound you hear can be recorded, manipulated, dissected and effected, you can even create sounds with only software and no instruments. Making music today requires the musician to be able to use many music production programs, play many instruments, be computer literate, and have the ability to market their music via social networking sites.

The contemporary music that is transmitted via radio, tv or social networking sites has no social, cultural, or aural constraints set upon it. It is very different to what would have been allowed to be transmitted back in the early 1900s.

 

 

Bibliography

 

TJORA, A. H. (2009). The groove in the box: A technologically mediated inspiration in electronic dance music. Popular Music, 28(2), 161-177.

Durant, A. (1990). A new day for music? digital technology in contemporary music-making.

Cascone, K. (2000). The aesthetics of failure:“Post-digital” tendencies in contemporary computer music. Computer Music Journal, 24(4), 12-18.

De Laubier, S. (1998). The meta-instrument. Computer Music Journal, 25-29.

Chadabe, J. (1997). Electric sound: the past and promise of electronic. Music Prentice Hall, 178.

Holmes, T. (Ed.). (2006). The Routledge guide to music technology. Taylor & Francis.

Taintor, C. (2004). Chronology: Technology and the music industry. Obtenido de Frontline-The way the music died: http://www. pbs. org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/music/inside/cron. html.Hugill, A. (2008). The digital musician. Routledge.

Manning, P. (2013). Electronic and computer music. Oxford University Press.

Taylor, T. D. (2001). Strange sounds: Music, technology and culture. Routledge.

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Paddison, M., & Deliège, I. (Eds.). (2010). Contemporary music: theoretical and philosophical perspectives. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.

Murray Schafer, R. (1977). The soundscape: Our sonic environment and the tuning of the world. Vancouver: Destiny Books.

Demers, J. (2010). Listening through the noise: the aesthetics of experimental electronic music. Oxford University Press.

Ghazala, R. (2005). Circuit-bending: build your own alien instruments. Wiley Publishing.

Benjamin, W. (2008). The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction. Penguin UK.

All in the bigger picture.

If someone would have told my 20 year old self what was ahead of me, I think I may have jumped of a cliff. The thing is if you were told what was going happen in your future you wouldn’t experience the inner growth or emotional part of the journey, and I think that’s the most important part. We are born into this world as a blank canvas with the thread of the canvas holding some of our parents and relatives genetic make up. Being told at the age of 4 that I was adopted was easy to accept but as I grew older I wondered which parts of myself were learnt behaviour and which parts were deep inside my DNA.

As young as I can remember I wanted to be a singer and dancer. I wanted to go to stage school at the age of 7 I had researched the price and place. My mother was horrified, being an adopted only child my mother suffered from separation anxiety. I took every opportunity to sing and dance to anyone who would listen. I would set up my garage with an old gramophone. In the late 70,s this was an antique and it would only play really old songs, my favourite being the Banana Song. I would sell tickets to the kids in my street and surrounding area and of course I was the star of the show. At the age of 21 I was a fully fledged professional actor/dancer and singer. I was working in the day as an actor in various dramas and films, and in the evening singing, songwriting and producing dance music. My life was full of work but not many friends I was never in one place long enough. At the age of 28 I decided to start working in background within the music industry, I was working in artist development and as a singing teacher.

I felt the need to find out where I came from and who my birth parents were so I contacted Barnados, which was the children’s charity that my adoption process was done through. I had to attend numerous counselling sessions to ensure that I was emotionally stable to cope with the situation. After about 6 months of sessions I was finally handed a file which contained information on my birth parents , siblings and situation.

I contacted my birth mother via a letter sent to the address listed for her electoral register. I was contacted by her sister and a meeting was arranged. Her sister had told me that she was mentally unwell and that she didn’t speak much. I prepared myself and finally there she was. I was introduced to her as a friend of her sisters, so that it wouldn’t upset her. She stared at me for what felt like forever, I knew she knew who I was. We met up again once more and she told me she knew who I was. When she spoke she appeared to be in pain and her face would go scarlet red. I thought this was due to her mental health problem, but later in life I was to discover something that could have changed the course of her life, if she and her family had have known.

After having my first child I set up a stage school called Stage C.A.M.P an alternative school to Stage Coach that would be affordable to anyone aged between 7-21. I did some wonderful work with the young people. Writing and staging original musicals throughout Wales.

In 2008 my father became very ill and later passed away with motor neurone disease. I had a young family to look after so I decide to put stage C.A.M.P on hold for a while, but being the type of person that I am, I have always felt I have to be doing amazing things to qualify my life meaning, just being me never felt like enough. I decided to write an album, a now or never moment. I had a little free time for the first time in my life and felt like I needed to use it wisely. Just after I recorded the album I started suffering with a terrible croaky voice, and some days no voice at all. At first doctors told me it was a virus but it went on and on. Then they said acid reflux, depression, anxiety and finally after 4 years I was diagnosed with vocal dystonia, otherwise known as spasmodic dysphonia. In those three years all the friendships I had built up, my business connections, and the album suffered. I found myself day after day sitting quietly in my own space until my children got home from school. My throat would lock up violently in mid sentence and the pain and embarrassment I would suffer was sometimes unbearable.

I decided I could either be a victim or a fighter and just work around any obstacles in my way. I tried every single therapy possible but nothing helped. I began singing again and to my amazement I could sing even better than before, but not speak without most of my voice cutting in and out. I took it upon myself to set up a Facebook group for fellow sufferers, even though the condition is rare the group grow to a healthy number of members. I made some brilliant connections with people and finally had people’s support who really understood this awful condition.

In 2011 I released my album, it was album of the week on various radio stations in the UK and being played on Internet radio in America and other parts of the world. To promote the album I did many radio interviews, which for me was a massive step as I was so embarrassed and scared of speaking due to the pain, I would never have imaged I could have done it.

I started teaching again only for few hours each week, which helped with my emotional well being. I informed my fellow workers and students and they were and have continued to be really supportive and understanding.

I have found it hard to except that I am no longer a professional singer. I am no longer singing and being paid due to the fact that agents, and venues etc do not understand that I can still sing and cannot talk. They are to scared to book my services, and I have to say I think I would feel the same. There is fierce competition within the music industry and you show a weakness, and that’s it game over.

In 2014 I spotted an add in the local paper for full time art course enrolling now. I went for an interview took my paintings and sculptures, which is what I had been doing in my free time and was excepted onto the course, from there my life was about to change. I am know on a full time Fine Art and Design Degree and life is exciting again. I am learning new skills, renewing some old skills, joining new communities of like minded people, and finally falling in love with music all over again.

I mentioned my birth mother earlier in the blog the reason for this is that Dystonia is a hereditary disease and the redness that happened in her face when she spoke, happens to me when I talk my voice locks up in my throat. I think
there is a possibility that she could have the same condition and if they would have known what they now know she wouldn’t have been taking into a mental health hospital, which is where she remains to this day.

There is still so much to know about dystonia, doctors, healthcare professionals and the general public still may not have heard of it, and I hope through my art I may be able to help raise awareness and educate people about it.

As I am writing this blog I am on my way to London to meet some of the members from the Facebook group that I have set up. Their stories are similar to mine in that their work and social life’s have suffered due to this condition that we all share. One in particular was a famous successful singer throughout the world in 70s and 80s. When your voice is your lively hood this condition has a massive impact and I take comfort today that I will meet someone who will really understands my journey.

I state that it’s a journey because that’s what life is, a series of events that alter your conscious and sub conscious. Mine has altered tremendously since my 20 year old self. I am such a nicer person now. I have empathy, patience and understanding. I am aware that I am not the centre of the universe and I have developed an ability to change course when the other course isn’t working.

The things you feel were so important are no longer important. Being a success is no longer my main drive but being happy and true to myself is. Which is why I am making this journey alone today all the way from Cardiff to London, and being reflective.

It’s all part of the journey.