Concept: Audialsense (Paul Bavister / Jason Flanagan / Ian Knowles)
Coding: Paul Bavister
With John Butcher
Commissioned by Musarc, for the ‘Chambers’ event at London Metropolitan University.
‘Chambers’ was a site specific installation commissioned by the Department of Architecture and Spatial Design, London Metropolitan University, 26 –28 March 2010.
We were to be working alongside a 40 strong choir, so a starting point for the piece was Thomas Tallis’s ‘Spem In Alium’, an early choral work for 40 voices, and of exceptional power.
We isolated the wavelengths of the room, the length, width and height, and added the 167hz tone of an especially noisy air duct within the space.
With 4 ‘base’ tones to work with, we added 9 subsequent chromatic overtones to each of the room tones, giving an output of x4 banks of 10 tones, 40 sine waves. A similar mapping to ‘Spem In Alium’.
The tones were then played back into the space, and held for three days, creating fleeting standing wave phenomena, emerging tonal chords and rhythms.
On the opening night, we were lucky to be joined by John Butcher (Bio below …) who performed a stunning improvised set over the piece.
John Butcher’s work ranges through improvisation, his own compositions, multitracked saxophone pieces and explorations with feedback and extreme acoustics.
Originally a physicist, he left academia in 1982, and has since collaborated with hundreds of musicians – including Derek Bailey, John Stevens, Gerry Hemingway, The EX, Gino Robair, Rhodri Davies, John Edwards, Toshimaru Nakamura, Eddie Prevost, John Russell, John Tilbury, Paal Nilssen-Love, Phil Minton and Steve Beresford.
He is well known as a soloist, recently exploring unusual site-specific acoustics, and has released seven CDs of solo saxophone music.
He has toured and broadcast in Europe, Japan, North America and Australia, and was featured, playing solo, in the BBC TV programme Date with an Artist.
His compositions include pieces for Polwechsel, the Australian Elision Ensemble, the American Rova Saxophone Quartet, Futurist Intonarumori and “somethingtobesaid” for the John Butcher Group.
Recent projects include Thermal with EX guitarist Andy Moor & Thomas Lehn, and the wind trio The Contest of Pleasures with Axel Dörner and Xavier Charles.
He values playing in occasional encounters – ranging from large groups such as Butch Morris’ London Skyscraper and the EX Orkestra, to duo concerts with Otomo Yoshihide, Fred Frith and Akio Suzuki.
John’s site is here;
photograph by Katie Knowles