Composer in Residence for the Stiftung Kunst und Musik Für Dresden

Dresden Residency: Week 6

Yesterday saw a successful performance of ‘Pesudo Spiritum’, my new work for Dancer and Instrumentalist for Dresden’s Tonlagen Festival for Contemporary Music.

To paraphrase a bit from my last post, the work is called ‘Pseudo Spiritum’ meaning ‘Pseudo Breath’ is an abstract concept with a little bit of a political tarnish. The piece explores a world polluted beyond it’s ability to naturally sustain life as it previously knew. The creatures are born instead with masks to aid their breathing and gradually acclimatise themselves to this world of broken air.

I thought I’d talk as well (as a very non-expert) a little bit about the way I designed the electronics for this piece. It’s mainly just amplification, via a tiny microphone which goes up inside the flute but with some mild mixing in Ableton to make the sound pop. I’m using a super cheap (and bad, actually) Movo LV4 O2 microphones which I love. Low budget, uniform frequency response, designed for multiple uses by non-professionals means that it doesn’t mind being incased in a metal tube and given a wide range of frequency and dynamics. I’ve never had problems with feedback and it’s small enough to fit in a piccolo *fist pump!*

It’s a painfully simple setup with a lot of opportunity. Placement of the microphone not only extends the dynamic range of the more detailed articulative vocal techniques I use, but opening and closing the keys of gives a really nice natural crescendo/diminuendo. The more keys I close, the more the sound concentrates itself towards the end of the instrument, so I can control it like a midi volume fader!

I play the flute without the head-joint mainly for visual purposes, as it was important to me that the flute resembled the dancers tube as close as possible. This way of playing however does backdate to early 2018 though when I was exploring similar amplified sounds and extended vocal techniques with the flute. No head-joint = wider articulative possibilities!

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