What We Want And What We Get – Weekly Sonic Sketchbook #10

This is a sketchbook, right? No sketchbook can be complete without cut outs of some sort. A scrap of newspaper, a photograph, a paper wrapping.

Field recordings like these are my main inspiration, clippings from the ongoing soundtrack I’m subscribed to, called Life  – I find them fascinating and abstract and often also witty. About what we Would Like to hear and what life Actually sounds like.

My phone is full of these little recordings, and I don’t care about poor quality, coat rustling, volumes. It all adds to what the sketch will spark in my imagination.

I was looking for a certain recording and stumbled upon these two little gems – we’re in the NYC subway.




Feeling the Love…. – Weekly Sonic Sketchbook #9

Easter holidays have been lovely – glorious sunshine, fabulous company. So much so I felt like writing a love song. I thought “no bells and whistles, be a purist Bard, for god sake stick to a genre”.

There was júst this little break I wanted to fit it…….

…..an entire Sunday later I found myself here, on this musical spot – let’s see if Love can agree on my deafening take on Love. It’s more of a sonic representation what happens neurologically, I suppose. Yet not entirely sure whether it’s going to fit in into the song as the break I was after.

Picture: CD Howe’s Neural Network was created using EEG recordings of the artist’s brain activity in a variety of states. This data was assigned numeric color values and projected onto a standing wave of water which corresponded to the dominant recorded brain wave. http://miascreen.com/archives/419




Find it in the phonebook

Oh glory! Ha! I was wondering how to print a score on delicate tissue paper, as relatively thin newspaper paper still seems to be a bit too heavy for the sound that I’m after…. the answer came through the letterbox in the shape of a (new) phonebook, today. Put straight into good use.

It sounds particularly nice pre-crinkled. #turnerpiece



Irish Moss FX – Weekly Sonic Sketchbook #7

Last few days the tide has been very far out, a Spring spring tide. It creates a great opportunity to collect seaweed. While I was clumsily vacuum packing some sun dried crispy Irish Moss, one package wasn’t air tight and starting to refill with oxygen, which created a fabulous sound. I shot up with the faulty package to a mic and recorder, before it finished refilling, and captured it.

This particular sonic texture is something I have a fascination with lately, as such this recording made my day. Tried some effects processing on it. It’s interesting how clearly and metally the bell sound effect rings – using only a filterbank – which is all to do with the versatility of the raw sound.

Ferry Funny

Often when you want to make a field recording, it’s like the entire world sets out to make sure your recording efforts will fail. At that very illusive moment suprème the neighbour’s dog will bark, an aircraft will rumble, batteries will die, some far too cheerful hikers will laugh right through it, the wind decides to participate – all to obscure my delicate subject in ear shot. Many of us types will recognise this.

Yesterday was different.

I wanted to record the Stenaline ferry hoot. It echoes superbly through a vast area. Firstly, its sound reflection get smashed to pieces at Lower Fishguard harbour, then will reflect back from Dinas Head, followed by Cat Rock in Newport, to a far reflection all the way from Cardigan Bay.

There I was – in time for the Ferry departure, perfect recording location, no sigh of wind, all dogs were on a break, battery was charged, no air traffic. Just utterly utterly perfect.

And then the Ferry didn’t hoot.

This is what it sounds like when the ferry doesn’t hoot.

In Vogue Knitting Magazine

Current Spring/Summer’15 issue of Vogue Knitting features an article about my Knitted Music and the MATA NYC concert, which is on sale right now as a hardcopy or e-version https://store.vogueknitting.com/p-3245-vogue-knitting-2015-springsummer.aspx

This is an introduction to a further collaboration with Vogue Knitting at their next VK Live NYC event in January ’16.

I’m very pleased this composition is welcomed outside of the contemporary music scene. The piece resonates the natural soundscape that surrounds me in Pembrokeshire, where many sheep graze, growing their wool for knitting ….music.


‘1953’ Faber&Faber/ Somethin’Else – Weekly Sonic Sketchbook #4

“Launched to coincide with the Diamond Jubilee, ‘60 Years in 60 Poems’ was commissioned for The Space in 2012. At the very outset Faber teamed up with Somethin’ Else Somethin’ Else took what started as a fairly loose brief, explored concepts and considered every essential of accessible user-centered design, and assembled a crack production team. 

Carol Ann Duffy’s bestselling anthology Jubilee Lines was interpreted using actors’ recordings, sound-based generative design and archive film footage to create an exciting new way to enjoy poetry.”

 (source http://www.theliteraryplatform.com/2012/06/60-years-in-60-poems/)

This is a soundtrack I made for the poem ‘Winged Back’ by Dannie Abse, marking the year 1953 in this project.

Jubilee Lines final 15-Faber&Faber-DannieAbsecopyright Faber&Faber/Dannie Abse

Processed Paper – Weekly Sonic Sketchbook #2

I’m working on a Sound And Music ‘Embedded’ commission for the experimental Apartment House ensemble. The page turning sound of the player’s paper score makes part of piece.

I have been trying out whether or not to use sound processing on the paper sounds, resulting in a few hours worth of Paper FX recordings, very soundscape-like – stormy, watery, leafy all the way to actual beats and rhythms. Below is a random sound bite from these recordings for this week’s Sonic Sketchbook. It’s just fascinating how one source of sound can change into so many different guises.

DIY Parabolics

Recipe for a parabolic reflector iPhone windshield: a pair of tights (silver coloured for masculine technical look effect), a round lampshade, two different types of clothes hangers, a sturdy plastic bottle, a long nail and some string. Oh and a parabolic reflector.

Bring it on crows and starlings! I’m quick as a flash getting my gear out…

Page Turner – Weekly Sonic Sketchbook #1

Currently I’m working on a composition for the exquisite Apartment House ensemble. Turning the pages of it’s paper score is part of the ensemble as an instrument. I’ve been recording several paper qualities the  score might be printed on – so far rice paper is my favourite.

This week I picked two studies, one sketch where you can hear something starts to develop, a feeling of the abstract, yet inspired by natural textures, sound I am after. Followed by an earlier attempt that doesn’t work in my opinion.

NB listening to it through my devices without headphones I completely miss out on the quite crucial stereo effect. 

 here it’s starting to gel….

…not sure about this one 

Weekly Sonic Sketchbook

Many of my sonic efforts, maybe most of them, are filed in my archive as ‘studies’. Now, when I visit my visual artist friends or a visual arts exhibition, like many, the Sketchbook is often one of my favourite items to have a look in, it often adds to the experience of a finished work. Perhaps bringing some sound studies from the catacombs of my harddisk into the daylight might be an idea.

Having said all this, I didn’t make the connection myself, it’s down to a lovely man who suggested to start a sonic sketchbook, thank you George :)

On Mondays I’ll be posting Sound. Hurray!

Reel Tape Real Time Time Lord…ism

Thinking back with a smile about finding myself in a passionate conversation about reel tape with especially Brian Hodgson and more members of the original Radiophonic Workshop and EMS in the Science Museum storage rooms about three years ago; both of us recalling enthusiastically trying to splice in a barbaric fashion, drill sacrilegious nail holes into the magnetic tape just to see whether these appalling engineering techniques would generate any very analogue sound effects.

Such an inspiring moment when some people, who had exclusive access to this very expensive new gear in a very prestigious environment in the early days of electronic music and reel tape machines, meet people at the end of the lifecycle of that particular gear, who had fished it out of a smelly skip adjacent to their half burned-down squat somewhere in the mid-nineties when computers started to take over, and they meet on the same sonic grounds.
For that small moment in time, there and then in the storage rooms, 4 decades had seemingly passed unnoticeable.



Vogue Knitting Live NYC Concert and Catwalk music

Some marvellous news about getting new music out there!

* Vogue Knitting Live NYC ’16 Gala Diner concert and Fashion Show music *

My MATA commission ‘Killing Time’ uses prepared knitting needles to trigger software sound samples in an organic way to reproduce Nature sounds. It led to involving performers from outside the field of contemporary art, from the field of knitting, to be part of the ensemble – turning the usually lonely art of composing into a social happening.

I’m very pleased to be working with Vogue on staging this concert on their next VK Live event, plus providing original catwalk music, a mixture of my indie pop and my new music. Hopefully we will be setting up some workshops for attendees to experience knitted sounds and rhythms triggered by various patterns, as well.

Vogue Knitting Live NYChttps://www.facebook.com/vogueknittingmag

Fashion Show Music

A note from behind the scenes – I’m finishing off the last bits of a compilation for a catwalk show on the other side of the pond. It’s the very first time my indie pop music and my contemporary music are fitted together into one piece – I think I like combining the two. Such an inspiring brief!

The music changes in mood like the change of cuts, styles and colours of the fashion passing by.

More later.

Sound And Music X-mas crowdfunder

“We’ve been told that arts organisations can’t do crowd-funders AND that it’s impossible to run more than one crowdfunder at a time. Naturally, as a new music organisation keen on pushing boundaries and breaking down assumptions, we’ve decided to disregard all of this advice! We are raising money to fund three life-changing opportunities for three composers, and we wanted to give you the chance to choose between what strand of Sound and Music’s work you’d like to support.” 

Sound And Music Christmas Crowdfunder

Sound And Music is a British arts organisation that does an incredible job in representing and promoting UK contemporary classical music internationally. I’m proud to say that several strong women make up a vital part of running this institution.

They have shown to me personally that indeed they are making a difference, because of the opportunities they create, and by daring to stick their neck out for very experimental pieces.

If you still need to get some Christmas cards, why not purchase them from Sound And Music and help fund future music projects. There are also limited edition signed scores available and more. Find it here http://www.samgiving.org

BTW – confusingly you might see a picture of yours truly on the website if you follow the link! Well, currently this portrait of mine is the featured picture in all of SaM’s signatures. The fundraiser itself hasn’t got anything to do with a project of mine. 

The Nature of Sound, Intuition and Stitches

As a morning ritual to get my brain started I read a bit. Currently I’m reading Bernie Krause’s ‘The Great Animal Orchestra’, about finding the origins of music in the world’s wild places. It’s a true revelation, as it spells out to me on each page in clear language why my intuition for composing music works in the way it does. Mostly his description lies in the essence of things. But since I’ve been using fabric and knitting in one of my compositions, this quote is meant in a very literally way:

“I’m auditioning a recording that was made in Yellowstone National Park (…). The texture at the beginning of the recording is as delicate and lovely as a piece of fine Irish lace – an expansive sonic fabric that sucks me deep into the time and space of the original moment, as only sound can do.” (page 155)

Mike Pickford is working on a Mark 2 of my NAIENI interface. This specially designed interface works as a organically powered sequencer I used for the ‘Killing Time’ composition with prepared knitting needles. Mark 1 worked as a randomised sequencer to capture the mercurial sounds of nature.

Mark 2 will be able to capture the geometric rhythms generated by the tempo and pattern of specific stitches. I’m very much looking forward to this development – so, yes, there will be a second piece using prepared knitting needles as part of an ensemble. Not sure about when, though.

Getting Past Difficult Pronunciations to Answering Some Difficult Questions—the 2014 ISCM World Music Days | NewMusicBox

A great article about the recent ISCM World Music Days Wroclaw 2014 seen from an American angle by Frank J Oteri
Wrocław at night

The old town center of Wrocław at night.

Although it has been established as an important urban center for more than 1000 years, Wrocław remains somewhat off the beaten path. There are few direct flights, not even from most places in Europe. Yet its history connects it to at least five different countries. Celtic tribes settled there in the 4th century B.C.E. although Poland is its earliest recorded claimant (a diocese having been established in the then-named town of Wrotizlava in the year 1000 C.E.). It was ceded to Bohemia (from 1336 to 1526) and then Austria (until 1741). A land grab by Frederick the Great made it part of Prussia and then Germany where under the name of Breslau it became the third largest German city. It was one of the last Nazi strongholds to surrender, but has been part of Poland again since 1945, hence its current name: think “wrought suave”… well, sort of. The President of the City (which is what they call the mayor there) claims that the correct pronunciation is “wroughts love” although that might just be an attempt at clever tourist sloganism on his part.

Given Wrocław’s history as a crossroads filled with conflict while nowadays being somewhat under the radar, it was a particular fitting host city for the 2014 World Music Days (WMD), the annual new music festival of the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM). ISCM is an organization with an almost equally complex history, albeit one that goes back only a mere 91 years. Although WMD is the oldest continuous contemporary music festival ….

Read on: Getting Past Difficult Pronunciations to Answering Some Difficult Questions—the 2014 ISCM World Music Days | NewMusicBox.

As announced in earlier posts on this blog, my composition ‘Shakespeare And Hedgeshear‘ was staged on this festival in the Puppet Theatre, Theatr Lalek.


Shakepeare And Hedgeshear - ISCM WMD 2014 Wroclaw

photo Kris Cwik

Cardiff concerts this Wednesday and Thursday

killing time


You are cordially invited to join Voluntary Arts Wales for a performance of Killing Time, by Pembrokeshire-based composer Jobina Tinnemans and a group of local amateur knitters.

“Killing Time, a composition for piano, cello, clarinet, guzheng and five knitters on electronics, has previously been performed in St David’s, Pembrokeshire, and at the MATA Festival in New York. Inspired by the sounds of West Wales, it plays upon the coastal resonances and craft connections of Pembrokeshire, New York, Cardiff and Scandinavia, by virtue of the beautiful venue of the Norwegian Church at the heart of Cardiff Bay.”

The performance will take place at the Norwegian Church Arts Centre, Cardiff Bay, on 2 and 3 July 2014, and is part of the AHRC Connected Communities Festival, being held at the St David’s Hotel. It has come about through Voluntary Arts Wales’ involvement in Co-Creating CARE, a Connected Communities research project led by the University of Falmouth.

Performances will last approximately half an hour and all are welcome to attend (no registration required, subject to capacity):

  • 11am, Wednesday 2 July
  • 2pm, Wednesday 2 July
  • 11am, Thursday 3 July
  • 2pm, Thursday 3 July

More details at www.voluntaryarts.org/2014/05/29/killingtime.

We look forward to seeing you!

Daniel Carpenter @ Voluntary Arts Wales