Field Instruments | Sculptural Sheet Music | Panoramic Scores | Music for Non-musicians
are software instruments made from field recordings that are programmed in such a way they function similar to a natural sound, they are not a static ‘phrase’ or ‘tape loop’. The tree will keep rustling, the same, while always slightly different. The blackbird will keep singing, or not, as they do. The wind will keep its mercurial texture.
Following in the same technique, I’ve created choral field instruments from vocalisations made by the South Iceland Chamber Choir singers.
Killing Time, MATA festival NYC (2013)
for ensemble and field instruments on prepared knitting needles. My first composition to use virtual field instruments with dedicated hardware.
Unlike an instrument where the length of string determines pitch, in Killing Time the length of string determines time between stitches and therefore the timing of the music.
Killing Time features performing knitters whose knitting action generates a timeless soundscape more lively and evocative than a field recording ever could. A century earlier knitting was ‘interfering with the artistic enjoyment‘ of a concert. In this context the patterns made by needles are triggering natural sound textures “…as delicate and lovely as a piece of fine Irish lace.” (Bernie Krause)
Find score in Publishing
This is the trailer of a full-length ‘making of’ documentary showing the work’s developments with my local community in Pembrokeshire, UK, and of the production in New York.
Vogue Knitting Live! booked ‘Killing Time’ for ensemble and field instruments on prepared knitting needles to be performed on their catwalk in 2016.
Prepare Your Ingredients
Following Killing Time for prepared knitting needles is this piece for prepared dishes from freshly foraged field instruments.
Kammerkór Sudurlands Iceland
Kammerkór Sudurlands (South Iceland Chamber Choir), in collaboration with Curated Place and Creative Europe, commissioned me in 2016 for site-specific choral works for the Cycle Festival of Music and Arts in Kópavogur, Iceland.
Six works were created. Scores for Á, Eru Ur/Be, Vera,Djúpalónsdóttir & Hellnarsson, Sjórinn Shanty/ Ocean Chores are in Publishing.
The choir traveled to the peninsula of Snaefellsness where, together with Danish filmmaker Jacob Tekiela, they were recorded and filmed singing in and with the landscape.
In Hellnar and on Djúpalónssandur I directed the singers to vocalise as if they were the sons and daughters of the site, perched on windy grassy banks or balancing on rocky boulders amongst kittiwake seagulls.
Djúpalónssdóttir & Hellnarsson
for SATB choir in outdoors soundscape
This work features on Jobina Tinnemans’ composer debut album Five Thoughts on Everything. Find score in Publishing.
Kammerkór Sudurlands (South Iceland Chamber Choir) are, from left to right, Andrí Hilmarsson, Guðjón Stefánsson, Kristín Sigfusdóttir, Elín Gunnlaugsdóttir, Unnur Sigurðardóttir, Sígrun Steingrimsdóttir, Örlygur Ben, Jónas Helgason, María Sól Ingólfsdóttir, accompanied by kittiwakes and directed by Hilmar Örn Agnarsson. Filmed by Jacob Tekiela / art direction by J Tinnemans on location in Snaefellsness.
Varèsotto, Hinterland of Varèse (2018)
for field instruments, sound processing and orchestra
For this work I created choral field instruments from the Kammerkór vocalisations in a similar technique as featured in Killing Time.
Varèsotto takes you to the hinterland of Edgard Varèse’s sound poetry ‘Poème Électronique’, the world’s first mixed-media installation, for the Philips Pavilion at the Paris World Fair in 1958. In 2018 Jobina Tinnemans was commissioned to compose a piece commemorating its 60th anniversary.
The field instruments, featuring SATB choir vocalisations and wildlife calls, populate a wide orchestral landscape with tiny, detailed sounds that come into focus as you’re eye wanders through the landscape.
Find it featured on Five Thoughts on Everything album
Sculptural Sheet Music
Sculptural Sheet Music
is a strand in my work that explores what is ’sheet music’, as well as what is a ‘page’ and what is ‘turning’.
Sculptural Sheet Music compositions combine field recording, fashion, design, composing and electronic music with the concert etiquette of managing sheet music: we see the pages of the score being turned but we don’t want to hear them; we annotate a page, but not fold it. In these pieces I am trying to integrate the universe of sonic possibilities I have experienced in electronic music into a much older format, characters printed on paper, a medium that has lasted for centuries.
Sculptural Sheet Music
Sheet Music (2013) Tinnemans’ first sculptural composition in this series. A giclée art print is now available in the store.
Turner Piece (2015) for string sextet commissioned by the Apartment House ensemble. Find score in Publishing.
Many years ago I studied fashion and design – it’s a long story – and seeing couture not as ‘making clothes’ but instead as a ‘single plane of material becoming sculptural’ was an eye-opener. In the Page Turner pieces sound is generated by the spatial dimensions and movement of the single plane of a sheet of paper. Inspired by the textural fluidity of natural soundscapes, I’ve reduced the granular sound textures of wind, waves, leaves to something as simple as the rustling of the paper on which the music is notated.
In these pieces the performer plays two parts simultaneously, their own instrument and the page-turning. The timbre and pitch of the page-turning depends on the type and size of paper I choose for the score. In ‘Page Turner Etude’, for example, I used waxed paper on which it’s impossible to print on or glue anything. Then I stitched the pages together: this not only draws the pages together, it also amplifies the rustling sounds.
The Page Turner works can all be performed acoustically: they could have existed in the 1700s. But they can also be performed in an entirely modern way: I have composed digital sound processing packages for each work which mix the amplified rustling paper sounds into the natural soundscapes they evoke. I studied design to learn more about composing – that’s another long story – and in these pieces the disciplines come together, errr… seamlessly.
Page Turner Étude No.1-3 (2017) for piano solo commissioned by Eleonor Sandresky.
Sculptural Sheet Music
Fjallasyn, the Icelandic word for a distant skyline view of mountains
My panoramic scores reimagine sheet music as a sculptural medium. These metres-wide performative graphic notations, inspired by immersive landscapes, are on a Christo-esque scale, running through the performance space, the performers moving to read their parts.
IMAGIRO Landmannalugar (2017) performed by ensemble Synaesthesis in Vilnius, Lithuania
From a single movement, a single graphic line, harmonies unfold, like origami. The single line of a path through the landscape is different each time it’s walked, sounds drifting in and out of earshot. In the same way a choreography unfolds as the performing musicians move through the space playing their parts and, like a country path, the score reads both forwards and in reverse. A composition can also have multiple panoramic scores running at the same time, creating an arrangement made of multiple segments.
The Icelandic word ‘fjallasyn’ describes a distant view and in the scores entitled IMAGIRO I transposed my ‘reading’ of the Icelandic landscape into a vast panorama. Wind, snow, ice and lava have scored out their song on the mountain sides and I translated the melody of the horizon into sweeping lines of brushed ink, inspired too by the ink and brush paintings of East Asia painting that capture this same euphoric sense of the landscape.
I loved the sheer physicality of making this work, such a change from moving my fingers on a laptop keyboard all day. It felt right to struggle with a heavy roll of paper larger than me and with brush strokes I needed to walk to finish, to trust my intuition and feel the music I had in my mind through my entire body.
Jobina painting IMAGIRO Landmannalaugar at DARDAR in Druskininkai, Lithuania, in 2017
Two on-site compositions commissioned for the Fort Process Festival in the Newhaven Fort.
panoramic score of two segments for mobile musicians, singers, footsteps, free newspapers, a crowd and a choreographed ground plan.
Inspired by the London underground rush hour, this piece was performed amongst a crowd, the audience, in the underground tunnel of Newhaven Fort.
panoramic score for mobile musicians, singers with tune pipes, footsteps, a choreographed ground plan.
A very stylised and choreographed production where each performer in turn reaches a timed segment within the score, like a clockwork setting the pace of the performance.
Music for Non-musicians
Music for Non-musicians
Music for Non-musicians
are works with non-musicians who create sounds or rhythms as a bi-product of the action that cause them, such as a queue of gymnasts doing their run-jump-crashmat-landing drill. The activities themselves aren’t about sound and can be produced by anyone from within this discipline. I have introduced such parts into my compositions as a source of timed randomness.
for strings, electronics, two table tennis games, three people trimming hedges and radioplay
In Shakespeare and Hedgeshear (2007), these non-musical elements are devised to bring a visual quality to the work next to the sound they make. Two prepared table tennis matches generated stochastic percussive rhythms and squeaks, the white table tennis balls filling the floor, bouncing around in the unique sound world the concert venue’s interior. Shakespeare and Hedgeshear was commissioned by DEGEM for the extremely long reverberation of a repurposed gasometer in Oberhausen, Germany, and was inspired by battle scenes from audio recordings of Shakespeare plays. Alongside the table tennis the clipping of metal shears initially sound like cymbal accents; to be digitally processed in a following scene to sound like a sword fight, so that the table tennis matches appeared to be fierce duels.
Shakespeare and Hedgeshear, 2014 digital edition
In 2014 British New Music charity Sound And Music selected my composition to represent the UK at the ISCM World New Music Days in Wroclaw, Poland. This time the performance took place in Theatr Lalek, a venue with different sonic qualities to a gasometer and I made a new version of the work in digital sound processing to match the architectural specifications of this particular concert space.
Shakespeare Und Heckenschere
Étude for Athlète, Viola and Soprano (2012)
A work for the Cultural Olympiad Wales 2012 featuring gymnasts, kung-fu martial arts, basket ball players, a viola player and soprano singer. Performed in my local leisure centre by 27 sports volunteers.
“…and I would become aware of the rain. I would press my nose hard against the window, each tiny panel of glass gave a different sound. Then it was as if my consciousness gradually spread out: I realised I could hear the rain hitting the wall. It was different from where it hit the windowpanes. Where it hit the window it reverberated with little echoes. Where it hit the wall it was dull. But then I realised I could hear the water running down the wall. And now I became aware of a distant rushing sound – a spout from the corner of the house and the water was gushing down it. Beyond that, something else… yes.. the rain was falling upon a large bush, I could detect it. And what was between the bush and the spout? Yes… there was a different sound where the rain was hitting the lawn, from where it was hitting the path. The rain had turned the light on…” – John Hull, taken from his lecture in Dartington, 2001
Rain paints a Ricochet picture (2012)
for basket ball dribbling and sound processing