Killing Time at MATA and Vogue NYC

Killing Time R&D sketch

Killing Time

for ensemble and Pembrokeshire field instruments on prepared knitting needles, was commissioned for the 2013 edition of the MATA festival in New York.

Killing Time première in Roulette, Brooklyn

This work exchanges the musique concrète sounds performed by extra-musical activities of Shakespeare and Hedgeshear, see above, for timed, yet silent, percussive triggering of the virtual field instruments by knitting patterns.

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.

string causing duration rather than pitch

The purpose of devising this technique was to perform my local soundscape, Pwll Deri, in Pembrokeshire, Wales, live on stage in Brooklyn.

I wanted the New York audience to hear the mercurial nature of my local majestic soundscape, a vivid painting, including wildlife calls from seals, coastal birds and their colonies, various strengths of wind and many shapes of water and under water. Yet, the sound I wanted the audience to experience the most, though, was the sound of its silence.

Killing Time features performing knitters whose knitting action generates a timeless soundscape more lively and evocative than a field recording ever could.


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.

Five performing knitters in Pwll Deri, Pembrokeshire, Wales
NY Phil WWI programme note

Knitting in concert venues has been the centre of attention before.

As found in a New York Philharmonic program booklet dating from 1915
Image published with permission

According to this 1915, WWI, New York Philharmonic programme note, knitting was ‘interfering with the artistic enjoyment‘ of a concert.

Performing knitters in the landscape in which the field instrument sounds are located, Pwll Deri, Pembrokeshire, Wales


Vogue Knitting Live! booked ‘Killing Time’ for ensemble and field instruments on prepared knitting needles to be performed on their catwalk in 2016.

Watch the video above to get a glimpse of the very special event.

Performing knitters Lysa Chen, Luba Naumova and Mark Schuyler at the Vogue Gala, photo by Natalie Viray-Fung

More performances of Killing Time

This work has been performed in St. David’s Cathedral in Pembrokeshire, during the Gwanwyn Festival in the Millennium Centre in Cardiff, for Voluntary Arts in the Norwegian Church, also in Cardiff, and at the Sheffield Doc Fringe Fest.

Norwegian Church Cardiff

The patterns made by needles are triggering natural sound textures “…as delicate and lovely as a piece of fine Irish lace.” (Bernie Krause)

Order Killing Time mixed discipline score at Donemus / email

Field instruments

Field instruments 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.

Due to the nature of the programming of these field instruments they don’t perform on a standard keyboard. Dedicated hardware is designed to play the field instrument for recording purposes of the composition or its live performance.

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