is a UK based soundartist.
When did you start making music,
what is/was your motivation to do it?
I started exploring a piano when I was 6 on holiday in Cornwall, UK. When we got home my parents bought an old piano from a church nearby and I started lessons. That’s how I started music. At roughly the same time I began to get interested in sound; I used to sit outside my house and listen intently to the traffic moving up and down the road and document information about these sounds – pitch, yes, but more importantly, how the sounds behaved as they moved towards me and away from me. Well before I knew what the Doppler effect was, I used to think that the reason that there was always someone in the front of an ambulance next to the driver, was because it was their job, whenever they saw someone at the side of the road, to lower the pitch of the siren as they went past.
My motivation is simple – making music is something that is part of me and I have to do it.
Tell me something about your living
environment and the musical education.
I am very fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful sounding parts of the UK – the North East of Scotland, near Aberdeen.
My music education consisted of musical studies at undergraduate and postgraduate level at the University of Birmingham
Is making music your profession?
What is the context in which you
practice music nowadays?
Yes – I teach at the University of Aberdeen. I perform/have performed electroacoustic music, particularly acousmatic music, with various groups, organizations, including invisiblEARts, Sonic Arts Network, sound, BEAST.
How do you compose or create music
or sound? Have you certain principles,
use certain styles etc?
My instrument, if you like, is the microphone. I search for sounds that interest me and I capture them through recording. I then work directly with these sounds in a computer using sound transformation and assembly software. Finally I fix the sounds onto CD and then perform the piece over a multi-channel loudspeaker system.
This way of working directly with sound is similar to that of a sculptor or potter working with his/her materials. The ability to manipulate material at this basic level is a central aspect of my music. There are also parallels with film-making – I shoot sounds on location and then edit them in a studio and finally project them in a space.
I’m not sure about style – I compose primarily acousmatic music but more recently, my music ihas begun to incorporate elements of soundscape composition.
Tell me something about the
instruments, technical equipment or
tools you use?
Some kind of microphone and recording device – usually this is a Sennhesier MK44P microphone and TASCAM DAT (DA-P1) or Hard Disk recorder (HD-P2) then Pro Tools on a Mac for assembly and a variety of plug-ins including Waves, Pluggo, GRM Tools and other sound transformation software such as Soundhack and Metasynth.
What are the chances of New Media
for the music production in general
and you personally?
It allows me to do exactly what I want to do – as composer I am in total control of the sound that is produced and therefore totally responsible for it. I guess New Media constantly means new methods of composition and new sounds.
How about producing and financing
your musical productions?
I am very fortunate to be part of a university where I have been able to build up a large number of resources over many years. I also have a home studio which I have developed using money earned from my compositional activities.
Do you work individually as a
musician/soundartist or in a group or
If you have experience in both, what
is the difference, what do you prefer?
As a composer I work mostly alone and I find it important not to be too isolated and therefore get people I trust to listen to my work as I am composing. When I have worked with other artists I have found this incredibly stimulating as I pick up (and hopefully vice versa) new ways of working with materials from other artists.
Is there any group, composer, style
or movement which has a lasting
influence on making music?
Difficult to say – I could say that everything I have listened to has influenced me in one way or another. There are too many composers to mention individually, but French, Quebeccois and UK composers of acousmatic music have been important to my development.
besides on SoundLAB?