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Video of a presentation made by Simon at an Interdisciplinary Research Forum in the Reading Room at UWTSD on Wednesday 12th November, 2014.
Tuesday 4th November. The Glee Club, Cardiff.
Surprisingly good. I came feeling slightly apprehensive and (at worst) expecting an evening of Bible-bashing, but my fears proved totally unfounded. McGuinn proved himself to be an excellent singer, with no need for the shouting that these days passes for emotional expression and a wonderful sense of the melodic line. He probably wouldn’t be deemed a virtuoso guitarist but he certainly has a strong individual identity and is not afraid of putting himself out there: his version of Eight Miles High that closed the show featured the first psychedelic guitar freak-out that I’ve ever seen performed on an acoustic guitar.
Between songs McGuinn regaled us with stories from his long career. Although worn smooth with repetition and essentially little more than self-mythologizing, these were leavened with a nice line in self-deprecating humour and were hugely entertaining.
You’d have to say that at 72 years old McGuinn is doing pretty well for himself. His talent is intact, he’s producing new material, and he’s still very much his own man. The highpoint for me and the moment quite early on in the set when I knew this was going to be a good evening: his singalong version of Mr. Spaceman:
[Thanks to Mr. Willson for the ticket.]
This weekend, as part of the Cardiff Open Studios project (part of Cardiff Contemporary), we took the opportunity to visit a few local artists in situ: we went to Butetown Artist’s Studios in the Bay and Fireworks in Grangetown. The latter is mainly a populated by ceramicists and there was some truly beautiful work on view. A great chance to nose around in someone else’s mess:
This is techno. Twenty years old and these tracks still sound like they’re from the future:
The evening of Thursday 23rd October.
The Baroque Cello Project
At the urging of my better half we ventured up to Arcade Cardiff and the Baroque Cello Project. I had no idea what to expect, but in very simple terms it’s a collaborative piece based around the building of (yes, you guessed it…) a Baroque cello, the constituent elements being the cello itself, the bits of wood left over, a piece composed for the cello, and a soundscape produced from the sounds generated by the luthier when building the instrument. The conceptual underpinning could therefore be summed up in a single sentence from the hand-out: what happens when the disregarded is given the same close attention as the instrument?
Overall impression: pleasantly surprised. I was particularly interested in the decision by the artist, Leona Jones, not to manipulate the found sounds. More performances scheduled in the next couple of weeks: details on their website.
Further up then to the National Museum of Wales and the private view for the 6th Artes Mundi International Art Exhibition and Prize.
Chocolate sculpture: smells fabulous…
Back to the electric goat. Whatever else you make of it, it produces a lovely sound:
Needless to say the place was heaving, and so it was very difficult to concentrate on the works themselves. Still, as a show it’s clearly got a really interesting and challenging mix of approaches, materials, and intention on display. We’ll be going back for a more considered appreciation.
And you’d have to say it’s great to see such a major event happening in Cardiff. Nice…
Something of a curio: I used Rainwaves this year in the Contextual Studies module as my algorithmic composition, but it was actually done back in 1992 when I was a student myself (at City University, studying Music Information Technology under Jim Grant and Simon Emmerson).
The piece was actually written in Lightspeed C (on the original Mac LC) for my programming module. The finished software outputs four channels of MIDI notes, each generated by a separate equation. However, each of the equations was of a similar type, a variant of the “hailstone equation” I found when reading Clifford Pickover’s book Computers, Pattern, Chaos and Beauty. The main characteristic of an equation of this type is that it initially outputs a haphazard sequence of values which then settle down into a rhythmic cycle.
So: work out a way to map the outputs onto MIDI note numbers; fiddle with the starting values to get some artistically satisfying results; record some sections into a sequencer (Opcode Vision); add an outro. I only had one keyboard at the time (a Korg Wavestation) and so just took the stereo output from that directly into a hired-in DAT machine. Finished.
Interesting. I didn’t do any manipulation of note values at all, and yet it all sounds very musical despite the fact the “melodies” are being generated by equations playing themselves out. Yes, there was a selection process and, yes, there was an element of quantization going on in terms of the choice of notes (insofar as the numbers output from the equation had to be mapped onto the 0-127 range permitted under the MIDI protocol). But otherwise I didn’t manipulate any of the variables or play a single note to make it artificially seem musical: it just is.
22 years old and still fresh as a daisy!