Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Music Machine 40 @ Exeter Library 8th October 2016

'Using Raspberry Pi computers, 3D printing, and audience participation, Simon Belshaw’s ongoing project re-imagines music performance as an installation-cum-craft session where process is king. Experiment, perform, and play throughout the day at Exeter library.'

Benjamin Tassie's Sampler Picks: 1 - 15 October 2016



Music Machine 40 is a new piece designed for eight Raspberry Pi computers with ultrasonic distance sensors. On 8th October at Exeter Library we will be building the machine in a morning workshop (10am - 1pm), we would like eight people to help us (tickets cost £5 and are available from Exeter Library 01392 384218 exeter.library@devon.gov.uk). 


Once the music generating devices are built we will place them around the room and listen, alter, improve and enhance the sounds and composition until it is ready for people to come in and play it. The notes will be triggered by people and their movements when they are close to one of the eight generating devices. Moving closer or further away will change the pitch and possibly other parameters as well.

The afternoon session is open to anyone and will be free; the machine will be running from 1pm to 5pm in the Rougemont Room at Exeter Library.

This work is developed and produced by 2.times do and supported by Exeter City Council and Devon Libraries.




Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Music Machine 1 Fun Palaces Exeter Library

As part of the Fun Palaces weekend there will be a rehearsal and performance of Music Machine 1 at Exeter Library on Saturday 1st October between 13:00 - 14:00.

Please come along to the Rougemont Room at Exeter Library on Saturday 1st October to join in - more info here.

In the early 1960s, Joan Littlewood and architect Cedric Price conceived the Fun Palace as a ‘laboratory of fun’ and ‘a university of the streets’. It was to be a temporary and movable home to the arts and sciences, open and welcoming to all. Now Fun Palaces is an ongoing campaign for culture at the heart of the community; an annual weekend of arts and science events created by, for and with local people. Visit their website for more information.

Music Machine 1 was originally a piece for computer, where the computer made all the performance decisions. It is also the first Music Machine that I adapted for live performance and has been performed in  a variety of locations.

Now, it is a piece for any number of performers (with or without instruments) who watch a screen that will turn green (for play) and red (for silence).

Here's the first part of the score:

To download the full score click here. Here's a link to the webpage that will start the process off.

Here's a recording of one performance:

Music Machine 1 Fun Palaces Exeter Library

As part of the Fun Palaces weekend there will be a rehearsal and performance of Music Machine 1 at Exeter Library on Saturday 1st October between 13:00 - 14:00.

Please come along to the Rougemont Room at Exeter Library on Saturday 1st October to join in - more info here.

Fun palaces were the idea of theatre director Joan Littlewood and architect Cedric Price in the late 1950s and early 1960s. They were described as a ‘laboratory of fun’ and ‘a university of the streets’. Now Fun Palaces is an ongoing campaign for culture at the heart of the community; an annual weekend of arts and science events created by, for andf with local people. Visit their website for more information.

Music Machine 1 was originally a piece for computer, where the computer made all the performance decisions. It is also the first Music Machine that I adapted for live performance and has been performed in  a variety of locations.

Now, it is a piece for any number of performers (with or without instruments) who watch a screen that will turn green (for play) and red (for silence).

Here's the first part of the score:

To download the full score click here. Here's a link to the webpage that will start the process off.

Here's a recording of one performance:

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Culture and Review Show on Phonic FM

I was asked to talk about my Music Machines, the concert in the FabLab, the FabLab in general and Exeter Music Hack on the Culture and Review show on Phonic FM 6/8/15.

Here's a recording of the show.



Francis Chagrin Award

I am delighted to be a recipient of the Francis Chagrin Award. I applied for this to help with the costs of developing Music Machine 37 for performance in the FabLab concert. I needed to get a Raspberry Pi 2 and some other bits and pieces so that all the players had identical equipment, so I was really please to get some help with that.

You can read more about the award here.

Music Machine Concert at FabLab Devon, Exeter Library 10/7/15

I arranged and adapted six Music Machines for this concert (1, 4, 28, 29, 34 and 37) and was joined by Julie Hill (violin) and Ruth Molins (flute). Julie and Ruth also played midi wind controllers for Music Machine 1, Julie and I used Casio Digital Horns and Ruth a Yamaha WX5. We used a Roland PMA-5, a Roland MT-300s and a Yamaha PSR-340 keyboard for the sounds.

I also set up the physical Music Machines 2 and 30 (both triggered by an ultrasonic sensor) and Music Machine 35 (a RFID reader) in the library foyer and at a couple of locations on the way to the FabLab so people activated them as they walked past.

The concert went well and without any major hitches although there was a moment of panic when the mixing desk started making a horrendous noise about an hour before the concert was due to start. Thanks to Ian Woodbridge who sorted this but it did result in me having to use my Spirit Notepad which didn’t have enough inputs for us all so I had to swap leads between pieces.

We each had a Raspberry Pi 2 with USB sound cards for the audio (used in Music Machine 4) and I designed a web browser interface that each player viewed on their individual monitors.

This version of Music Machine 1 was played on three midi wind controllers. The web-page shows red or green, red for silence and green for play. When a player blows through the controller the Raspberry Pi makes the rest of the decisions; how many voices will sound, which sound each voice will have, how loud each voice will be and where in the stereo field the voice will sound. The piece was written to have more voices sounding in the middle than at the beginning or the end.

This version of Music Machine 4 was played on three keyboards (computer keyboards not musical ones). The web-page shows the player which letter to press on the keyboard. Each letter triggers a different sample. The piece is designed so that the gap between the samples get shorter as the piece progresses.

This version of Music Machine 28 was for violin, flute and Casio Digital Horn. The web-page shows the players which note to play and for how long to play it; each note is faded in and out.

Music Machine 29 is for solo midi wind controller and was played using a Yamaha WX5. This was originally written for the Sonoroties Festival 2014.The piece consists of two parts and works in the following way. The first part plays a C major scale (both ascending and descending) and arpeggio. The second part remembers each note that the first part plays and stores them in a list. It will then choose a note from that list to play back simultaneously with the first part. Occasionally the programme will delete (forget) some notes from the list and then start remembering again. There is also the chance that notes will be sustained allowing chords to build up.

Music Machine 37 was a new piece written for this concert. It uses Bach's Invention No.8 in F and is a violin and flute duet. The players' screens display the score in full but then starts replacing bars with randomly chosen ones until the music disappears.

This concert was part funded by Exeter Arts Council and was supported by FabLab Devon and Exeter Library.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Music Machine 1 & Music Machine 4

Not long to go now until the concert, we have a rehearsal tomorrow night and then a brief run through on Friday.

I've prepared everything as best I can I think although I will probably tweak some of the pieces after the rehearsal.

In the meantime here are 3 screens of music machine 1 - can you guess what it will sound like?




And here's the same for Music Machine 4



Tickets are still available for Friday night - get them from here:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/music-machines-at-fablab-devon-tickets-17224450796