Research Into Bourdon – The Hurdy Gurdy

The Hurdy Gurdy – a hand cranked mechanical instrument implementing a continuous “bowing” action upon strings. This results in infinite sustain of the notes with microvariations in sound introduced through miniscule changes in the pressure applied to and speed when turning the handle. This inspires me to imagine writing my own algorithms that will control motors and oscillators with equal subtlety.The name “Hurdy Gurdy” derives from “Gurdy” – bottom and “Hurdy” – to swing i.e. “Swing your bottom”. This instrument was used during medieval dances.

Close up of the hand crank:

Melody String mechanics – buttons to hold down notes, and the sliding bridges attatched to brass rods that press against the strings to make each note. Shown Below:

This simple wooden bead introduces noise to the tone of the string by rattling against the body of the instrument, similar devices are used by musicians in prepared pianos, bull dog clips added to strings by musicians utilising extended technique etc- in this case ye olde signal processing to create a distorted tone:

Drone strings:

Tuning Pegs and Carved Headstock:

Headstock and more drone strings:

Purfling side binding:

Top view of the wheel and melody strings:

Mechanism To Hold Down Melody Notes attached to playing buttons:

Cotton Wool Attached To Strings To Prevent Wheel From Cutting Through Them:

The Wheel is rubbed with Rosin to create friction so it catches on the strings, in a manner similar to a violinist using rosin on the violin bow.

The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch depicts a Hurdy Gurdy:
The Garden of Earthly Delights
You tube film of a Hurdy Gurdy professional discussing the instrument and playing it:

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Beyond Ancient Space – Vice Review

“I’m not really sure why it is that a bunch of longhairs from Newcastle feel uniquely qualified to sonically envisage the experience of voyaging through Lovecraftian outer dimensions, but this blown-out snake-charmer drone is pretty much what the BBC should be playing behind Professor Brian Cox, at least if they’re hoping that the audience will collectively gain a momentary, terrifying glimpse of the boundless enormity of the universe and immediately shit their pants in fear.” 7/10, MILEY O’CYRUS, VICE MAGAZINE

Read the full review here:

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Skull Kontrol Prototype2

Director, Concept, Lighting -Ben Freeth
Camera – Andrzej Woytas

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Skull Kontrol prototype update

Attaching the sensors to the skull. Using gates and Ubutton in Max to switch the routing of the Arduino data from one patch to another. This allows the same set of controls to be used for controlling different functions e.g. press one button and the sensors control the reverb parameters, press another button and the sensors control the granular synth.

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Kira Kira at the Late Shows


7 – 11 PM

You are invited to drop into the Stephenson Works during The Late Shows 2011 to experience the historic building over an evening of atmospheric encounters.

Between 9pm – 11pm, the Stephenson Works will see a new improvisational performance work, Se7en Sins. It is a one-off durational two hour piece that brings together dancers (Nicole Vivien Watson, Molly Hodkinson, Beth Loughran, Tim Bennett) and musicians (Brendan Murphy, Neil Harland, Graham Hardy) from the North East. Experimenting with the narrative of the Seven Deadly Sins, the two hours performance will see the dancers giving into the temptations of Pride Lust, Greed, Gluttony, Envy, Sloth and Wrath. Produced by Stephanie Jong.

Preceding the performance from 7pm, there will be additional performances from Kira Kira av collective, art projections, and a chance to see the dancers participating in an open rehearsal in the Stephenson Works.
Kira_Kira av collective :: Sound Artists and Researchers associated with Culture Lab Newcastle and Newbridge Gallery and Studios

featuring :
Ben Thompson
Alessandro Altavilla
Benjamin Freeth
Ewelina Aleksandrowicz
Andrzej Wojtas
Adam Parkinson
Marie Thompson
Helen Papaioannou

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Continuum Update

‘Continuum’ won “Best of IFF’11” in the short films category at this years Immersive Film Festival in Portugal.

The work has also been accepted for screening at this years Fulldome Festival at the Jena Zeiss planetarium in Germany.

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Skull Kontrol – prototype

The following image shows the basic setup: one push button, one potentiometer, and one capacitive sensor + arduino + xbee

Beginning to add sensors:

Extending control through foot pedal (to be tested):

Wiring for capacitive sensor on break out board (green analog in data, red +5v, black GND)

The xbee shield in the skull for transmitting data to the receiving xbee linked to the computer:

Using scale in Max to rescale the incoming sensor values (0-1023) to the values for the potentiometer (0 – 127):

Running out of analog in pins and digital in pins on the Arduino (need to look at multiplexing – 8 bit shift registers for more digital pins :
and analog multiplexers for extra analog inputs

Digital Inputs controlling the sending of messages

Need to create different scenes so that the same buttons can be used to control different parameters at different times during a set.
Really want to be able to use an analog sensor e.g. ribbon controller that has a specific value when touched but when released the value returns to zero – want max to store this value and not return to zero and only change the value when the sensor is being interacted with.

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Skull Kontrol – Coming Soon

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First iPhone App – Calculator

Created a calculator iPhone app using a Xcode, Interface Builder and iOS Simulator

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