adventures in circuit bending, diy electronics and experimental music
This is the Birmingham Electro-Acoustic Sound Theatre or BEAST, a comprehensive and unique sound diffusion system specifically designed for the performance of electro-acoustic music. The BEAST system uses up to thirty channels of loudspeakers, separately amplified and arranged in pairs, each pair having characteristics which make them appropriate for a particular position or function. They include custom built trees of high frequency speakers suspended over the audience, as well as ultra- low frequency speakers.
I recently attended a concert to celebrate it’s 25th anniversary, with works by BEAST composers past and present, including a piece I recently worked on called ‘Jungular’ by Ph.D student Serena Alexander. Jungular started out as a piece for live voice and electronics and was composed by Serena as part of her MA studies at De Montfort University, Chris and I at Bathysphere worked with Serena to realise a recorded version for the BEAST concert. We used a variety of techniques to emulate and synthesize the natural sounds of the jungle, including processed voice, circuit bent electronics, analogue and granular synthesis techniques, studio outboard and a huge arsenal of plugins.
The piece is in four movements, namely, Jungle Floor, Water, Insects and Treetops. The first movement introduces the ambient sounds of an imaginary jungle and its inhabitants. A rainstorm heralds the water theme, where a frogs’ chorus strikes up. The third movement focuses on the micro sounds of insect life; the rhythmic tapping of death watch beetles and ants scuttling to and fro in their nest, stirred by angry hornets. In the final movement birds of prey circle high above ground, their rhythmic wing beats contrasting with the spiralling wind in the canyons.