FLO at SARC 2018

Visiting Sonic Arts Research Centre to talk about female-led music technology initiatives around the world, as well as perform Transmusicking II (the second in the Transmusicking series) was a real treat!!!

Franziska Schroeder (SARC), Liz Dobson (University of Huddersfield/ Yorkshire Sound Women Network (YSWN) and Ada Mathea Hoel (WoNoMute), joined FLO for the very first time, and, due to funding from SARC, University of Huddersfield and NTNU, we were able to get them over to Belfast to join Magda, Nela, Tuna and Anna (WoNoMute) and play co-located in the magnificent Sonic Laboratory 🙂

Sonia, Ariane and Léa joined us remotely from Melbourne, Arraial d’Ajuda and Paris respectively, so we decided to divide a performance into 3 parts, with the remote streams being the first point of connection between co-located and remote performers as well as remote performers and the audience.

In the days leading up to the performance, Tuna, Ada and Magda were working on their set-up and fine-tuning the score for each of the 3 parts, at the SARC 8-channel lab space, Anna was working out the ways in which we can grab the remote streams and mix them into the performance, whilst Franziska and Liz were practising their saxophone + VR + analogue synth duet 🙂

Meanwhile, armed with an AMBEO® VR Mic and a Zoom F8 (borrowed from SARC), Nela ventured out with Matilde Meireles (post-doc at SARC) to record 3D soundscapes of Belfast. So yes, we had VR as well as 3D audio recordings and spatialisation for the very first time which was super exciting!!!

After a few days of brainstorming and tinkering, Tuna expertly put together the order of ‘sonic events’ for each of the 3 parts, which looked something like this:

In Part 1, Sonia uses LiveSHOUT application on her mobile phone with the RØDE video mic to stream the soundscape of Melbourne traffic at 23.00 to the Locus Sonus Soundmap, which we grab via a Max patch designed by Prof Pedro Rebelo (who, together with Franziska, was also involved in LiveSHOUT research project, funded by AHRC). After a few minutes, Nela plays the 3D Belfast soundscapes with Liz mixing her synth’s LFO’s. Shortly after this Magda and Ada play a duet, followed by a duet from Tuna and Anna. We end Part 1 with Ada doing a solo over a mix of remote (stereo) and co-located (3D) soundscapes by Sonia and Nela.

In Part 2, Ariane starts off the composition with a remote stream consisting of voice, piano loops and soundscapes of water. After a few minutes, Nela jumps on the upright acoustic piano (creating a bit of a ‘call and response’ to the piano parts), whilst Ada grabs the stream to specialise it in 8 speakers using her 8-channel audio interface. Cue in Saxophone + VR + analogue synth duet by Franziska and Liz, followed up by voice duet between Ada and Ariane and Tuna’s ‘water synth’. 

Léa starts off Part 3 doing a solo, which is spatialised by Ada and followed up by a built-up of drone textures and flute solo by Tuna. Liz and Nela than join in building more textures (drones, bass and noise). There’s a break … silence … following which Magda brings the drone back with her cello and we slowly fade out to allow Léa to finish the composition with her singing bowl.

So yes, this was the plan ahead of us getting into the Sonic Laboratory, when the super knowledgeable, super resourceful and super patient Craig Jackson (from SARC), totally saved the day, helping us with the set-up, rehearsing as well as mixing and spatialising the performance in 48 speakers (hence the very special thanks at the end of this post!).

You can watch how the performance turned out here, watch the recording of the seminar here and read a lovely blog post Ada wrote about our SARC residency here!

Some photos of the team in action …

Skype call ahead of coming to Belfast …
Ada, Anna and Tuna testing gear at the SARC 8-channel lab space …
Tuna chatting to her friends (after sorting out some audio interface issues!)
Liz, Magda and Ada experimenting with their music-making set-up!
Magda having a ‘power nap’ 🙂
The performance plan get’s thumbs up from Liz!
Female-Laptop-Orchestra_SARC2018_Franziska-Schroeder-doing-a demo-of-her-VR-app
Franziska practising the saxophone with the VR set-up she designed!
Nela recording 3D soundscapes in a Belfast park the early morning hours. The wildlife and the rustling leaves sounded amazing, but it was freeeeeezing !!!
Rehearsing with Franziska’s new VR set-up in the amazing Sonic Laboratory was really something 🙂
Liz posing with her amazing analogue synth (which was hooked up to Ableton Live as well as used for processing live saxophone improvisations by Franziska), whilst Magda is practising the cello!
Magda tinkering with her set-up (a cello connected to a laptop running Bitwig software), which was passed onto Ada for further processing 🙂
Franziska introducing the concert and the people behind the scenes (in the background SuperCollider app used by Anna to mash-up sounds from freesound.org – cool or what???
Part 3 featured a lot of noisy sounds from the Freesound.org library, mixed by Nela using Ariane’s Playsound.space platform 🙂

A BIG THANK you to the following peeps and organisations who supported the performance of Transmusicking II at the SARC in various ways: 

A VERY SPECIAL THANKS goes to the wonderful Craig Jackson, the head of SARC tech team and an amazing Tonmeister, who performed miracles on daily basis during our visit to SARC (always with a big smile!) and who engineered our seminar and performance to perfection! Oh yes, he also managed to programme the 48 channels twice over, to enable us to mix in the streams from the remote performers, with the AMBEO® VR Mic field recordings and add that to the rest of the audio feed. He made the faders on the ol’ Studer Visa 5 console fly around like crazy, giving them a good workout! What a star!

A BIG THANKS to EVERYONE who came to hear the seminar and our very first 3D performance at the SARC Sonic Laboratory! This venue is a VERY SPECIAL place indeed, not just for its technical capabilities, but also for the people involved with running it! We are very much looking forward to being back for another performance!

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