by espen sommer eide

Building Instruments

The past few years I have built a number of musical instruments. The goal is to find the perfect position between the acoustic and digital worlds. The instruments are often based on old parts lost and found, which are refurbished into electronically augmented instruments. 

Instrumentography:

The Wind Speaker

The Ligetizer

The Tandberg family (Tantrix, Sølvberg, Treberg, Slåttberg).

The Concertinome

The Player Record

I am currently also working on building instruments for Verdensteatrets productions.

Upcoming

Some upcoming dates:

7. November - Bastien & Eides Electric Folkways, Seconde nature, Aix en Provence
15. November - Weed Archive, Performa Festival, New York
23. November - Performance Art Bergen, C. Sundts gate 55


Le Grain de la Voix

The instrument is made for 4 singers and 1 conductor. The conductor controls the sounds that are played through four miniature speakers that are (more or less) inserted into the singers mouths. The singers then proceed to shape the sounds resonance with their mouth cavity as the resonant chamber. It is perhaps best described as reversing the speech direction, where I as the conductor supply what is normally the vocal chords or "voice box" job. The resulting piece is a polyphonic and minimalistic transformation of various vowel resonances. The title alludes to Roland Barthes famous essay on the grain of the voice, giving identity to the voice and reflects on the relationship between the voice and the subject.

The piece featured in the video was composed for coreographer Eva-Cecilie Richardsens perfomance "Speaking and building" in April 2012, Dansens Hus, Oslo.

The singers: Cecilie Lindeman Steen, Janne-Camilla Lyster, Gry Bech-Hanssen and Marte Vold
The conductor: Alexander Rishaug


Manifesta 7: building instruments

Searching through old files I came accross these photos by Denis Isaja of my "workshop-performance" at Manifesta 7 in 2008. I invited local participants to bring old vinyl records to have them refurbished with a simple electronic circuit to make them into "vinyl instruments". A separate brush is attached to the arm of the recordplayer that records the conductive carbon material that is painted or sprayed onto the record. The physical orginal grooves may still be heard as well. 






the Ligetizer


The Ligetizer is a 6 metronome instrument designed and constructed by Espen Sommer Eide in 2012. It has been presented and performed on in various contexts like the Stedilijk Museum Hear It! series in Amsterdam, Borealis festival and Rad #4 Bergen, Norway and Mutek festival, Montreal. This video presents a short improvised piece on the instrument.

Each metronome has a particular function, made visual by the hypnotizing pendulum movement. It could be LFO, pitch control, note-pulses or other parameters. The metronomes are also interconnected to produce more complex rhythms and waveforms when running simultaniously. The instrument is connected to a suitable sound generating source via MIDI.

This instrument is the first of a new instrument family I call "Philosophical Instruments" - musical instruments that explore various philosophical concepts. Inspired by 18. century scientific instrument builders, these instruments seek to experiment, forcing nature to produce phenomena not normally observed or heard.

Speaking and building

Last week I cooperated with the great choreographer Eva-Cecilie Richardsen for a show at Dansens Hus in Oslo. In addition to composing and doing the sound design I got the chance to test a prototype for a new instrument I am working on at the moment. The instrument is made for 4 singers and 1 player/composer. The composer controls the sounds that are played through four miniature speakers that are (more or less) inserted into the singers mouths. The singers then proceed to shape the sounds resonance with their mouth cavity as the resonant chamber. It is perhaps best described as reversing the speech direction, where I as the composer supply what is normally the vocal chords job. The resulting piece is a minimalistic play with various vowel resonances. 

Hope to get some better documentation of the process soon, for now here is a picture of the dancer Janne-Camilla Lyster in deep concentration during rehearsals. 


Wind Speaker

The amazing guys over at Voy (famous for their WIFI lightpainting amongst other works) have made a (kind of) music video to present my new instrument the "Wind Speaker". The instrument was made in collaboration with Voys Einar Sneve Martinussen, who designed and built the birch casing for my electronics. 

The Wind Speaker may best be described as a digital electro-acoustic harmonica made of birch that turns blowing into computerised singing. The sound emerges from the speakers at the front of the instrument when the player blows into the holes in the wooden mouthpiece at the back. The amount of pressure controls volume and various effects to add expression. There are both singing and speaking poetry modes (the latter I play towards the end). The red wire out of the box is the powercord.

More images and information over at Voy (how many Scrabble points for that name?). They just started their design-studio and opened their webpage, so pay them a visit!

And yes... in case you were wondering... the location is a woodshop, the birthplace of the Wind Speaker!

Exhibition on Sonic Interaction Design

I exhibit a musical instrument made for the iPad called "the Movement I-X" at the SID exhibition that opens at the Technical Museum in Oslo on Sunday 29. May at 18.00. Welcome!

"Sound can be one of the principal channels conveying information, meaning, and aesthetic/emotional qualities in interactive contexts. The 12 works of this exhibition showcase the use of Sonic Interaction Design within arts, music and design, and also provide examples of sonification for research and artistic purposes.

The exhibition features works by: Christian Graupner, Roberto Zappalà, Norbert Schnell & Nils Peters (DE/IT/FR), Espen Sommer Eide (NO), Gerhard Eckel (AT), Jessica Thompson (CA), Joshue Ott & Morgan Packard (US), Michael Markert (DE), Natasha Barrett & Karen Mair (NO), René Tünnermann, Till Bovermann & Thomas Hermann (FI/DE), Satoshi Morita (JP/GE), scenocosme (Grégory Lasserre and Anaïs met den Ancxt) (FR), Steve Symons (UK) og Thomas Hermann & Risto Koiva (DE/EE)."

more info here


Hear it! – a playlist for the Stedelijk Museum

On Thursday 28 April the Stedelijk Museum and Non-fiction present Hear it! – a playlist for the Stedelijk Museum, with works by Dick Raaymakers, Alvin Lucier, Mark Bain and Gert-Jan Prins, and performances by Paul Panhuysen, Carl Michael von Hausswolff, Alog, Claron McFadden and many others.

“I don't separate ‘Sound Art’ from ‘music’. I am one person; my ideas come from the same place.”

- Alvin Lucier

A playlist for the museum

Hear It! is presenting a playlist of these different types of work with sound, and is presenting different generations of musicians and artists who work with sound in their own way. This evening does not aim to provide a historical cross-section of sound in the arts, but is a personal playlist of works from the collection of the Stedelijk Museum and performances by (international) artists and musicians who are exploring the limits of the building and sound. The evening was organised intuitively by listening carefully to the building, the collection and the public, and is possibly most comparable to the way in which a DJ works, or to the musical experience you have with Soundcloud and Spotify. That is why there is a mixed succession of a Siren, a Norwegian DIY band, a Gregorian choir and the public which assumes the role of composer and performer, amongst others.

The sound of now, since 1952

It is now almost 60 years since director Willem Sandberg embraced music in the Stedelijk with his famous series ‘The Music of Now’ in 1952. Sandberg’s view was that the museum should provide room for other art forms than visual art as well, including contemporary music. Since then contemporary music has assumed many different forms and is described in various ways: as experimental music, sound art, sound performances, sound sculptures and audio culture. Some musicians call themselves ‘artists’ and some artworks are characterised as being ‘musical’. It is not always completely clear, but what is evident is that there is great deal happening at the point where the visual arts, music and sound come together.

Performances by

Aardvarck (NL) / Alog (NO) / Nathalie Bruys (NL) / Carl Michael von Hausswolff (SE) / Allard van Hoorn (NL) / Brandon LaBelle (USA) / Claron McFadden (USA/NL) / Gabriel Lester (NL) / Paul Panhuysen (NL) / Sarah van Sonsbeeck (NL)  / Schola Cantorum Amsterdam (NL) / Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Utrecht (NL)

Works by

Mark Bain (USA/NL) / Pierre Bastien (FR) / John Cage (USA) / Alvin Lucier (USA) / Gert-Jan Prins (NL) / Dick Raaymakers (NL)

Introduction by

Harold Schellinx / Juha van ‘t Zelfde

Compiled by

Michiel van Iersel & Juha van ‘t Zelfde (Non-fiction)


Radio Arc

Radio Arc from Material Vision on Vimeo.

I received my Arc today. After unboxing, I updated an old patch I had lying around to be controlled by it. The patch mimics a long-wave radio, and the "stations" I tune into are soundfiles lying on my desktop. It was actually originally made to be controlled by the Griffin Powermate knob. But this upgrade to Arc gives me much better control through high resolution and visual feedback. One knob is for tuning in larger/coarser steps and the other for fine tuning into the stations spread around the Arc.


And All the Questionmarks Started to Sing

And All the Questionmarks Started to Sing from Verdensteatret on Vimeo.

35 min documentation of Verdensteatret's live performance "And All the Questionmarks Started to Sing"


The wheel-maestro


hjulogi

Two bicycle wheels mounted upright arrived in the post today from Verdensteatret. My task: To make them play like instruments. 


the Concertinome


The Concertinome is a custom made instrument combining the concertina accordion with the monome style keyboard and electronic air pressure sensors. It was made by Espen Sommer Eide 2009 and demonstrated in this concert at Visningsrommet USF, Bergen, Norway.


Bergen Elektroniske Travpark

Bergen Electronic Racecourse was the opening event at the 2009 borealis festival i Bergen, Norway. It took place at the local horseracing course and was curated by Espen Sommer Eide and Alwynne Pritchard. In this clip you can experience one of the acts improvising to a choreographed horse race.

The band:
John Hegre (Jazzkammer), bass steel guitar
Espen Sommer Eide (Phonophani, Alog), elecronics and race-choreography
Chris Rune "Noiseboy" Olsen, trot-generator and noise Amund Sjølie Sveen, drums


Prototype v.0.2: The Player Record


Building Instruments - prototype


Slåttberg


A preview of a custom built musical instrument by Espen Sommer Eide, artist and member of Alog and Phonophani. The Slåttberg will premiere at the Borealis Festival for contemporary music Bergen, Norway late february 2008.