- Live electronics and Improvised sampling
- Electronic music composition and live performance
- Technology for performance
- Studio recording and electronics
- Music computing
Electronic music production and sound design, one of the most competitive and “promising” field in popular music education and music industry in general, has in recent years developed both simple and advanced tools which in many ways has revolutionized the music industry. This has enabled us to create, manipulate and blend into a number of elements, which in today’s music productions are used within electronic music and sound design, often emphasizing new artistic directions and modes of expression. The boundaries between composer and musician, between creative and re-creative, are often indistinguishable in our time.
Work within this field applies a wide range of advanced concepts and techniques, which in turn has opened up a wide range of career possibilities. The electronic music represents much of the contemporary within music life and industry.
To be present as an updated actor with contemporary relevance, we offer practice- and research-based teaching in this segment. The continuous update of this subject will be a necessary part of the renewal that underlie the educational programmes that our department offer, as a counterweight to the museum touch that established institutionalization can bring. The need and the necessity for increased knowledge about this part of our musical culture is in our opinion essential for an offensive strategy and positive development of the Department of Popular Music, both within artistic and scholarly research.
The research group has developed a new research project to The Norwegian Artistic Research Programme in the music and technology field – Breaking out of the loop: Extending improvised Live Sampling with the Faculty of Engineering and Science as a partner. The project also has a potential in relation to EU funding both within the arts and education field, which we are already beginning to develop. Here it is also worth noting that The Faculty of Fine Arts has facilities, technology and equipment of the highest class internationally.
Relevant PhD programmes
Punkt at Birmingham City University
BCMCR Research Seminar – Jazz Studies: Remixing the Festival (part of Punkt Birmingham)
1600-1730 Wednesday 18 March 2020
C284, Curzon B, Birmingham City University
As part of Punkt Birmingham (18-20 March), this seminar features a panel discussion between artistic directors Jan Bang and Erik Honoré (Punkt), Tony Dudley Evans (Cheltenham Jazz Festival and THSH Jazzlines), Sarah Farmer (Ideas of Noise) and Fiona Talkington (BBC Radio 3). The discussion will explore questions around artistic principles and values, audience engagement, technology, places and spaces, market pressures, equality and diversity, and future challenges.
Jan Bang is a Norwegian musician and record producer, known from albums and collaborations with musicians like Sidsel Endresen, David Sylvian, Jon Hassell, Tigran Hamasyan, Nils Petter Molvaer, Eivind Aarset, Arve Henriksen and Erik Honore – with whom he co-founded Punkt Festival in 2005. Jan is one of Norway’s most accomplished and influential producers and is the kind of musical innovator and bridge-builder who consistently manages to balance progressive thinking with popular appeal. Forever looking to move music and musicians and audiences forward, he creates new meeting places and musical intersections. He is a professor of electronic music at the University of Agder.
Tony Dudley-Evans is Programme Adviser to both Jazzlines at Town Hall Symphony Hall and Cheltenham Jazz Festival. He also collaborates with the improvised music programme run by Fizzle with whom he runs gigs as TDE Promotions.
Sarah Farmer is a Birmingham based artist and musician mostly working with sound, violins and improvisation She is interested in site specific work, relational work, work that involves a lot of learning and researching - both receiving and sharing information, working in a way that facilitates learning about this stuff of life, our environments, our histories and possible futures, our materials and how we've gone about navigating these constant questions.
Erik Honoré is a Norwegian writer, musician, record producer and sound engineer. He has recorded and performed live with, among others, Jon Hassell, Sidsel Endresen, Nils Petter Molvær, David Sylvian, Eivind Aarset and Arve Henriksen. With Jan Bang, he initiated the Punkt Festival in 2005, and has since then brought the Punkt concept to more than 25 cities around the world. Honoré has also released two critically acclaimed solo albumes on the Hubro label, composed music for films, and written three novels for Norway’s largest publishing house, Gyldendal.
Fiona Talkington is a presenter on BBC Radio 3, a founding presenter of the award -winning ‘Late Junction’ programme. She has been working with the Norwegian arts scene for 25 years and has been associated with the Punkt Festival since it began in 2005.
Over the last 15 years, Punkt has gained an international reputation as an exciting, progressive and musically inclusive festival. Thanks in part to the unique concept of the “live remix”, the annual pilgrimage to Kristiansand in Norway has become a regular fixture for adventurous music lovers. This collaboration between Punkt, UK based artists and Birmingham City University presents an exciting, and rare, opportunity to enjoy the Punkt experience outside of Norway.
For more information go to: https://www.bcu.ac.uk/conservatoire/events-calendar/punkt2020
“Over the past 15 years Punkt has gained an international reputation as an exciting, progressive and musically inclusive festival. Thanks in part to the unique concept of the ‘live remix’, the annual pilgrimage to Kristiansand in Norway has become a regular fixture for adventurous music lovers. This collaboration between Punkt, UK based artists and Birmingham City University represents an exciting opportunity to enjoy the Punkt experience outside Norway.
“For Punkt Birmingham, artistic directors Jan Bang and Erik Honoré present a programme which combines Norwegian invention with British creativity, bringing audiences a unique collaboration that is sure to please die-hard Punkt fans, experimental music lovers and inquisitive minds alike.”
Wednesday 18 March
REMIXING THE FESTIVAL, 4pm Birmingham City University
A panel discussion on the future of festivals with Punkt artistic directors Jan Bang and Erik Honoré, programme adviser to Cheltenham Jazz Festival Tony Dudley-Evans, Ideas of Noise co-director Sarah Farmer and BBC Radio 3 presenter Fiona Talkington.
Thursday 19 March
STILLEFELT WITH SPECIAL GUEST JAN BANG, 8pm Recital Hall
REMIX: STUDENTS FROM ROYAL BIRMINGHAM CONSERVATOIRE & UNIVERSITY OF AGDER, 8.50pm The Lab
Stillefelt is Percy Pursglove (trumpet), Thomas Seminar Ford (guitarist) and Chris Mapp (bass). Combining short cell-like compositions with electronics and improvisation to create other-worldly textures, melodies and soundscapes, they will be joined by Punkt co-artistic director Jan Bang, whose inimitable sampling style has made him one of the most fascinating improvisers and performers to experience live.
The remix will be delivered by students from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and the University of Agder. This group has been specially selected for Punkt Birmingham and represent what will be the first of many collaborations between BCU and Punkt’s home university.
TRISH CLOWES & LOUISE MCMONAGLE, 9.30pm Recital Hall
REMIX: ERIK HONORÉ, EIVIND AARSET & ARVE HENRIKSEN, 10.20pm The Lab
Saxophonist and composer Trish Clowes has been described as “an improviser to be reckoned with” (Downbeat Magazine) and will appear in duo with the fantastic cellist Louise McMonagle. The pair have worked together previously in Tangent and as part of Trish’s Emulsion Festival.
The remix will be undertaken by two musicians synonymous with Punkt – co-artistic director Erik Honoré (live sampling and synthesiser) and Eivind Aarset (guitarist). This duo will deliver an unmissable interpretation of Trish and Louise’s performance, blending raw acoustic samples with masterful electronic processing.
Friday 20 March
THALLEIN ENSEMBLE: MAJA S.K. RATKJE, 8pm Recital Hall
REMIX: ANDREW WOODHEAD & MARK SANDERS, 8.50pm The Lab
RBC’s contemporary music group Thallein Ensemble will present a programme of work by Norwegian composer Maja S.K. Ratkje alongside compositions by rising stars of the composition department.
The remix will be performed by Birmingham-based duo Andrew Woodhead (piano, electronics) and Mark Sanders (drums). As well as running the free improvisation nights Fizzle, Andrew has gained recognition for his work with Elda and as a solo artist. Mark is one of the leading lights of the British free improv scene having collaborated with a whole host of luminaries including Roscoe Mitchell, Wadada Leo Smith, Derek Bailey, Henry Grimes, Jah Wobble, William Parker and Nicole Mitchell.
THE HEIGHT OF THE REEDS, 9.30pm Recital Hall
REMIX: ANNIE MAHTANI & CHRIS MAPP, 10.20pm The Lab
Commissioned by Opera North for Hull UK City of Culture (2017), The Height of The Reedscelebrates the longstanding seafaring relationship between Hull and Scandinavia. Composed by Arve Henriksen, Eivind Aarset, Jan Bang and Jez riley French, it was originally the musical companion to a sound walk experienced while crossing the iconic Humber Bridge. Erik Honoré joins the quartet for this concert version.
Annie Mahtani & Chris Mapp will take full advantage of RBC’s Lab space to deliver a multi-channel, immersive remix. Collaborators in Gonimoblast, they have appeared at BBC Radio 3’s Late Junctionshowcase in Birmingham and this remix will explore their shared interests of sound-exploitation, spatialisation and improvisation.
Punkt Birmingham is supported by Birmingham City University, THSH Jazzlines; Arts Council England, Midlands4Cities, Royal Norwegian Embassy, Music Norway & TDE Promotions
Jon Marius Aareskjold / Zachary Bresler: The Sound of Light
Sound installation, Nordlysfestivalen, Tromsø.
Jon Marius Aareskjold has composed music for a sound installation as part of the Nordlysfestivalen in Tromsø. The installation was installed with the help of Zachary Bresler, Phd student at UiA. The sound installation is in 3D built in the city center and the installation used streaming data from a northern lights research observatory as control for various soundscapes, while projecting the real-time images of the northern lights on the ground in the center of the installation.
For further information, please go to: https://www.nordlysfestivalen.no/en/program/sound-of-light
Zachary Bresler: The Isotropic Approach to Immersive Music Production
A seminar on surround and immersive music making by Zachary Bresler, University of Agder.
Existing and emerging technologies for immersive and interactive media open up many new possibilities for music recording and production. However, there are many barriers to entry in these new technologies related to the challenges of access and the steep learning curve that many artists perceive. Here we attempt to address both of these barriers for musicians, producers, and mixing engineers while giving an overview of aesthetic considerations when making music in immersive format. In this workshop, Zachary will unpack the basic foundations of music production and post-production in surround and immersive formats. He will do so by first unpacking for the students a broad overview of extra-stereo formats including quadraphonic, Dolby surround, ambisonics, and binaural. Examples will be played and trends regarding music production and mixing methods will be analyzed. Then, Zachary will introduce a music production method he has developed that combines aesthetic approaches from stereo popular music, ambisonics, electro-acoustic installation and performance, and contemporary art music. This music production framework, which he refers to as the isotropic approach to immersive music production, can then be applied to work that has been recorded or produced by the students in an open-format collaborative mixing session.
This workshop will be presented using Ableton Live and the freely available ambisonic tools for Live called Envelop. However, the techniques described here are not exclusive to this software and can be applied also using open-source tools such as the Ambisonic Toolkit for Reaper and the VST tools in the IEM Plugin Suite.
Prerequisites: Students in this workshop should be familiar with the basic functions of a digital audio workstation (DAW) and have some knowledge about the basics of music recording and production.
Technical Requirements: A surround sound system (minimum 5 speakers), and a projector. Students who wish to bring multi-tracks for the second half of the workshop should bounce their stems to WAV (44.1k, 16bit) and bring them on a USB stick or external drive.
Length: Between 1.5 and 3 hours.
Zachary Bresler: Activities May-November 2019
- May 17-19, 2019: Presented at the Art of Record Production Conference at Berklee College, Boston, USA. Title: Immersed in Pop: Re-thinking spatiality and directionality for a post-stereo world.
- September 10-12, 2019: Presented at the SysMus Conference on systematic musicology. Title: The Sound of Streaming: Playlists as a mediation on popular music aesthetics. Co-authored with Vincent Kok.
- September 7 and 21, 2019: Concerts at UiA during the Punkt and VIVID festivals. Title: Spurv in Immersive Sound. Live post-rock performances in surround ambisonics, with music that was co-written for the performances and music which was re-interpreted for surround performance from the album Myra.
- October 14-19, 2019: Chairing a panel at the Audio Engineering Society convention in New York. Title: Music Production in Immersive Formats: Alternative perspectives. Co-panelists include Jo Lord (recently submitted PhD thesis at the University of West London), Thomas Aichinger (co-owner and founder of scopeaudio, VR/AR audio studio), and Sally Kellaway (senior audio designer at Microsoft Mixed Reality)
- November 8: Workshop at University of Stavanger, Music production and recording program. Title: The Isotropic Approach to Immersive Music Production: A seminar on surround and immersive music making.
Bjørn Charles Dreyer: Honing electronic soundscapes against a symphony orchestra
This project has derived from a PhD-project basically grounded on the idea of honing electronic soundscapes against an acoustic sound environment. The electronic sound source is an electric guitar treated with sound manipulative tools such as linear guitar effects and a computer with Ableton Live. A well of possibilities, creatively and sonically, opened up when an exclusive opportunity to work with Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra (KSO) came about. Although, I had participated as a session guitarist with KSO, the experience with composing for an orchestra was totally new to me. The learning curve became steep. Four different strategies for composing were implemented. The strategies are presented in the coming dissertation for this project.
Furthermore, the recording took place at Kilden, the orchestra’s own concert hall which also serves as a studio, where the control room is placed backstage. The recordings were edited later on in my studio, Garden Audio Lab (GAL). Additional recording, adding electronic soundscapes with the guitar, also took place at GAL. After that, all the tracks were exported to Punkt Studio, owned by Jan Bang, for further editing or sculpturing, to be more precise. The results can be heard on an album later, yet with preliminary unknown release date. Moreover, in the aftermath, one of the orchestral compositions was re-written and reduced for piano and electronics, as an extension to the original piece. It was performed by Lars Kristian Lia (live electronics), master student at the University of Agder (UiA), and Mariam Kharatyan PhD research fellow (UiA). The recording took place in the concert hall at the university, engineered by Roald Råsberg. The concert hall has implemented lines to the control room at Studio A, the university’s own high-end studio facility.
As a PhD student, it had a great significance to me being able to participate and contribute to the research group.
- Bjørn Charles Dreyer, September 2019
Genevieve Lacey & Jan Bang - Pleasure Garden
Music and environmental sounds combine in the magnificent gardens of Felbrigg Hall to create a listening garden. Visitors are invited into the music and natural architecture, to play the garden, stroll or recline with friends and strangers.
Inspired by the story and music of Jacob van Eyck – the 17th century Dutch musician, composer, improviser and nobleman, Pleasure Garden combines excerpts from his work, set within new music by Genevieve Lacey (Australia) and Jan Bang (Norway).
SATURDAY 11 - SUNDAY 26 MAY, 11AM - 5PM
FELBRIGG HALL, GARDENS AND ESTATE
FREE with Felbrigg Hall admission
Jo Brodtkorb & Jan Bang - Small Deposits
Small Deposits - Installation
If you are in the University's reception hall, the so-called "Vrimlehallen", and feel nature calling, you will find that the hall's associated toilet has some special properties.
In electronic sensory contact with door locks and sinks, a Mac controls sound and light in the room, for both pleasure and maybe, a little disturbance.
Requests for artistic contribution may emerge from unexpected places, for use in unexpected contexts. Jan Bang and Jo Brodtkorb received an inquiry from Stasbygg's Tor Vidar Lian if we could create something extraordinary in connection with the upgrade of the Vrimlehallen which took place some time ago. Project manager Gunnar Nordlie endorsed and secured funding from the University's reserves.
The idea of adding sound to a toilet can bring one to many peculiar thoughts, but we agreed early on that we wanted to create a musical work with indisputable artistic qualities. By mixing the high, represented by the music, with the low, represented by the function of the room as a toilet, the work gets a certain conceptual function, not entirely without humour. One can say that the work reflects Duchamp's "The Fountain", in that it places art to the lowly room, the opposite act of Duchamp, when he put the lowly urinal on display in the art gallery. The common interpretation of "The Fountain" is that it shows art's contextual dependence, that everything can become art if placed in the right social framework for artistic display. If our work is able to problematise this claim, we have achieved what we wanted.
The installation has 16 speakers placed over a submerged ceiling at regular intervals along the edge of the ceiling. The software that controls the sound location uses 3 different modes that can be used simultaneously. One mode for filling the room, one for precise point placement, and one for moving sound. The software defines the space as an instrument with both strengths and some limitations, in an effective combination that has proven to provide good musical results.
Small Deposits – A project for artistic research involving students
The installation "Small Deposits", described above, has formed the basis for a project in the field of artistic research where students and teachers jointly research. Jan Bang and Jo Brodtkorb lead the project, exploring the installation as a composition tool, as a modifiable piece of technology, and as an object for reflection on art experience.
The first part of the project consisted of an introduction to the installation's software and hardware design as a framework for looking further at the already existing musical possibilities and laying the foundation for further thinking about how modifications to the software could open for continuing musical possibilities.
In the second part of the project, the students take over the installation, with their own compositions and custom adaptations of the software that control how actions in the room are related to the audio. Each student's composition has a duration of two weeks and is thus exposed to at least a thousand visitors.
The design of the project has provided ample opportunity for reflection, dialogue and collaboration in the field of musical expressions and technology.
Jan Bang / Ensemble Modern: Checkpoint concert, Frankfurt
In the workshop concerts of the series ›Checkpoint‹, Ensemble Modern explores the boundaries between contemporary music and experimental positions from other musical traditions. After encounters with electronic club music and Japan’s musical culture during the last episodes, on April 9, 2019 the Norwegian musician and producer Jan Bang will make a guest appearance at the Ensemble’s residence in Frankfurt’s Ostend. Through groundbreaking collaborations with artists such as the double bass player Arild Andersen, the trumpet player Arve Henriksen or the pianist Tigran Hamasyan, Jan Bang has established himself as one of the most fascinating live electronics artists in contemporary jazz. Subtle electronic overlayering of instrumental sounds, live sampling and especially pre-composed material enable glittering sound sculptures to arise, apparently suspended in space. Together with Erik Honoré, Jan Bang is also the founder and co-director of the festival ›Punkt‹, which takes place annually in Kristiansand and unites live electronics and jazz in many different formats – especially in live remix, in which sampled sounds from an instrumental concert are reconstituted during a subsequent electronic performance. One of these live remixes already brought Jan Bang together with Ensemble Modern in 2013 at the ›Frankfurter Positionen‹. For the next edition of ›Checkpoint‹, he joins Ensemble Modern members for the first time for joint improvisation.
Funded by the Deutsche Bank Stiftung.
Ensemble Modern strives to achieve the highest possible degree of authenticity by working closely with the composers themselves. The musicians rehearse an average of 70 new works every year, 20 of which are world premieres. Its work is characterised by extraordinary and often long-term cooperative ventures with renowned artists, such as John Adams, George Benjamin, Peter Eötvös, Heiner Goebbels, Hans Werner Henze, Mauricio Kagel, György Kurtág, Helmut Lachenmann, György Ligeti, Benedict Mason, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Steve Reich or Frank Zappa.
Jan Bang - Battleship Potemkin live soundtrack by Matt Calvert + Jan Bang
The masterpiece of early cinema, Eisenstein’s 1925 Soviet classic Battleship Potemkin finds its new sound with Opera North’s 2017 commission, marking the centenary of the Russian Revolution and also to honour the wish of Eisenstein himself, who hoped the score would be rewritten every 20 years to retain its relevance for each new generation.
The film will be screened with Norwegian electronic musician and producer Jan Bang and Matt Calvert (Three Trapped Tigers) performing the score live with guitars, electronics and found sounds which are utterly fitting to the scenery, intensifying Eisenstein’s phenomenal imagery.
Commissioned and produced by Opera North Projects.
Music Technology in Education – Channeling and Challenging Perspectives
Phd candidates Andreas Waaler Røshol and Eirik Sørbø (both UiA) have contributed to the anthology "Music Technology in Education - Channeling and Challenging Perspectives". The title of their article is Making Music, Finishing Music – An Inquiry Into the Music-Making Practice of Popular Electronic Music Students in the “Laptop-Era”.