Emute Lab @ Sussex

Experimental Music Technologies Lab

Emute Lab Meeting: Feedback Cellos – Alice Eldridge and Chris Kiefer

:::: Thursday, March 23rd, 1pm, @ Recital Room, Falmer House 120 ::::

We have an Emute Lab research lunch meeting on March 23rd, where Alice Eldridge and Chris Kiefer will present the results of their recent work on the feedback cellos, conducted at the Icelandic Academy of the Arts with Halldór Úlfarsson. That was a collaboration that started at the Live Interfaces conference (www.liveinterfaces.org) where Halldór ran a workshop with composers and performers.

Chris and Alice write:

We will report on a recent trip to the Iceland Academy of the Arts to visit instrument designer Halldór Úlfarsson, who we have been collaborating with on the design of two Feedback Cellos. These unique hybrid instruments have been evolving quickly since we first made them last summer. We will present the latest developments, and discuss some issues around design and performance that we have been engaging with in this project.


A Magnificent Crossbreeding of Protein and Tinplate

:::: Monday, February 13th, 5-9pm @ Attenborouch Centre for the Creative Arts ::::

A Magnificent Crossbreeding of Protein and Tinplate is a generative music theatre performance with audience interactive/participatory aspects. It is inspired and devised based on Heiner Muller’s Despoiled Shore/Medeamaterial/Landscape with Argonauts. The audience is invited to explore this performance ecosystem, a deconstructed landscape, a fragmented environment, where individuals can be found playing music, reading, singing, being.

A Magnificent Crossbreeding of Protein and Tinplate is a posthuman vivarium. The “I” in this space is collective and visitors are invited to transit, inhabit, indulge and experience this world, to interact with the performers, the objects and the space. The piece is an alive performance organism, controlled through a network of computers. It evolves as time passes, and as the performers and the cybernetic system react to the audience’s presence and movement in the space, generating a succession of unique and unexpected situations.


The performance is designed to run for 4 hours and the audience can enter and leave the space as they please. Due to the nature of the performance and the space limitation, the audience might be asked to explore the space carefully, as well as be open for interaction with other human and non-human beings.

This piece of generative music theatre is the final of a series of experiments, part of Thanos Polymeneas-Liontiris’ PhD practice-based research on interactive music theatre, taking place at the University of Sussex, supervised by Thos Magnusson and Nicholas Till and funded by AHRC.

Further location info: ACCA

Concept/Direction/Music: Thanos Polymeneas Liontiris
Production/Assistant Director: M. Eugenia Demeglio
Text by: H. Muller, Aeschelus, Heracletus, W. Shakespeare, T.S. Elliot, G. Seferis, F. Hölderlin
Text adaptation: Nikos Ioakeim, Thanos Polymeneas-Liontiris
Devised with and performed by: Gonçalo Almeida (PT/NL), M. Eugenia Demeglio (IT/UK), Theresa Elflein (DE/UK), Nikos Ioakeim (GR/NL), Katerina Kostantourou (GR/NL), Arthur Artorius Leadbetter (UK), Stephanie Pan (US/NL), Friso van Wijck (NL).

Emute Lab in Reykjavik

The fruitful collaboration with Halldor Ulfarsson on the feedback cellos, that started as part of the Arts Council funded workshop programme at the Live Interfaces conference, is continuing with Alice Eldridge and Chris Kiefer going to Reykjavik to work at theIcelandic Academy of the Arts.

They will also be performing in Mengi on February 12th:

Feedback Cell is the duo formed by cellist Alice Eldridge (Collectress, En Bas Quartet) and computer-musician Chris Kiefer (Luuma) to explore their ever-evolving feedback cello project. Two butchered cellos, electromagnetic pickups, code, bows and lots of soldering. Emits dulcet drones and brutal yelps.
Alice Eldridge is a cellist and researcher. Her backgrounds in music, psychology, evolutionary and adaptive systems and computer science inspires and informs systemic sound-based research across ecology, technology and music. Current projects include ecoacoustics for biodiversity assessment, networked notation for ensemble music-making and hybrid instrument building for improvisation. As a cellist she has shared stages, studios and other acoustic spaces with some of the UK’s most inventive musicians at the intersections of contemporary classical, folk, free jazz, minimal pop and algorithmic musics.

Chris Kiefer is a computer-musician and musical instrument designer, specialising in musician-computer interaction, physical computing, and machine learning. He performs with custom-made instruments including malleable foam interfaces, touch screen software, interactive sculptures and a modified self-resonating cello. Chris’ research often focuses on participatory design and development of interactive music systems in everyday settings, including digital instruments for children with disabilities, and development of the NETEM networked score system for musical ensembles
Concert starts at 9pm. Tickets: 2000 ISK.


Arts Research at the Festival of Algorithmic and Mechanical Movement

:::: Sunday, November 13th, 9:30am @ Sheffield Hallam University ::::

The AlgoMech Arts Research Symposium takes place within the Festival of Algorithmic and Mechanical Movement, on the 13th November 2016 at the Sheffield Hallam University in Sheffield, UK.  AlgoMech celebrates a resurgence of making in performance, where creative processes are made visible during a live event. Rather than presenting technology as seamless, we pick at the seams, exposing its innards as human-made and reconfigurable. We will also go beyond fashionable notions of technology to take the long view; bringing together mechanical, kinetic, electronic, and software arts, from periods spanning the stone age to present day, building a picture of the human maker as both digital and analogue, thinking and feeling, embodied yet reaching beyond what is bodily possible. The festival will take place across Sheffield, and will include concerts, talks, hands-on workshops, and a club night. The arts research symposium will focus on the latest developments in this field, drawing on both academic and artistic perspectives.

Tickets are £15/£25 (and include lunch, coffee and evening concert). Tickets can be purchased here

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Abstracts and bio of the participants can be found on the AlgoMech website

The programme for the day is the following (see a map of locations at the bottom of this post):

All Day – Installation: Harmony: The Spectacular Automatic Drawing Machine (Ryan Patrick Morley)

9:30 – Registration and Coffee at the Sheffield Institute of Arts (Old Post Office)

10:00 – Presentations (10 min each + 5 min Q&A)

Ellen Harlizius-Klück
Jesus Jara Lopez
Susanne Palzer
Alejandra Pérez Núñez
Elise and David Plans
———-   break (15 min)  ————
Giuseppe Torre
Alejandro A Albornoz Roj
Joana Chicau
Rosamaria Cisneros

12:30 – Lunch with installation (Ryan Patrick Morley)

13:30 – Keynote talk with Godfried-Willem Raes

14:30 – Panel 1 (Speculative Hardware and Fictive Materialities – chair: Derek Hales)

Jamie Brassett
Andrew Hugill,
Maya Oppenheimer
Spencer Roberts

16:00 – Coffee with a performance by Luba Elliott

16:30 - Panel 2 (Unravelling Maker Culture – chair: Amy Twigger Holroyd)

Jesús Jara López
Ryan Patrick Morley
Tom Tobia
Tamar Millen

17:30 – Panel ends – End of activities at the Old Post Office

19:30 – Performances at the Millennium Gallery

Tom Mudd 
Simon Blackmore
Joana Chicau
Tim Shaw + John Bowers
REPL Electric

Enrique Tomás – Towards Non-linguistic Writing for Music: A Performative Approach

:::: Wednesday, October 26th, 1pm @ Sussex Humanities Lab, Silverstone Building ::::

This term we are pleased to have a visit from instrument designer, musician and researcher, Enrique Tomás. Enrique will be working with us and presenting his work in one of the Music Department’s lunch time seminars (in the SHL). See the abstract for the talk and bio below:

Instruments as Scores: Musical Interfaces Beyond Representation

The development of new approaches to instrumentality during the decade of 1960 has contributed to the dual perception of instrument as scores. For many performers, the instrument became the score of what they played. This artistic hybridization carries substantial questions about the nature of our scores and about the relationships among instruments, performers and musical works. In my talk, I will contextualize the historical origins of this instrumental development within digital humanities, in particular Drucker’s theory of performative materiality, Barad’s posthumanist performativy and Ingold’s procesual and relational description of material properties. Following this approach, I will defend that a ‘hybrid’ and ‘performative’ understanding of writing music, which shifts the focus from linguistic and visual representations to discursive practices, is one such alternative for suggesting new practices of notation and interface design.



Enrique Tomás is a sound artist and researcher who dedicates his time to finding new ways of expression and play with sound, art and technology. His work explores the intersection between sound art, computer music, locative media and human-machine interaction. He has exhibited and performed throughout Europe and America at the spaces of ZKM, Ars Electronica, Sónar, SMAK, STEIM, etc. Tomás is also an active researcher on the field of new interfaces for musical expression. He is affiliated to the Interface Cultures department of the University of Art and Design of Linz, and his research has been presented at international peer-reviewed conferences like NIME, ICMC, SMC, TEI and TENOR. His artistic work has been supported and awarded with scholarships by Telefónica Vida, Phonos Foundation, the Academy of Fine Arts of Vienna and the Art Council of Madrid.

Artist talk: Timothy Didymus, Kosmiches Glass

:::: Wednesday, October 12th, 1pm, @ Jane Attenborough Studio, Attenborough Centre ::::

Brighton musician and maker Timothy Didymus will present his glass Harmonica project, Kosmiches Glass.

Twelve tuned (brandy) glasses are mounted on MIDI controllable turntables, creating a playable/ scriptable mechanical acoustic instrument with beautiful polyphonic voice.

Following a demonstration of the glasses in action, Timothy will talk about the inspiration behind and development of the project and will be happy take questions on any apsects of the project – aesthetic, technical, logistical etc.

This will be of interest to music, music tech and sonic media students – or anyone with an interest in new musical instruments.

Its design and engineering is of great elegance. (…) its music of transparency and transience, the sonorous resonances of heavenly voices” — Sound Artist Max Eastley, 2015



Free entry.


Arts Research Symposium at the AlgoMech Festival – Call for Proposals

:::: Sunday, November 12th, 10.00am @ Sheffield Hallam University ::::

Screen Shot 2016-09-20 at 22.36.47

Symposium – Call for Proposals

The AlgoMech Arts Research Symposium takes place within the Festival of Algorithmic and Mechanical Movement, on the 13th November 2016 at the Sheffield Hallam University in Sheffield, UK.  AlgoMech will celebrate a resurgence of making in performance, where creative processes are made visible during a live event. Rather than presenting technology as seamless, we pick at the seams, exposing its innards as human-made and reconfigurable. We will also go beyond fashionable notions of technology to take the long view; bringing together mechanical, kinetic, electronic, and software arts, from periods spanning the stone age to present day, building a picture of the human maker as both digital and analogue, thinking and feeling, embodied yet reaching beyond what is bodily possible. The festival will take place across Sheffield, and will include concerts, talks, hands-on workshops, and a club night.

The arts research symposium will focus on the latest developments in this field, drawing on both academic and artistic perspectives. We invite proposals for artist talks and academic papers in the form of short abstracts, describing the theme and structure of your research presentation or artist talk in approximately one page of text. As an inclusive, cross-disciplinary symposium, we are open-minded about the form of your talk and proposal, but please do not hesitate to get in contact if you have questions.

As well as talks accepted from this call, the day will include talks from artists contributing work at the festival, and panel sessions on fictive materials and maker culture.

We welcome submissions from areas that intersect with the following themes:

  • Human and mechanical motion
  • Human-machine interaction and embodiment
  • Creative computing and (live) coding
  • Robotics in the arts
  • Design and physical computing
  • Machine creativity
  • Algorithm aesthetics
  • Mechanical automata in history
  • Kinesthesis and art
  • Machine choreography
  • Maker culture
  • Materialities for motion
  • Generative design and architecture
  • Alternative histories of algorithms and mechanisms

Draft Programme

9:30 – Coffee + live coding performance
10:00 – Paper session (8 papers – we will issue a call for papers soon)
12:00 – Lunch
13:00 – Panel 1 (on speculative hardware and fictive materialities - chair: Derek Hales)
14:00 – Keynote talk with Godfried-Willem Raes
15:00 – Coffee with a performance
16:00 – Panel 2 (on maker culture – chair: Amy Twigger Holroyd)
19:00 – Performances at the Millennium Gallery

Keynote speaker

We will have a keynote by Godfried-Willem Raes, of the Logos foundation. Godfried is a composer and instrument maker, who taught at Ghent Royal Conservatory and the Orpheus Higher Institution for Music. In addition to his reputation as a composer, he is also an expert in computer technology, robotics and interactive electronic art. As an example, he is well known in this country for his work on musical robotics with Aphex Twin.


We call for three types of submissions: 15 min talks, panel contributions, and performances.

We invite proposals for 15 minute research presentations or artist talks (10 minutes talk + 5 minutes questions).  Proposals should be a one page abstract describing the presentation.  Please also submit a short (200-300 word) biography for each author and an image describing your project. Submissions should be made in PDF or Word format.

If you are interested in participating in either of the panels on speculative hardware and fictive materialities or maker culture, please send a note to symposium@algomech.com and describe in a sentence or two why you would like to join the panel.

In the evening during symposium we are programming performances (music, dance, robotics, etc.) in the Millennium Gallery in Sheffield from 7pm (time TBC). Please submit your proposal describing the performance and indicating the technical requirements you have. The proposal would typically be a page with your name, title of the piece, a paragraph description of the piece, a representative image (if available), a video of past performance (if available) and a tech spec.

Submission Process

Submissions will be selected by a panel chaired by members of the Experimental Music Technologies (EMuTe) Lab at University of Sussex. Please email your submission in PDF format to symposium@algomech.com

Important Dates

10th October: Submission Deadline
17th October: Notifications
12th-20th November: AlgoMech Festival
13th November: Arts Research Symposium


Sheffield Institute of Arts, Fitzalan Square, Sheffield S1 2AY, United Kingdom


Symposium chairs:
Thor Magnusson (university profile with email addresse: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/profiles/164902
Chris Kiefer (university profile with email addresse: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/profiles/208667

Machine Creativity Roundtable at IASPM in Brighton

:::: Saturday, September 9th, 2.00pm @ Clarendon Centre, Brighton ::::

We present a roundtable on Machine Creativity as part of the IASPM conference co-organised by the Sussex Music Department and BIMM. The idea is to set up a dialogue between researchers of machine creativity and popular music to further understanding between the respective fields. Members of the round table are:


  • Elaine Chew - http://www.eecs.qmul.ac.uk/~eniale/ Chew is a musician (pianist) and mathematician (operations researcher) who designs mathematical and computational tools to model, analyse, and visualise music structures: structures constructed in the process of listening, performing, composing, and improvising.
  • Rebecca Fiebrink - http://www.doc.gold.ac.uk/~mas01rf/Rebecca_Fiebrink_Goldsmiths
    Fiebrink is an expert in machine learning and has created systems using neural networks that can quickly learn gestural and compositional styles of performers and composers.
  • Andrew McPherson - http://www.eecs.qmul.ac.uk/people/view/20095/dr-andrew-mcpherson
    How can computer algorithms add to and shape musical performance? Can instruments learn about the performers playing them? Can they contribute to the playing? Andrew will bring the NIME (New Instruments for Musical Expression) expertise to this round-table.
  • Bob Sturm - http://www.eecs.qmul.ac.uk/~sturm/
    Sturm’s research seeks to interrogate the “creative” and/or “intelligent” machine. Though a machine may appear creative and/or intelligent, what has it actually learned to do? How can it be changed to do what we want it to do? Sturm will discuss various approaches to answering these questions, and how such “learned machines” can provide useful assistance and inspiration to the human creator.
  • Thor Magnusson (chair) - http://www.sussex.ac.uk/profiles/164902
    Thor Magnusson is a musician with a PhD in Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence, focusing on music software and the role of computers in musical creativity.


The Tree of PorphyryIASPM 2016 conference poster

The abstract for our roundtable is the following:

Recent academic fields such as software studies, digital humanities, and the philosophy of technology have directed focus on big data, machine agency, and the role of algorithms in contemporary culture. We are slowly gaining a clearer understanding of the power, as well as pitfalls, of machinic involvement in daily human tasks. With machines that learn and communicate, we will see their powers used in domains that were seen as exclusively human, for example artistic creativity. However, the use of computational creativity in the domain of music is nothing new and one of the earliest computer music compositions – the Illiac Suite by Hiller and Isaacson – was composed applying Artificial Intelligence techniques.

Machine creativity in the creative process can range from minor “suggestions” in filtering or mixing, or intelligent mapping between a controller and a sound generator, to a stronger involvement where the computer aids in writing in the style of a certain genre or a composer, even composing a whole musical piece without any human involvement. This raises both technical and philosophical questions about the nature of composition, performance, and creativity in general.

This proposed round-table addresses recent developments in machine learning, musical corpus analysis, and related computational creativity techniques. The session includes specialists in machine creativity, who will present and discuss diverse aspects of how computers will be more involved in the creative process of future musical works. The panel will explore the potential of computational creativity in the musical domain, ranging from the use of AI in musical instruments, musical corpus analysis for deeper understanding and regeneration of music, and the use of AI for non-human music. The potential of semantic audio techniques will be questioned for the domains of film music, game sound and other fields where music has a specific context-aware functionality.

The round-table will also discuss the role of the listener when musical works become open for interaction. How do new computational playback devices, in the form of mobile media, enable the listener to become part of the creative process of generating the music? What do these new technologies afford to composers, and how will they use AI as part of the new compositional context?

We will be discussing questions of computuational creativity and machine learning, and hoping to open up a dialogue with specialist in popular music studies. Some of the topics discussed include:


  • How is machine creativity being best applied in the field of music?
  • Does machine creativity belong equally in performance and in composition/studio work?
  • What is creativity? How does this concept operate in your field of research?
  • Under which conditions can we declare a machine to be creative?
  • What can a machine do that humans can’t?
  • Is there a difference in how computational algorithms would engage with established genres vs. experimental music?
  • Wherein lies the art of music making? Will it perhaps always escape the machine?



Our session will be at 1pm, on Saturday 10th of September. See full programme here.

The header image of this post is Al-Jazari’s Diagram of a hydropowered perpetual flute from The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices from 1206. From Wikimedia Commons


DiDIY workshop at ACCA

:::: Thursday, October 6th, 7.00pm @ ACCA ::::

  • Does making matter?
  • Can making promote change?
  • Can it foster creativity and entrepreneurship?
  • Does it just make you feel good?

This workshop is for anyone who uses digital tools to make or be creative: including learning techniques from Youtube, sharing code on Github, using software to compose or perform music, making instuments with microcontrollers, sharing music on Soundcloud, or selling media on Bandcamp.

This is an active making workshop where you will use Lego and other simple materials to make some things, discuss your making practice, and share ideas and experiences in the company of other makers.

Led by David Gauntlett, author of Making is Connecting, the workshop is designed to be an enjoyable way to take time out and reflect on your own practice and the meanings of making. It will give you the chance to do some creative exercises, share with other makers and contribute your perspective to our research.

This workshop is FREE, but spaces are limited, so please sign up here, and if you can’t make it, let us know so we can release your ticket to someone else.

Sign-up here

Resonating Instruments Workshops

How do we compose for new instruments? Can we redesign old instruments for new music? What happens when familiar instruments gain new expressive scope?

These are questions we will be investigating in two workshops running as part of the ICLI conference (International Conference on Live Interfaces – http://www.liveinterfaces.org), to be held at the University of Sussex in Brighton in June 29/30th.

Registration is now open for composers and performers to join the workshops in order to create pieces for two new musical instruments – the halldorophone and the magnetic resonator piano – and perform at the opening of the ICLI conference in the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts.

The workshops will engage with questions of legacy, tradition, notation, performance and improvisation. They will deal with how instruments frame our compositional thoughts, provoking questions as to what happens when familiar instruments gain new sonic and performance capabilities.

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Further information on the workshops can be found on the ICLI website: http://www.liveinterfaces.org/#workshops

If you are interested in joining one of these two-day workshops, please fill in the registration form here:

Halldorophone – http://goo.gl/forms/iszthAUWb2
Magnetic Resonator Piano – http://goo.gl/forms/rGZfVmWesn

We will confirm by June 17th. This application process is because there are limited places and we wish to ensure a good balance of participants. Workshops cost £50 which includes lunches on both days.

In order to facilitate participation by creative musicians outside academia we are making these workshops open without attending the rest of the ICLI conference.

The ICLI team

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