Tewolde Reddacted

Category : Music, Sound · by March 19, 2015

Ethiopian 45

On a recent trip to Ethiopia I picked up a few old 45rpm records from the 1960s. They are super fun to listen to, though some of them are in really bad shape. I digitised the records and used some de-noising plugins with some good results, but one record by Tewolde Redda record has so far eluded my attempts at cleaning the sound. However when I pushed the de-noising plugins to their maximum settings they created a wonderfully abstract representation of the original music.

Have a listen to the result:

I love how you can still hear a lot of the rhythmic and melodic structures, but how they have been transformed into something that sounds almost like 1960s style spectral synthesis. It’s oddly fitting.

I’m currently working, among other things, on the recordings I made in Ethiopia. Some of those should be ready for release soon. In the mean time, if you’re interested in vintage Ethiopian music you can check out Kidus Berhanu’s Soundcloud page for some great mixes. He’s the one who sold me these records, and his collection and knowledge is fantastic.

Record shopping in Addis Ababa.

A video posted by Yann Seznec (@amazingrolo) on


Kildonan Chapel & Timespan Project

Category : Music · by October 13, 2014

Helmsdale
I’ve just started a new project in partnership with Timespan, a wonderful arts/heritage center in Helmsdale, a small village in the north of Scotland.

I’ll be spending some time in Helmsdale, with the ambitious aim of trying to record a snippet of sound from every musical instrument in the village. I’ll then edit all of these recordings and use them to make some new music.

I’m currently on my way back home after my first stint. It was very rewarding indeed, both in terms of the sounds I was able to record as well as the general welcoming warmth extended to my wife and me. Everyone was enthusiastic about the project, and I got all sorts of tips about various musical instruments hidden around the town. Whilst recording a piano in one home, the owners mentioned that there was a small chapel 9 miles out of town that had an antique pump organ. Naturally, I had to go have a look.

Kildonan Chapel

My wife and I hopped on our bikes the next day, and enjoyed a beautiful ride to Kildonan Farm, where we found the chapel and the fantastic American organ.

Kildonan Farm

Kildonan Chapel Organ

I made some recordings for the project and I couldn’t resist making a video of the old Seznec Bros tune “Promised Land”:

The song seemed fitting, as the chapel and churchyard is full of commemorations of the Highland Clearances, when hundreds of local farmers in Kildonan were forced off the land. Many of them emigrated to the promised land of Winnipeg, and the area retains strong links to Canada, with Canadian and Scottish flags both hanging in the chapel.
Kildonan Chapel


Fat Fanny Stomp by Jim Clarke

Category : Music · by October 6, 2014

I’ve recently moved into an apartment with a funky old upright piano, and it’s super fun to play. To celebrate, here’s a video I’ve wanted to make for a while – Fat Fanny Stomp by Jim Clarke:

I’ve never been able to find out any info about Jim Clarke…the record was made in 1928 and it seems to be the only thing he recorded. You can hear the original here:

On that recording you hear him talk over the funny little chorus section, saying all sorts of hilarious things (gut it!) – but the piano playing is super funky as well. It somehow manages to be super minimalist and simple whilst still filling out nicely, and that strange chorus is a great breakdown. It’s a little blues gem, and something that stylistically just about straddles stride and boogie woogie.

If you’re looking for the score, you can find it in Barrelhouse and Boogie Piano – you can actually see the whole book as a pdf here (check page 41 for this tune). The book includes all of the lyrics from the original, though it curiously writes “Ho!” when he is clearly saying “Hold it!”. Hmm.

Anyway, I’ve made a MIDI file of the tune too, download it here if you’re interested or if you think it might help you. It’s a pretty easy little tune to play, but super rewarding and fun. My brother and I used to play it fairly often, I think we’ll have to get back into it.


Currents in Glasgow & Edinburgh

Category : Installation, Music · by July 30, 2014

Currents at New Music Biennial

After a super fun performance with my Fan Club in London at the Southbank Centre (which was subsequently broadcast on BBC Radio 3), we will be performing this week in Edinburgh at the opening of the Edinburgh Art Festival on Thursday evening and on Friday in Glasgow for the PRS New Music Biennial.

In addition, the installation for Currents will be opening up to the public starting this Friday, and running for the duration of the Edinburgh Art Festival. It is comprised of 172 fans inside a Victorian police box which recreate the current wind conditions from six locations around the world. I’m quite excited to open that up to the public.

The police box is on the corner of Easter Road and Albion Road, EH7 5QJ, and will be open every day from the 1st-31st of August, 10am-6pm. More info on the EAF website.

The show in Glasgow is on Friday August 1st at 8:30pm in Glasgow Concert Halls, and it’s free. More information here.

Photo by Elliott Franks.


The premiere of Currents

Category : Music, Sound, Sound Design · by July 4, 2014

Over the past few months I’ve been working on Currents, a project for the Edinburgh Art Festival and the PRS New Music Biennial.

For this project I am taking hundreds of discarded computer CPU fans and turning them into both musical instruments and an installation in a police box in Edinburgh. This weekend sees the debut of the instruments in a performance at the Southbank Centre in London where I will be accompanied by Sam Beste and Hugh Jones. We are, of course, performing under the name Yann’s Fan Club. The performance is at 1pm in the Purcell Room. It is free but ticketed. Full details here.

This project is about distance and technology, and how that intersects with our constant striving towards change and growth.

The instruments are now finished and we have done some rehearsing. Here are a few pictures of the finished instruments we’ll be using.
Currents
2 currents
3 currents

The performance will be semi-improvised, with a structure dictated by live wind data from around the world. At regular intervals the fans will switch to recreate the current windspeed in one of five locations, ranging from St Johns, Newfoundland (one of the windiest cities on the planet), to the suburb of Bangkok where the majority of the fans were produced.

Here’s a small glimpse of some early rehearsals with Sam. It was rather hot in the room, the fans came in handy.

The instruments are made of thick plywood, which I cut using a CNC router at the DCA print studio. Many thanks go to Rob Jackson and the rest of the DCA staff for all their help.

Most of them are controlled using MIDI, so we will be using standard keyboards and drum machines to ‘play’ them. The electronics are made with Teensy microcontrollers and a set of power circuits for switching. They are powered using standard computer power supplies which are, in turn, cooled by fans.

The first performance is Saturday 5 July at the Southbank Centre at 1pm. We will be performing again in Edinburgh on 31 July and in Glasgow on 1 August.

With the instruments finished I’ll next be working on the installation side of this project, which will be ready for the opening of the Edinburgh Art Festival at the end of July.

In the mean time, here are some pictures of the process of making the instruments.
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Currents-6

Currents-5

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The Sound of Whisky

Category : Music, Video · by May 13, 2014

Here’s music video I’ve made after a visit to the Jura Distillery. Go to the project page to learn more.


In C at the Barbican

Category : Matthew Herbert, Music · by October 4, 2013

Tonight I’ll be playing with Matthew Herbert + Stargaze at the Barbican in London, performing Terry Riley’s famous minimalist masterpiece In C.

Detailed show info on the Barbican website. It’s sold out, but I’ve heard that more tickets may become available before the show.

We did this performance once before a few months ago, at the Cologne Philharmonie, and it was great fun. This time I think it will be even better…

I’ve built a small family of mechanical drum machines using Meccano and solenoids. These will play different rhythms and keep time (the famous repeating C, for example). Here’s a video I made while experimenting and testing the machines:

I’ll also be doing some live sampling/looping/remixing, of course, together with Matthew and Hugh Jones (Crewdson). Hugh will be using his brilliant new hacked concertina, which is one of the nicest musical interfaces I’ve ever seen.

I’m really looking forward to it.


A short list of things.

This accurately represents my mind over the past six months.

A brief list (in no particular order) of things I have been up to over the past six months since the One Pig Scotland tour:

  • Lucky Frame (aka my awesome company) won a ‘Best Game’ BAFTA for Bad Hotel.
  • I performed a live set on BBC Radio 3 with the BBC Concert Orchestra and Matthew Herbert at the Roundhouse. I made some custom software and hacked a harpsichord. It was super fun.
  • Lucky Frame released Wave Trip, a music creation game, for iPad and iPhone, to much critical acclaim. You can see giant posters of it in an Apple Store near you.
  • The Seznec Bros performed seven shows in a tour of Scotland, including trips to the Highlands and Islands.
  • I performed Terry Riley’s “In C” at the Kölner Philharmonie with Stargaze, Matthew Herbert, and André de Ridder.
  • As part of the ‘Matthew Herbert Quartet’ I was part of the recording of the new album “The End of Silence“, made entirely out of the sound of a bomb. This is getting released in June, and we have started playing live shows, starting in Italy, Germany, and Australia.
  • Which reminds me, I went to Australia with Mr Herbert + co. to perform One Pig, The End of Silence, and a one-off piece called “One Room” at the Melbourne Recital Hall. Some interesting reviews here.
  • On a similar theme, I was in the group to perform “One Day” at the Thalia Theatre in Hamburg.
  • I spent four days in Aldeburgh and Snape as part of a Faster Than Sound residency with Peter Gregson, Pekka Kuusisto, and Reactify. I wrote a piece for Violin, Cello, and Electronics which was performed at Aldeburgh Music.
  • Our game “Bad Hotel” was nominated for an Independent Game Festival award in San Francisco, so the whole Lucky Frame crew went out there for a week to shmooze. We didn’t win, but it was great.
  • We’ve been working on a super fun project with Dundee Contemporary Arts, making generative data visualisations.
  • I have been teaching at Napier University and Glasgow School of Art.
  • I am very honored to have been selected for a PRS New Music Biennial award. I’ll be working on a new piece for Edinburgh Art Festival 2014.
  • Finally, I’m heading to Montreal tomorrow for a couple of shows with the Herbert band at Mutek. One Pig on May 29th and The End of Silence on June 1st.

So, it’s been quite an amazing first half of the year. Writing this post has been an interesting exercise for me in terms of looking back on what I’ve done. More soon!


One Pig Scotland

Category : Matthew Herbert, Music, One Pig, StyHarp · by October 9, 2012


It will come as no surprise to followers of this blog that I have been touring with the incredible Matthew Herbert on the amazing One Pig show. It has been one of the most rewarding artistic and professional experiences of my career – we’ve played at venues from London to Tokyo, and the rest of the group (Tom Skinner, Hugh Jones, Sam Beste, and Dilip Harris) are out of this world.

So it’s with great pleasure that I can announce that One Pig is coming to my (adopted) home of Scotland for a seven-date tour. We will be starting in Glasgow, working our way up to Shetland, and finishing off in Aberdeenshire.

Spread the word, and come to a show near you! I will of course be playing my bizarre and intriguing “Sty Harp“, and every show will be accompanied by local chefs cooking delicious pork. What’s not to like?

For more information about the show, check onepigscotland.com. It’s quite a treat.

The dates:

November 2012

3rd – Glasgow, Tramway

4th – Dundee, Dundee Rep Theatre

5th – Inverness, Bogbain Farm

7th – Shetland, Mareel

8th – Edinburgh, Queen’s Hall

9th – Dunfermline, Carnegie Hall

10th – Banchory, Woodend Barn (Sound Festival)


Seznec Bros Tour

Category : Music, Seznec Brothers · by September 21, 2012

Through some terrible organisation and forward planning on my part, I somehow managed to neglect posting here about the now nearly-complete Seznec Bros tour. Over the past week my brother and I have played shows in Bath, Torquay, Oxford, London, Penryn, and more. We are finishing it all off tomorrow night in Fulham at Brook’s Blues Bar. It’s been a brilliant little batch of shows, especially since we were joined for several of them by the incredible Senegalese multi-instrumentalist Amadou Diagne.
Our show in Oxford was organised by our amazing friend Malachy, who then put us up in his gorgeous home in the countryside. He has in his possession a lovely Wurlitzer electric piano, which I completely fell in love with. Cory and I made a few videos with it, here’s the first one for you:

Be sure to check the Seznec Bros website, where you can buy our new album, watch more videos, and get details on our activities!