Archive for beam

BEAM at Brunel 2012

Posted in conferences, creative practice, culture, DIY, eurorack, gear, links, music, research, video with tags , , , , on 25/06/2012 by sync24

BEAM 2012

I went to the BEAM festival at Brunel again this weekend, same kind of deal as last year, but curated by Atau Tanaka.
A Symposium started things off on the Friday afternoon with a number of interesting presentations by some of the participants.
Lewis Sykes showed his PHD research in to Cymatics ( and framed the whole thing extremely well from a research POV ( He showed various historical examples by Hans Jenny ( and mentioned the use of “global knowledge” (the internet) – he showed these amazing 3D cymatic things too:, and this interesting website: He also mentioned John Whitney and this amazing looking book called Digital Harmony ( One more for the list… (
I have an old speaker that i’ve been meaning to try this stuff out with since i saw it demo’ed at Flash On The Beach… another thing on the list.
I had some good conversations with Lewis over the two days about his work, practice phds and stuff – definitely a very good start to the festival.

Other people of note in the Symposium:
Mike Cook showed his Arduino stuff again, very engaging presentation of his current work.

Bruno Zamborlin showed his Mogees project with gestural audio capture through the use of piezo microphones ( he was performing later in the evening with Ed Handley from Plaid.

Anyway, there were other talks – some not as interesting as others. The other highlight, after Lewis, was Sergi Jorda talking about what led up to his development of the ReacTable. He talked about some of his older work – a feedback loop thing sounded interesting to try out, throwing a pitch tracker into the mix along with some variable effects – like an adapted Alvin Lucier sitting in a room affair. He went on to talk at length about the reacTable and how it was developed, his main thing with it was about how so many music controllers had been unsuccessful, probably because they were old fashioned and shouldn’t be trying to emulate traditional instruments. Fair enough.
He showed a bunch of statements at the end of his talk, one really stood out:
“Not knowing the history of your field and not listening to others tends to guarantee failure.”

The evening had some interesting performances, but the real highlight was Michael Page and his crazy home made sequencers. Here he is at he music hack space: and here’s his blog:

Needed to be out of my accommodation by 10am and had a free-ish morning so i went for a swim and then visited the London Motorcycle Museum (which was amazing).
Got back to BEAM for the afternoon performances and was blown away by Simon Katan who’d done something equally amazing last year.

I got to have a closer look at Michael Pages sequencers too.
I also had a chat with a chap who was in the workshops with me last year and together we talked with Sam Underwood & David Morton. Mr Underwood told me about the kits he makes so i will be getting in touch with him.
here he is:

in the evening there were more performances:
Sally Golding did some fantastic stuff with 16mm film projections (
Benoît and the Mandelbrots demystified live coding for me… ( actually, Alex McClean did that the previous evening using emacs…
John Bowers planned set didn’t go to plan (pure data crashed) so he blasted the place with his Eurorack (QMMG, z3000, NoiseRing and a MATHS) plus some other home made gear.
i was hoping for space noises from Thomas Lehn and his EMS Synthi, but got blasted by analog tone instead.
the last performance was Carles López playing the Reactable. it was good, but quite straight, until he knocked the table, some objects fell on the floor and those remaining started interacting in strange ways – much more interesting!

that was it for me, no sleep over and no sunday business.

next year (fingers crossed it’ll run for it’s third year) i really would like to get my act together and get something submitted for the open call. there was plenty of food for thought, and with my current Eurorack exploration i think i could do something along those lines…


Beam 2012

Posted in conferences, culture, DIY, music, research with tags , , on 23/12/2011 by sync24

‘just found out via the BEAM Facebook page that there’ll be another one next year.
it’ll be at Brunel again over the 22nd to the 24th of June.
there’ll be an open call for work, so maybe i should get my act together and try and submit something..!
anyway, the last one was good, so i’m sure this will be too.
open call link:

Brunel Electronic and Analogue Music (BEAM) Festival 2011

Posted in conferences, creative practice, culture, DIY, research with tags , on 30/06/2011 by sync24
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Brunel Electronic and Analogue Music (BEAM) Festival 2011, a set by Brunel University on Flickr.

Here’s some more pics by Ashley Knowels.

Beam Festival from Mike Cook on Vimeo.

BEAM 2011 – Saturday pt 2

Posted in conferences, culture, research with tags , , , on 26/06/2011 by sync24

The main thing i wanted to attend on Saturday was John Richards Dirty Electronics workshop.
I found out about JR a while ago when he was doing a session at De Montford Uni with Chris Carter, i couldn’t go to it.
So this was an ideal opportunity!
John ran his session differently to Tom Bugs, he started off by getting us all to make some music together in readyness for the final day. I didn’t get involved as i had to leave later in the evening, but it was good to watch.
John talked a bit about the history of these Dirty Electronics pieces and showed various projects he’d made. The Dirty Carter from De Montford, The original Skull version (I bought one) and one he’s done for MUTE Records…!
Have a look here for more info:
We then got soldering and people kind of drifted off once they’d finished building.
Here’s my ltd edition BEAM Synth:

it’s a simple circuit you complete by putting wet fingers across contacts – the beams which are surrounding the fist.
it’s nice!
i’ll make up the Skull version asap and post pics too.
John didn’t go through any soldering techniques and you could see some people really struggled because of this, there was a ‘how-to-solder’ workshop running, but i think it was running in parallel…

BEAM Festival 2011

After Johns session i had a bit of a wander about, looked at the installations and headed home.
Overall, I really enjoyed BEAM, there were more academic related people/things than I’d anticipated, no bad thing because it kicked me into thinking about mine again – which was the purpose.

Thanks to Sarah Nicolls for organising it all!
Hopefully there’ll be another one next year and I can try and get involved more…
her blog:
and her website:

BEAM 2011 – Saturday pt 1

Posted in conferences, creative practice, culture, research with tags , , on 26/06/2011 by sync24

The end of my time at BEAM today, part one:
Petcha Cutcha thing – ‘listened to various participants talking for three mins about their work. The session was pretty badly organised, unfortunatley, and people didn’t have ppts set up properly, just a bunch of single slides in a folder. it got a bit painful watching the tech trying to do stuff on the mac – he was obviously not a mac person…
anyway, DJ Sniff said something really interesting along the lines of ‘building electronic instruments is a good way to become a good electronic musician’. Brilliant. After the presentations, the two chairs opened the session up to discussion, i left part way through the first weary question from the audience.
Here’s a pic of a piano:

BEAM 2011 – Friday night

Posted in conferences, culture, links, research with tags , , on 25/06/2011 by sync24

Quick post about the performances on the Friday night of BEAM.

DJ Sniff from STEIM – not my bag, i got bored with the scratching and repetition from his machines… it went on toooo long.

Alex Nowitz from STEIM – using Wii motes he was transforming his amazing and versitle voice. It was as if he was using the WiiMotes to capture his voice and then navigate the sample with his genstures affecting playback and processing. again, it went on toooo long.

A Drummer who had responded to the Open Call – imagine mic’ing up a stairway with various types of microphones, connecting them up to a MAX patch which recorded samples here and there and processed them for out-put, then kicking a drum kit down it. enjoyable madness, which needed a groove, and went on a bit toooo long…

Ryan Jordan
(the only one worthy of a link) – Fantastic! he’s straight in to the ‘hero’ list. Inscense, strobe lights, black metal face paint, biofeedback and TV noise, all really LOUD!. Fucking brilliant!
here’s a link to watch an earlier performance of Channeling Interference:
Here’s a pic too:

Stelarc and an opera singer – yeah, i’d have been chuffed to see Stelarc about 20 years ago. this performance was boring, opera singer sampled Stelarc avatar voice sounds, whilst the drummer from earlier went random on his kit, again… and it sounded the same.

Final performance was from Chikashi Miyama – he has these micro controller boxes he’d built with infra red light sensors sensing the position of his hands. not really my thing – entertaining to watch though as Chikashi was full of energy and produced lots of crazy noises. His final piece was my fave as it was very atmospheric.

BEAM 2011 – Tom Bugs WOM Workshop

Posted in conferences, creative practice, culture, DIY, gear, music with tags , , , , , , on 24/06/2011 by sync24

Had a great session at BEAM today!
Made the Tom Bugs WOM – Workshop Oscillator Machine.
Here’s the workshop link (again).

Tom was great! He led the workshop in a really interesting and entertaining way –
He went through the basics of how the WOM worked, talking to us about what the different components were for and what they did.
He then talked to us about hwo to solder and let us get on with building.
As he says, the kits are really straigh forward, the BOM is clear and you can match all the parts up with the board just by being logical.
I got mine finished nice a quickly, then helped the chap I was sat next to.

Its a fun sounding machine on its own, the little speaker is ok for testing and the contact points along the bottom of the board are a laugh!
I really like how the ‘power starve’ works, to a certain extent it simulates the battery going flat, there’s also a ‘stabilser’ option for it.
The little postcard sized machine sounds really beefy through a PA too, so once i get home i’ll have to add it to my other gear and see what i can make of it.

Tom had also brought along one of his modular systems, so I had a go on it and made a load of crap…
‘need more practice with those things.