Elec­tri­fy­ing mu­sic

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By JESS LEE

CLO­VIS McEvoy can make mu­sic with al­most any­thing – from the con­troller of a video game to com­plex com­puter pro­grammes.

The 25-year-old sonic arts stu­dent is one of just five com­posers from around the world se­lected to take part in an ex­clu­sive elec­tro-acous­tic work­shop in Paris this June.

There is no one def­i­ni­tion of sonic art – the mu­si­cal field is con­stantly push­ing its bound­aries and com­bines sound in­stal­la­tions, im­pro­vised per­for­mances and com­puter pro­gram­ming to pro­duce both vis­ual and au­ral dis­plays.

‘‘It’s part pro­gram­ming, part mu­sic and part maths which makes it pretty in­tim­i­dat­ing stuff,’’ Mr McEvoy says.

He se­cured a place at the pres­ti­gious arts fes­ti­val in France, the home of sonic arts, with a piece he com­posed from a poem based on the sounds of Auck­land.

His track Fla­neur was a fi­nal­ist for the Dou­glas Lil­burn Prize in 2011 and features the voices of eight peo­ple recit­ing pieces of the poem in dif­fer­ent lan­guages which phase in and out.

The cen­tral Auck­land com­poser has also cre­ated mu­sic ma­nip­u­lat­ing the voice of his nine-year-old sis­ter with the con­trols of a com­puter vir­tual golf­ing game.

The use of th­ese kinds of de­vices has rev­o­lu­tionised the genre, he says.

‘‘You can per­form your elec­tronic mu­sic be­cause sud­denly you have ges­ture, you can move your hands as the mu­sic moves.

‘‘Click­ing is far more clin­i­cal and not very mu­si­cal. This is a bit more like play­ing an in­stru­ment which is very cool.’’

Po­ten­tial mu­sic can be found any­where, he says.

‘‘I hear a lot more now than I used to – things that you wouldn’t nor­mally con- sider mu­sic. You hear a bus mak­ing a slightly un­usual idling noise and it sticks out to you.’’

The French work­shop will see Mr McEvoy paired with an ac­cor­dion player and com­poser. He will ma­nip­u­late their per­for­mance in real time us­ing some of the most in­no­va­tive and pro­fes­sional soft­ware avail­able.

The pro­grammes are so­phis­ti­cated but tiny mis­takes can throw a whole per­for­mance.

‘‘A mil­lion and one things can go wrong. Th­ese things can be so tem­per­a­men­tal. If you put in a one where you should have put a zero the whole thing doesn’t work.’’

Part of his univer­sity train­ing in­volves learn­ing to fix mis­takes at top speed and to keep things run­ning when they break down.

It is a far cry from his years of study­ing clas­si­cal mu­sic.

There mu­si­cians

and

equip­ment are just

study­ing four sonic arts at the Univer­sity of Auck­land but they tend to make quite a splash with their work, Mr McEvoy says.

‘‘A lot of peo­ple have never heard any­thing quite like it which is a bless­ing and a curse. Peo­ple are in­ter­ested be­cause it’s dif­fer­ent but they can be a bit dis­tant from it be­cause they’re not used to lis­ten­ing that way.

‘‘It’s a dif­fer­ent kind of lis­ten­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.’’

Mr McEvoy is fundrais­ing for flights, ac­com­mo­da­tion and equip­ment be­fore head­ing off on June 15 for the fes­ti­val which runs from June 17 to 30.

Email clo­vism­cevoy@ gmail.com if you can help.

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Mak­ing waves: Sonic mu­sic artist Clo­vis McEvoy from the Univer­sity of Auck­land School of Mu­sic is one of just five com­posers se­lected to take part in an ex­clu­sive arts fes­ti­val in Paris this June.

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