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.
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.
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.