REFRACTION:
Bellows & Electronics

2009–2014

shared memory

occurrences rooted in effect
at the intersections of music and audio

preparation
modification

aural objectives
pneumatic presence
horticultural techniques

textural attenuation
processed gradation

the contours of instrumentation
and their multiple aspect highlights

nexus

holes

“The immaterial view of holes holds that they are immaterial objects, whose notion is molded upon that of a material object up to the requirement of material constitution. Holes are then a subclass of ordinary objects – those that are not made of matter. Their not being made of matter (or their insensitivity to matter) explains some of the particular intuitions about their identity: filling and emptying a hole does not change or destroy it.” (Casati, 2009, p. 385)

nexus

The collaboration originated from the identified pairing of two different types of sound-producing objects: the musical instrument and the recording device – a shruti box and a portable, double-tape machine (“Modified Boombox”). Both the musical instrument and the recording device were used in modified forms that distort the original designs, turning them into unique sounding objects.

preparation

Because the initial music-to-be-sought would be textural rather than idiomatic, the shruti box was altered in the spirit of Pierre Schaffer’s “commutating instrument” concept for regulating musical sound and noise, Harry Partch’s adapted reed organs, and John Cage’s prepared piano techniques. 

The shruti box is a reed instrument activated by a hand-pumped system of bellows, and is typically used to sustain drones the accompany singing or other instruments. The shruti box was customized or “prepared” by removing some of its reeds, to foreground the sound of air passing through where the reed would resonate.

modification 

The Modified Boombox was modified to be used with custom interconnected cassettes whose tape travels from the first deck which records, to the second deck that plays back, a classic accretionary tape delay technique that takes on unique characteristics based on the specific boombox being used, reminiscent of the diffusion techniques of Terry Riley and Pierre-André Arcand. Its effects include cross-responsive tape processes of concurrent delay, echo, pitch bending, equalization and gentle feedback.

whisper room

Coppice music emerged from recording sessions of duo interactions between the pairing of these dated, portable, modified mechanical objects, which were approached as musical instrumentation. The first recording sessions took place inside a WhisperRoom sound-isolating enclosure.

superimposition (equal interchange and simultaneous reaction)

The first set of impromptu duo compositions from these sessions are collected in Holes/Tract (2012), and are characterized by formalist constraints dealing with iteration, variation, arrivals and plateaus. As a duo system, bellows and electronics recall the effects between exciter-resonator of musical instrument construction – sound from action and response. The prepared shruti box and Modified Boombox form a superimposition of live and reproduced signals – acoustic and electronic – running in parallel, creating a self-reproducing music that only works together. 

hard stereo

The music was captured from multiple microphonic perspectives on the instruments and devices collapsed into a single stereo image. The back-front of the shruti box and the left-right signals of the Modified Boombox were placed in stereo as left-right, respectively. This stereo image became the “sonic frame” on which dynamic pumping techniques on the bellows translated into a stereo effect. 

surrounding air 

The conditions surrounding the prepared shruti box and the Modified Boombox were an essential component of the duo setup in space and in recording. Internal and external behavior was recorded by internal and external microphones in the Modified Boombox, while manual acoustic filtering gestures were performed around its speakers, as well as between the prepared shruti box and the microphones–to balance tactile techniques with those of no contact.

index transfers

Index transfers are artifacts on tape pulled from the cassette tapes used in the Modified Boombox. Epoxy (2013) includes two arrangements captured solely from the perspective of the Modified Boombox, and Pied (2012) features a section that ‘perforates’ through various generations of tape.

specimens

The WhisperRoom sessions also captured sounds from the prepared shruti box in isolation. These solo recordings were indexed and collected in Vinculum, Coppice’s archive of sonic artifacts. Over time, Vinculum catalogued various recorded perspectives of accordions, metal tubing, sphygmomanometer, flue pipes, fire bellows, and funnels.   

Each Vinculum recording was subjectively reduced to highlight some aspects at the expense of others, extending new dimensions of sonic identity from audio editing techniques. Because the sounds are devoid of spatial characteristics (from having been recorded in isolation booths), they took object-like characteristics when played back over multiple types of speakers in a series of installations. 

The recordings (“specimens”) functioned as samples in performed installations that scrutinized the schizophonic effect of acoustic and reproduced verberation in space. These works, which also studied the relationships between audio and audience in spaces include Copse (2010), Vinculum (Coincidence) (2011), and Droopy (2013).  Elaborations of the indexical recording process itself were presented in the performed installations Vinculum (Courses) (2011), Vinculum (Courses) [Version Baschet] (2011), and A Vinculum Variation (2013). Sounds from the Vinculum archive also appear in the fixed, recorded compositions The Pleasance & The Purchase (2010), Bramble (2012), Soft Crown (2014), and Bluing/Blueing (2014).

excitation

Selections from the Vinculum archive were transduced into sheets of galvanized steel, foam, glass, copper, aluminum, cork, and acrylic whose material properties produced further sonic and spatial effects. These made up the sculpture series Vinculum (Passes) (2012) and Vinculum re: Screens for Mutual Attractions to Related Objects (Some Impossible) (2015).

coincidence

It may be incidental, conjected, manufactured (ideally observed), undifferentiated, captured, reproduced but not repeated.

footing

The first two of three movements of the performed installation Copse (2010) focused on the creation and designation of spaces as distributed across a set of loudspeakers. Their arrangement for 7” record The Pleasance & The Purchase (2012) presents a fixed perspective. The listener is repositioned as a point existing within a stereo projection that they share responsibility for creating (as they place the speakers, set the volume, turn the recording on, selects a point from which to listen, etc.) Fixed and flattened, The Pleasance & The Purchase invites a private question of where a listener finds their footing.

amplification

Developments for amplified live performances for prepared shruti box occurred in (The Flavor of Missing) Mortar (2011), which extended the interactions between the instrument and the electronic processes to include those between the amplifying loudspeakers and the acoustic identity of the performance spaces (controlled feedback).

Snow (2011) followed suit, but with the Apiary, a free reed aerophone designed for Coppice by Andrew Furse in response to Coppice’s techniques on shruti boxes. 

Live recordings of these compositions are found in Spans: Three Perspectival Accounts (2015). They fold-in multiple recording perspectives, such as instrumental close-ups that capture detail, in contrast to “panoramic” microphone placements distant from the stage that foreground the location’s acoustics, i.e. of the Joseph Bond Chapel in Chicago.

intertwined instrumental interaction with electromagnetic interference through structuralist constraints form complex timbral horizons that engorge, tip and hemorrhage

In 2012 Coppice applied its shruti box preparation techniques on portable pump organs, most notably a Mason & Hamlin “Baby” Kindergarten Reed Organ from 1833, and an Estey Folding Pump Organ from cir. 1935. These were prepared by removing, replacing and displacing reeds, and fixing small interfering objects against them. Effects include foregrounded air leaks from the bellows, filtered air coloration from reedless holes and reed disturbances.

Coppice’s live repertoire for amplified prepared pump organ and tape processes between 2012–2014 consisted of staged stereo recitals of Seam (2010/2012), While Like Teem or Bloom Comes (Tipping) (2012), Compound Form (2012), Snuck Keel (2013), Impulses for Elaborated Turbulence (Excised) (2013), Sop (2013), and Bypass (2014). An unaltered live recording of Compound Form is found on Compound Form (2013), and studio versions of the other compositions are found on Cores/Eruct (2015) and Big Wad Excisions (2013).

compound

Animate bonding agents in operation brace growth of the copse in rotation, stimulated by the interstices between its past and future equilibrium.

navigation

With interest in conveying the multiplicity of perspectives towards instruments and their recordings, Coppice devised Soft Crown Transparencies (2014), a “navigable composition for software” which repositions the listener in a new type of active listening. It provides coordinates for engaging shifts of vantage point (point of audition), as all sound layers of the composition Soft Crown develop in time through a navigable vertical axis on the screen.

Soft Crown Transparencies isn’t a game or a tool. It invites the listener to figure a porous journey through a listening format that they can intersect as the music unfolds – to obtain finer details of the music’s materialities and to localize additional audio not found in the stereo mix of Soft Crown from Vantage/Cordoned (2014).

generations and transparencies

In the form of a navigable software interface, Soft Crown Transparencies (2014) provides access for close listening to different points of the interior of a prepared pump organ, and of multiple generations of tape processes. Similarly, Pied (2013) probes into multiple generations of the same original content on tape, revealing shifting depths of incidental sounds, utterances, and transparencies in the tape gone un-erased. 

Soft Crown Transparencies and Pied treat sound recordings as layered solids to be cut-out, as if drilling to reveal its strata. These works also contrast each other in that one affords the listener with agency over a porous journey, while the other remains closed.

opposition

Bypass (2013) was conceived as a heavily amplified performance for prepared pump organ and Modified Boombox. Sounds were set against each other at the exclusion of signal processing. For its publication on tape as Bypass Ideal (2015), each part was placed in isolation on each side of the cassette tape to evade the original simultaneous listening, offering instead a retrospective listening that proposes an idealized experience of parts.

bromine

A chemical element, red-brown liquid that evaporates easily and gives off a disagreeable odor.

diamond

Matches (2015) is the conclusion of Coppice’s glossary of study in Bellows & Electronics, compiling works produced between 2009–2014. Matches is loose threads: a story with many holes for lovers of music and sound. 

bluing

A chemical process to protect metals against rust.