Tambourine Bay

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Tambourine Bay is a multimodal work for large scale video projection and electroacoustic performance. The work is scored for 26 to 51 percussionists and 50 tambourines and combines acoustic, electronic and handmade instruments in the performance of original music in the styles of Industrial/Upbeat/Electronica & Ambient/Soundtrack. The twenty-six percussionists (two tambourines per percussionist) play in unison throughout the performance accompanied by one multi instrumental percussionist, a bass guitarist, a vocalist and a sampler.

The work is experimental and partly improvisational, combining processed samples & location sound recording with live electronica, percussion and large scale video projection.

The performance can be seen and heard as a window into the local weather patterns experienced by myself and my partner in our apartment, looking out over the Tambourine Bay Reserve, situated on the Lane Cove river, Sydney and represents a transition or dramatic shift in the climate we experienced over a 16 day period. I have combined additional audio and text with our personal experience to reflect on more severe weather patterns across the east and west coast of Australia leading up to the Australia day long weekend.

The video component of Tambourine Bay was first programmed for installation at the Balance-Unbalance International Conference 2013 in Noosa, Queensland, Australia. After participating in this event I started working on a large scale version of Tambourine Bay for performance and it is the development of this work that I will discuss today.

The performance video is in three parts and is visually represented through processed urban video footage, altered in its duration, hue and perspective and situating the viewer inside an apartment room looking out over Tambourine Bay. Parts 1 & 2 of the video/performance are visually saturated in a red and orange hue intended to illustrate and highlight the unusual weather patterns experienced in this inner city suburb, the ongoing shifts in local weather patterns and what this might indicate in terms of broader climate change (see Figures 1, 2 & 3 Video Stills).

Throughout the performance the audience witnesses the systematic pounding of the Tambourine Bay Reserve as it is severely struck by thunder and lightning. It then transitions from late evening into an overcast midday with a forecast of further showers, storms and bush fires. The final scene is late afternoon interspersed with sunshine and heavy cloud cover and again with further predictions of wild weather.

 

Figure 1. Video still – Tambourine Bay

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Spiralling text created in the application Processing and adapted from the typography sketch “kinetic_type” by Zach Lieberman (Lieberman 2014) fuels the narrative of the video and performance. Using the daily weather broadcasts transcribed from ABC news radio throughout January 2012 the narrative builds and repeats itself in an upward movement passing in front of the window frames from which the video was shot. This constantly moving cyclone of text is both readable and sometimes not, providing snippets of news, which can be distinguished at random throughout.

A second layer of text also created in Processing will be projected onto a screen placed within the audience. This secondary text will be manipulated by the performers on stage in real time using long range, infrared sensors to alter and control the flow of data, including the axis, radius, motion and direction of the data (spiralling text). The secondary text will constantly change and will be sourced from real time news feeds broadcast online as weather news in the vicinity of and at the time of the performance.

The two layers of text provide contrasting data between the shifting weather patterns over a period of time ranging anywhere from the 10th of January 2012 to the current day’s performance date and data.

The second layer of text’s Processing sketch is still in development. A prototype sketch using a simple turn switch with an Arduino to manipulate the speed and direction of the spiralling text is provided in my paper presentation.

SOUND DESIGN

 

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Figure 2. Detail – String Instrument w/electronic components

The sound design is layered and includes multi tracked, processed location sound recording, vocals, percussion & electroacoustic performance, bass guitar and keyboards. The location recording (thunder, lightning and birds) / intense bursts of synth pipes / manipulation of frequencies using EQ and sound relationships created by dynamic mixing are the main production components.

INSTRUMENTATION

As mentioned the performance is scored for 26 percussionists and 50 tambourines. 26 percussionists (two tambourines per percussionist) play in unison throughout the performance accompanied by one multi instrumental percussionist. (see Figures 4, 5 & 6 Percussive/String Instrument Detail & Performance).

Additional instrumentation includes:

• String instrument with audio sensor interface – Raspberry Pi, six fast vibration sensor switches, wire / aluminium frame, clear acrylic housing & miscellaneous electronic components;

• Macbook Pro w/Logic Pro / Processing;

• Electronic Roland V-Drums & stand;

• Acoustic drums, 20” calf head floor tom;

• 18” China Cymbal;

• 50 tambourines.

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Figure 3. String Instrument Performance

 

CREDITS

Original concept, video production, score & soundtrack by Damian Castaldi.
Acknowledgement for the sketch “kinetic_type” by Zach Lieberman and code adaptation by Solange Kershaw.
Drum & cymbal recording engineered by Ganesh Singaram.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

As mentioned the original video component and soundtrack of Tambourine Bay was first programmed for exhibition at the Balance-Unbalance International Conference 2013 in Noosa, Queensland, Australia from the 31st of March to the 2nd of June 2013. The work was exhibited in the ‘Earth to Earth’ sound venue throughout the Conference proceedings. The artist would like to thank Dr Ricardo Dal Farra (Chair & Conference Convenor) and Dr Leah Barclay (Conference Co-Convenor).

REFERENCES

Lieberman, Z. 2014. Processing sketch, kinetic_type, viewed Oct 2014, http://thesystemis.com/

Reas, C., and B. Fry. 2014. Processing, Second Edition. A Programming Handbook for Visual Designers and Artists. The MIT Press, Second Edition, 2014.