Enabling technology
Monitoring/ listening

References for exercises

Changing personnel and cooperation with external musicians



The project manager of this artistic project is Øyvind Brandtsegg.


The ensemble T-EMP is currently consisting of:

    Øyvind Brandtsegg, electronics

    Bernt Isak Wærstad, guitar and electronics

    Trond Engum, guitar and electronics

    Tone Åse, vocal and electronics

    Carl Haakon Waadeland, drums

From the beginning of the project in 2011 and until end of 2012, Ingrid Lode, vocal and electronics, was also a member of T-EMP. Throughout our artistic research period T-EMP has also cooperated with several external musicians. This will be commented upon later.


The musical roles and functions of the different musicians in T-EMP can be outlined as follows:

  • Øyvind: Processes sounds from others

  • Bernt Isak and Trond: Generate electronic sounds, process own sounds, to some degree also process the sounds of others

  • Tone: Generates acoustic sounds and processes her own sounds

  • Carl Haakon: Generates acoustic sounds, to be processed by others


The figure below illustrates the signal flow in T-EMP.

Figure: Illustration of signal flow in T-EMP.


During practice and rehearsals the project leader, Øyvind, has to a large extent been a moderator and premise provider for various things we have tried out, whereas when we have been cooperating with different external musicians, these have suggested various exercises for us to work on. However, all of this has happened in close dialogue and discussion with the whole ensemble. - We will return to the exercises in more detail later.


During performance there has been a rather flat structure in T-EMP with no leader. Through free improvisation, based on our experiences from the rehearsals, we have collectively developed timbral motives, transformations and musical form.


The development of new technological tools and strategies has been carried out by Øyvind Brandtsegg, Sigurd Saue and Trond Engum.


Documentation and publication (live and studio recordings, video from practice and performance, logs and session notes, ensemble discussions, individual reflections, and analysis of live performances, audience response, recordings and videos) has been handled by everybody in T-EMP together with Sigurd Saue and Andreas Bergsland.


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Enabling technology

A key musical objective for T-EMP is to blur the separation between the individual contributions from each musician and collectively develop tight-woven timbral gestures. Through live sampling and processing the generation of sonic material may grow out of a collaborative effort where acoustic sounds (voice, drums, etc.) are processed in real-time by digital instruments. Ultimately any sound produced could serve as source material for processing by another member of the ensemble.  The term live processing can include any type of signal processing that occurs in real-time. In this report we will use live processing to describe the concept where one musician is processing a live audio feed from another musician in real-time. The technical setup is not very remarkable in itself, but we also consider the type of interplay that occurs between the two musicians in this context to be an important and integral part of the concept live processing. This concept of live processing carries a huge potential for timbral experimentation, but also brings along some very challenging issues regarding performance complexity. Hence our technological focus has been on processing techniques that can provide rich timbral expressivity, cross-processing of inputs, and real-time control in live improvisation and interplay. 


So far we have concentrated on two techniques:

  • Granular synthesis

  • Convolution


Granular synthesis is a well established technique for synthesizing sounds based on the additive combination of thousands of very short sonic grains into larger acoustics events [1]. Its potential for musical and sonic expression is abundantly rich through fine-grained control of properties in both the time- and frequency-domain.


The foundation for granular synthesis was laid by the British physicist Dennis Gabor in his studies of acoustical quanta as a means of representation in the theory of hearing [2]. The idea of using grains of sound in music was later expanded into a compositional theory by Iannis Xenakis in his book Formalized Music [3]. Due to its popularity numerous implementations of granular synthesis have been made available through the years, starting with the pioneering works of Roads (see [4]) and Truax [5].


In its basic form granular synthesis offers low-level control of single grains through parameters such as waveform, frequency, duration and envelope shape, and it typically provides global organization of grains through another set of parameters such as density, frequency band and grain cloud envelope. There are several variations of the basic scheme. A comprehensive survey of different granular techniques can be found in Curtis Roads' excellent book “Microsound” [4].


During his artistic research fellowship [6], Øyvind Brandtsegg developed new tools for granular synthesis incorporating all known granular techniques in a single sound generator. Brandtseggs sound generator design was implemented by students Thom Johansen and Torgeir Strand Henriksen as the opcode partikkel [7] for Csound [8]. our implementation (see the chapter on Technological results for more information).


Convolution is a well known signal processing technique, but the theory behind it remains unknown to most musicians [9]. The convolution of two segments of sound can briefly be described as a multiplication of their frequency spectra, which implies that the resulting sound will have a spectral character borrowing from both input sounds. In spite of its mathematical simplicity convolution can be a very challenging technique to work with in a musical context.


There are many well-known applications of convolution, such as filtering, spatialization and reverberation. Common to them is that one of the inputs is a static impulse response, typically characterizing a filter, an acoustic space or similar. When convolved with the other input, the impulse response “colors” that signal, e.g. with the characteristics of a specific acoustic space. Impulse responses are typically short and/or with a pronounced amplitude decay throughout its duration. The convolution process does not normally allow parametric real-time control.


We wanted to explore convolution as a creative sound morphing tool, using the spectral and temporal qualities of one sound to filter another. This is closely related to cross-filtering [9]. At the same time we wanted to provide better real-time response and increased instrumental control, in short: playability. Details on this development will be given in the chapter on Technological results.


Trond Engum has employed similar convolution techniques both through his artistic activity and in his artistic research project where he focuses on real-time convolution between acoustic/electronic instruments and concrete sounds. There are a few earlier references of related uses of convolution, starting with Barry Truax [10-16].




[1] Curtis Roads. 1988. Introduction to Granular Synthesis. In Computer Music Journal 12(2): 11-13

[2] Dennis Gabor. 1947. Acoustical quanta and the theory of hearing. In Nature 159(4044): 591-594

[3] Iannis Xenakis. 1971. Formalized Music. Indiana University Press, Bloomington, Indiana.

[4] Curtis Roads. 2001. Microsound. MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

[5] Barry Truax. 1986. Real-time granular synthesis with the DMX-1000. In P. Berg (ed.) Proceedings of the International Computer Music Conference, The Hague, Computer Music Association

[6] Øyvind Brandtsegg 2008. New creative possibilities through improvisational use of compositional techniques, - a new computer instrument for the performing musician. Online project documentation. LV 2013/08/05

Specifics of the software development at LV 2013/08/05

[7] Ø.Brandtsegg, T.Johansen, T.S.Henriksen 2007. Partikkel opcode for Csound. LV 2013/08/05

[8] Csound. See

[9] C. Roads. 1997. Sound transformation by convolution. In C. Roads, A. Piccialli, G. D. Poli, S. T. Pope, editors, Musical signal processing, pages 411-38. Swets & Zeitlinger.

[10] Z. Settel, C. Lippe. 1995. Real-time musical applications using frequency domain signal processing. Applications of Signal Processing to Audio and Acoustics, 1995, IEEE ASSP Workshop on, pages 230-3 IEEE.

[11] B. Truax. 2005. Music and science meet at the micro level: Time-frequency methods and granular synthesis. Acoustical Society of America Journal, 117pages 2415-6.

[12] R. Aimi. 2007. Percussion instruments using realtime convolution: Physical controllers. Proceedings of the 7th international conference on New interfaces for musical expression, pages 154-9 ACM.

[13] D. Merrill, H. Raffle, R. Aimi. 2008. The sound of touch: physical manipulation of digital sound. Proceedings of the twenty-sixth annual SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems, pages 739-42 ACM.

[14]Engum, T. (2012). Beat The Distance - music technological strategies for composition and production, NTNU, pages 13-19.

[15]Engum, T. (2011). Real-time control and creative convolution. Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression, pages 519 - 522.

[16]Engum, T. (2007). City of glass: Project report attached CD production. Master thesis NTNU 2007


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Monitoring/ listening

During the project the ensemble has explored a strategy of a shared listening during rehearsals, studio recordings and concerts.

The strategy has been to deliver the same monitor mix to all the musicians during performance in order to give them the responsibility to balance their instruments into the total sound image.  The monitor mix should be the same signal as is presented to the audience. The basic idea is that if everyone hears the same thing, each musician will adjust individually and consequently globally to the total sound image through their instrumental and sound production output.

This will be further discussed in the section on Shared listening.


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During our work with T-EMP we have played a lot of exercises which at different times have focused on specific musical parameters and sonic scenarios. In working with these exercises we have established a common vocabulary and musical reference which we in various ways have related to in our concert performances. - It should be pointed out that these exercises are not unique, they could equally well be applied within a more general methodological context of free improvisation, see e.g. Bailey (1993), Stevens (2007), Duch (2010), Hovinbøle (2012). However, the exercises establish a realistic playground that focuses on the challenges that are associated with our specific musical situation and the technological based instruments we are using.

Pointilistic phrases

Every musician plays a short, incomplete segment,- something which needs to be completed by someone else. These abrupt statements should all together form a phrase, and we make a collective decision as to when the phrase is finished. There should be a clear break/ pause between each phrase.


Purpose of the exercise:

To achieve a common understanding of phrase and phrase form, - the beginning and ending of a phrase. This can be done on different time scales: Short phrases - long phrases. The exercise also serves to strengthen our focus on the statements of the other musicians, as well as to give room for one another.



a) Video example from one of the first attempts at this exercise during our rehearsals at at National University of Ireland, Maynooth May 2012.

2.4.1a Pointilistic phrases - Rehearsals Maynooth may12 from T-EMP on Vimeo.


b) Sound example from the two first minutes of the concert at The Joinery in Dublin May 2012. We played 3 pieces, where the pointilistic phrase exercise was planned as a starting point for the first piece.


c) Sound example from one of the first recordings during the studio session with Bent Sæther October 2012. Here we are using the pointilistic phrase exercise to warm up and shorten our response time


Call - response

Someone is making a musical statement, some others are responding. This can also be done related to different scales of time. Obviously, this is an archetypical musical pattern and is probably a bit too loose a specification for an exercise. Still, we used it productively for the purpose of creating awareness of what is a call and what is an appropriate response to that call. As the musical genre we work in may be described as somewhat abstract, these questions does not necessarily have obvious answers.


Gradual change

a)  All of us are producing one sustained sound, which all together creates a “chord”/ sound object.

b)  At different times, one after another changes the sound he/ she is playing. This creates gradual transformations to new sound objects.

c)  This can be done with or without pauses between each new sound.



a) Video example from the second day of rehearsal at National University of Ireland, Maynooth in May 2012. First attempt at the gradual change exercise

2.4.3a Gradual Change - long - Rehearsals Maynooth may12 from T-EMP on Vimeo.


b) Video example from the second day of rehearsal at National University of Ireland, Maynooth in May 2012. Second attempt at the gradual change exercise with refined and stricter rules than originally (not allowed to be silent)

2.4.3b Gradual Change - Rehearsals Maynooth may12 from T-EMP on Vimeo.



a)  We are all producing one sound - which all together creates a “chord” (A)

b)  Repeat the cord A

c)  We all produce a new sound - chord B

d)  Repeat B

e)  All together: We make a transformation from A to B



  • Be aware of what you are playing and how this contributes to the total “chord”/ sound object of the ensemble

  • Train the ability to do precise repetitions

  • Train the ability to synchronize a transformation together with the rest of the ensemble

  • Be aware of collective development of form, i.e.: When have the others completed their transformation, - when have we “reached” B?



a) Video example from the first day of rehearsal at National University of Ireland, Maynooth in May 2012.

2.4.4a Transformation - Rehearsals Maynooth may12 from T-EMP on Vimeo.


b) Video example from the first day of rehearsal at National University of Ireland, Maynooth in May 2012. Several repetitions on each chord and cued transformation from A to B.

2.4.4b Transformation - Rehearsals Maynooth may12 from T-EMP on Vimeo.


Loop time

Play a clearly recognizable sound event (all together, but not necessarily in exact synchrony). Repeat this sound event after a few seconds, listen to what the others have chosen as their sounds. - Repeat your sound event with longer and longer time span between each event, eventually up to 30-40 seconds between each repetition. Try not to synchronize your starting points with the other musicians, in order to obtain sound loops of different durations. Gradually, as the time between each repetition gets longer, the soundscape will become quite transparent and eventually disintegrate. You are then allowed to fill some of the holes with complementary sonic material.



Video example taken from the concert at Rockheim in August 2012. The concert consisted of 3 pieces, where the last piece was based on the Loop Time exercise

2.4.5 Loop Time - Concert at Rockheim aug12 from T-EMP on Vimeo.


Timbral unison with hidden transformation (“sausage transformation”)

a)  Everybody is producing one sound, all together making a chord - we focus on playing in unison (i.e. unison not in pitch but in timbre)

b)  One musician is making a crescendo until he/ she does not hear the others in the ensemble - whereafter the sound level turns back to where it was before the crescendo.

c)  At the same time that the crescendo is happening, one or more of the other musicians may change their sonic contribution to the ensemble timbre. The change should be masked by the crescendo.

c)  We have also had duo configurations playing solistic on top of the timbral unison sound. This duo configuration may change during a crescendo.


This exercise was inspired by the Christian Wolff piece “Play” from the Prose Collection (



Awareness on what “unison”can mean when it does not have to mean the same pitch. Concepts like timbral unison, timbral polyphonymay and timbral counterpoint may be useful when creating musical structures where the timbre itself is a significant motivoc building block..


Part of the purpose is also as a means of creating form, as the crescendos create a structure of repetition and variation. Lastly, it creates a means of sudden change happening under cover.



Video example taken from the concert at Rockheim in August 2012. The concert consisted of 3 pieces and this example is taken from the first piece

2.4.6 Timbral unison with hidden transformation - Concert at Rockheim aug12 from T-EMP on Vimeo.


Timbral imitation

We have played two variations of this exercise:


  1. Echoic imitation:

One player makes a sound (preferably not too long). Once the sound stops, the others make a collective imitation of the sound. This is repeated with a new player to make the original sound for each pass.


  1. Gradual imitation:

    1. One starts to make a sound. - The others make all together gradually an imitation of the sound that started

    2. The sound that started fades out - only the imitation is played

    3. The sound that started fades in again, - the imitation fades out



Obtain better timbral awareness: How can I contribute to timbral characteristics of the sound we are imitating?



a) Video example taken from rehearsals at National University of Ireland, Maynooth May 2012 where we are playing echoic timbral imitation

2.4.7a Timbral imitation - Rehearsals Maynooth may12 from T-EMP on Vimeo.


b) Video example taken from rehearsals with Michael Duch in Orgelsalen February 2013 where we are playing gradual timbral imitation

2.4.7b Timbral Imitation - Rehearsals Orgelsalen feb13 from T-EMP on Vimeo. 

Secret message

Two musicians are given (or choose themselves) two complementary musical statements/directions/intentions. These are kept secret, i.e. not communicated verbally to the other musicians.


The other musicians will (perhaps) have to “choose a side”, which creates two groups playing “against each other”



Video example from the second day of rehearsal at National University of Ireland, Maynooth in May 2012. Carl Haakon and Ingrid where given a secret message each, which is revealed and discussed in this video from 16 minutes and until the end.

2.4.8 Secret message - Rehearsals Maynooth may12 from T-EMP on Vimeo.


“Surprise me”

We decide on the duration of an improvisation we will play (e.g. 10 minutes). Within that time each musician should once play something that is a surprise to the others. - When the surprise is played, the others make a response.


Repeat a free improvisation

We play a (not too long) free improvisation. - Stop. - Repeat the improvisation.



Achieve a better awareness of our musical actions: What did I do? Am I able to do this over again?


Different configurations

Instead of all of us playing all the time, we make various smaller groups of musicians:

a)  Duo/ trio

b)  Changing trios, - with “echo”: A trio repeats segments of their improvisation at the same time as another trio is playing



Video example from the second day of rehearsal at National University of Ireland, Maynooth in May 2012. In this example we are playing in duo constellation and gradually changing duo every 3 minutes (only one change in this example).

2.4.11a - Different configurations - Duos - Rehearsals Maynooth may12 from T-EMP on Vimeo.


Time out

Play freely for a pre-agreed time, then everyone must change to something new simultaneously. We used this exercise early in the group process, playing for 3 minutes then changing. This was intended to push our ability to establish a new theme or sound world quickly.


Different roles

We decide that some musicians in the ensemble have the role of playing accompaniment, whereas others play solistic.



a) Sound example from the first day of the studio session with Bent Sæther in Olavskvartalet October 2012. Øyvind, Tone and Carl Haakon are playing accompaniment, while Bernt Isak, Ingrid and Tone have a complementary/solistic role.


b) Sound example from the second day of the studio session with Bent Sæther in Olavskvartalet October 2012. Bernt Isak, Ingrid and Trond are playing accompaniment, while Øyvind, Tone and Carl Haakon have a complementary/solistic role


It should be mentioned that we also where having a focus on musical form while playing with different roles in these sound examples - see next section.

Focus on form

Playing the exercises we might end up creating interesting sonic scenarios or textures that do not have any natural development or dramaturgy. In this exercise we try to make relatively short pieces (10 minutes) and collectively create a consistent and complete musical form.



Sound example from the first day of the studio session with Bent Sæther in Olavskvartalet October 2012.


Both sound examples from the previous section are also examples of pieces with focus on form.

Exercises from John Stevens: Search & Reflect

Working with Michael Duch we did a lot of exercises from John Stevens´ book “Search & Reflect” [1]. Many of these were based on sustained sounds and were related to breathing, e.g. “Sustain” (ibid.):

  1. SEAT yourself in such a way as to enable you to breathe comfortably and freely.

  2. INHALE and exhale slowly several times.

  3. WHEN ready, sing a long note on the slow exhale. Chose a note that is most comfortable for you. Sustain the note to as near the end of your breath length as possible.

  4. REPEAT the process. If you want to adjust the pitch, do so only to make your singing more comfortable.

  5. YOU are working independently (the pitch and length of your sustained note should not be consciously affected by what you hear) but it is still important to project your sound positively.

(Quoted from Stevens, ibid, p. 65)


We did this exercise using our instruments, not singing.



Concentrate on breathing in a relaxed yet intense way. Moreover, sensitivity to each other, focus on timbral qualities.



Video example taken from rehearsals with Michael Duch in Orgelsalen February 2013. We concentrated on the breathing part of the exercise and chose freely what to play

2.4.15 Search and reflect - Rehearsals Orgelsalen feb13 from T-EMP on Vimeo.


Fuse - detonation

With Michael we also played an exercise/ a piece originating from Christian Wolff, “Burdocks” [2]. This might be seen as a variation of a Call-and-response-exercise (cf. exercise 2, above). In this exercise we were divided into two groups:


  1. Some of us were designed as a fuse. - As Wolff formulates it:

“Fuses may be short, long, any length, barely perceptible, painfully obvious, etc.; they can start at any point or be initiated by circumstances specified in advance.” (ibid.).


  1. The others were designed as detonations:

“Detonations may be simple, elaborate, dud, etc.; they must come at the end of what you take to be a fuse. No fuse need be followed by a detonation.” (ibid.)


Video example taken from rehearsals with Michael Duch in Orgelsalen February 2013.

2.4.16 Fuse and detonation - Rehearsals Orgelsalen feb13 from T-EMP on Vimeo.


Improvise on the basis of a text or verbal statement

Both with Michael and with David Moss we played some exercises/ pieces that were based on verbal statements or a story. This could be a story that we made/ told ourselves, or something which was the basis of a composition made by others, e.g. “Song of Pleasure” (Cornelius Cardew, [3]), “For Strings” (Howard Skempton, [4]) and “Horse Sings from Cloud” (Pauline Oliveros, [5]).



Different stories will trigger/ generate different musical actions. The text based compositions also shed light on the relationship between composition and improvisation, and how an improvised statement can be given different value depending on context and attitude.
The personal texts we used with David served two purposes, as a possible thematic trigger (what to play), but it also produced an incentive to stop a longer musical section (triggered by the text recital).


a) Video example taken from rehearsals with Michael Duch in Orgelsalen February 2013 where we play the ”Horse Sings from Cloud” by Pauline Oliveros.

2.4.17 - Pauline Oliveros - Horse sings from cloud - Rehearsals Orgelsalen feb13 from T-EMP on Vimeo.


Improvise on the basis of a physical object

When we were rehearsing with David, he also asked each one of us to bring a physical object which we kept secret for the other musicians in the ensemble. At different times in our performance, each one of us, one after another, stopped the music and showed the object we had brought to the others, where after the music was started again. In this way our musical actions were triggered by clearly communicated visual cues and physical objects. As with the personal texts from the previous exercise, the physical object arrangement also provided an incentive and guideline for musical form (cue the stop of one section, show new object, cue the start of next musical section) This strategy was also applied in our concert with David at Rockheim.

If you know where it’s going to go, don’t bother going there

One common observation about free improvisation is that the performers may sometimes get stuck in trying to finish a piece nicely, tidying up all loose ends and bringing the section to a conclusion. An endless ending... as David observed, this may sometimes get boring. If all performers and (one assumes) everyone in the audience knows where the music is going to go, it may be a waste of time to actually spend several minutes wrapping it up. His suggestion was that we try to just stop instantly (or as quickly as possible) in such situations. In a real musical performance situation, this situation will typically arise at the end of a longer section, but there might also be situations where “the obvious is stated” earlier in a development. As an exercise to create awareness of the problem, and train the ability to create a contrasting soundworld quickly, David would give a “stop” sign as soon as he felt he knew what was happening and what promise the material held. We would then instantly try to create a new soundworld.


Don’t bother playing what is already there

It can be tempting, when you hear a nice texture or theme played to be inspired to jump onto it and contribute to it. David encouraged us to think twice before copying what is already there, but rather try to come up with contrasting or complementing material.


Change your habits

After spending a relatively short amount of time with us, the ever observant David Moss produced a list of our habits. We will not spoil any listener’s fun by listing it here, but we all regarded his observations as very very precise. His suggestion was that we simply tried to find other ways to solve musical situations that may arise. Admittedly, it is hard trying not to do a specific thing as it may obviously create mental obstacles (you cannot not think of  something...). Still the awareness and reminder about our habits cleared the air and suggested a fruitful challenge to expand each person’s repertoire of solutions.


References for EXERCISES:


[1] Stevens, John (2007) Search & Reflect. Rockshool

[2] Wolff, Christian (1971) Burdocks. See:

[3] Cardew, Cornelius (1967) Song of Pleasure. See:

[4] Skempton, Howard (1969) For Strings. See:

[5] Oliveros, Pauline (1971) Horse Sings from Cloud. See:

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Changing personnel and cooperation with external musicians


T-EMP started out in 2011 with six members (Øyvind, Bernt Isak, Trond, Tone, Ingrid and Carl Haakon). Ingrid left the ensemble by the end of 2012. During our artistic research we have invited several external musicians to play with us and/or give input and response to our musical expression, ideas and development. This has been very important and of great value for us in our search for musical consistence, progression, form and structure in our performance. The following musicians have been invited to cooperate with us:

  • John Lato and Bryan Quigley, Maynooth & Dublin, 8.-13.May, 2012

  • Bryan and Patrick Mc Glynn, Trondheim & Oslo, 27.-30.Aug, 2012

  • Bent Sæther, Trondheim, 9.-11.Oct, 2012

  • Michael Duch, Trondheim, 1.-3.Feb, 2013

  • David Moss and Arnfinn Killingtveit, Trondheim, 20.-23.May, 2013


John Lato (composer) and Bryan Quigley (double bass player) have been members of the Irish ensemble EAR (Electro Acoustic Revue) which during many years has performed contemporary music where interaction with digital media has been a basic component in the performance. John was very helpful in giving response to different exercises we tried out at a relatively early stage in our musical development. He also suggested some new exercises for us to work on. John´s competence as a composer was important since this made him comment upon the development of the various exercises as a whole musical piece. - In Ireland we also met and played with Bryan. It was very interesting to play with him because he played the double bass in a rather percussive way and had a musical role in the ensemble which was quite similar to the role of Carl Haakon.


Bryan and Patrick Mc Glynn (shakuhachi and laptop) came to play concerts with us in Trondheim and Oslo. Patrick made nice contributions to our expression through his mixture of acoustic and digital instruments.


We had a three-day studio session with Bent Sæther acting as a producer. Bent is a member of the band Motorpsycho and he was very good at pointing out the importance of form and composition in our performance, both when we were doing exercises during rehearsals and in concerts. He suggested exercises where our focus should be on form, consistency and real-time-composition, and we also played some pieces where we had agreed on some specific roles (some of us were playing solistic, some others were accompanying).   


Michael Duch introduced us to some interesting exercises in John Stevens´ book, “Search and Reflect” (Stevens, 2007). Many of these were drone-based and related to breathing. Together with him we also played some compositions based on written texts, e.g. “Song of Pleasure” (Cornelius Cardew, 1967), “For Strings” (Howard Skempton, 1969) and “Horse Sings from Cloud” (Pauline Oliveros, 1971). Michael has a very broad experience from playing free improvised music in a large variety of contexts and we learned a lot from him, -  in particular related to consistency, patience and sensitivity to timbral qualities. We also did a very nice concert in “Orgelsalen” with Michael playing double bass.


David Moss (singer, percussionist, composer, performer, improviser) is at the forefront of new, composed and improvised, contemporary music. We worked with him during four days, doing rehearsals and a concert. In many ways David made us rethink our personal musical roles and the total aesthetics of T-EMP. – David is a very good observer and he was quite concrete and direct in his comments to what was going on. One very important thing that he made us aware of was our musical habits, and he suggested that we should be careful in using these. Moreover, David underlined the importance of communication with the audience and visual and gestural aspects in our performance, he said that we should have personal roles and deliver solistic contributions, and that it is important to be able to identify the individual musician in the ensemble.

When we were cooperating with David, we had also invited Arnfinn Killingtveit (laptop, electronics, circuit bending) to join us. With his more noise-oriented, “alternative” and sometimes surprising use of electronics Arnfinn represented a very exciting and fresh contribution that complemented what was else going on in T-EMP.


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The project´ s focus on new possibilities for interplay and improvisation, and challenges related to musical communication in an electroacoustic ensemble where processing and interprocessing is heavily involved, is closely linked to performance, artistic research and teaching in jazz and music technology at NTNU. As a consequence of this we have arranged the following:

  • Teaching jazz students at Department of Music, 11.-13.Feb, 2013: We demonstrated communicative aspects of one musician being processed by another, and the jazz students experienced how their own playing and musical communication was affected when their sounds were processed by someone else.

  • Open workshop for students and employees at Department of Music, 12. April, 2013: We performed some short pieces and exercises, told about our different musical roles and our method of working in T-EMP, and invited to discussion.

  • We have at several times involved music technology students doing recording of our rehearsals and concerts.

On the form of teaching sessions

Since live processing as a way of facilitating musical interaction can be somewhat unfamiliar to many students, we start the teaching session by playing an example duo (typically Carl Haakon being processed by either Øyvind, Trond or Bernt). Then we move on to duo constellations of one student being processed (again the processor role is changing between Øyvind, Trond and Bernt). While one duo is playing, the rest of the group is listening, being present in the same room as the performers. For a typical group of 4-8 students, this activity takes some time. Our objective is to use this time for familiarization,  both for the student performing and for the group of listening students. Familiarization is related to several aspects:

  • The type of timbral repertoire one can expect (and how this may differ between the three different processing musicians).

  • Orientation in the sonic landscape produced (e.g. the relation between input sound and processed output)

  • Aspects of form, and how this kind of interaction affects possible formal outcomes.

  • Power balance. What type of control is inherent in each of the musician roles (signal generator, processor). Can one of the musicians take complete control and overrule the actions of the other?

  • Planning and anticipation, comparison between own performance and problem solving and those actions taken by other duo constellations.

To show more explicitly some of our teaching methods, we will give examples of recordings from the session with students from the jazz department 11.-13.Feb 2013.


Short examples

This section lists excerpts from the 3 day studio session with the jazz students and contains short examples illustrating different aspects of live processing and the experiences we earned from this session. Echo drums

Echo is arguably the clearest type of processing for the sound producer to identify and perhaps also the easiest form to keep control while playing. therefore this should serve as a quite precise and lucid example where acoustic and processed sound appears at distinctly different times. Even though they should be quite easy to separate, especially in the beginning, they still sound “together” and are equal parts in an evolving rhythmical pattern. During the course of this 1 minute piece, we can hear how both the processing (granular synthesis echo) and the playing (acoustic drums) change together in a symbiosis. Imitating drums with joint processing

Two sound sources, acoustic drums and electric guitar, share the same processing. While the processing parameters are quite static, both instruments form a joint rhythmical pattern where both players affect each other and morphs into one single instrument. The common processing helps the two instruments blend even more and are perhaps the reason they ended up playing this way. Imitation phrase

Same setup as Imitating drums with joint processing, but here they two instruments are much more distinguishable both in sound and play style. The guitar sound is still imitating percussion sounds, but more as a supplement to the acoustic drums sounds. The playing is also less concurrent and in a more complementary way where the two instruments fill in parts of a common musical phrase (or rhythmical pattern if you like) Forced rhythmical pattern

Starting off almost in the same way as Imitation phrase, but sounding more like two separate instruments. It is very clear how the playing style makes the live processing (with a focus on the musical intention more than pure processing) much more convincing and musical as this short piece evolves. The selection of effects and change of parameters are also important for this transition. Short rhythmical correlation

Two distinct solo instruments (guitar noise and drums) with a very vague and ambient live processing which doesn’t really connect to any of the two instruments. The sonic and musical function is more of a background fill, like an indefinable atmospheric sound or a strange synth pad. All though they sound very distinct and separate, they have a short moment where they blend together by the rhythmical way of playing, before they drift apart again. Echo vs. take-over

This example starts out with some cymbals getting a rude processed echo in almost a type of call and response pattern. Next “wave” we get a more seamless transition from acoustic to processed sound where the processed sound eventually masks the pure acoustic sound completely before letting go and lets the acoustic cymbal sound finish off. Instrumental focus change

Starts with acoustic cymbals and increasing amounts of processing. For a short while, the processing instrument takes over the foreground. This opens up for a debate whether there is actually a new instrument taking over focus or simply a transformation of the original acoustic instrument. Lapping of the waves

This exemplifies a much more subtle way of processing, where the processed sound has a more complementary role in expanding the soundscape and emphasizing the musical mood. Noise carpet drums

Similar to of the waves in terms of expanding the soundscape and emphasizing musical mood, but with a much more pronounced processing. The processed cymbal sound is even louder and more in the foreground than the acoustical sound. They do blend together, but in a more complementary way than sounding like one source of sound. This blend seems to work better when another instrument take the focus with a solist role, while the acoustic and processed drums form the background. Triangle and bell freeze

Most of the sounds in this example consist of an acoustical attack, processed decay tail and a mix of acoustic and processed sound for the main body. This should serve as an apparent example illustrating how acoustic and processed sound can blend into seemingly one sound source originating from a single instrument. At the same time the example is transparent and lucid enough to make it easy to “intellectually” decode the sounds to understand what is actually happening. Panning

A simple example illustrating the use of extreme panning as an effect. Voice processing interplay

A short excerpt from Processed female voice which illustrates how both sound producer and sound processor affect each other and adapt to the musical statements made by the other player. There is a constant change of focus as both musicians both gives new impulses and opens up space for the each other. It also serves as a good example of sound input that gives an invitation for processing.

Long examples

This section lists 3 complete pieces from the 3 day studio session with the jazz students and contain longer examples illustrating live processing in a more musical context than the short examples in the previous section. Full ensemble

This piece is taken from day 2 where we played all together after doing rounds of duo constellation. The next sub-sections are shorter excerpts from this piece, illustrating different aspects of live processing.


Siv Øyunn Kjenstad: Drums

Mathilda Rolfsson: Drums

Mathias Holtedahl Thorp: Double bass

Pio Schurmann: Piano

Martin Myhre Olsen: Saxophone

Øyvind Brandtsegg: Live processing

Bernt Isak Wærstad: Live processing

Trond Engum: Live processing Everyone in the same room

A simple reverb eventually applied to all the acoustic instruments take the whole ensemble into a new room. The processing instruments take over

Even in this big ensemble with 5 sound producers, the 3 sound processors are able to take over and mask the acoustic sound. Room, pan and pitch

Example of using room placing with reverb, active panning and pitch transformation. We’re making an orchestra

Expanding the sounds from the acoustic instruments with reverb, pitching and more the processing makes the ensemble grow into an orchestra Processed voice

Female voice live processed


Natalie Sandtorv: Vocals

Bernt Isak Wærstad: Live processing Processed trumpet

Trumpet live processed

Morten Stang Koppang: Trumpet

Trond Engum: Live processing


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