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Five Sound Questions to Niels Lyhne Løkkegaard

Niels Lyhne Løkkegaard is a Danish composer who has been working with multiplying instruments to make the sound transcend itself, creating a pure new sound without references to anything. We’ve recently posted about SOUND X SOUND, his project devoted to this. How sounds have the capability to affect the human body, and how the human body is to be heard in sounds, is what he focuses on in his works.

1. What sound from your childhood made the most impression on you?

I think the sound that made the most impression in my childhood, was the sound of our garden sprinkler. It was one of those sprinklers with a head, that would turn around and sprinkle water. The stream of water was abrupted by a piece of metal, moving very quickly, to make the water spread over a larger area, and this would create an exiting pattern of rhythms and water sounds. This sprinkler would change speed, first creating a slow rhythm and then suddenly move backwards in a faster speed and create a more intense rapid rhythm and dramatic water sound. I was quite fascinated by this.

2. How do you listen to the world around you?

I listen in different ways each day, and I don’t know why. Somedays my listening is focused on the intervals, melodic structures and tones that I encounter in nature, traffic, etc. On other days, my ears seem to be more focused on the rhythmic patterns of our surroundings- patterns that are often random and erupt and dissolves again. And third, my way of listening can have a bodily and mental focus. How does this sound make me feel? I like this way of listening the most, and I often experience it when I´m out in the nature-the sound of wind in the treetops, or some high grass that is swaying back and forth. I then feel that nature takes care of me, and I feel connected with nature in an mysterious and ancient way. I feel very grounded.

3. Which place in the world do you favor for its sound?

I grew out near the western coast of Jutland. It´s on the countryside, and I really favor this place because it´s so very quiet.

4. How could we make sound improve our lives?

I think that sound could improve our lives even more, if we were willing to recognize that sounds can have a healing effect in several ways. Of course soothing sounds that are often referred to as being “beautiful”, can make you feel good, but also noise and very confronting sounds can make you feel better, and be very soothing I think. If I experience a noise inside myself, it can be very soothing for me, to listen to very extreme noise- that noise absorbs my own noise and then I feel better.

5. What sound would you like to wake up to?

I like waking up to the sound of my kids. If I´m not at home, I like waking up to the sounds of birds, or the sound of our old garden sprinkler.

Thanks Niels! See answers by other artists in the Five Sound Questions section.


Zadar Sea Organ

Zadar, Croatia is known for it’s beautiful sunsets. But since 2005, the coast of Zadar has even more to offer. In a redesign of the coast back then, architect Nikola Bašić made a sonic improvement as well. He installed this beautiful sea organ. I’ve seen or heard about sea or wind organs in Vlissingen in the Netherlands, or the Wave Organ in San Francisco we’ve featured way back. There are lots and lots of impressions on Youtube and Vimeo, but I’ve sought out some to post here:

The Zadar Sea Organ was brought under my attention when NTS Radio (a great eclectic radio station, playing everything from experimental music to house music), broadcasted a two hour recording of the sea organ.

I love the fact it sounds very otherworldly, but still very natural and flowing. Also great to see how people come there to relax and listen.



Niels Lyhne Løkkegaard is a Danish composer who, in his series SOUND X SOUND has been working with multiplying instruments to make the sound transcend itself, creating a pure new sound without references to anything.

The SOUND X SOUND series consists of a cycle of 7” vinyls where each release is an exploration of one single instrument, multiplied. The first release consists of music composed for 8 recorders. The aim is to get the instrument to exceed its own familiar sound and be transformed into a new and clean sound, by multiplying it. It was released on the 25th of november on Hiatus.

Currently, Niels is running a crowdfunding campaign for his next 7”, a fantastic spectral piece based on 30 chromatic tuners. You can watch the Kickstarter video below.

In these two cases, Niels uses the strengths of the instruments very well, treating the recorder as a single frequency and the tuner as a spectral building block. This tickles my curiosity; what will be the next instrument in the SOUND X SOUND series?


In Between

An exhibition can be quite a different experience than your everyday life, and it can even come as little shock. For the latest exhibition at De Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam, artist Henk Schut made an installation to bridge the gap between the everyday life and the exhibition.
In Between consists of 40 huge vibrating steel plates. By drowning out the ambience of the church when you walk along the plates, you slow down the transition from the bustling city of Amsterdam to the contemplative atmosphere of the church where the exhibition is held. The metal plates rumble with a low frequency, slowly transforming in sound character, but always continuous. The immaterial impact of the installation works on when you exit the narrow path of metal plates and enter the next space.
Henk Schut (1957) is a multidisciplinary artist from Amsterdam, who has been working with sound quite a lot for the last fifteen years. For sounds and spatialisation, he’s been working with sound designer Robin Koek for his most recent installations.
In Between is on display at De Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam as a part of the “Magisch Afrika” exhibition, which can be seen until the 15th of February 2015.

Sonify... Wi-Fi

With the coming of “the cloud”, and other services which rely on wireless internet, we’re living under the impression that Wi-fi is constantly around us. However, if you travel a bit like me, you’ll still often find yourself looking for Wi-fi. Furthermore, even when it’s around, the very fact that it’s wireless sometimes makes it a vague technology.
In the “Sonify…” series, we look at different ways of sonifying data. This time: Wi-fi signals. Phantom Terrains is a collaboration between science fiction writer Frank Swain and sound artist Daniel Jones. Swain has been slowly going deaf since his teens, and he’s been thinking about using hearing aids in different ways.
Phantom Terrains works by receiving a wireless signal on a hacked iPhone and sending the sounds to Swains hearing aids, connected via Bluetooth. After a few months of testing and experimentation, they’ve released the first audio of their sonification. Wi-fi is a very rich signal, almost as rich in data as our own physical surroundings. In urban life, it is almost constantly around us, so Jones made sure it sounded like something which would not be too intrusive, and could be around you all day. Distant networks are heard as a gentle clicking, which ticks more frequently as the wearer gets closer.
I think the fact that one could create an application where you’d be able to choose between different layers of sonified data is very promising. What other signals would we be able to sonify?

Yes/No Questions

Yes/No Questions is an installation by Guy Goldstein. Guy Goldstein is an Israeli artist, currently living and working in Tel-Aviv.
Yes/No Questions uses a dozen amplifiers whose fronts are covered with a photographic print of drum leather, usually found on snare drums. The sounds coming from the amplifiers are those of voices repeating the words “yes” and “no” in different languages. Goldstein strives to create a cultural and aesthetic clash between elements suspended in a state of continuous struggle and confrontation, while building up to a final conflict.
The sound waves create ink stains on the print of the drum leather. This embroidery appears as a violent act, which injures the canvas in a desperate attempt to give form to the inherently formless stains.
A conceptual but very nice piece about confrontation and contrasts. The round drum leather in a square canvas, the ink stains resembling maps alluding to political and social conflicts, etcetera.

The Enlightenment


The Quiet Ensemble is an Italian sound designer duo, consisting of Fabio Di Salvo and Bernardo Vercelli. We’ve seen their mice orchestra, and fish based installation before. Their latest project isn’t based around animals, but around lamps.

The Enlightenment is described as a “hidden concert of pure light”, performed by an uninhabited orchestra of lighting elements, including stagelights and high-powered bulbs. It reminds me somewhat of Francois Bayles “Acousmonium”, but with a variety of lamps instead of speakers. Neon lights instead of violins, strobe lights instead of drums, etcetera.

Each lamp is fitted with its own copper coil, receiving electrical current at various intervals. The electromagnetic field of the lamps are captured by a sensor attached to each lamp, which turns currents into sound. Salvo and Vercelli modify the electric emissions in real time, performing the orchestra.


Sonify... Wikipedia

Sonification, and especially data-sonification, is still an underused technique. I’ve been quite interested in sonifications, and have heard both very useful, as well as utterly rubbish applications. I’ve been trying to wrap my head around which sonifications work, and which don’t.

In the “Sonify…” posts, I will post about different ways of sonifying data. This time: Sonfiying Wikipedia. Listen to Wikipedia by Hatnote is a sonification and visualisation of changes being made to Wikipedia. Hatnote is Mahmoud Hashemi and Stephen LaPorte, both interested in “Wiki life”.

“Listen to Wikipedia” sonifies changes from Wikipedia-articles in real time. Bell sounds indicate additions, and string plucks indicate subtractions to an article. Pitch changes according to the size of the edit. It’s worth noting that Wikipedia is maintaned by both bots and humans, and it’s only through these web experiments that we can see or hear that labour force.

What do you think? Is this a good sonification of the data of Wikipedia?


Five Sound Questions to Oliver Jennings


Oliver Jennings is an audio-visual artist creating moving image and sound in unconventional ways. His practice is concerned with looking for new approaches to generating moving image and sound, with particular interests in revealing hidden natural structures, soundscapes and patterns within unexpected and everyday objects. We’ve seen his work Every Object has a Spirit here at Everyday Listening.

In his most recent work, the award winning Bio-Symphony: Music of the Plants (above), which premiered at this years RHS Chelsea Flower Show, he used a device to read bio-feedback in plant life, which he then interpeted as musical information.

As Oliver is someone who connects the physical and the audible world in his work, I’m very glad to have him on the Five Sound Questions series.

1. What sound from your childhood made the most impression on you?

It may be a cliché, but the first time I was amazed by sound was when I was very young and wondered why if I held a shell to my ear I could I hear the sea inside it. To a young mind it seemed that the seaside was actually inside the shell. That was a first lesson in the transportive nature of sound that I can remember. 

 2. How do you listen to the world around you?

Even if you’re not consciously listening to the world around you, its frequencies are having an effect on you. Living in London, the sonic world seems to be on an endless loop, planes on the flight path create this strange high pitch wining noise like a drone which is constant, and always there in the background almost anywhere in London. This must have a subtle psychological effect on us. I think when you leave your usual area, the difference in sound is what effects your senses the most and changes your mood and opens up new emotions and feelings.

I love to try and listen to the sum of all the noise. If you are standing high up in a building with a view of London and try and focus on the wall of white noise that emerges from the whole city and think about the endless people, machinery, and movement that its made up of and somehow ends up as a rounded hum. Being able to then tap into secret and hidden soundscapes of singular objects is an amazing escape into a different world, a contact mic on the millennium bridge in London was my favourite experience of this. A hidden world of tortured orchestral sound which only I could hear out of the thousand tourists crossing the bridge, when I pulled the contact mic out the recorder I was in a different world within a fraction of a second.

 3. Which place in the world do you favor for its sound?

Lewes In East-Sussex on Bonfire Night is my favourite sonic environment. One of the most famous and oldest bonfire nights in the world the whole town turns into a crazed environment. It’s a very stressful sonic environment but one which transports you back in time with sounds of marching, pagan rituals and bangers going off consistently for 24 hours, bonfires the size of houses and absolutely no cars. It’s the closest experience to being transported back in time to the middle ages. 

4. How could we make sound improve our lives?

I think we should bring the way sounds function in the cinema into the real world. We already know that quite often accurately recorded sound adds nothing to the experience of an image in film. It’s always enhanced and manipulated to create an exciting new reality, quite often when sounds are distorted so they no longer correspond with the image, they create the most exciting audio-visual experience.

I think it would be great to use this cinematic enhancing property of sound in certain aspects of the real world, to make everyday things more fun and give genuine appeal to things which are difficult to motivate people to do. For example, imagine a headpiece that allows you to swim through pure silence so it feels as if you are swimming through air, for instance. I think this could be like bringing cinema into a new sensory dimension. People underestimate the power of experiencing something with separate sounds. In a world full of noise it could be a welcome escape from the familiarity of every day.

 5. What sound would you like to wake up to?

I love waking up to the sound of rain, especially in a tent, another cliché, but it is the most calming feeling in the world.

Thanks Oliver! See answers by other artists in the Five Sound Questions section.


Shimmering Beast

Nicolas Field is a musician, composer, and more recently, active in fine arts. He studied percussion in Amsterdam and The Hague, and is a founder of N-Collective, who strive to support and promote adventurous music.

His work “Shimmering Beast” is a huge, upside down triangle, formed by sixty cymbals and stands, bass-transducers and light. This monumental and visually stunning collection of cymbals strike eachother lightly because of a resonating floor, and produce a shimmering sound. “Shimmering Beast” was created during a residence in the Swiss Institute in Rome and was a part of the Needcompany performance Caligula.

This installation is one of many which can be seen at Orkest! a group exhibition featuring works by Rutger Zuydervelt, Julian Sartorius, Oliver Beer, Rubén D’hers, Michael Schmid, and Konrad Smoleński. Orkest! can be seen from the 7th of december 2014 until the 6th of march 2015 at the netwerk / centre for Contemporary art in Aalst, Belgium. We’ll feature some other works from this exhibition in the coming weeks.

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