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the instrument in late development stage

Part of Sonica 2022 in Glasgow, new live work Creation is a performance piece written alongside the construction of new instrument built for the purpose.

The instrument has largely dictated the writing, being a four bridge version of Bart Hopkin’s ‘Handsome Glenn’ zither. It is played from one side, with the electronic pickups on the other side of the bridge, creating a slightly warbly detuned sound that can be adjusted by shifting the bridges or changing the string pressure.

I’ve also included a robotic player mechanism (derived from the excellent Dada Automat), and a rotating disk player mechanism, which sounds fancier than it is. the other facet of the performance is a series of bells and bowls around the space that are also played remotely which, along with the six speakers, helps to create an enveloping kind of atmosphere.

bells, bowls & motors

I’m going to post a more complete rundown of the creation process of the instrument in a future post as it may be of interest to some.

It has been written for a large sacred space, in this case Paisley Abbey, which has a lovely atmosphere and a very beautiful acoustic. The first performance, as part of Sonica, is on 12th March at 3pm.

This statement, written at the time of So Below, is still wholly relevant to this work:

At present I finding inspiration in the music of various countries and traditions. Many of these traditions have a spiritual leaning, in line with music’s almost ubiquitous use in sacred practice for the majority of known history, from the bone flutes found in caves to the gongs of ancient China and the chanting of monks. There are common features to many of these traditions, including close tunings of notes, repetitive patterns and a simplicity of melodic line, that lends them a particular atmosphere. This is an exploration of some of these techniques, used to effect consciousness change or to create an atmosphere conducive to a devotional mindset.”

You can get tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/sonica-glasgow-2022-presents-alex-smoke-creation-tickets-251832737497

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