Image: Michael Tompsett Contact Brian here.

Image: Michael Tompsett

Contact Brian here.

Monitor headphones or high quality studio speakers are advised to use when listening to the majority of the below material.

Waves (2016)

Violin, Cello and Fixed Media

Waves explores the creative potential of combining the application of psychoacoustic phenomena with more traditional compositional methods. Through the employment of auditory beating, spectral masking and the residue pitch phenomenon this piece requires the listener's ears to become active instruments in the performance of the music while the live electronics strive to both augment and alter the tonality presented by the strings.

Niamh Fallon (violin) and Eoin Kenny (cello)


Occultum Tabulatum (2015)

Electric Cello and Fixed Media

This experimental work explores the creative potential of the missing fundamental phenomenon and causes the listener's ears to become active instruments in the realisation of work itself. This facet of psychoacoustics allows the ears to be manipulated in such a way that fundamental tones can be heard without being present in the loudspeaker signal. These perceived tones are auditory distortion products known as residue pitch which are produced by the ear itself. The composer takes advantage of the hearing system's pattern recognition approach to processing periodic sounds in this work.

The electronic part simply presents sixteen sine waves, each an integer multiple of C1 (32.205Hz) beginning with the first overtone and rising. Throughout the course of this piece the overtones are delicately removed from the bottom up. This creates a change in timbre but not a change in the perceived C1 tone which the audience's ears will generate.

The cello part explores the lowest two partials that are present in the stack of sine waves at any given point. As the intervalic distance between the partials decreases with increasing height the room for movement in the cello part becomes significantly restricted and so a sense of frustration and increased energy is presented over the course of this work.

Eoin Kenny (electric cello)


Track (2013)

Fixed Media

Over two short movements, Track exploits the non-linear nature of the inner ear in relation to the phenomenon of pitch perception within complex non-periodic sounds. Through both knowledge of bandwidth phenomena in relation to basilar membrane functions of the inner ear combined with specific equalisation, filtering and spectral masking procedures, this work involves the generation of formant regions with specific centre frequencies and modulating bandwidths which the listener's ears will unintentionally track throughout the duration of the piece.


Critical Bands (2014)

Fixed Media

This piece uses binaural beating as a timbre modulation device. Critical Bands is intended for an enhanced stereo performance (four pairs of two loudspeakers), within which the listener will experience the phenomenon of intracranial motion (perceived movement as a result of binaural beating).

Source material for this work includes piano, electric guitar, flute, cello, crash cymbal, metal, computer hum, glockenspiel, electric double bass as well as entirely computer-generated sounds.


Chase (2016)

Piano and Fixed Media

Chase is a work which is loosely influenced by early minimalist piano repertoire in its exhibition of subtle, yet consistent, changes taking place within limited material as a means of gradually expanding/altering the original themes. The electronics in this work seek to remove the sonic product from any element of aesthetic similarity to what may be deemed a more familiar minimalist piano music, through the application of auditory beating (monaural and binaural) as well as through spectral masking procedures.

Maegan Wallace (piano)


Au Bal (2013)

Soprano, Cello, Harpsichord and Fixed Media

Live from the Hilltown New Music Festival.

The text for this work is from Aleister Crowley's poem of the same name. Au Bal explores Crowley's view of the world with all of its temptations. Here he makes the suggestion that God would succumb to temptation just as man does were he faced with our choices. A major point of focus for this composition is the contrast between good versus evil. This is explored through heavy use of the tritone, the minor second, against more consonant intervals.

Elizabeth Hilliard (soprano), Claire Fitch (cello) and David Bremner (harpsichord)


Oscima (2015)

Fixed Media

Oscima is a modern exploration of a methodology which was first presented by Alvin Lucier in his work Crossings (1982) in which the nature of auditory beating was presented in a compositional paradigm. Oscima takes Lucier's concept of static tones with a frequently intersecting sine sweep to a new domain by placing a bank of noise-based resonant filters over a sine wave while their bandwidths shift constantly around fixed centre frequencies.

This work investigates the impact of the listener's proximity to the various loudspeakers on the provocation of auditory beating on their ears. As the sine wave enters the spectral regions of the various filters the two components begin to interact with each other and auditory beating and roughness is heard. At no point are the filtered noise and sine wave being omitted from the same stereo position in the performance space when their frequency regions cross and at these points the beating is entirely being generated within the listener's ears which are quite literally used as instruments in this immersive and physical work.


Maeple (2015)

Fixed Media

NB: This is a compressed format and so some transient material will appear distorted.

Maeple encapsulates Alvin Lucier's school of thought concerning 'simple procedures yielding complex results'. This piece spotlights the creative potential of the non-linearities of the listening system relating to the basilar membrane of the inner ear and the connecting auditory nerve.

A combination of spectral masking, binaural beating and residue pitch results in the listener's ears performing the essence of this work. Each listener will physically feel their ears performing this piece and if the listener turns their head during a live octophonic performance it can often entirely change the colour of the sound in this immersive work.


Transcape (2015)

Fixed Media for headphone performance

NB: This is a compressed format and so some transient material will appear distorted.

The non-linearities of the inner ear are responsible for otoacoustic emissions which cause the ear to produce its own audible sounds when provoked by certain stimuli. Transcape generates transient evoked otoacoustic emissions (TEOAEs) in the listener's ears which become the cornerstones of work itself. This work directly investigates TEOAEs through the use of noise/ tone bursts and clicks within an artistic context. 


Panic Along The Coast (2011)

Fixed Media

My inspiration for this composition originated with my intention to create a work which would be an exploration of the movement of sound in a given space whereby the listener could imagine themselves placed firmly inside a particular scene. I decided to compose a piece depicting a tornado coming in from sea and traveling over a coastal village. I chose this idea due to its scope of creative possibilities especially in the areas of dynamic levels and panoramic movement.

A fundamental tool in my writing was the use of white noise. I have a fascination with the vast range of sound that can be created by white noise as it encompasses all frequencies in equal measure. This composition was a perfect opportunity for me to explore this interest further due to the fact that, when filtered/processed accordingly, white noise can be manipulated to sound like wind and water.


Exploration of a Drop of Water (2012)

Fixed Media

Exploration of a Drop of Water explores the timbre of a single sample of a drop of water. A sense of timelessness is created with a drone moving in a glassando-like motion while the listener is invited to conjure up their own imagery in this quite evocative work.

A sample of a drop of water was chosen as the sole source material for this piece as it encompasses a vast range of frequencies across the spectrum. While it is challenging to delve into such a short sample from which an entire composition is to be based, the sample in question is by no means short of scope for manipulation and reproduction.