It never fails to amaze me how many people are creating beautiful, challenging and eye-opening music in Ireland. And in turn, it never fails to amaze me how many people get up off their arses and put on unusual gigs, or unique events, simply with the aim of bringing new sounds to people and exploring the realms of music and performance.
There’s a real feeling in the air these days when it comes to Irish music events that if you can imagine it, it is possible. And this is being exploited in a wonderful way by those who call Ireland’s expansive music scene home. It’s a joy to witness.
Ed Devane is a man who likes to experiment when it comes to music, and musical instruments, so it is fitting that he is at the helm of the Stop/Run events. I asked him to write a piece for Sweet Oblivion about the series, as I knew he would be able to capture the spirit of the event/s just as intended.
Stop/Run by Ed Devane
Stop/Run is a project that consists of two big ideas, and multiple smaller ideas that tie these two together. The first idea is the instrument ensemble: 9 instruments that can roughly be split into two categories, string and percussion. They can be described loosely as electroacoustic, sculptural, and mechanical.
The percussive instruments are chromatically tuned across two octaves, and two of the stringed instruments are capable of infinite drones. Some can be controlled remotely by computer (via Arduino) or electronics, while others need tactile, human interaction.
I originally started building instruments out of necessity: the use of modified guitars in my music (as Ed Devane and Withering Zithering) eventually led me to design and build custom zithers more suited to my playing style. In making these, I rediscovered my childhood love of making things with my hands, something I had neglected from long years of making intangible electronic music.
I designed and built Stop/Run late last year following an invitation from Severed Head gallery to curate a sound art event. I had some experience of event organisation through Second Square to None, and a couple of the projects I initiated for that helped me develop the collaborative aspect of Stop/Run. The Ten Second Rule and SSTN Noise Series helped me make a lot of new contacts, and got me thinking about macro-scale composition and patterns in creative approach.
This is where the second major idea of Stop/Run comes in: rather than make these instruments and play a concert with them myself, I thought it would be far more interesting to invite other musicians and composers to use them whatever way they wanted. At the first gig in Dublin, in December 2010, the 7 artists involved each took a highly individual approach to the problem of writing for instruments.
Graphic notation, sampling, the addition of external sounds, electronic noise and free improvisation all got a look in. Now that the project is set to continue, this idea is expanding to become a cross-sectional snapshot of Irish music styles, as interpreted through the Stop/Run instruments.
In June this year I was fortunate to receive Arts Council funding to extend the project to other parts of the country, with a new cast of artists in the following places: Galway, Cork, and Belfast. Stop/Run:Galway will feature a very different set of musicians to the first Dublin show.
For the concert itself I’m excited to hear the combination of Irish Traditional music, metal-influenced rhythms, sequenced mechanical percussion and experimental poptones from Triúr, Bitwise+Madek, Tony Higgins and DeclanQKelly. Two of the acts on the bill, Jimmy Penguin and Ventolyn&Becotyde, will use the week of rehearsals prior to the gig to make recordings which will form the basis of EP’s. I will also be performing a piece at the concert, which will take place on Friday 26 August, from 8-10pm, at 33 Dominick St Galway.
Stop/Run is all about challenging people’s creativity. The only rule I impose is that my instruments are used in some way (and not destructively!). The instruments themselves are the rules – their limitations as well as their capabilities dictate to some extent what the musicians can do. What I want to see as the project grows are a wide range of creative approaches, new techniques, collaborations between artists who may not otherwise work together, and new audiences coming to experimental music gigs. Everything will be recorded and archived on www.stop-run-music.com.
In October I’m going to be artist in residence at the Guesthouse in Cork; during this time I hope to work with a wide range of acts, and have weekly concerts. I also plan to take advantage of having the instruments set up for a whole month to record a piece for the Withering Zithering album I’ll be making this autumn for Forwind Records in the UK.
I’m looking forward to working with a wide range of artists, many of whom as yet I have never met, and hearing what they do.
I’d like to develop this project in a variety of ways, through educational workshops, audio-visual embellishment and inter-disciplinary collaboration with dancers, hackers, film makers and The Audience!
Thank you, Ed