release date : 12 january 2021
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the aleatoric ensemble

I’ve been experimenting with sound derived from everyday things for decades. In 1981 friends gave me John Cage’s book Empty Words because of my predilection for musicality over music. Musicality arising from the use of non-instruments and coalescences of chance, autonomy, simplicity, chaotic systems and bpm-less open-endedness.

My ‘aleatoric ensemble’ continues this fascination. It comprises a growing number of similar units, based on a small USB turntable modified to allow variable speed of rotation. Combinations of trays, boxes and tins with balls, quandong nuts, marbles and other small objects inside are assembled in ad-hoc fashion on each turntable. 

Set in motion, the constructions turn, the objects move, balls roll and surfaces are struck, generating a strangely captivating, repetitive but always slightly variant musicality. They’re a type of crude analogue sequencer varied by rotational speed and selection of objects.

Multiple turntables with various combinations of prepared objects are set in motion simultaneously to create complex soundscapes. Each instrument/device can be played by slight variations in RPM and addition or subtraction of different objects.

Ideally, the ensemble is used in performance and installation contexts because I want the audience to experience the sounds made by the system in real space and time, preferably over an extended duration. But I also make many compositions using my recordings of different aleatoric ensemble combinations.

aleatoric particles

‘aleatoric particles’ is a suite of 45 compositions, each of two minutes duration, created for a public art soundscape commissioned by Adelaide City Council, South Australia. Primary recordings made using the aleatoric ensemble were manipulated and mixed with excerpts from my field recordings to produce this unique collection of experimental sonic sketches. 

Seven examples are included in the podcast, each introduced by an incorporeal voice.

episode 02 track list

timings rounded to closest 5 second interval

01:30 – 04:05

excerpt from ‘The Bundanon Sonographies’, 2018-2020

04:55 – 14:15

recorded rehearsal for performance ‘an aleatoric ensemble [+ other sonic miscellany]’, Articulate project space, Sydney, 12 November 2017

14:55 – 15:45

soundtrack element for performance ‘Scientarctica’, That Space, Brisbane, September 1986

17:10 – 32:15

seven of the ‘aleatoric particles’ series, 2017