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Sound Asleep at the Barbican

Book for the free December 5th 2018 6pm event at the Barbican here: 

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Hear what the neuroscience of falling asleep sounds like! Join composer and guitarist Milton Mermikides and Oxford Professor Morten Kringelbach – an expert in the neuroscience of pleasure – as they explore the musical qualities of sleep. This exciting dialogue will cover the science of sleep and its parallels with musical composition.

Kringelbach will discuss the neuroscience of music and why it is one of the strongest and most universal sources of human pleasure. Mermikides believes everything we do is music, and that music exists from the galaxies down to subatomic particles.

Together they will look at the neuroscience of human sleep and how harmonic patterns in our sleep cycle can be used to create musical compositions reflecting sleep during both health and disease. You will hear both what good and disrupted sleep patterns sound like. You’ll also find out how our body clock differs from the 24-hour clock and how this impacts our natural sleep cycle.

Kringelbach will present his new research identifying the neural pathways for how we fall asleep. Building on this, Mermikides will present new music he has composed based on Kringelbach’s discoveries. For the first time, you will hear what the neuroscience of falling asleep sounds like.

Sound Asleep is a public lecture open to everyone. It’s part of The Physiological Society’s Sleep and Circadian Rhythms meeting taking place at the Barbican between 5-6 December 2018.

Tonal Harmony Flowcharts (Major & Minor)

By (heavily belated) popular demand here’s a stab at ‘common-practice’ chord progressions in major and now minor keys!

Truth Hertz at QEDCon

Really looking forward to being on this fabulous panel at the fabulous QED conference in fabulous Manchester. Panel on 14th October 2018 Time TBC

The Rhythm of Life

My deep interest in the fields of (micro/macro) rhythm and data music, came together in the BBC Radio 4 ‘The Rhythm of Life’ 2-episode series presented by Evelyn Glennie. A great pleasure to chat rhythm and music translations with her, among fabulous Bridget Riley prints at the Tate Britain. I appear briefly at the end of Episode 1, but with more to say in Episode 2 The World as an Orchestra.
Listen live on Tuesday 28th 2018 and September 1st 2018 11.30am, or catch up after the first airing here 

Here’s some background 

Virtuoso percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie reveals a hidden world of rhythm around us and searches for musical inspiration from some unlikely sources.

As a musician and rhythm obsessive, Evelyn has always beenfascinated by the rhythmic nature of the world around us. She explains that, by learning to focus our attention, we can tap into a complex realm of energy and pattern in our surroundings. Over the course of the programme, Evelyn tunes into everything from the oscillation of a tree in the wind to the polyrhythmic groove of our solar system.

Visiting the Mini plant in Oxford, an enormous factory that beats out a steady meter of 1000 cars a day, Evelyn surveys the endless rows of robotic arms and describes the location as “like being in a massive percussion instrument”. Walking around the factory, Evelyn is desperate to “play the space”. Back in her studio, surrounded by percussion instruments, she does exactly that – hammering out a metallic improvisation inspired by the rhythms of the production line.

Evelyn explains that she has always drawn inspiration from non-musical art forms. At Tate Britain, surrounded by prints by Bridget Riley, Evelyn meets the composer Milton Mermikides who uses digital technology to translate Riley’s famously rhythmic paintings into mesmeric music. Evelyn also performs a percussive piece in response to the looping rhythms of Riley’s work.

Finally, Evelyn gazes up at the buildings that line the Thames with composer Peter Adjaye, whose work is heavily influenced by the rhythm of architecture. Evelyn explains that, like a piece of music, a building is a composition based on structure, ornamentation, repetitive patterns and layer upon layer of rhythm.

Presenter: Evelyn Glennie
Producer: Max O’Brien
A TBI production for BBC Radio 4.


Image to Sound

A max/msp/Ableton Live tool I’m building to aid my hidden music projects. So many possibilities, these are literally first-go unpolished demos. Images by Bridget Riley.

20 Things I Learned About Emergency Child Passport Renewal

(artist recreation)

  1. I’ve experienced many shocks in my life, but finding out your child’s passport has expired 2 days before a highly anticipated holiday is up there in the (non-terrible) shock list. If this is you my condolences, and prescription. There is something deeply emotive about missing a flight, which seems to extend past the cost, but life goes on.
  2. With the possible exception of royalty and high ranking officials, there is no way to get a same day child renewal passport despite what people may be saying about ‘extortionate’ premium services. Since April 2014, these are for adult passport renewals only (and I wouldn’t say extortionate). I now know of very well-connected, wealthy people not managing to accelerate the process. Oh how I wish it was just my passport and I could wander in with sunglasses and pick up a fresh pink one in the time it takes to write the post and supping a cap’. No, no.7 is it.
  3. A permit to travel has criteria including being outside the UK at the time of application. It’s basically to get people home if they run into passport difficulties, not for privileged people with poor management skills to go on holiday. Didn’t you read no. 2?
  4. 5 years for child passports, 10 for adults. Not sure how to remember that other than putting a calendar reminder a month before passport expiration. [Edit: make it 7 Months as some countries require a minimum 3 or even 6 months remaining on the passport]t. Seems ridiculously futuristic now, but a smug hack when 5-10 years hurtle around in no time. But you don’t want to hear this now.
  5. Watching a 5-year old sobbing over your stupid mistake is horrible.
  6. Despite 5), children are way more resilient and mature than adults requiring just 2 minutes of dedicated sobbing and then never looking back, 3 days later I’m still downloading mindfulness apps. There’s a lot to be said for dedicated grieving and then moving on happily.
  7. What you need is an appointment for Fast track child passport renewal. £127 (with courier service which of course you should get), first thing to do is go here and…
  8. Book the appointment first  (before getting and filling the paper application).
  9. The appointment booking system has a roulette-wheel-in-quantum-flux weirdness. On Monday, there were no London appointments till Friday, so I booked in Peterborough for Wednesday afternoon. On Tuesday morning I happened to check again and there were 15 available for Wednesday morning in London. I swallowed the extra cost (48 hour minimum cancellation refund) for the accelerated time and minimised hassle. It’s stressful because you don’t know whether to wait for better or grab them while you can. If you live in London and can get one within two days , (particularly in the morning as after 2pm is essentially the next day in terms of processing) then I suggest going for it. When one of my applications was rejected (see 12), they arranged a follow up appointment at no extra cost for the next morning. Fuck knows how it works.
  10. Go to post office for paper application. There’s basically one form. Pick up several (tell them you are renewing for your Irish catholic family). You may well fuck up most of them (we came really close).
  11. While there get fresh photos for your child(ren), follow rules to the letter.
  12. You need a counter signatory. They are (as I painfully discovered) ridiculously picky (and illogical) about who counts as a valid human. Literally writing one of the professions in exactly as written on page 13 of the guidelines is advised.  Safest I would suggest, an employed person with one of those job titles with a work address. I don’t want to name drop, but an impressive one to you may not be to them. (e.g. Bill Frisell)
  13. Counter-sign ONE photo with the wording exactly the same. Person next to me was rejected because countersignatory PRINTED rather than signed on back of photo. It has to match the Section 10 signature.
  14. Don’t bother with their checking service, in my experience their approval doesn’t necessarily translate to HM’s
  15. Just do the form again if you fuck up, don’t fuck about with initialling mistakes (see 10). Relax and do it properly. The non-smudgy black biro is your new superhero friend.
  16. When signing stay in the border, don’t touch the border. Stay away from our borders.
  17. HM passport office has a security screening. Think and dress for airport. No duty free though. You don’t need children or spouse there. It’s not unpleasant and I waited 10-30 mins in the summer, but still, only the appointment booker needs be there so long as you have the form, 2 IDENTICAL photos (one countersigned) (see 13) and THE OLD PASSPORT. You are good, I brought every other document I had (including Junior Table Football champion in my school house, bitches) but they weren’t interested.
  18. I’m not saying they are looking for mistakes in your application, but anything that isn’t exactly as specified in guidance will be flat rejected, I doubt even Derren Brown with a box of donuts can turn a decision over a signature (although that would be a good show)
  19. Travel insurance generally doesn’t cover your fault passport fuckups (their term), but worth checking.
  20. Fast Track is guaranteed (whatever that means) within 7 days. Once your (kid’s) passport application is accepted you get a piece of paper with a reference saying (basically) “You’ll get it in 7 days, don’t think about talking to us”. Whether that is working days, and how quickly it might come, I don’t know. I’ve heard reports from random internet folk, and the person that approved the form, of “a couple of days” and “2-3 days”. I will share my experience, and those of any who want to tell me, below:

My experience:

Monday: horror. Look up appointments nearest Wednesday Afternoon: Peterborough (London on Friday), next morning managed to get Wednesday AM in London, countersignatory rejected, Thursday AM it’s accepted. Friday PM a text that said (basically) “approved it ill be there in a few days”. Tuesday AM a text in am “It’s coming today”. Tuesday 2-3pm passport arrives (posted through door).

Anonymous 1: Tuesday AM Appointment (Peterborough), Thursday “few days” text, Friday passport arrives (nice).

Good luck, my idiotic friend, you will get it sorted and there are many adventures ahead.

IGRC 2018 in Hong Kong

An incredible experience providing the keynote presentation at the Hong Kong Academy of the Performing Arts as part of the 3rd Altamira Guitar Symposium and International Guitar Research Conference. The paper Nuages: Rhythmic Diffusion in the music of Roland Dyens explores the extraordinary rhythmic sensibilities of the recently departed guitarist/composer, and was an honour to be given the opportunity for such a tribute, in such an amazing venue among such company.

Tuition Clinics at the UK Guitar Show 29-30 September 2018

Looking forward to joining the great team of Justin Sandercoe, Bridget, Jon Bishop, Steve Allsworth at the tuition clinics at the UK Guitar Show 29-30 September 2018 at the Olympia Exhibition Centre. I’ll be doing two fun sessions:

Uncaging Rhythm Guitar (29/9/18 1.30-2pm)

Jazz Guitar for Mortals (30/9/18 12.30-1pm)

Full details below

https://www.musicradar.com/news/justin-sandercoe-leads-uk-guitar-show-tuition-clinic-announcements
https://www.ukguitarshow.com/speakers/milton-mermikides

Studio Neologisms

Glossary of Studio Neologi(ci)sms

  1. Zimmer Frame – Writing in a style entirely influenced by Hans Zimmer
  2. Pain Threshold – When you realize you’ve been carefully adjusting a compressor on the wrong track
  3. Undo – The Hindu God of Editing Forgiveness
  4. Cardioid Attack – Almost dropping an expensive microphone
  5. Shyverb – using too much reverb on your own vocals (aka shy/wet mix)
  6. Presettlement – Valiantly building a sound you are imagining and then compromising with a preset.
  7. Green Piece – When you just use Logic’s default region colours.
  8. Refinalising – the art of renaming a ‘Final Bounce Complete DONE_[fixed] MASTER.aif’ audio file
  9. Enoyance – a hung MIDI note
  10. Zoomba – The constant readjustment of zoom values
  11. MIDIval – The ancient reedy-ness of insensitive MIDI files
  12. DAWk – Someone who espouses the merits of one platform over another
  13. Portamental – Sibelius’s crazy glisses
  14. Missed take – Not recording the perfect performance
  15. Ex-file – A file bounced to a random folder which you are mysteriously unable to locate.
  16. Phantom power- Disappearing kettle leads.
  17. Q-jumping – Flitting either side of the frequency you need
  18. Pandemonium – A mix with ridiculously complicated imaging
  19. Rampage – working with a flagrant waste of computer resources
  20. C4getting -Having to look up the MIDI note name for Middle C
  21. Batchelor Pad – When the fucking keypad interface in Sibelius is lost somewhere on its own
  22. ABBA – When you mix up which track you are listening to
  23. Cry-cycle – The irritation caused when the playhead jumps to the beginning of the cycle
  24. Hands Solo – Frantically scrolling around the screen looking for the soloed track
  25. Sample rate: how good your sound library is.
  26. Aux Return – the studio gremlins are back (credit A Pitts)
  27. Brick-wall limiter – picking a career that will keep you from home ownership. (credit J Willson)
  28. 50-cent – microtonal rapper

Steely Dan’s Peg on Push.

Trying to push my Push skills up a peg with Peg and Steely Dan’s gorgeous µ harmonies.

 

 

 

A Year of Sleep

…I wish.

Delighted to be giving the final public lecture for the Physiological Society’s snappily titled Sleep and Circadian Rhythms from Mechanisms to Function event as part of their 2018 Year of Sleep initiative. December 6 2018 Barbican, London. More details to follow.

Home

https://www.physoc.org/sleep_circadian/sleep-and-circadian-rhythms-mechanisms-function

Careful at the Rose Main Theatre June 5 2018

Careful at the Rose Main Theatre, Kingston June 5 2018 2pm – This unique dance/theatre performance puts you in the care of five over-stretched nurses as they struggle to balance empathy and efficiency, compassion and clinical proficiency. Inspired by its makers’ experience of long-term hospitalization, Careful celebrates the skill, beauty and toil of professional nursing as seen through the eyes of the patient. Introduced by Professor Karen Norman, a leading expert in nursing, the performance forms part of The Art of Nursing, an annual event hosted by Kingston University and St George’s hospital.

This event is designed for students and professionals of nursing, though members of the public are very warmly welcomed to attend.

Careful was developed in collaboration with the Clinical Skills and Simulation team at Kingston University and St George’s University London. The collaboration has also led to the development of workshops designed to enhance self-awareness and non-technical skills of patient care, which now form part of the Nursing practice curriculum.

Careful is a project by Chimera, an arts company/research network dedicated to making engrossing artworks about, for and with the medical and healthcare sector. Led by Dr Alex Mermikides (Guildhall School of Music & Drama) and Dr Milton Mermikides (University of Surrey), we also create impactful events for students, researchers and the general public. Our work has been supported with funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council and Arts Council England. www.chimeranetwork.org.

Event details

Duration 90 minutes, including introductory talk and post-show discussion. Please note that the event will be filmed for evaluation and publicity purposes. Book FREE tickets here

 

Clapping on Push

Here’s another classic process piece used as a ‘Push Etude’, Steve Reich’s Clapping. Even though it was written after Piano Phase, it is somewhat simpler (certainly to perform), relying on discrete rather than continuous phasing, so fits well into the discrete conceptual world of MIDI rhythm. The challenge here is to program the seminal pattern (which can be heard in triple or duple time like much of Reich’s Ewe-inspired phase pieces). You could of course play it in but I’m trying to roast my Push 2 programming chops. Duplicate the track and then shift it over in steps (you could also set global quantise appropriately and restart one clip at the appropriate metric point, but I wanted to make use of the lovely clip view now available). Unfortunately the push has little control over the fine control of offset, a shift move (as far as I can tell is always a semiquaver (1/16)) so I’ve set the Set to 6/8 rather than 6/4. I’m not sure of a more elegant way to reset the start offset other than how I did it, let me know if you can!

Being an 8×8 grid (we do generally reside in the normative binary default rhythmic world like it or not), the Push represents the 12 slots over a row and a half (I’d like to be able to move the rows into 6s for example) so imagine it like this:

You can then apply the pattern to melodic material as I’ve shown later in the video. Enjoy, njoye, joyen, oyenj, yenjo, enjoy.

Clapping for Push 2 Project

 

The Uncanny Valley of Instrumental Emulation

Piano Phase on Push 2

Ableton Push 2 and Live 10 are incredible devices, both progressive and able to integrate seminal electronic, process and generative creative practices. In order to start exploring their potential I’ve been experimenting with recreating classic works as succinctly and fluently as possible. Here’s Steve Reich’s Piano Phase using just one track and Live 10 and Push’s new melodic sequencer layout which I find hugely valuable.

In essence you can break down the classic theme into its component pitches, and reform them by pitch rather than rhythmic placement.

Here’s the video and Live Set to explore. Piano Phase Push 2 Project

Quick overview: Set scale on Push to E Dorian and form the patterns from above on teh 1st, 2nd, 5th, 6th and 7th degree of the scale respectively. Once you can do this it can be fun to enter them in diferent orders, add chords to each of them and of course use in your own improvisational/compositional practice.

The phasing is super simple (naive really) each dial completes a rotation so you can settle on each semiquaver confidently before moving to the next rotation. This could all be done in microtemporal MIDI (creating fewer artefacts) with M4L devices but I like the ‘in-the-box’ constraint, maximising pre-existing tools.

Piano Phase Push Project (change the MIDI instrument to whatever you like)

Music & Shape

Very satisfying to receive this series of books from OUP at long last. Very pretty looking academic books, if you can believe that. My chapter with Eugene looks quite cool including all those brain bending Coltrane Cubes, M-Space and improvisational fields.

Available here

 

Breaking 4/4 at CCA Glasgow

On Friday 23rd March, I’ll be giving an Ableton-hosted workshop at the CCA, Glasgow on Breaking 4/4 – rhythmic shenanigans galore.

Booking here and details below.

 

Renowned TedX Groningen and Ableton Loop keynote speaker, Dr Milton Mermikides and Ableton Certified Trainer Phelan Kane take a look at some less than conventional ways to generate rhythms and sound. Using Live and custom Max for Live devices, this workshop introduces a range of tools and methods to break out of standard repetitive cycles of electronic music composition. Through a series of exercises using custom-built Max for Live devices, they’ll explore Euclidean sequencers, odd meter, micro timing, hypermeter, swing and latency, with the aim of unleashing your creativity and exploring uncharted territory beyond the standard 4/4 landscape.

Hidden Music and Tension Blue at Canterbury Christ Church University Wed 24th Jan

Bridget and Milton Mermikides will be performing their classical guitar and live electronic project, Tension Blue at Canterbury Christ Church University, preceded by a talk on Milton’s Hidden Music series. Wednesday 24th January 2018, St Gregory’s Centre for Music (Talk 11.45am, Concert 1.10-2pm), Free Entry.

Details and Booking

 

 

Scoring Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man

It has been a wonderful experience writing and making music for a stage adaptation of Ralph Ellison’s sublime/vital/classic novel Invisible Man. The author Ralph Ellison was a jazz trumpeter and cornet player, a student of symphonic composition, a deep connection with African music and a radio/electronics fanatic. Being allowed, even obliged to employ an eclectic blend of jazz, modernist, electronicism and African rhythm; as well as ‘working’ with the unnecessarily talented and lovely team of actor Clarence Smith, directors Anna Girvan & Tinu Craig, African percussionists Sola Akingbola (Jamiroquai) & Richard Olatunde, and of course the cellist prodigy Laura van der Heijden was/(continues to be) an immense privilege and joy. More about the emerging project here: invisiblemanplay.wordpress.com
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What Makes a Musician? Cheltenham Science Festival – June 6 2017

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Does practice really make perfect or do musicians need a special innate ability to succeed? Neuroscientist Vin Walsh joins psychologist Lauren Stewart, music teacher and researcher Adam Ockelford, and composer and guitarist Milton Mermikides to discuss musicality, whether you can teach musicianship, and why some of us are more drawn to making music than others.

Tue 6 Jun 2017 8:30pm – 9:30pm
Cheltenham Science Festival
Parabola Arts Centre, Cheltenham Ladies’ College £8 plus transaction fee

http://www.cheltenhamfestivals.com/science/whats-on/grid

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