Assignment: Outer Space!

For those who missed my recital, here is one of those things that were, for a time, part of it.

Deploy the Blurb-O-Tron!

I have a world premiere tomorrow.

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to draw your attention to / brag about the fact that Did You Ever Eat a Bat?, an new tune for 3 flutes and 1 stereo tape part, is being premiered tomorrow afternoon at the British Flute Society Convention 2010.

It's being played by the now-legendary 'Nicholson Trio', somewhere in the bowels of the Royal Northern College of Music, between 13h50 and 14h30.

That is all.


Harnessing the power of a thousand suns (and one wii remote)

So. Wii Remotes. They're tricky little buggers. Yes, they're an interesting tool, but only if they're used in an interesting way. This is the story of two rubbish ideas and, hopefully, one alright one.

Rubbish Idea 1

  • this idea is entirely based on programming abilities that I don't have.
  • I'd rather come up with something more musical.
So. Think musical, Edward. What musical things can we approximate with a swoosh, a flick and a click?

Rubbish Idea 2: the wiiharp

...was a wiimote harp. As can be seen in the screenshot below (click to embiggen).
  • Strumming across the strings produces 'plucked' notes, via midi messages being sent to Logic. 
  • The wiimote's trigger buttons add various effects, delays and filters to the sound.

  • it's fun and intuitive.
  • the wiimote isn't fast enough to play complex melodies.
  • you can only play one note at a time (unless you have more than one wiimote and many hands)
  • it gets old quite quickly.
Basically, the wiiharp is quite a fun little toy. However, it's not very satisfying musically, especially once the initial fun has worn off. I would quite like to make one of these, though.

Hopefully, Quite Good Idea 3: the monowii

So, I don't want to replicate a 'real' instrument anymore. Instead, I want to replicate a monome. Or, at least, take inspiration from it. This is what my GUI looks like now:

The four large buttons at the top of the GUI represent the 4 main 'play modes' I'll be working on:
  • The top picture represents mode 1: setting off quick samples by swooshing the wiimote over the 9x8 grid, in a style very similar to the wii harp.
  • The bottom pictures shows mode 2: a step sequencer visualised on the 8x8 purple grid. It'll be firing off samples in Ableton, and doing all kind of wikkid stuff. 
  • WHO KNOWS what modes 3 and 4 will be.
The design is still in its infancy, but the monowii already has some advantages over the wiiharp:
  • it's fun and musical.
  • the wiimote adds to, rather than subtracts from, the core experience:
    • unlike the example of the harp, the core functionality of the monome should be easily implementable (even if, by recital-time, my demo version is still quite simple)
    • the wiimote's accelerometer can add aftertouch and other effects in a streamlined and intuitive way, improving on this core functionality.
This isn't just a tech demo anymore, but something that could actually evolve into quite a neat performance tool...

More news as it happens, folks! Or, more probably, a while after it happens. Also, more words in bold!

Preview of forthcoming attractions... Princess Grace once said to Jimmy Stewart.

I apologise most profusely for not having updated of late. Work continues apace, however. Please see below for exempla.

Finished products forthcoming.

Oh, and my recital date is set, y'all. Friday October 1, 2010. Cardiff Arts Institute. All afternoon. Keep an eye out for Facebook events. Hourrah.

Pip pip! x

Reviewed? Reviewed!

So my EP got reviewed by the Miniature Music Press, because they are lovely. I like the fact that they call me Milligan, because that is the second name of the artist Spike Milligan, who is a person that I like.

They say the following words, whilst giving me a mark of 3.6*

"Conceptually Yaoi! Attack, aka Edward R. Milligan, are onto a winner. The notion of letting iTunes pick ten tracks from which you have to create something new sounds almost Bowie-esque in concoction. The acid test is how successfully Milligan makes use of his sparse resources. Opener Mile Zero Bison comes across like lo-fi Babybird being kneaded gently by Animal Collective into a warm, cassette-shaped dough. Yes, I Am has the same integration of beats you would find in a Ruby Suns set but lacks the same melodic cleanliness. Similarly eerie yet unaffecting is the ambient soundscape of Beautiful Underwater Pond Frond that is built from jarringly diverse bricks including Mogwai and The Byrds. Yet the title track is an immense demonstration of how to pull something entirely fresh from old sources and is an acousmatic gem. Though only truly brilliant in small doses, when in gear this is frankly scintillating. SMR"

Warm cassette-shaped dough!

Yaoi! Attack continues to live here:

* Note for statisticians: I am officially 0.2 better than Dafydd Saer, who is a man, and 0.3 worse than Clay Statues, who are two men. It is possible that there is a positive correlation between the inherent manliness of a musician and the inherent worth of his music.** Certainly, the existing evidence warrants further investigation.

** On this scale, Elton John is worth 2 Joan Armatradings, but only 1/4 of a Motley Crue.

A recitative summer: part one

And so, dear readers, Spring has sprung. And, as surely as eggs follow eggs, a young man's thoughts turn towards his Mmus recital. Having watched the RWCMD undergraduates do their inspirational thing last week, it's clear that I'm going to have to pull something not inconsiderable out of the bag this September, if I'm going to  leave college with my head held anywhere much above my knock-like knees.

So. As I spend the summer developing my recitative ideas, I have decided to blog about what I, as an artist of international renown, like to call my 'creative process'. This will serve two purposes: firstly, to educate the masses as to what happens inside the minds of us enlightened creative types. Secondly - and perhaps most importantly - if I do this then hopefully I'll remember all of the decisions that I'll make over the next couple of months, and as such I'll have something to talk about in my viva.

All of which is a ridiculously long preamble to announce the triumvirate of projects that I am planning to put on for my Mmus final recital. The first of these is a classic; an electroacoustic piece for 3 flutes and 3 speakers, which will probably be about 4 minutes long. The second is an audio-visual piece for four screens and four speakers, which will run for around 10-15 minutes. More of them another time, however. My third, and final, idea, concerns audience participation and interactivity. I'm hoping to create some kind of multimedia shebang whereby audience members can manipulate, and even part-compose, a piece of sonic art that fills the space that they're moving around in.

At this early stage, I'm planning to use PureData (what else) for the musical aspect of the piece, setting off pre-composed cells of sound in a semi-generative manner. I'm also thinking to create some relatively abstract visuals using Unity3D, in order to provide some visual feedback for what's going on sonically.

I got on board the train of interactivity thanks, in part, to Kilshaw's short course on xcoding for the iphone, for which I got this far, but no further:

To be honest, I'm not a massive fan of the iphone, and have no real desire to develop anything for it, so I doubt I ever will make anything beyond the little toy you see above. However, it got me thinking: if I could achieve similar results in some engine that ran on an actual-factual real life computer, then I'd be getting somewhere. All of a sudden, a world full of different control and diffusion options would be open to me. As such, I downloaded the free version of Unity3D, messed about with it, and in a couple of afternoons managed to knock up the test that you see below:

I know, I know, it's nothing special. But imagine if, instead of a single midi note, each planet was responsible for setting off a different compositional cell. And imagine that the planets were distinguishable from each other. And that the graphics changed every time you did something. And that you had a wii remote in your hands, and that it was all projected onto the pristine white wall of an art gallery. And that you could use the wii remote to control different sonic effects and variables. And other cool stuff, that I haven't come up with yet...

This is the road I'm going to go down, anyway. The first step will be to get the wiimote talking to Unity. I'm going to start by following Jeff Winder's helpful youtube tutorials on how to do this, which can be found here. As I'm doing this, I'll think more about my concept and the grand installation that I hope these nascent ideas will metamorphose into by the end of the summer.

Anyway, that's idea 1. Stay tuned for more unfathomable waffle, both on this and on my other 2 pieces! Stay safe, everyone x

Composing your future

Thank you, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama Prospectus 2010!

Apartment 11 - the evidence

Hullo internet chums! You may remember that, a short while ago, I was commissioned to do sound design for a short film called The Writer. Well, a lot of sonic water has passed under the cinematic bridge since that time, and it is now my privilege to unveil four short vignettes from said film, which has now been retitled Apartment 11. All of the sound that you will hear was recorded and mixed by me, in y stwdio.

Edit: I've been told to take these videos down, due to the possibility of distribution deals or some such. If I'm ever allowed to put them back up, I shall do. I'll upload some replacement, audio-only, snippets over the next couple of days. Examples of my work are still available on my portfolio page.

So there we have it! The film itself is in the final stages of post-production, and will be premiered at the Quad in Derby this June. Look out for it then, pop pickers.

It's not all aural you know

We interrupt the normal flow of this blog to bring you three things that I was involved with, but didn't do any sound for. 

Fans of bread-related 21st century silent film, amusing-yet-thought-provoking-yet-entertaining-yet-intelligent independently-produced magazines, and drone music set to the work of Thomas Edison, should read further...


The first of these non-audio-related adventures is the short film Encouragement, which I helped Benjamin Neil Scott Martin make back in the blissful, carefree days of 2008. You know, 2008: when everybody was rich as Croesus, and the very notion that the Lib Dems would one day cosy up to the Tories did not exist outside the most psychotic of nightmares. Ben describes it as a film about love, loss and loaves, and I could not put it better myself. I helped write the script, chanced my arm at a bit of cackhanded camera operation (the results of which which were probably cut), and, in my finest hour, gave an Olivier-level performance as The Man (he's such a bread head).

The music for this film is by Theo, or Sam Knight as he's known to those who do not call him Theo: Ben's blog, featuring his latest artistic accomplishments, can be found in my link bar at the bottom right of this site, or at


Also over at These Glyphs Are Dusty, you will find a free download of vol. 1 no. 1 of the most excellent Husk, a periodical sans-period, edited by Mr Martin and his co-conspirator Mr Gerstrom. I myself contributed a couple of articles, for my sins. Click on the picture below to download, and be sure to pay Ben a visit to thank him for his tireless work in creating such an artefact.

"On Decorum" & "Pumffor"

Finally, but not leastwardly, I present On Decorum, a film piece which I made in collaboration with sonic superstar Gruffydd Johnston. He gave me a piece of music that he had made, and I cut together a film to accompany it. The footage that I used is all taken from the output of Thomas Edison's 'Black Maria' Studio. 

This film was put on as part of the Evening of Music & Film that I curated at RWCMD, and was described in the programme notes as "being a meditation on the meaning of the word 'decorum', with particular attention given to the antics of those involved in the burgeoning moving-picture business".  Gruff's own workblog can be found in my link bar, or at

Another one of Gruff's pieces was put to film by the inestimable Abigail Foulkes. This year, Gruff has set himself the task of making pieces of music solely out of 5 random sound files culled from other people's hard drives. I gave the him the 5 sounds for this ditty, which he called Pumffor'

Abby then set the music to excerpts culled from Jan Svankmajer's 1980 retelling of Edgar Allan Poe's Fall of the House of Usher. I absolutely love it, I do. Once again, this formed part of the Evening of Music & Film. More of Abby's work can be found at her blog - - where, alongside other film shorts that she has sonically enhanced, you can learn of her work designing and constructing her own version of the ReacTable.

OK, that about wraps it up I think. Why not visit Ben, Abby, Sam and Gruff personally, and thank them for creating such wonderful pieces of art? Why not indeed!

Let there be... flute!

So today's news is that I've been commissioned by flautist Rachel Pritchard to write an electronics-and-flute piece for her trio to play at the 2010 British Flute Society Convention, which will be held at the Royal Northern College of Music this coming August.

Below are my first couple of studies for the piece. I'm just starting to think about the kinds of sounds I'm going to use really. Let me know what the thing that you think about this is!

Past: An evening of music and film (2nd helping)

So, I've given you the programme notes; now for a couple of little kinematic exempla (more here and here):

(a double-bill of ultra-short shorts from, respectively, 1899 and 1921)

(a calming scene from a 1950s Hollywood movie)

As ever, all sound design and music is by little ol' me. Let me know what you think, yo!

Past: An evening of music and film (1st helping)

As brother Jacques has so rightfully pointed out, it's really time I updated this here web-diary. I thought I should take this opportunity, therefore, to say 'thank you' to everyone who helped made the Evening of Music & Film a success hitherto unparalleled by any other mortal achievement.

A Cardiff-based, multi-BAFTA award-winning composer came up to me afterwards and told me that Gruff and I should enter the Turner Prize with On Decorum. HE SAID THIS WITH A STRAIGHT FACE GUYS.

Anyway! For those of you who couldn't make it due to 1) ineptitude, 2) forgetitude, 3) not-really-bothereditude, 4) being in another country.. I've copied out the programme notes after the break. I've also handed over a couple more pieces from the night into the care of the nice gentlemen and ladies at youtube: watch them here!

Right, here are the aforementioned programme notes (including handy clickable links if you fancy watching those elements of the night that have made it onto youtube):

Forthcoming: An evening of music and film



New music / video / anti-communist propaganda piece

May I present to you, dear reader, a small taster of the forthcoming night of film and music which I am curating at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama. A night that you can come to and experience for yourself! It's on the 16th of March don't you know.

This sneak preview is entitled 'How to out-psych the psychos who sucked out your psyche', and it concerns the venal, anti-American socialist tendencies that were rampant throughout the 1950s. It's enough to send shivers down your spine, it really is...

Enjoy, and see you on the 16th! More information forthcoming.

We made a Jecklin disk!

Did we?


The above is a video that we took during the Bmus3 (& Ed) Recording Studies class the week before last. An excellent time was had by all, and a useful bit of kit was made, which will hopefully serve the college well in years to come...

The BBC and me, part one: audio evidence

So, you may remember how I wrote the music to a BBC Radio Four Friday Play. I've finally got it together enough to upload a couple of clips. The first one features the sexy voice of none other than James Marsters (or Spike from off of Buffy as he's known round our house), as well as that of the lamentably anonymous, but equally sexy, continuity announcer. Enjoy!

Ooh, spooky: "Ghosts before breakfast"

So I decided I wanted to make a video for my hot new sample-based project Yaoi! Attack. But then I thought... why go to all the trouble, when you can just co-opt visuals from a classic piece of 1920s experimental German cinema?

Well exactly.

That being the case,  I present to you my take on Hans Richter's Ghosts before Breakfast, a revolutionary abstract film from 1927.

As ever, I built the track up from a few unrelated mp3s taken from my itunes library (although i did cheat a little here by cherry-picking the samples, rather than leaving their choice up to the gods of fate as I technically should). Also, I added good few little sound effects and extra touches of my own. If you're interested though, the basic recipe for this song is: r dean taylor + charles mingus + mogwai + seasick steve + volcano! + the lucksmiths + modest mussorgsky. Yum!

By the way, you can download the track here..

The Writer

Oh hi there! I'm just dropping in to mention the fact that my talents have been snapped up by Derby-based production company Anglo Klaxon Pictures. I'm going to act as a sound designer, engineer and post-producer on their forthcoming short film The Writer, an existential yarn about an artist who suffers in solitary frustration over his inability to create.. until his attention turns to the disturbing sounds emanating from the flat upstairs..

Shooting is going to happen over January and February, with the finished piece to be premiered, as part of a triptych, at a number of international film festivals over the summer of 2010. More news as it happens.