Kluster: Ambient Performance @Freeze Festival

This week I participated at the workshop “Kluster” which was part of the Media Art Festival in Leeuwarden. The workshop was given by Samuel van Dijk en Michel Pitstra in the Academie voor Popcultuur.

The workshop was all about performance possibilities with electronic music. So it didn’t go into technical detail about sounds and electronic music, but rather into creating a canvas that allows the musician to perform live with sounds that can be ‘endlessly’  tweaked. The theme of the week was relaxation and hypnotisation, and thus the goal was to prepare a performance that is ambient, hypnotising and relaxing.

Since I work a lot alone, I really liked to once again collaborate with others. And I have learned a lot from them.

The week started off with looking at hypnotising electrokluster_01nic music  performances and analysing how they succeeded in making the performance hypnotic. We gathered a few key concepts, such as repetition, delay etc. But since the workshop was also about relaxation, we had to get into this vibe, and therefore we did a yoga session. After this we started working. The first assignment was to choose a very simple musical element (such as one sound or one voice sample) and prepare a setting in which you can tweak this sound in an interesting way.  I used one continuous sound of a small voice sample and used different effects to be able to let the sound evolve. It sounded a bit wind-like. We kluster_07performed a first version of our performance.

After this we started to prepare for the final performance, which we would give at Freeze Festival.  I worked in a group together with three others: Guido, Danny and Celius. The preparation was challenging in a number of ways. First of all, the room was a very chaotic place, since a lot of people would pass by to get to other rooms, and there was a big event going on, so there were quite some people. It was sometimes difficult to focus, or being relaxed, while the theme was relaxation… Skluster_02econd, we were all very enthusiastic about all the possibilities that electronic music can provide. So we would often get lost in that, and our focus would drift away from the final performance. However, first we saw this as a bad thing, but then I had the idea of incorporating this struggle into our final piece. So we would centre the performance around “a sea of possibilities”.

Danny used his analog drum machine and used effects to let the sounds evolve. Guide played the piano with “roomy effects”  that could evolve as well. Celius used his voice to sing, talk and make other sounds, with evolving ambient effects. I still had my wind-like voice sound that could evolve, but I also recorded words centred around the theme with Guido, such as  “lost in a sea of possibilities”, “kluster_08a special form of being lost” etc.

The first couple of times that we practiced the performance, I wasn’t happy with the result. It felt chaotic, rushed and not ambient, hypnotising and relaxing at all. I think that was because of the chaotic atmosphere. So we named it and tried to find the relaxing vibe for it. The more we practiced, the more connection there existed between us, which was really nice, because we didn’t know each other from the workshop. It also became more clear that some sort of leader was needed to work in a more focused way. The guys thought that I was a suikluster_10table leader in this project. What I mostly did was analysing if what we came up with suited our theme and vibe that we wanted to communicate.

The performance at Freeze Festival was a success. Not all members of the group were 100% satisfied, but I think that for just the three days of getting to know each other and practicing, we did a good job. We gave a full 30 minute performance, and we heard from the audience that the atmosphere of the piece was indeed hypnotising, relaxing and ambient. I am very inspired now to continue and use the performance techniques that I learned during the workshop in my future performances and work! And hopefully also to collaborate more 🙂

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