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Skweeeling feedback - Philippe Chambin discusses the Larsen Effect on The Sound Barrier!

The Sound Barrier for Sunday 10 June 2018

Often music surprises the people who create it as much as those who listen, and sometimes these surprises come via the things that are not intended, and that would otherwise be discarded as mistakes. But sometimes musicians find ways to work with the unintended, the mistakes, and turn them into something creative and, in so doing, open up whole new opportunities for musical exploration.

One of those unexpected, unintended things is audio feedback – that distorted, squeal of a sound you get, and hear so often, when someone's microphone goes too close to an amplifier.

The phenomenon of audio feedback – or, the Larsen Effect as it is more technically known – has become the major creative focus of Byron Bay-based composer and sound artist Philippe Chambin, whose PhD research at Southern Cross University is looking at its possibilities in developing an entire piece using only internal feedback loops. It is an exciting and innovative development, taking the possibilities of audio feedback beyond what has already been so intrepidly explored in the No-Input Mixing Board work of artists such as Toshimaru Nakamura, who has worked primarily on small, portable consoles, whereas Philippe's work moves onto a large-format analogue audio mixing console, creating a virtual orchestra of feedback timbres and sonic shapes.

On this weekend's edition of The Sound Barrier, I will be talking with Philippe about his project, as well as having a preview of the work, Skweeeel, which he has been developing to illustrate the discoveries of his research. Skweeel will have its world premiere at the Byron Bay Campus of the SAE Creative Media Institute at 3.00 PM on Saturday, 16 June, at 373-391 Ewingsdale Rd, Byron Bay.

You can see and listen to Philippe explaining the project throughout its development on the Skweeel YouTube Channel, as well as follow it on Facebook.

Along with my chat with Philippe, and listening to Skweeel, I will be tracing some of the history of audio feedback in music throughout this week's edition of The Sound Barrier. We will hear music from Robert Ashley and Steve Reich, who incorporated feedback into their music through the 1960s, as well as listening to Alvin Lucier's iconic Bird and Person Dyning, from 1975, in which the electronic chirps from a Christmas-tree decoration create a constantly shifting feedback loop as Lucier walks around the room with binaural microphones attached to his ears, and distances between the microphones, the bird, and the amplifier change.

I will also be bringing you music from Toshimaru Nakamura's No-Input Mixing Board and, after two weeks of no Stockhausen at all, we'll be listening to his work SOLO for melody instrument and feedback, in a version for recorder, realised by Chilean music collective Taller Ciclo.

I hope you can join me this Sunday night at 10 PM (AEST) on Melbourne's 106.7 PBS FM, or on PBS Digital, or from anywhere in the world, live on the PBS App or online. The show will also be available to listen back to, along with a playlist detailing all of the recordings, here on the website shortly after it has gone live to air.

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