Critical Feedback: The evolution of the drums, feedback and the computer

Nicholas Meredith

Details

Abstract

My motivation for this work is to evolve the drum kit into something that operates in a way far removed from its origin. More of a timbral drone maker than a traditional drum. Using the computer as a sound processor, I take incoming audio from contact microphones connected to multiple drums (played by me) and feed it though a network of effects and resonating algorithms. I create feedback loops through amplifiers and acoustic drums and use this as live source material routed through the computer via various digital and hardware processors. This process creates a series of constantly evolving rhythmic and timbral landscapes all driven by the acoustic drums.

I create an undulating ecosystem of sound that completely envelopes the listener. Many of the algorithmic processes I use are random and as such, every performance is different. I am constantly interacting with the computer; playing with it and playing against it in order to sculpt the arc of the performance. Despite being improvised, this particular work can also be tweaked to operate autonomously as an installation.

Performing on an instrument as resonant and physical as the drums, I am fascinated with how they ‘feel’ to play. The way a timbre of a particular note feels under my hands or feet is just as important as how it ‘sounds’. The issue of physicality and feel is an important one when it comes to music made on the computer and one which I think is a constant problem for performers in that arena. I am working on bridging that gap for myself by using acoustic drums but by also having amps next to me while I perform. I have been a drummer all my life I and have spent a large proportion of my time on stage next to amplifiers. Not only do they serve a utilitarian function in the music in terms of creating feedback loops to use as audio input for the computer but they help give me a very real and physical sense of what is going on in the music.

As someone who has never truely felt like they ‘fit in’ with any musical genre or scene, making solo work has really been the only way to truly find my voice as an artist. This particular solo work is just one part of what I do. It is the honest voice of someone trying to evolve the percussive art form through the use of computers whilst maintaining a very strong emotional and physical connection to the practice of making music.

Video

Audio

Bio

Nicholas Meredith’s sound-world, although wet through with electronic and digital elements, draws significantly from the natural world: monolithic structures, human biology, water. Working with themes of uncertainty and environmental change. His music is deeply personal and highly visceral. Moving from moments of stillness to complete sonic destruction. Meredith's history as a jazz drummer and improviser

combined with his embrace of the infinite opportunities offered by technology infuse his compositions with a freedom of rhythm and structure that is energising.