Nathan Riki Thomson
2.06.2017, Black Box
This concert builds on concepts from my first doctoral concert in June 2016, further exploring resonance as both a physical sensation and a metaphor for intercultural interaction, dialogue, connection and collaboration.
A new ‘augmented’ double bass has been built for this concert, with a modified bridge to create different kinds of acoustic buzzing distortion and a system to drive electronic sounds into the physical body of the double bass via structure-borne sound drivers, enabling the coexistence of acoustic and electronic sounds within a single double bass, bypassing external speakers and audio gear. New pieces have been created and commissioned for this instrument drawing on further research into traditional instruments such as the Tanzanian ilimba (thumb piano), Bolon (West African bass lyre) and the Brazilian berimbau. Musical elements focus on rhythmic cycles, traditional acoustic distortion techniques, texture, resonant frequencies, imagery and musical dialogue.
New instrumental techniques, sound manipulations and approaches are developed for the double bass and the Black Box itself becomes a resonating chamber. Resonating frequencies are represented in physical form through live visuals of natural materials responding to sonic impulses when placed on a metal plate above a speaker and filmed in real time.
The commissioned piece Empty Air Thickens was written for Nathan by UK composer Simon Allen. This piece a duet for double bass and images. It takes its shape from the imagined exploration of a fictitious landscape, based upon ideas presented using text, drawings, diagrams and musical notation. With thoughts of silence my mind’s eye unfailingly evokes images of massive structures: a sheer wall, cliff, buildings or a vast vessel - they tower above and almost surround. In these fictional, outdoor places, intersections between colossal architecture and open space are smoothed by detritus, unidentifiable remains soften most angles except for the edge of what appears to be open sky - always, there is clear sight of something constituting a horizon. Perhaps silence imagined appropriates these imprints of vast shape to signify the extreme shift in scale between sound and the relative absence of sound, a shift that features in all conditions of silence.
When relative quiet falls, the ear - relieved of having to brace against impact – opens. Searching for the sounds that unavoidably penetrate, whatever remains to be heard elevates in presence, tiny details emerge from the surrounding depths to reassess our criteria of silence. Silence is assuredly filled with aural information that qualifies the intensity and nature of absence - it communicates as clearly as the weight of sounds that frame it into being - and has poetic volubility, that would cease to be if ever the oblivion of a sonic vacuum was attainable.
Adriano Adewale (Brazil), calabash, berimbau, percussion, double bass
Mari Kalkun(Estonia), vocals
Maija Kauhanen(Finland), vocals, prepared kantele
Otso Lähdeoja (Finland), electronics, sound design
Marek Pluciennik(Poland), visuals
Petra Poutanen-Hurme(Finland), vocals, guzheng
Ville Tanttu(Finland), visuals
Nathan Riki Thomson (Australia),prepared double bass, augmented double bass, stomp box, vocals, composition
1. Resonator 1 (Thomson)
2. Ode to Nana (Adewale / Thomson)
3. Buzz Cycle 1 (Kauhanen / Thomson)
4. Empty Air Thickens (Simon Allen)
5. Motherland (Adewale / Lähdeoja / Thomson)
6. Resonator 2 (Thomson)