Chaos Bells (2021)

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Winner of the 'Highly Commended' Award in Best Innovation of a Sound Tool or Technique at the 2021 Sound Of The Year Awards, Chaos Bells is a very large (2 metres wide and tall) instrument that features 20 gesturally performed pendulums. Chaos Bells' unique sound design in which bell sounds can drone and become chaotic is how it gained its name. Striking the instrument results in a staccato (short) tone, and tilting the pendulum/s results in a drone (sustained tone). The timbral quality of the drone corresponds to the pendulum tilt: somewhere between 45 and 90 degrees on each pendulum produces an unstable system where the drone grows over time and eventually becomes chaotic and distorted as it is clipped by the digital system, finally disintegrating into broadband noise with no clear fundamental tone. 

Despite its large size, Chaos Bells is also performable with micro-gestures that have the capability to change the overall sonic output of the instrument, a feature influenced through research I conducted in which I interviewed performers of large acoustic instruments. to understand their favourite characteristics of their instruments.

 

Chaos Bells is unique in both physical aesthetics and sound design. The instrument has a growing list of artists adopting it to create original performances. As a technology probe exploring the impact of instrument design choices on music performance, this instrument has led to findings elucidating the impact of instrument size and tonal layout on music composition and performance.

Chaos Bells was used for a research study in which 10 London-based electronic music producers and performers created compositions on the instrument that were broadcast on the Augmented Instruments Lab concert 23 Nov 2021, which you can watch here.

Chaos Bells has been performed/exhibited at:

 

  • Chaos Theory online concert, 20 September 2021 - watch below

  • Augmented Instruments Lab online concert 23 November 2021 - watch here

  • The Oram Awards - Lia Mice performance 9 December 2021

  • Supersonic Festival IWD, Centrala Birmingham, 5 March 2022

  • Deliaphonic Festival, Drapers Hall Coventry, 6 March 2022

  • Sonorities Festival, Banana Block Belfast, 8 April 2022

  • CHI 2022, New Orleans USA, 2 May 2022

Lia Mice introducing Chaos Bells. Blue Loop (Emma Hall) performing 'Strafkolonie', a composition created with Chaos Bells, July 2021, London.

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Odd Lust performing Chaos Bells at Centrala, Birmingham, 5th of March 2022

Chaos Theory livestream concert featuring 2 improvised performances by Blue Loop (Chaos Bells) and Lia Mice (Analog Rytm, Digitone Keys), 20 September 2021.