Motion Sound Lab - with Cherie & Nadenh

Working alongside Rhythmix and Surrey Arts, Cherie talks us through project Motion Sound Lab

Recently Ana, Nadenh and I have taken part in an R&D workshop for a new project called Motion Sound Lab facilitated by Rhythmix and Surrey Arts. With 3 out of 4 R&D days complete, I would like to share with you my experiences of the workshops so far.

The aim of Motion Sound Lab and the recent workshops is to bring people together to explore the relationship between movement, technology and sound, to raise the quality of arts and creative opportunities for young people with physical disabilities.

The first day I did not know what to expect.  We all met at Brighton Dome and sat around a table all day, (with the biscuits and tea on hand of course) and got to know each other, what we all do and brainstormed and debated what we could put forward for this project and what should be the outcome. Taking some inspiration from videos and presentations that people presented, there was a lot of discussion and, at times disagreements!
Although I found everything interesting, at times I was a little lost in what I could bring to the table and felt somewhat “inexperienced”. Many of the bodies there were very experienced in their field; one gentlemen Ralph, has been inventing and making instruments for young disabled children and adults for over 30 years! Many of the people there were very musical, the Artistic Director of the workshop being a saxophone player and a composer. I love music and even with some knowledge in the area, I was struggling to keep up with some of the things talked about. However, at the end of the day we all agreed on some keywords for a manifesto; High Quality, Inclusive, Sustainable, Realistic, Sense of Wonder, Visual/Physical Correspondence, Personalised/Adaptable, Transfer of Skills within and beyond, About The Team and Well-Documented. So we had a vision of where to go the next time we met.

Last week we met in South London at MakerSpace. A space literally for making anything you wish, it was a perfect place for us to be. The next 2 days were a lot more active than the ‘discussion’ day. Many people bought in their own instruments such as a saxophone or cello, and even instruments and musical interfaces that they had used in the past, a lot of it being technological and converting movement into an electronic sound. A couple of things we played with were the Kinect, a Makey-Makey and a Sound Space. All of this was really interesting and fun to play with, as it is something I personally haven’t experienced before. We had a jam during the day and played with the concept of the dancers leading the musicians and then the musicians leading the dancers. We finished the day with a conversation on how we could further what we had learnt.

The last day was a very productive with everyone working on something different. From coding a music score on a system called raspberry-pie, to having a speaker attached to Nadenh’s wheelchair which was then hooked up to a phone, which had an app, which allowed Nadenh to create music by hitting himself or his wheelchair or even shifting his wheelchair through the space. Nadenh thoroughly enjoyed this…

“I have learned a lot from this project, especially with the technology equipment, as I never worked with it before, which is great as it’s part of my development”.

Nadenh and I also made an IR Light Beam alarm from scratch, which we both had never done before and felt a great sense of pride when it was complete, (soldering was really fun too). Ana and I also played with some dance improvisation working with the Kinect, which senses the nearest person to it.  Ana was in her wheelchair that day so it was a really nice experience to play with different movement to see who controlled the sound.

All in all the last day was the best experience for me, as it was very hands on experiencing all the different gadgets and everyone learning something new. The overall feel was collaborative with everyone exchanging skills, which I think is a very important aspect of this project and will help us reach our goal of making music more accessible to those with physical disabilities.

I look forward to seeing the team again in the New Year and I am excited to see what our final day of R&D will bring.

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