Warren Burt performance at Box Hill Institute May 8 2017

This year, my main composing effort has been on a large scale project called “Mosaics and Transparencies.”  This project has involved making families of samples, which use different techniques in their making, and then assembling these samples into larger scale structures, some premeditated, some spontaneous.  This started off in January with making a series of musique concrete samples using Pauline Oliveros’s “Applebox” idea, and continued with a series of melodies using non-Western instrument samples controlled by Markov Chains and physical modelling processes.  The third phase has involved taking a series of several hundred drawings made since 2006, and converting them into sound.  I’ve recently been improvising with these, and this performance is one of these improvs.  In this performance, I not only mix and modify these samples, I also am performing various piano-sound processes, making pitch-oriented textures to contrast with the “noiseband”’ oriented sounds of the converted drawings.

This performance was done as part of the Departmental Forum series at Box Hill Institute, which I’ve been organizing.  I’m using my collection of small-scale digital devices here – six are used, and mixed in performance.  There are three tablet computers; an ASUS PC, an iPad and a Samsung Android tablet, and three cellphones, an iPhone 4, an iPhone 6s, and a Sony Experia Android phone.   The ASUS PC is performing an algorithmic process controlling a sampled piano tuned in a very odd microtonal scale (the 8th root of 2.1).  Additionally, I have a small keyboard connected to the ASUS tablet, so that I can also perform the piano sounds live in a more “traditional” manner.  The iOS devices all use either Audiobus 2 or 3, assembling chains of apps, which either play the samples, or various pitch-oriented “keyboard-sound” processes.  The Android devices either play the samples or the original drawings being converted into sound in real-time; or play simple “theremin-like” sequences as a further element being thrown into the mix.  I’ve been doing improvisations where I combine piano-like sequences and performing with more complex samplings for the past couple of years, and I wanted to continue exploring this.  I also wanted to put myself in a situation where I had an abundance of resources, and then improvise a “sound combine” using these, using my intuition to shape the larger continuity of sounds.  In this particular performance, I also got into repetition a bit, something I don’t normally do much, but the didactic situation of the performance – a Forum on Performance for all the undergraduate music students as Box Hill Institute – seemed to encourage this.  So some sounds are repeated immediately, some motives are repeated, and some larger sections come back, all of which were decided on the impulse of the moment.  A list of the software used in the piece follows.  This is not meant to be either impressive or alienating, but simply to give those who are experienced with the software some indications of what I did. 

Following the performance, a lively Q&A session ensued (a number of students expressed concern that I wasn’t performing in an easily identifiable genre, and a lively discussion of the concept and usefulness of that idea took place), and I continued to receive favourable comments on the piece from people for the next few days.  On looking at the video, I was delighted with the piece – I think I accomplished most of what I set out to do, and I really liked the “yearning, striving” (to make perhaps a reference to one of my inspirations, Dane Rudhyar) quality of the piano-sound textures, as well as the not-so-oblique references to Mr. Monk and his Criss-Crossing.  The “drawing to sound” textures provide a great timbral variety, from pure waves to noise-bands, and I was delighted with the number of ways I was able to shape those in real-time.  I hope you enjoy the piece – I did – both in the moment of performance, and then, happily, after the fact as well.

May 12, 2017 – WB



Software and hardware used in this performance:

ASUS VivoTab Win8: MusicWonk; AudioMulch; Garritan Piano Samples; Scala

iPad4: Audiobus3; Virtual ANS; Turnado; Enumero; Johnny; Fugue Machine; midiFILTr-PG; Yamaha: FM Essential; Launchpad; Muckraker; Nebulizer

iPhone6s: MF Motion; midiFILTr-PG; Yamaha: FM Essential; Crystalline; Musix Pro; Thumbjam; Altispace Reverb

iPhone4: Audiobus2; Launchpad; Muckraker; Nebulizer

Samsung Galaxy 7 Android tablet: Virtual ANS

SONY Experia Android Phone: Virtual ANS; Saucillator

Roland Octa-Capture Sound Card

Samples in Launchpad and Virtual ANS were made with Kaleidoscope and Audacity on a Windows PC.



Two upcoming events on the same night at different ends of the planet.

On Monday night, 24 April, I'm involved in two different events at the opposite ends of the planet.  

On Monday night, 24 April at 7:00 pm, as part of the Organic Art 2017 series, at the Lulea University of Technology, Pitea, Sweden, in the Acusticum hall, Gary Verkade will present a concert of music for organ and electronics, including "Fungi of the Wombat Forest" (2015) for organ and electronics, and "Justice, Equality and Beatings V" (1989) for organ and electronics, both by yours truly.  Also on the program will be David Dunn's "Ennoia I" for organ and electronics, and Robert Paredes' "Fleeting Ecologies in an Ontology of Halting."


Then, on the same night, in Melbourne, as part of the La Mama Musica series at La Mama Theatre, 205 Faraday St, Carlton, "Making Music Grate," a "time-scheduled improvisation event" devised by Gary Butler, will happen at 7:30 pm ($15/$10), which will feature a ten-tet of Gary Butler, Warren Burt, Rafa Kaczmarek, Robbie Avenaim, Adrian Sherriff, Vincent Giles, Nadia Knight, Ernie Althoff, Tim Hilton and Houston Dunleavy. So if you're in Melbourne, see you there!


Two Exhibitions to Note

I've got works in two currently running group exhibitions.  

From 30 March to 8 July, 2017, there is a show "Red Green Blue: A History of Australian Video Art" at the Griffith University Art Gallery, 226 Grey St, South Bank, Brisbane.  The show is divided up into 3 "chapters." My work, among many others, is in the 3rd Chapter, from 6 June to 8 July.

And from 6-29 April, there is the return of "To Hear is to See" an exhibition of visual/sound works, organized by Gue Schmidt.  That takes place at MAG3 Project Room in Vienna.

MAG3 PROJECTROOM  SCHIFFAMTSGASSE 17, A 1020 VIENNA (Accsessible by U2 Taborstrasse and/or U4 Schottenring/ Exit U2 Herminengasse) Phone: +43 676 3409218

So if you're in the neighborhood, do drop in on those - plenty of good works to hear/see by a lot of interesting people.


Latest articles in Soundytes on-line magazine

In this bi-month's issue of Soundbytes (, I have two articles - first, an interview with Michael Gogins, who writes some really beautiful computer music:

Many many thanks to Mike for being part of this.  Much appreciated!

And then there is Part 1 of my two-part review of Spitfire Audio's Spitfire Symphony Orchestra sample set, a very marvelous piece of work:

Look out for Part 2 of this review in May.

I hope you enjoy both articles, and maybe even find them useful.  Enjoy!


Video Surveillance - a Video by Blaise Tobia from 1975-76, featuring yours truly

You've all been aware of the Wikileaks findings - WikiLeaks says the CIA can use your TV to spy on you. (from The Guardian, March 7, 2017).  Virginia Maksymowicz and Blaise Tobia recently posted a video that Blaise had made back in 1976, with footage from 1975 of me talking and having electronic music playing in the background, showing that we were all not only aware of this 42 years ago, but also discussing the means by which it occurs.  Featuring Aardvarks IV, my electronic music composing machine, as the "box with lots of shiny knobs" that we were going to package the devices in.  Here's the video:

A nice hit of nostalgia seeing this old video.  And how lucky we are to be able to have lived long enough to see the predictions made by us way back then come (sort of) true.  Enjoy!