Oscillations and Modulations: after the event


We’ve just finished running the inaugural Oscillations and Modulations festival of synthesisers in Derry, at Ulster University’s Magee campus and partner venues.

We had talks, demonstrations and performances in our brand–new teaching  block at Magee, featuring Rich Duckworth (Assistant Prof. at Trinity College Dublin and synth supremo at Analog On), Dr Niall Coghlan (Dundalk Institute of Technology) and our own John Harding (with a brief transatlantic contribution from Dr Ricky Graham of Delta Sound Labs), in addition to numerous artists and guests from across the city and region.

We had a module-building workshop at the Thatched Cottage in the Craft Village, with thanks to Inner City Trust, in addition to studio tours at North West Regional College and Celtronic Studios/Movin’ Music Academy. 

Make Modular workshop at Oscillations and Modulations

A post shared by Brian Bridges (@brdgiz) on

We had a discussion event, with synths deployed over coffee at St Jude Coffee and Abbazappa Records at the Yellow Yard, with contributions from Analog On (Rich Duckworth, Shauna Caffrey and Lara Albergo), Jonny Delaney (Movin’ Music Academy and Celtronic Studios), Stephen McCauley (BBC Radio Foyle and BBC Radio Ulster) and John Harding (Ulster University and Delta Sound Labs).

Lastly, we finished up with a performance event featuring Analog On, Ryan Vail and Shamen Delly at Cultúrlann uí Chanáin. This concert also featured some great visuals by F12 and equally great and appropriately–themed DJing from Vincent.





Oscillations and Modulations festival, 20th/21st March, Derry

Oscillations & Modulations is a two–day festival of synthesisers and electronic music, taking place 20th–21st March 2018 in various locations throughout the city of Derry.

The festival aims to celebrate, explore and expand on an expanding ecosystem of electronic music culture, by showcasing and joining the dots between the music makers and teachers, synthesiser designers and performers, music studios and music spaces, that help to shape and inspire the musical landscape of the city and beyond.

A brief overview of what to expect

  • Modular synthesiser building workshops
  • Hands-on workshops on modular synthesiser systems
  • Talks / Q&As with industry professionals on new and vintage synthesisers and more
  • Free open days at a number of local music studios, including Movin’ Music Academy and Celtronic Studios (more to follow).
  • Various music events across a number of the city’s most exciting spaces
  • Showcases from local and not so local electronic artists
  • Showcases from instrument builders, hackers and exploring all things DIY

More details will be updated here soon; many thanks for your interest!

This event is a collaboration between Ulster University, Magee campus, Movin’ Music Academy, Celtronic Studios, Cultúrlann uí Chanáin, the Inner City Trust, Culture Glitch records, Abbazappa Record Shop and the Yellow Yard.

We are grateful to the Provosts’ Outreach Event Fund/Higher Education Innovation Fund for their support of this event.

Spatial Music Collective, IMBOLC Festival, Derry, Feb 1st at 12.30


Date: 1st Feb 2018 

Time: 12:30

Location: Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin, Great James Street

Price: £5 (free to Ulster University students and staff) 

Part 1: Sklonište

(Accordion, Dermot Dunne, original music/concept Ailís Ní Ríain)

Sarajevo, 1996. The city is under siege. Sniper fire kills civilians every day. The citizens of Sarajevo run to avoid being shot. They run for one thing: Sklonište (shelter).

Combining the experiences and motivations of international aid-workers and the surrealism of war; Sklonište – for live musician and video, is alternative reflection on the longest siege in modern warfare – 13,952 were killed. Expect the surreal, the tragic and the humour of a people determined to survive.

Part 2: The Spatial Music Collective, featuring Prof. Leigh Landy

This concert will feature a range of works for a circular (surround sound) array of loudspeakers by the Spatial Music Collective, a group of like–minded composers (including two Ulster University staff members) based in Ireland, the UK and US, who have been presenting concerts in this format since 2006. It will feature new electronic and sample–based music by various members of the collective, including a new and specially–commissioned work, On the Éire, by composer Leigh Landy (Professor at De Montfort University), and a second Derry outing of Octopus by Prof. Eric Lyon (Virginia Tech), which received its premiere at Magee campus in 2017. 


ISSTA 2017

ISSTA is happening in Dundalk this year, thanks to the great efforts of Dr Niall Coghlan and the Department of Creative Arts, Media and Music. We have a great lineup this year, with gigs, installations, workshops and keynotes from Peter Kirn (Create Digital Music), Prof. Teresa Dillon (University of the West of England and Watershed) and sonic artist Dr Luca Forucci.

We’ll also have a free late night gig at Dundalk’s Spirit Store featuring Sunken Foal.

You can find the full programme (including orientation information) here.


We always strive to keep registration costs as low as possible, and this year’s ISSTA can be attended for as little as €25 (unwaged or undergraduate student), €50 (postgraduate student) or €70 (professional), which also includes ISSTA memership for one year. (It is also possible to buy a one-day ticket (€40) or a non-member two-day ticket (€80).)

Registration includes free tea/coffee and lunch as well as the refreshments for the opening reception.

To get the best rates, joint ISSTA first, then proceed to members’ registration.

Join Us

ISSTA 2017 Member’s Registration Page

2017 Non-member’s Registration Page


Festival/conference theme:

This year’s theme of ‘Sound-Makers: technologies, practices and cultures’ brings together practitioners and researchers in the field to share their experiences, creativity and skills over 2 days in Dundalk Institute of Technology. Custom–made and repurposed controllers and intentionally hackable instruments now support the creation and control of new music and AV work outside the mouse and keyboard paradigm. These technologies are increasingly being championed by grassroots movements which are driven by the designers, makers and creators who build and use them. Maker groups, festivals and social spaces––frequently more diverse and inclusive than those of academia and industrial R&D––have emerged to engage new creators and audiences through music, visual and sound art performances.

ISSTA-17 promises to offer audiences and participants an exposure to the exciting new creative experiences afforded by these new approaches!


Outline Schedule: Day 1, Thurs 7th

09.00 Registration (Entrance PJ Carroll’s building)

09.30 Welcome (P1080, PJ Carroll’s building)
Head of School, Dr. Gerard (Bob) McKiernan, School of Informatics and Creative Arts Dr Linda O Keeffe, President of ISSTA

10.00 Papers I (P1080)
11.30 Coffee Break
12.00 Keynote 1: Peter Kirn (P1080)
13.00 Buffet Lunch (Winter Garden, PJ Carroll’s Building)
13:30 Workshop I: DIY Oscillator (P1077)
14.00 Artworks Tour (various rooms in PJ Carroll’s – meet at entrance) 14.00 Papers 2: (P1080)
16:00 Keynote 2: Dr. Luca Forcucci (Recital Room)
17.00 Concert I (Mac Anna Theatre)
18.30 ISSTA reception (Winter Garden, PJ Carroll’s Building)
21.00 ISSTA ‘Late Night’ (Spirit Store): Sunken Foal & Joni LIVE + ISSTA DJ’s


Outline Schedule: Day 2, Fri 8th

09.30 Papers 3 (P1080) 09.30 Papers 3a (P1081)

11.30 Coffee (Winter Garden)
11.45 Keynote 2: Prof. Teresa Dillon (P1080)
13.00 Buffet Lunch (Winter Garden, PJ Carroll’s Building)
13:30 Workshop 2: Springs & Coils (P1077)
14.00 Artworks Tour (various rooms in PJ Carroll’s – meet at entrance) 14.00 Concert 2 (Mac Anna Theatre)
16:00 Closing Ceremony & ISSTA AGM (Mac Anna Theatre)


In particular, we’d like to highlight the workshops:

Instrument maker and designer, Andy Wilson will guide participants through building their own Sine Wave Oscillator. No previous soldering or electronics experience is required and everything you need to build the oscillator will be provided. Participation in this workshop requires a fee of €30 but you get to leave with your very own oscillator! NOTE: you do not need to be registered for the conference to take part in this workshop.

David Strang will then explore the potential of Springs and Coils as sound generating devices, taking participants through spring reverb, magnetic pickup coils and mini FM broadcasting (http://www.davidstrang.co.uk/ ).
Participation in this workshop requires registration for the conference and advance booking.

Please contact Niall Coghlan to book a place on the workshops: niall.coghla [at] dkit.ie






NIME2017 paper with Ricky Graham et al. Exploring Pitch and Timbre through 3D Spaces: Embodied Models in Virtual Reality as a Basis for Performance Systems Design

Just a quick preview of some stuff that’s coming up in our NIME 2017 paper (with Ricky Graham and Christopher Manzione of Stevens Institute of Technology and William Brent of American University).

Exploring Pitch and Timbre through 3D Spaces: Embodied Models in Virtual Reality as a Basis for Performance Systems Design


Our paper builds on an ongoing collaboration between theorists and practitioners within the computer music community, with a specific focus on three-dimensional environments as an incubator for performance systems design. In particular, we are concerned with how to provide accessible means of controlling spatialization and timbral shaping in an integrated manner through the collection of performance data from various modalities from an electric guitar with a multichannel audio output. This paper will focus specifically on the combination of pitch data treated within tonal models and the detection of physical performance gestures using timbral feature extraction algorithms. We discuss how these tracked gestures may be connected to concepts and dynamic relationships from embodied cognition, expanding on performative models for pitch and timbre spaces. Finally, we explore how these ideas support connections between sonic, formal and performative dimensions. This includes instrumental technique detection scenes and mapping strategies aimed at bridging music performance gestures across physical and conceptual planes.



Gesture, embodied, schemas, mapping, metaphor, spatialization, timbre, feature, tracking.


Further details

The paper uses Unity to explore embodied ideas within musical gestures (including the use of Brent’s timbreID feature detection library). I contributed some ideas on embodied structures which can be used in mapping.


Figure 3. An embodied timbre–space; concepts from Smalley (1997) and Johnson (2008), after Bridges and Graham (2015)


Embodied Dynamics – Potential Mapping Strategies
Dynamic 1: Temporal Synchronicity of Attack Envelopes X ranges from motion launching (rapid dynamic change, more synchronous entry) to gradual contour energy (asynchronous entry of partials).
Dynamic 2: Spectral Energy Distribution: Height vs. Rootedness Y via the spectral centroid gives us two scales and dynamics: contour energy (verticality schema: pitch height) and associated motion rootedness; regions of stability.
Dynamic 3: Spatial Clarity within Individual Sound Sources Z via presence or absence of attack transients articulates motion rootedness or tension (audible transient products of inertia) to ungrounded events (diffuse or sustained tones). This is related to a diffuse–to–point source spatial coverage schema.

Table 3. Mapping Strategies based on Embodied Dynamics


Gesture Sonic Affordance
Short, repetitive movements; cycles if complete repetition Detached individual sound events, cycle–loops.
Expansive gesture Clear path or projection outward (versus inertia)
Less expansive gesture and small gesture again Weak projection (inertial) and chaotic path.

Table 4. Using Bodily Gestures to Drive Parametric Change


Ricky and Christopher have made some great demo videos of how performance gestures can be creatively mapped within a 3D/VR space.

I’m only sorry I won’t be able to be at the conference in Copenhagen in person!

Inclusive Creativity: Digital Practices (31st May at Magee campus)

Inclusive Creativity: Digital Practices (Hearts of STEM 2017) is a public engagement symposium which is being organised by Dr Brendan McCloskey, Dr Brian Bridges and Prof. Frank Lyons at Ulster University, Magee campus on May 31st 2017. The event is being held in association with the Walled City Music Festival and is being supported by Garfield Weston.

The event is FREE to anyone interested in inclusion within the arts, education and community sectors.

Our first confirmed keynote is Prof. Tony Brooks (Department of Architecture, Design and Media Technology, Aalborg University, Denmark)

Further details on the event Facebook page.

If you have questions about the event, please email brendanmac2017 [at] gmail [dot] com.


All symposium events will be held at the Foyle Arts Building (MQ building), Magee campus.

(Some associated concert events will be held at Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin as part of the Walled City Music Festival.)

See also this link for orientation info on visiting Derry.

Video of ISSTA 2016 Festival and Conference

Here’s a video documentary about our ISSTA 2016 International Festival and Conference on Sound (made by Pillarpix Media).

The event took place September 7th-9th at Ulster University, Magee campus and partner venues throughout the city of Derry~Londonderry, including the Void Gallery, the Nerve Centre, Garden of Reflection gallery, Echo Echo Dance Theatre, the Craft Village, Visit Derry, Bennigans and Sandinos.

Find out more at http://issta.ie.