Weather music

Moving far beyond the usual practice of bashing about pots, pans and the occasional washboard to create experimental music, sound artists James Bulley and Daniel Jones have enlisted the help of the weather – including rainfall, solar radiation, wind speed and humidity – to make an eight-speaker sound installation shaped in real time by its environment.

The installation transforms patterns in the weather – be that temperature drops, gusts of wind, or drizzle – into music as they occur, using meteorological sensors connected to bespoke software.

Weather Station -  Credit - Louis Mustill
Weather Station – Credit – Louis Mustill

The sensor data passes through a range of algorithmic processes – themselves inspired by natural modelling such as tree growth, swarm theory and evolutionary development – which then change the harmonic progressions, notes and timbres of 24 specifically written pieces.

Jones says, ‘We’re both really interested in linking together distant processes, using structures from different fields (weather, light, crowds, etc) as ways to organise sound. We also wanted to push the bounds of typical computer music, and create something algorithmically ambitious whilst being accessible, sculptural, and with the production values of a typical studio composition.’

James Bulley and Daniel Jones - Credit - Louis Mustill
James Bulley and Daniel Jones – Credit – Louis Mustill

As you can imagine, the mechanics behind the project are pretty complex, and so Bulley and Jones, along with a number of other musicians and technicians involved in the project, will be presenting the piece, and allowing musos to take a peep under the machine’s bonnet, at an event at London’s The Book Club on 22 June.

There will also be a meteorological eight-channel DJ set featuring some of the spatialisation methods devised for the piece – controlled by a wind vane – and an informal panel discussion on sound in art featuring producer Joana Seguro, curator Cecilia Wee writer and curator Daniela Cascella, and sound designer Nick Ryan.

Variable 4 Showcase is at 2pm on 22 June at The Book Club, 100 Leonard Street, London EC2A.

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