Entwining Science and Music - Concert 2

1:00pm - 2:00pm / Wednesday 13th October 2021
Type: Music / Category: Department
  • Suitable for: All welcome
  • Admission: Free
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13 October, 1pm

Entwining Science and Music - Concert 2

Knighton/Rempe-Gillen Pendula

Sargen/Grunder Geiger

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Passcode: 4jFcH=.L

Dynamical Systems: Pendula (5'48")

Composer: Simon Knighton, RNCM

Scientist: Professor Lasse Rempe-Gillen, Professor of Pure Mathematics, The University of Liverpool

An example of a dynamical system is a pendulum. The piece uses electronic production techniques and surround sound to create the ‘illusion’ that the ensemble is swinging around the audience. This is achieved by using a pre-recorded sample of the ensemble, which seamlessly overlaps with the live acoustic ensemble, and then starts to swing around the audience. A key feature of dynamical systems is that at a certain point they can become chaotic if certain conditions arise, and so, the climax of the piece uses pendulum motion that moves so fast that the sound becomes an unrecognisable, randomised blur of chaos.

Further information at

Geiger (5'37")

Composer: Ellen Sargen, RNCM

Scientist: Dr Yvonne Grunder, Royal Society University Research Fellow, The University of Liverpool

This project really took off when Ellen went to visit Yvonne at the Diamond Synchrotron in Didcot, Oxfordshire in early January. A synchrotron is a Wembley-sized electron accelerator and allows Yvonne to study changes in the atomic surfaces of metals when they interact with other substances.

Back in Manchester, Ellen had a workshop with RNCM Performance students Tas Noguchi (saxophone) and Maria Rocha (guitar). They worked on textures that imitated the atomic interaction in Yvonne’s experiments, exploring chaotic structures that became regimented over time. However, none of this material made it into the final piece, which instead became focused around something that happened at the end of the workshop. Inspired by the thrill of working in the Diamond, Ellen had been listening to a lot of Geiger counter samples. She played an example to Tas and Maria and asked what they would do if they were asked to imitate it. The final piece is based around the sounds that Tas and Maria produced in response to this.

Ellen took a field recording of this moment, slowed this down with audio editing software and orchestrated the resultant sound file. With editing, the resultant textures were perfect for the chaotic atoms that she was originally trying to imitate and yet puts the musicians at the heart of the piece.

Further information at