The Trad Noise Trio


Contributing to the global celebration of the centennial of artist and composer John Cage in 2012, composer and computer music software developer Eric Lyon created a networked program which combines musical instructions with indeterminacy of duration and combination to catalyze the performance of an ensemble, which he has called “noise.”During these performances, Eric’s computer programme sends instructions over a local wifi network to laptops in front of each performer. The selection and duration of the instructions are randomly generated from a customized set of possibilities, differ for each performer, and differ in each performance. The unpredictable nature of the instructions invites the performers to mediate between the known and the unknown. Thus is employed one of Cage’s most important artistic ideas, his use of indeterminacy in performance, so that what happens is neither random nor predictable. The idea differs from free improvisation, because it involves using a system carefully designed to elicit the unexpected, the surprising, and hopefully, the delightful.

Martin Dowling (fiddle), Ryan Molloy (piano), and Úna Monaghan (harp), have joined forces with Eric, forming the Trad Noise Trio to explore the possibilities of noise in Irish traditional music, combining the practice of traditional music with the practice of systematic indeterminacy. Following Eric’s newly “tradified” vocabulary of commands and timings, the trio take common Irish tunes (jigs, reels, polkas, and airs) and inflect them through his computer-generated performance guide. Tunes are played straight, and then bent, spliced, stretched, compressed, and possibly reconstructed into something magical, unpredictable, and unrepeatable called “trad noise.”


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