Martin Parker

holding sound

jarsShotholding sound is a project I’ve been developing since November 2011. It is based on the idea that sound itself can be used as an interface to drive reactions from a computer. Importantly these are controlled by a very limited sound generating instrument – a pair of glass jars.

The title relates to two ideas. The first is that given the jars should be large enough to hold and the microphones are placed inside them, you’re literally holding the sound in your hands as you play. By changing how much you cover the tops of the jars with your palms, you can directly control the frequencies of the feedback in the system. The second idea relates to the quality of music itself. As a multichannel piece, scalable to any number of loudspeakers, the sounds rove around the room – this movement is linked to the amplitude and frequency of the sound that is made by the jars. As I play, I have the feeling that I can freeze the sound into the room if I can discipline myself to stay still for long enough.

I have performed this on several occasions, firstly in Edinburgh in November 2011 at the Soundings Festival, again in Prague in December 2011 (AXA in action), then more recently at Keele University on the 31st October 2012 and again in Dundee at Generator Projects on the 12th November as part of Catherine Street’s Continuum project.

Below is a recording I made of the Dundee performance with an excruciating amount of reverberation added in post. This is a temporary mix that I may replace with the next performance of the piece at the Surrounded Festival in Munich later this month. Enjoy!

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Performing in Pargue, December 2011, photo from here:

Catherine Street’s Continuum

Artist Catherine Street invited Owen Geen and I to perform in Dundee on Saturday 10th November 2012, see details below. Should be a multispeaker blow out with jam jars, dirty mics, a new film and text by Catherine Street.

Catherine Street, JL Williams, Martin Parker and Owen Green. Screening and performance at Generator Projects, 25-26 Mid Wynd Industrial Estate, Dundee, DD1 4JG.

Saturday 10th November, Doors 7pm, screening and performance starts 7.30pm (lasts approx 1 hour).

This site-specific event will be an immersive experience featuring a new film by artist Catherine Street. The film will be followed by readings by poet JL Williams and Catherine Street, as well as live performances by composers and improvisers Martin Parker and Owen Green.

Full details:

If you want to make a night of it there will be a performance/club night at Chamber East later – details here:


IMG_5321 IMG_5323 Screen shot 2012-01-26 at 01.57.36 Screen shot 2012-01-26 at 01.57.57 Screen shot 2012-01-26 at 15.30.31 Screen shot 2012-01-26 at 15.30.38 IMG_5332 IMG_5336 IMG_5329

Week of the 26th January I had the great pleasure of working with three very fine dancers; Tony Mills, Hannah Seignior and Felicity Beveridge. I’m the composer / sonic interaction designer in Bev Hood’s “Glitching” project:

First gruntDump for bass clarinet

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I just spent an exciting morning making noise with ace-clarinettist Peter Furniss. We were preparing the bass clarinet edition of GruntCount.

Pete is an extremely willing improviser so it was very easy to stretch the system and get some new, filthy settings for our concert in the Reid Concert Hall on the 13th March 2012.

The computer processing in GruntCount is fairly gritty (one of the reasons for its title) and this seems to work very well with the rich colours Pete can produce. The way we worked this morning was to take each voice of the processing system in turn and establish a series of settings that we thought worked well. We also got as far as finding some mixes of the different voices and parameters but have still to find a musical structure that makes sense of the wide variety of sounds that Peter can produce in combination with the software.
One of the features of GruntCount is that it can be scaled to fit different contexts. Depending upon what else is in the programme, it can be a long blow, full of atmosphere and tension, or it can be more flamboyant and short. As we’re preparing this for a concert featuring Stravinsky, Musgrave, Reich and a recent piece by Alex Harker called Fluence, we’re going for something in between the two. We’re hoping to give the audience’s ears a bit of a blast but should also show some of the reactive twists and turns the electronics can take.

The concert is a University lunchtime event, starting at 1:10pm in the Reid Concert Hall, the gig is free.

Here’s a rough snippet or two from the system as it sounds today (20th Jan 2012);

Please note, these are rough mixes from a draft session, certainly not the finished piece as you’ll hear it in concert.

St Pölten Workshops Jan 2012


New work for headphones at Soundwaves

I have a new work for the soundwaves festival go live this week. Playlist interludes is a series of 10 short pieces to dump into your music collection.  They can be listened to in order A-J but better to stumble across them on shuffle play.

They’ll premiere at Soundwaves on the 17th July 2011, more information is here.

Download to your portable player from;

Anne La Berge to play gruntCount in Amsterdam on 6th July

Anne tells me she’ll perform gruntCount in Amsterdam on the 6th July.  Good luck Anne!

gruntCount goes flute


I’ve just spent three days in the company of the absolutely spectacular flautist Anne La Berge. We’ve been developing the first official edition of gruntCount, a sound-managed (self playing) piece for solo instrument and computer.

Anne was fantastic to work with and totally got the idea of the piece (that requires the player to literally push their way through a map of complex sound processing presets). I’ll publish the score and software on sumtone soon, it will then be available for other flautists to take on the road. Meanwhile, I’ll be working with other instruments to get settings for their own edition of gruntCount soon.

We premiered the piece in Alison House at a lovely concert with edimpro on Tuesday 14th June. The image above is the map of the piece that Anne performed; 8500 grunts took her around 15 minutes to get through.

Searching sound with sound, new installation at Newhailes

Photo by Anna Chapman

I’ve just completed a sound installation devised for the library of the atmospheric National Trust for Scotland’s Newhailes Estate. Dr Johnston once described this room as “the most learned drawing room in Europe” but its shelves are now empty.

The work was devised and created in collaboration with artist Anna Chapman whose exhibition “Subjects of Melancholy Retrospection” has drawn extensively from the books that once belonged to the library and now reside in the National Library of Scotland.

Subjects for Melancholy Retrospection
Newhailes, near Edinburgh, Scotland, 5 August – 6 September 2010
private view
Wednesday 4 August 6-8pm
additional late opening
Thursday 26 August 6-8pm

More information about the estate and how to get there is available here;

STEIM orientation

Taking Sean Williams, Owen Green and Lauren Hayes to STEIM for a week of orientation and introduction to what’s going on there.

Here is a link to our blogs;

Links to some of our late night studio 2 improvisations are below:

Ode to Sextant
Have we started yet?
Master System
Short, Sweet
Beetles and Chips
Long and Boring
Jurassic Parker (Vocal Mix)
Chit Chat

Songs for an airless room tour, 2010

My opera for cinema is finally finished and on tour.

Songs for an airless room on tour, February 2010;

Friday 19th February, 6:45pm

Glasgow Film Theatre (GFT)
Showing as part of the Glasgow Film Festival

Tickets: 0141 332 6535

Sunday 21st February, 9:30

Cameo Cinema, Edinburgh

Tickets: 0871 704 2052

Monday 22nd February, 8pm

FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) Liverpool

Tickets: 0871 704 2063

Chiaroscuro Pentimenti – CD and book finally released

In December 2009, Jennifer Williams, Anna Chapman and I finally released our project Chiaroscuro Pentimenti.

The book has been beautifully designed by Anna Chapman ( and is available as a limited edition of 200 for £12 including PnP, please get in touch if you want to get hold of a copy.

Zuppa inglese

Lapslap release Zuppa Inglese, our third release on Leo Records.

You can buy the disc here:

Concert in Porto

I’ll play a concert with long-time collaborator Hannes Raffaseder at the SMC conference in Porto on the 23rd July.
This is the 6th Sound and Music Computing conference: It will take place at the extraordinary Casa da Música.
Other performers on the bill that night include;
Diemo Schwarz, Yasuhiro Otani and Alexander Schubert

lapslap release Scratch on Leo Records

In Feb 2009, lapslap released Scratch, our second album on Leo Records.

The disc can be bought from Leo Records

The album was recently reviewed by John Eyles on

Music at the Brewhouse

I’m writing a new piece for Music at the Brewhouse, to be performed on the Rock and Roll swindle tour in April 2009.

new commission for the East Neuk festival

I’ll write a new work for headphones to be presented at the East Neuk festival in June 2009.

Martin Joins

In December 2008, I joined online music publisher
Several older and some new pieces are published there including:

Grab 2008
Steinmetzarbeiten 1997
Sounds of Line 2000