Electric Spring

5 days of electronic sonic exploration.

21–25 February 2018
University of Huddersfield

Electric Spring is an annual festival of sonic exploration of cutting-edge practice in electronic music. The five-day programme of concerts, installations and symposia brings together a collection of people from diverse musical backgrounds to share their knowledge and perform music. The festival is curated by the Music and Music Technology staff of the University of Huddersfield.

Free admission for all concerts and workshops
Concerts at 19:30 in Phipps Hall, Creative Arts Building,

Late Night events at 21:00 - check the full programme for more details. University of Huddersfield


21/02 (Wed): Philip Thomas (UK) & Colin Frank (CAN)
22/02 (Thur): Freida Abtan (CAN/UK)
23/02 (Fri): Rodrigo Constanzo (USA/UK), Brian Crabtree (USA) & Angela Guyton (USA/UK)
23/02 (Fri Late Night): BaconJam
24/02 (Sat): Ambient Music Night
24/02 (Sat Late Night): Sebastien Lavoie (CAN)

Workshops and Installations

Creative Coding Lab Sympoisum (Saturday 12-5)
Ambient@40 Symposium (Friday & Saturday)
Modular Meets (Sunday 12-5)
Installation by Poulomi Desai (Wed-Sat from 5:30-7:30PM)
'I am here, and there is nothing to say' (Thurs 9:00PM-12:00AM)

Full Program

21/02 (Wed)
7:30PM - Phipps Hall
Philip Thomas (UK) & Colin Frank (CAN)
opening act: Aaron Cassidy (USA)

CeReNeM Professor Philip Thomas and postgraduate student Colin Frank present works for piano, percussion and electronics by Thomas Meadowcroft (AUS), Rozalie Hirs (NL), and CeReNeM visiting researcher Luc Döbereiner (GER). The concert kicks off with the UK premiere of a new fixed media work by CeReNeM's Aaron Cassidy.
22/02 (Thur)
7:30PM - Phipps Hall
Freida Abtan (CAN)
opening act: Sam Gillies (AUS/UK) & Katy Gray (UK)

An evening of immersive audiovisual and multimedia works by Freida Abtan, Sam Gillies and Kathryn Gray. Freida presents her work 'the hands of the dancer' (2008), a 21 minute audiovisual composition inspired by the logic of dream narrative. It explores the multiple ways that movement and form can be abstracted through surface and temporal manipulation, as well as the defining sensory relationship that exists between sound and image in time-based composition. Bodily gestures convey secret meanings that need not resort to language.

From 9:00PM - 12:00AM we encourage you to visit 'I am here, and there is nothing to say', a multi-disciplinary installation run by students affiliated with Huddersfield University. After Freida, Sam and Karthyn's concert concludes in Phipps Hall, wander through the CAB atrium and experience the outcome of a 4-day workshop promoting inter-disciplinary collaboration and experimentation. For more information visit here.

23/02 (Fri)
7:30PM - Phipps Hall
Rodrigo Costanzo (USA/UK), Brian Crabtree (USA) & Angela Guyton (USA/UK)
opening act: Owen Green (UK) w/ cardboard.

Friday evening is a diverse exploration of improvisation. Rodrigo Costanzo (programmer and improvisor extraordinnaire), Brian Crabtree (inventor of the monome) and filmmaker/artist Angela Guyton present a work of interdiscplinary connections between dynamic lighting, real-time video, drums and live electronics. Opening the concert is Owen Green—a Research Fellow on Huddersfield's five-year ERC-funded Flucoma project—whose music explores the sonic potential of cardboard, processed and augmented by electronics.

BaconJam take the stage for the late-night concert, presenting works from their diverse collection of artists. Begins 9:00PM in the CAB Atrum. For more information visit their website.
24/02 (Sat)
7:30PM - Phipps Hall
Ambient Music Night

Saturday is a celebration of all things ambient. We invite you to the Ambient@40 Symposium with talks from experts on the history and impact of ambient music as a celebration of the 40th anniversary of Brian Eno's Music for Airports, led by Prof Monty Adkins and composer Simon Cummings, who together have curated a closing concert of new and historic ambient works.

The late-night concert features a multi-channel electronica experience with Sebastien Lavoie (CAN). It's possible there may be dancing. Begins at 9:00PM in Phipps Hall.

Don't forget the Creative Coding Lab Symposium led by Dr. Alex Harker, an oppportunity to meet, discuss and connect with those who are passionate about patching! The symposium runs from 12:00 - 5:00PM in room CAM G/01 which can be found in the Creative Arts Building.
25/02 (Sun)
12:00 - CAB Atrium
Modular Meets

Enjoy an afternoon of modular geeking-out. In the Atrium of the Creative Arts Building, come and share your love for all things pluggable, hackable and circuit bent. This event is run by Ben Wilson from 12:00 - 5:00PM in the afternoon.


Philip Thomas

Philip Thomas specialises in performing new and experimental music, including both notated and improvised music. He places much emphasis on each concert being a unique event, designing imaginative programmes that provoke and suggest connections. In recent years Philip has pursued a passion for freely improvised music, after significant encounters with the music of AMM and Sheffield-based musicians Martin Archer, Mick Beck and John Jasnoch. He has worked with improvisers in a variety of contexts and recently devised a programme of composed music by musicians more normally known as improvisers as well as others who have been influenced by improvisation in some form.

Colin Frank

Colin Frank is a Canadian percussionist, composer, and electronic musician born in Ottawa. Trained orchestrally, but influenced by a variety of genres, Colin specializes in performing and creating contemporary music. A double major music graduate from McGill University, and having studied electronic music at the Institute of Sonology (NL), Colin has performed notably with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, the Sonology Electroacoustic Ensemble, the McGill Percussion Ensemble, and the McGill Symphony Orchestra. His acoustic music has been played by The Red Note Ensemble (UK), the McGill Percussion Ensemble, the Schulich Saxophone Quartet, the Schulich Woodwind Quintet, at the Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice (US), and at the SoundSCAPE new music festival (IT). Aside from music, he enjoys cycling, camping, computer programming, and good home cooking.

Freida Abtan

Freida Abtan is a Canadian multi-disciplinary artist and composer living in London, UK. Her music falls somewhere in between musique concrete and more modern noise and experimental audio and both genres are influential to her sound. Her work has been compared to bands such as Coil, and Zoviet France, because of her use of spectral manipulation and collage. Freida primarily works with samples of both musical and non-musical objects that she records herself and then manipulates, often beyond recognition, through techniques derived from musique concrète and through successive layers of digital signal processing. She uses structures reminiscent of popular music and more abstract compositional variants to sequence these sounds into melodic songs before incorporating her own treated voice.

Rodrigo Costanzo

Rodrigo Constanzo makes art. He thinks this is an important thing to do. The art he makes is generally smeared in time, in the form of music. He improvises and acts as an antennae to the beauty, electricity, and endless surprise that is living a crazy life. He composes and tries to create new sounds, interactions and behaviors that he find interesting and challenging. He performs his own music and the music of others on a variety of instruments, with close friends. He believes in magic. He believes in sharing things. He believes in teaching. He believes in openness. He love sweet jams, and avoids speaking with a complicated vocabulary as much as possible. He tries to live as presently and honestly as possible.

Brian Crabtree

Brian Crabtree (US) creates objects, music, and objects that make music. In 2005 with Kelli Cain he founded monome, pioneering the grid-based performance interface. This open-source tool encourages people to envision and build their own musical systems, fostering an international community where people share code, sounds, and ideas. Brian and Kelli's work has shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in addition to numerous international performances. They live in upstate New York where time is shared with apple orchards, shiitake stacks, and birds of all size and color and song.

Angela Guyton

Angela Guyton (US/UK) is a visual artist. She would be unrecognizable to herself absent of the relationship to the process of making art, so she makes a lot of it. Maybe you have some she's given away. Maybe you've seen a music video (no one owns those). For a few years now, she has been trying to identify with all the warm meat, not just the parts that make the words. By November 13, 2017 she could do a single 95kg deadlift and a 47.5kg benchpress. Exceptionally high in trait openness + low neuroticism. Summary: tolerable to delightful.

Owen Green

I enjoy making soundful systems that breathe and try, playfully, to adapt to their surroundings. Much of what I do involves making such system-compositions as a territory / provocation / instrument for improvising players (usually me plus chums). As of 2017, I work at the University of Huddersfield as a creative coder on the ERC-funded FluCoMa project (http://www.flucoma.org/), developing an ecosystem of tools and techniques for composers to work fluidly with large audio collections. Check out http://www.owengreen.net for a selection of noises and projects.

Sebastien Lavoie

Sebastien regards himself as belonging to a new generation of composers/producers who use the laptop as a musical instrument. This compositional tool allows him to develop his musical skills as much on stage as in the studio. Since 2015, the Ableton’s PUSH and the Novation’s LaunchControlXL have made a revolution in his composition and performance practice. As a sound explorer, he travels through the diverse avenues of noise and music in order to capture and compose the novel sounds. Sebastien is a 2014 winner in the CEC’s annual JTTP project. This national association is supporting the work of Canadian-based young and emerging sound artists.

Poulomi Desai

Poulomi Desai is a self-taught, outsider, multi-media artist and curator since 1980, when she set up Hounslow Arts Co-op at the age of 14. Desai was born in Hackney, London, England. Originally inspired by a street theatre background, her works are performative, textual, image based, and acoustic. She works with collaborative working processes which evolve through research, learning and action to examine the elusive, creating large scale photographs, performances and outdoor sound installations.

Aaron Cassidy

Aaron Cassidy is an American composer and conductor based in England since 2007. Aaron's music exhibits a radical approach to the parametric organisation in composition in a manner which he describes as 'decoupling'. He is concerned with the possibilities found in the friction and fracturing musical parameters, and to defamiliarise aspects of traditional performance practice. Cassidy joined the staff of the University of Huddersfield in 2007 and currently serves as Professor of Composition and Director of the Centre for Research in New Music (CeReNeM).

Thomas Meadowcroft

Thomas Meadowcroft is a composer, arranger and musician. His work has been described as 'reaching an inexpressible purity' (Le Monde), 'nerve torture' (Süddeutsche Zeitung), 'dreamy post-rock' (New York Times), and 'between academic schmaltz and avantgarde-pop' (Zitty Magazine). More recent work has focused on aspects of Australian culture. The 2016 radiophonic work, Moving Homes, co-commissioned by Deutschlandradio Kultur and ABC Creative Audio Unit, is set on an imaginary stretch of Queensland coastline which is prone to tropical cyclones and the ensuing loss of personal property. Song Buslines (2013), also commissioned by Deutschlandradio Kultur, describes the routes of long-haul bus trips along the east coast of Australia. The engine of a Holden Monaro belonging to Meadowcroft's cousin is the featured sound source in the 2008 installation, Monaro Eden (first exhibited at GOMA, Brisbane).

Luc Döbereiner

Luc Döbereiner is a researcher and composer of instrumental and electronic music from Berlin. He studied at the Institute of Sonology in The Hague and holds a doctorate degree from the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz. His work is concerned with compositional models and explores the relation of materiality and ideality of sound in musical composition. He has published articles in numerous journals and has been awarded prizes and scholarships by among others the city of Berlin, the Austrian Science Fund, Deutsches Studienzentrum Venice, the Royal Conservatoire The Hague, and ZKM Karlsruhe. He has been guest lecturer at the Bern University of the Arts and he is currently visiting researcher at the Centre for Research in New Music at the University of Huddersfield.

Sam Gillies

Sam Gillies is a composer and sound artist with an interest in the function of noise as both a musical and communicative code in music and art. His work treads the line between the musically beautiful and ugly, embracing live performance, multimedia and installation art forms to create alternating sound worlds of extreme fragility and overwhelming density. Sam’s music has been programmed at both national and international conferences and festivals, including the Test Tone Series at Superdeluxe, Tokyo and the International Computer Music Conference. Sam most recently completed a Masters in Composition at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Kathryn Gray

Kathryn Gray's work encompasses music, performance and spacial sound which is built on an auto didactic approach. This approach centers around embracing the weirdnesses and differences which arise through self-taught musicianship, composition and production. Pursuing themes of seclusion, ritual and escape, her recent work has been influenced by medieval music and storytelling. Interested in applying constraints to her work, Gray predominantly uses sounds made by herself and which are manipulated through processing techniques ranging from self built pedals to digital software. This interest has lead centering her work around the voice alongside various technologies including drums, amplifiers and microphones in closed loops, bells, gongs, shakers, home made electronics and studio techniques. This repertoire and compositional tropes has lead to a sound which varies between music and noise.

Anna Peaker

Anna Peaker is a visual artist and graphic designer who began working with sound in 2016. Working from a small attic space at home, she uses budget keyboards, drum machines, loops and effects to create microcosmic soundscapes. Sounds are influenced by domestic spaces, how we spend our time in them and escapism from them.

Chris Ruffoni

Chris Ruffoni is a Huddersfield-based musician making lo-fi electronic music. After spending time composing acousmatic music, he is now interested in creating for/through live performance and improvisation. He describes his work as blurred, cyclical, layered and textural.

Katz Mulk

Katz Mulk is a performance collective featuring the hands; brains; legs and torsos of Andrea Kearney, Ben Knight, Ben Morris and Siân Williams. Pulling together crude electronics; field recordings; narrative fragments; dance and sculpture to create a sticky radiophonic syrup. In the past few years they have played across Europe and released Katzenzungen on Sacred Tapes, ands Husks on Singing Knives Records.

Creative Coding Lab Symposium

This year Electric Spring hosts the first Creative Coding Lab Symposium. Those who have attended the Max/MSP Power Users’ Symposium in the past will recognise the format of four guest speakers taking about creative work with audio programming, but in this new incarnation we’ve broadened the remit to encompass a wider range of languages and practices. This new name is taken from the recently formed Creative Coding Lab here at the University of Huddersfield.

The afternoon is an opportunity for practitioners in creative coding to share and discuss both their technical approaches and their artistic thinking, as well as the way they link the two together. Each of the four guest speakers will talk for around 45 mins to an hour, about their practice with the opportunity for attendees to ask questions after each talk.

The symposium will run from 12-5 on Saturday the 24th of Feb in CAM G/01 in the Creative Arts Building. The setting will be relatively informal. Light refreshments will be provided.


minimal + dynamic + open

Brian Crabtree
Freelance Musician / monome

Some time ago we made a simple proposition: a minimalist physical instrument that by default does nothing, whose behavior is to be defined by the user. We made a grid interface. What followed was an unexpected journey into community building, shared musical exploration, and open source collaboration.

More recently monome has been pushing the modular environment in new directions: grid-enabled for dense data and gestural manipulation, integrating scripting for both live code and functional reconfiguration, a digital communications bus for inter-module awareness, and more. We propose a different system philosophy, one of expansive possibilities within a small collection.

Brian Crabtree (US) creates objects, music, and objects that make music. In 2005 with Kelli Cain he founded monome, pioneering the grid-based performance interface. This open-source tool encourages people to envision and build their own musical systems, fostering an international community where people share code, sounds, and ideas. Brian and Kelli's work has shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in addition to numerous international performances. They live in upstate New York where time is shared with apple orchards, shiitake stacks, and birds of all size and color and song.

Ask Not What’s In The Code But What The Code Is In: Embedding Creative Coding In Performative Research

John Bowers
Digital Cultures Research Group
Culture Lab and Fine Art
University of Newcastle

In this talk, I will describe an approach to working that I and colleagues have variably characterised as ‘public making’, ‘many makings’, ‘curated’ or ‘performative research’ as an alternative to traditional engineering-oriented methods. Our emphasis is on light-touch creation of multiple small makes in response to a provocative theme and their assemblage into hybrid performance/installation environments where digital technologies interwork with other materialities. In a manner which draws on the tradition of ‘Research Through Design’, it is through creative work that we speak to research issues.

Work in this style has included: Sound Spaces (with Simon Bowen and Tim Shaw) where multiple strategies for spatialising sound were experimented with to uncover the esoteric sonic organisation of the city of Liverpool, Turing Tape Music (with Tom Schofield) where a physicalisation of a Turing Machine was live coded by sensor data, Stookie John Comes To Belfast where a dummy head listened to a live improvisation and coded musical algorithms in its own esoteric programming language, All The Noises (with Owen Green) where multiple machine listening and generative algorithms coexisted in a multi-loudspeaker environment, One Knob To Rule Them All where 11 researchers rapidly made work to a common brief and created a layered performance environment, and Mythogeosonics (with Tim Shaw), a collective name to a series of pieces exploring an extended practice of walking, field recording and live performance.

All of these have involved extensive use of media programming languages, in particular Pure Data and Processing, and have caused us to reflect on the status of code and the activity of coding in our creative practice. In particular, as an alternative to representational accounts of how programming works, we have begun to explore ideas of ‘performative coding’ to think about code in the multivalent, hybrid performance ecologies which we like to create. In my own coding practice, this has lead to exploration of strategies that I will discuss under the provisional names of ‘perverse hyper-conformity’, ‘brutalism’, ‘reductionism’, ‘ironic universalism’, and ‘chthonicism’.

John Bowers has a varied academic background having made contributions to research in psychology, sociology, computer science, and art and design. He is also a sound and inter-media artist who works with modular synthesisers, home-brew electronics, and reconstructions of antique image and sound-making devices, alongside contemporary digital technology. He makes performance environments which combine sound, image and gesture at a fundamental material level. He has performed at festivals including the collateral programme of the Venice Biennale, Piksel Bergen, Electropixel Nantes, AlgoMech Sheffield, BEAM Uxbridge and Spill Ipswich, and toured with the Rambert Dance Company performing David Tudor’s music to Merce Cunningham’s Rainforest. He contributed to the design of The Prayer Companion - a piece exhibited twice at the Museum Of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, and acquired for their permanent collection. Amongst many musical collaborations, he works with Sten-Olof Hellström, Tim Shaw and in the noise drone band Tonesucker. John Bowers works in Culture Lab and Fine Art, Newcastle University, where he helps coordinate the Digital Cultures Research Group.

Creating Coding: Addressing and Designing Practical Interactivity in Performance.

Sebastian Lexer
University of Glasgow

This talk will give insights into the creative journey from working with Max for the development of the performance system Piano+ towards the realisation of the touchscreen controller app Parat+ and the development of modular synth modules.

I will also discuss various aspects and approaches with examples at the piano, to demonstrate the practicality and musical potential of exploring contingencies in controller mappings and processes.

Sebastian Lexer’s musical life is focused on free improvisation and the experimental. The role of technology has become increasingly integral in his music, reflected in his creation of the Piano+, an electroacoustic extension to the piano. His solo CD Dazwischen and various collaborations—including Steve Noble, Evan Parker, Eddie Prévost, Ute Kanngiesser and Seymour Wright—show the exciting soundworlds ‘in between’ the acoustic piano and the electroacoustic.

Sebastian works as a musician and lecturer, and is the founder of Incalcando, developing the iOS app Parat+ and bespoke interactive software and hardware for musicians and artists. A regular performance schedule has included concerts and radio broadcasts in Europe and the US.

A million little pieces (or is it a few big pieces (or does it matter?))

Rodrigo Constanzo
Freelance Musician

I’m all about showing you some of the stuff I do. A lot of it uses computers. Some of it uses lights. I might go on and on about why and forget about the how, but then remember that too, and go on and on about that a bit as well.

Rodrigo Constanzo makes art.
He thinks this is an important thing to do.
The art he makes is generally smeared in time, in the form of music.
He believes in magic. He believes in sharing things.
He believes in teaching.
He believes in openness.
He love sweet jams, and avoids speaking with a complicated vocabulary as much as possible.
He tries to live as presently and honestly as possible.

Ambient@40 Symposium

In the forty years since the release of Brian Eno’s Music for Airports the concept and aesthetics of ambient music have proliferated, influencing artists as diverse as Taylor Deupree, Steven Wilson, David Lynch and The Orb, infusing drone, microsound, minimalism and experimental electronic music as well as aspects of contemporary instrumental music. The aim of this two-day conference is to re-appraise ambient music in relation to Eno’s milestone release.

Ambient@40 will be hosted in the George Buckley Theatre at the University of Huddersfield from Friday 23rd to Saturday 24th February.

The open call for Ambient@40 has now closed. For more information, event times and contact details you can visit the official website here.

Want to get in touch?

For any questions about the promotion of the events,
please contact:
The Electric Spring organising committee apologises that we cannot reply to unsolicited concert/project proposals.

University of Huddersfield,
West Yorkshire,
HD1 3DH,
United Kingdom

Admission to all concerts, installations, and the CCL Symposium is free of charge.
To register for the Ambient@40 Symposium, please click here.