Sketches on Sound, Listening & Learning

Sound, Listening and Learning


Sound, Listening and Pedagogy


Frequency, Listening and Education


Vibration, Listening and Pedagogy



Sound is defined as any frequency or vibration, audible or non-audible to the human ear. Vibration permits the motion of air towards the ear where it is ultimately heard leading to the possibility of listening.

(The same motion of waves maintains a flow of air containing oxygen entering the body and the brain. “music produces sound which is a manifestation of variable changes in atmospheric pressure…In this respect music is a motivator for the transport of the essential factors of the life force- oxygen” Milford Graves.) This is important in relation to breathing and calmness, interaction between body and breathing and ablity to apply oneself and listen.

Listening is defined specifically in reference to Pauline Oliveros ie. That“to hear is the physical means that enables perception. To listen is to give attention to what is perceived both acoustically and psychologically”.

You can hear something without listening but to listen you must first hear and then listen. The ability to listen is a prerequiste to learning, without this a learner cannot engage fully in dialogue, gain understanding of concepts and schema, partake in rigorous debate and/or challenge possibilities presented to them.

Final word is trickiest to define, lets try “Learning/Education/Pedagogy” something like: to learn, gain knowledge, to grow and realise ones self as a human being, to become truly conscious of being human, gain skills confidence, possibilities of economic, social and “spiritual”? well being. An inability to listen can isolate the individual from being an active agent and particpant in their educational and wider cosmos. The possibility to enter into dialogue and engage.

More to follow as this develops for sure…

Levenshulme Bike Orchestra comes back to life…





A few pics from practise the other night plus see below for added theortical rigour…

The group operates in an as yet undefined area between intuitaive ritualised musical theatrical performance and shared collective improvising around musical and lyrical themes developed by all members of the group. There are various aims and objectives.

To function as an accepted method of therapy for members to express and explore ideas and behaviours in forms that would be unacceptable outside the realms of performance.

As a theoretical machinery that allows the musicians and audience to interrogate their own ideas of the boundaries and interrelations between sound, music, tone, vibaration, movement, theatre, performance, spectacle, art, and catharsis.

As an ongoing process of instrument building, adaptation and reclaimation from that which is not specifically an instrument but with which sound can be made. This use of scrap, discarded and recycled objects rebuilt as instruments locates a utilitarian power with the players and for anyone who wants to imagine and construct their own instruments.

Noise Upstairs Podcast

Cerebrus Shoal, Lee and Ant outside the ALL FM studios
Cerebrus Shoal, Lee and Ant outside the ALL FM studios

The good folk at the Noise Upstairs improv night asked us toproduce a kindof last shout posthumous Northern Wire podcast for them to be played out at one of there forthcoming monthly sessions, below is whats on it…

Sweetleaf Black Sabbath

Barabadabada Ivor Cutler

Lovely Sky Boat Alice Coltrane

Black Jerusalem Teeth Mountain

I chose a random strange and stalked the shit out of them Kylie Minoise

Poeme Electronique Edgrad Varese

Fat Librarian Inca Eyeball

Reqiuem for Dying Mothers Stars of the Lid

Forwards and Back Music for One

Sonata for solo Violin Fuga Bela Bartok

Schizophrenia Sonic Youth

Room Temperature Suite Don Caballero

Orginal Suffer Head Fela Kuti

This what we said about the show: read and weep: apologies to anyone we forgot:

“The Northern Wire was a radio show on Manchesters ALL FM. Show was started in 2002 by David Armes who passed the baton on to Anthony Saunders and David Birchall around 2005 they ran with the show til its retirment earlier in this year; 2009. The show was characterised by a totally lack of musical policy resulting in a spontaneaty and honesty that was hard to recreate; Black Sabbath would be followed by the sound of howling wind in Siberia, Art Ensemble of Chicago would mould in unidentifable harsh CDR noise freakouts, Bartok would wrestle with mid 90s hardcore while some very real but ultimately sub Laurel and Hardyesque routine was wheeled out live in the studio. Another great feature of the show was live sessions from Vialka (France/Canada) McWatt (UK) Cerebrus Shoal (USA) Lianne Hall (UK) DBH (UK) Klaus Kinski (UK) Noise Upstairs Trio (UK) Smear Campaign (UK) Part Wild Horses Mane on Both Sides (France)”

Open Eye Ensemble in Lyon

Brief snatch of Open Eye set from Lyon earlier this year recorded by the ever vigilant DBH. Pascal is out of shot playing percussion, Nick, Kelly and myself are just visible; Kelly applying tape to my goodself and guitar nearly became an escapology trick. Everyone else in the room has gone wild with the same kindof scritchy noise as the group make, bits of tin cans, discarded parts, glas.

Kalbakken Gamelan

A brief snatch of Nick and I improvising a piece of our Kalbakken set from the Ruby Lounge gig with a Hawk and a Hacksaw at the end of June.

Citylife said this about the performance: 

“Fellow Norwegian-Mancunian Kalbakken was more intense, reinterpreting traditional Norwegian folk songs with trancelike guitar playing and frantic sleigh bells, as well as a metal bowl tapped with a paintbrush.”



Just dredged up this Kalbakken tour photo post gig in Malaga with the incredible  Pamplonian hardcore band  Antigua & Barbuda outside the Casa Invisible squatted social space. Shortly after this photo was taken they tried to hidnap Kirsty using banned substances as bait. The streets were covered in wax from the wild pointed hat and candles Easter parades the week before and made the most incredible screetches on car tires.

Recent Reading lists…

Arcana Vol 2 edited by John Zorn

Edgard Varese biography by Fernand Ouellette

Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs

Just Intonation Primer by David B. Doty

Deep Listening by Pauline Oliveros

The Old Testament by some really old guys back in the day

Guardian Crosswords by Persons Unknown

The Man of Light in Iranian Sufism by Henry Corbin

Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Melville