Skip to content

BEAM: Interactive music | Sat 2nd & Sun 3rd May 2015

Cheltenham Jazz Festival: Parabola Arts Centre foyer
 | 11.30 – 9pm
 | Free

Play with curious and delightful interactive machines, curated by Brunel University’s BEAM Festival. Remix festival performers, play instruments made of Lego and see what noises are hiding inside a chest of drawers…


BEAM@Cheltenham represents an exciting new collaboration between two groundbreaking festivals.  Brunel University’s BEAM (Brunel Electronic + Analogue Music) Festival focuses on what it is to make sound physical, especially starting with technology and seeing how bodies and machines can interact to create new performative relationships.  The artists in this exhibition are all previous exhibitors at BEAM.  This exhibition is supported by Brunel University.




Kathy Hinde’s interdisciplinary approach combines different art forms frequently through collaborations with other practitioners, partnerships with scientists, and input from the audience.  Kathy will show one part of a collection of works entitled Twittering Machines, of which she says ‘Humankind maintains an ongoing fascination with attempts to decipher, understand and categorise birdsong’.  An ensemble of swanee whistles are played using bursts of air using an adapted windchest.  The tails of the the swanee whistles are automated using small motors to create an imitation of twittering, twitching birds.  For BEAM, Kathy’s Twittering Machine will become interactive, responding to our presence in the room.
Here is a short taster video of the Swanee whistle twittering machine:
Commissioned by Töne Festival, 2014


Mike Blow is an artist working in interactive installations, electronics and sound. His installation work is often presented as an open score, incorporating chance events like the activation of work by the public or the weather. He also performs with homemade electronic instruments and software inspired by artificial life concepts such as swarm simulation. Mike is currently Lecturer in Interaction Design and programme lead for BA/BSc Digital Art and Technology at Plymouth University, UK.

Mike will show Aeolus and Shadowplay, two experimental compositional interfaces.

Aeolus is an old wooden index card cabinet, which looks completely normal; when you open the drawers, they contain the sound of the wind.  Each drawer has a different wind sound from a different place, labelled on the front of the drawer, and they can be opened individually or in any combination to compose with the wind recordings.  It creates a certain magic, as the drawers look completely empty.

Shadowplay is a display case with light sensors embedded into it, so that when participants pass the shadow of their hand over each sensor, a sound is emitted.  Our idea for Cheltenham was to ask for pre-recorded samples from the artists performing over the weekend – perhaps a short solo, or even just some sustained sounds – and then to embed these into the interface, so that you, the audience members, can create your own live mix of the musicians you’re about to see.


Alex Allmont primarily develops kinetic audio pieces as playful ways of exploring sound and music.  He has recently exhibited a number of LEGO machines that generate slow hypnotic scores.  These are geared for a broad contemporary arts audience in an attempt to balance attention with immersion.  Alex has presented at Wired, Bleep, AudioGraft, Music Tech Fest and BEAM.

Alex will show Clash of the Fractions and Tweakers: mini-synths mounted with moving Lego parts, that people can play themselves.  The Tweakers will use Korg Monotrons, each being controlled independently by a dial so a listener can ‘scroll’ through the sound.  The dial is geared to move levers in unison to change the timbre.

Clash of the Fractions is a self-playing cymbal, gradually shifting through intricate polyrhythms.  Video: