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a particular constellation of openings and closures

by Scott McLaughlin

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A single long take improvising on Korg MS20 synth: using feedback via an external loop (through an Alesis Microverb III).

The performance involved setting up a basic feedback loop, then very slowly moving around that to find the edge of feedback. Two highly resonant filters with nearby frequencies were kept in balance by alternating moving one then another until a feedback tone began to emerge. Each tone was left alone for a while on the edge of stability to see if it would spontaneously change (a few did) or form oscillating patterns. If it was stable then the dials would be gradually shifted again to find new feedback points. Because the two filter-peaks were quite close, the tendency was to find beautifully subtle variations on the same two pitches, and sometimes their harmonics. Occasionally a dial would be moved back and forth slowly to create an oscillating pattern in the hope this would bring another nearby pitch out.

The resulting recording was then put in canon with itself at a very long interval. Some small edits were made throughout to keep levels balanced. And at one point the 2nd canon voice is removed for while to 'solo' the otherwise very quiet section of the piece.

The title is from an essay on contingency and improvisation by Dan DiPiero <‘Improvisation as contingent encounter’, Critical Studies in Improvisation / Études critiques en improvisation, Vol. 12, No. 2>


released May 12, 2020




Scott McLaughlin Huddersfield, UK

Scott McLaughlin is a composer and free-improviser (cello, live electronics) based in Huddersfield, UK. Born in Ireland (Co. Clare) in 1975, Scott spent his early 20s playing guitar in art-indie bands. Studies at Uni. of Ulster (Jordanstown) 2001, Uni. of Huddersfield (2009). Currently he teaches composition and music-technology at University of Leeds, and still enjoys reverb-drenched feedback. ... more

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